30
Mar

Include a psychological picture of sales and marketing candidates as standard operating procedure for innovative tech recruitment

Analyzing the results of personality testing tools like a Myers Briggs profile or the results of a Kuder vocational aptitude test is a worthwhile activity for recruiters who need to identify staff for innovative technology businesses. In our experience there are identifiable patterns of personality types with regard to assembling a composite picture of a “right” individual to either lead an innovative technology business or to fill a management requirement. The above mentioned tests can and will shed light as to whether or not an individual is a good candidate for targeted requirements.

Therefore, innovative technology businesses should have the resources to purchase recruiting services that provide, at a minimum, the results of these tests or acceptable substitutes. Deviating from the norm is not recommend with regards to choosing senior managers. Further, the internal hiring team should ideally include individuals who have experience recruiting winning teams of participants. If the members of the internal hiring team do not have this type of experience, then management should select a recruitment firm that can fill the gap.

Consistently adhering to these guidelines pays off. Simply consider the success of EMC Corporation in the mid 1990s. Many of the regional sales executives of EMC in the period of 1995 to 2000 pulled down compensation packages in the high 6 figures. Some of the regional executives earned 7 figure compensation. Of course, these compensation packages were the direct result of excellent performance to sales plans. The facts were that EMC was trouncing competitors across most markets; therefore, sales compensation was very attractive and entirely consistent with sales performance.

Much was said at the time about the competitiveness of EMC Sales staff; specifically, management had made a point of recruiting individuals who enjoyed competition, usually through sports. By carefully selecting a “right” personality type EMC sales management successfully assembled a super team of producers who more than delivered planned revenue targets.

If a joy in competition and, specifically, winning is an important personality trait for highly successful sales staff, then persistence against adversity, patience, and a dedication to merciless self reflection and a willingness to take counsel from a wide range of confidants is clearly characteristic of successful entrepeneurs in the tech business space.

As mentioned above, we highly recommend that innovative technology businesses pay close attention to staffing candidates to ensure that the candidate chosen for a position does, in fact, embody the personality traits required of the position. We can certainly help make the likelihood that such a choice becomes a reality. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you why you should be thinking about the Internet and Social Media to engage with your marketplace.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

29
Mar

Social Media should be Used to Engage with Market Participants, settling for Anything Else is a Mistake

Building a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or even through a corporate blog has no other purpose as we see it (and strictly from a business perspective) than to create opportunities to engage with market participants. We have lots of recent experience with Facebook and Twitter as public venues that, if ineffectively managed, will not produced the two way communication that ought to be the objective of any social media campaign. On the other hand, properly managed social media efforts, especially those that incorporate lots of market specific editorial content can produce excellent opportunities to engage and, potentially, revenue.

We say potentially as we have little if any experience with revenue conversion from social media for our type of product:

  • Complex software products and services targeted for large groups of users, whether from enterprise business or the public sector

But the lack of revenue conversion, at this point in time, is acceptable to us. Fact is that we are hard pressed to identify just how Social Media venues could directly produce opportunities to close sales. Rather we think social media can provide our clients with precious opportunities to engage with market participants to gain valuable information about marketplace realities, including common needs, and methodologies.

The methods that we have successfully utilized to stimulate engagement include a relentless commitment to adhere to a daily production requirement of market-relevant editorial content. Further there can be nothing less than authentic about the editorial content that is produced daily. It is not unacceptable to use marketplace keywords as the basis of blog posts, tweets, etc, but the writing itself must be entirely authentic and germaine to the topic at hand.

Further, we’ve been successfully where we can quickly establish a meaningful volume of daily visits to client websites, and Twitter/Facebook/Google Plus/LinkedIn pages. We say meaningful as the numbers vary substantially from client to client. We’ve seen sites that magnetize a thousand or more visits per day produce very little opportunity to engage. Then again, we’ve seen sites that magnetize as little as 10-15 visits per day produce worthwhile engagement. It all boils down to the quality of the editorial content with particular regard to marketplace relevance.

It is difficult to achieve the level of effective engagement possible from a blog attached to a business website from Twitter/Facebook/Google Plus/LinkedIn. The latter are all public venues where the real master of ceremonies is offsite and somewhere external. It is much more promising to build a venue for engagement entirely on one’s own turf, where lots of visitor analytics can be gathered to closely monitoring what works as well as what does not work.

We welcome opportunities to elaborate on this discussion. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you why you should be thinking about the Internet and Social Media to engage with your marketplace.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

28
Mar

On the Value of a Liberal Arts Education for Marketing and Sales Leadership

The best marketers that we have encountered, whether the inventor of a piece of foundation-level process automation equipment (the PLC), or an individual who took three different business ventures to independent public offerings are each characterized by a healthy, rich combination of creativity, business acumen, common sense/logic and, finally, an ability to communicate information (verbally and in writing) in a big way. It is worth looking closely at creativity and communications. We are very much of the opinion that the most promising tech business prospects will be built by a management team that features at least one key individual who can utilize creativity and communications skills successfully. It is important to emphasize, as we wrote in one of the earliest posts to this blog, tech businesses entirely driven by engineering rarely produce the type of market impact that we are after.

Creativity
Admittedly, so-called creativity can be as much a product of an education in mathematics or physics as it can be the product of a course of study that emphasizes fine arts or liberal arts. One can even contend that creativity can also be learned from left side of the brain exercises like meditation practice, or yoga. Therefore, it is difficult to delineate a narrow range of educational options that will produce a proclivity for creativity. Most very early stage tech businesses with big impact potential will be driven by a CEO who provides the requisite creativity factor for the business. If the CEO can not provide the creative factor, then she/he ought to make every effort to add other members to the core management team who can deliver the required creativity. Further, it is very beneficial if the individual who provides the creative spark, who is nevertheless not the CEO, is chosen to head up marketing. After all, it is specifically in the areas of product marketing and marketing communications that creativity can be implemented to deliver high value to the growth potential for the business.

Communications
A liberal arts education and, specifically, a strong background in language arts (for businesses based in the United States the language will be English) are absolutely required for management driving marketing communications. After all, marketing communications is all about language regardless of chosen marketing media (don’t lose sight of the fact that video clips require scripts). Therefore only an individual who can demonstrate substantial dexterity with language should be chosen to head up marketing communications.

So-called “charisma”, then again, is a horse of a different color. The most charismatic entrepeneurs that we ever encountered produced charisma from very much unexpected backgrounds:

  • One was otherwise dyslexic
  • The other was clinically deaf

Therefore we cannot posit a great background for “charisma” beyond noting that we (along with lots of other people) will know it when we see it.

We are interested in staff recruitment requirements for tech businesses targeting enterprise markets. If you need to staff up with senior management and would like to discuss your needs, then please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you why you should be thinking about the Internet and Social Media to engage with your marketplace.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

27
Mar

Telemarketing in 2012 should be implemented to unearth bigger software sales deals over the long term

Software products and services for enterprise business markets generally sport hefty price tags. We have excellent recent experience working with a client who has offerings in the market for governance, risk and compliance (GRC) solutions required by financial firms. The sweet spot price tag for implementing one of these systems, as crafted by our client, ranged from $100K to $150K and up. Businesses that understand the purchase realities for these solutions will need at least a year, and perhaps longer, to actually place an order. The fact is that a six figure price tag is a price tag that must be carefully scrutinized by management prior to an approval.

The impact on sales development planning for businesses with similar offerings is to assume that current activities will generally not pay off sooner than a year out and, in many cases, even longer. Orders received today for comparably priced products and services have been in development over the last year. The rare occasion where what seems to be an order that just came out of nowhere is, typically, an opportunity to capture an order as the direct result of the failure of a designated competitor to deliver. Never lose sight of the fact that the purchasing window can be as wide as a year or longer from initial contact to order where costs to the purchaser are in excess of $100K.

Accordingly, telemarketing efforts should be entirely focused on identifying needs, decision-makers, purchasing plans, etc. The information gathered through telemarketing calls should be added, entirely, to a CRM that should be analyzed on a regular basis and sifted for actionable intelligence. By no means should telemarketing be restricted from placing so-called “cold call”; rather, methods should be identified to actually increase opportunities to reach new prospects through telemarketing. Some useful methods include gathering industry opinions through surveys, engaging with industry participants on known topics of interest, conference themes, etc. Keep in mind that next year’s buyers may very well emerge from the contacts unearthed through today’s telemarketing efforts. Therefore, maintaining an ongoing telemarketing effort, as we have noted throughout this blog, must be a key piece of the sales and market development plan for the business.

Winning at a numbers game is also important. In other words, the daily volume of telemarketing contacts should be maintained at a healthy level of anywhere between 15 and 20 conversations per telemarketer per day. In our experience a call list of 70 to 100 calls will be required, at a minimum to produce our healthy level of contacts per telemarketer.

We have extensive current experience in this area. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you why you should be thinking about the Internet and Social Media to engage with your marketplace.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

26
Mar

Prospects for selling enterprise software for 2012 brighten up, but present day peculiarities stay the same

From a quarterly report recently released from a core provider of enterprise software for the enterprise business market, Oracle Corporation, it appears that 2012 will be a better year for enterprise software sales than we had expected. When Oracle’s results are combined with recent press about Microsoft Office 365 and the readiness of SMBs to jump on the subscription band wagon of this cloud offering, it appears that business confidence has brightened, across the board. We have good first hand experience that supports this view.

Nevertheless, the characteristics of business customers placing orders in 2012 are still very much the same: perhaps as a direct result of an ability that is ever growing easier, to access, online, substantial amounts of information on just about any topic one can think of, business buyers are unilaterally researching purchases without the involvement of sales staff. We think this phenomenon is more the result of an information heavy Internet than it is the result of a new class of parsimonious buyers (remember that in earlier posts to this blog we talked up Alinean’s Frugal Buyer, but understand that now we no longer see things that way). We do not see this trend going away any time soon.

Therefore, we think it makes total sense to focus marketing communications efforts specifically on optimizing whatever methods are at hand for valuable online promotion of products and/or services. Social media venues certainly fall into the category of potentially useful methods of optimizing prospect engagement along with the visibility of products and services. Finally, we take the position that online product and/or service promotion is valuable when it produces bonafide sales leads. As we have written elsewhere on this blog, bonafide sales leads are inquiries or opportunities to engage with prospects about specific needs that can be satisfied, at some point, by your product or service.

What we like about social media, and blogs in particular, is the ability to concentrate online methods purely around content creation. With genuinely useful blog posts crafted around topics of interest and popular, relevant keywords a method is at hand to prompt prospect to pursue engagement directly within their above mentioned unilateral effort to collect research.

If your marketing communications plan could use a dose of reality, then please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you why you should be thinking about the Internet and Social Media to engage with your marketplace.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

23
Mar

There’s Networking and then there’s Networking . . .

Unstructured engagement outside of the office makes sense within a coordinated program of marketing and sales activity. However, it is important to operate under the assumption that not all networking opportunities are created equal. Sales management must exercise some discretion as to which networking opportunities make sense, vs opportunities that simply provide sales staff with an excuse to waste time.

We have worked with a client who we found to be very adept at quickly equipping sales staff with the techniques required to transform an ostensible public networking event into an opportunity to gather, first hand, lots of information potentially useful for completed, ongoing and planned sales opportunities. Much of the client’s recommendation was that sales personnel be sure to interject lots of open questions during one to one discussions with contacts to “prime the pump” on information sharing. Further, our client recommended that sales people research legitimate contact names in advance of these meetings so as to have credible information at the ready that can be utilized to obtain additional names from contacts.

With regards to obtaining additional names from contacts, we should note that our client’s objective was to utilize networking opportunities as opportunities to verify apparent roles with prospect businesses. Some of the recommended dialogue included the specific use of some “yes” or “no” questions; for example, along the lines of “So you work with [contact name] in IT?,” or, “Does [contact name] still run quality assurance?” etc. Admittedly, some contacts won’t rise to this bait, but some will.

Once sales staff are armed with information gathering techniques it is not difficult for sales management to determine the specific networking opportunities worth attending. Obviously, if sales staff return from monthly meetings, speed networking events, trade shows and conferences without planned information, then either the chosen networking opportunities are incorrect, or sales staff is not able to effectively implement techniques.

We do not see where it makes sense to simply permit sales staff to leave an office for outside prospect interaction without returning with information. Further, managing unstructured outside contact engagement can enrich the rest of the marketing communications effort with an excellent supplementary source of leads. Sales management should target a flexible management style that will permit unstructured contact engagement, but firmly within the bounds of ongoing intelligence gathering efforts.

If your sales organization is begging for an effective, assertive management effort, then please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com. We will be happy to show you what we’ve got.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

22
Mar

Recommended Activities to Support Social Engagement and eMail Messaging

Outbound eMail Messaging
Periodic announcements, including press releases, invitations to webinars/seminars/conferences, white papers, etc can be legitimately followed with unsolicited telephone calls to email recipients. These calls need to be scripted to either repeat the announcement, to solicit attendance, or to determine contact interest in receiving further email messages along the same vein. Don’t use the occasion of an outbound email message (crafted specifically along the lines of what we’ve just mentioned) to determine contact interest in an unrelated conversation. In fact, attempting to legitimize wholly disconnected telemarketing activity under the umbrella of following up on email announcements is a sure way to taint sales efforts as “overly aggressive”. It’s essential that email messaging and telephone outreach efforts be entirely coordinated if favorable results are to be captured.

On the other hand, using email messages as a reason to embark on a telephone outreach campaign makes very good sense. Further, with the email message on hand, and readily available for distribution to new recipients, a legitimate opportunity has been created to inform these contacts about what they’re missing as the result of not having opted into your email contact list. Of course, should an opportunity for a substantive discussion with one of these contacts emerge, from one of these calls, there is no problem pursuing the discussion and, potentially, a sales lead.

Social Media Conversations
We’re big on social media conversations. But we see scant opportunity for social media conversations to emerge from offsite media like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, etc. On the other hand, blogs on business domains provide an excellent venue for two way dialogue with website visitors. It’s been our experience that legitimate blogging on market relevant topics, with insightful prose, will stimulate a response from prospects; therefore, don’t overlook blogs.

With regard to blogging, and in direct contrast with our recommendations regarding email messaging, we think daily blogging makes very good sense. We’ve recent experience building blogs with upwards to 100 or more keyword rich posts. We’re just now beginning to engage in two way dialogue with site visitors, a phenomenon that, as we’ve just mentioned, we find quite elusive with Twitter, Facebook, etc. In these cases there is no need to jump into a teleprospecting conversation with a prospect, rather, the best benefit is to be realized from online dialogue which, admittedly, will be available to many more contacts than simply the one you’ve engaged in a discussion.

If you’re looking for valuable leads from online marketing, we’d like speak with you. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

21
Mar

Social, Search Engine and eMail Marketing Strategies to Develop Valuable Sales Leads

Incoming eMail Inquiries
Where online public branding is correctly aligned with marketing strategy, incoming email inquiries about products and/or services constitute highly valuable leads. The catch, obviously, is to ensure that the planned transparency has been achieved, the right message is being received. A useful mechanism for gaining assurance that “what you see is what you get” is in place is to utilize surveys and sample audience response while online medium are optimized. A survey can be nothing more than a series of open questions (heavy on “who” “what” where” “how” information gathering and very light on “yes” or “no” statement validation). A sample audience can be built from a series of once or twice removed contacts culled from a management team, or a circle of contacts.

We have worked recently with clients who have collected extremely high quality leads from a substantially transparent online brand message. In this case, product branding was successfully clarified through methodical, repetitive, authentic efforts to highlight targeted online search keywords through content creation — specifically blog posts, together with an ongoing, simultaneous effort to include “call to action” messaging within the client’s core web site, itself.

Receiving inquiries about products that are offered and available and, further, at published prices, by contacts who claim to make decisions at prospect businesses can be a dream come true. If pricing has been correctly established, then it should not take a high volume of these leads to result in meaningful revenue.

Outbound eMail Messaging
We do not endorse carpet bombing contacts with daily unsolicited email messages regardless of whether or not contacts have opted into email mailing lists. We see this phenomenon as a dangerous activity that will actually produce the opposite effect than the outcome intended for this activity. We like to refer to this opposite effect as stimulating prospects to cover sensitivity with information “callouses.” Obviously, on the day that you publish and send a potentially valuable piece of information to a prospect, it will be very unfortunate if that prospect has already set a rule to move any/all correspondence from you to a trash bin somewhere.

What we do endorse is highly targeted email messaging, to be sent occasionally, on topics where you have determined some interest on the part of your email contact list. Generally we recommend using invitations to webinars, white papers, slide shows, etc. as the right reason to engage in this type of messaging. Another reason for legitimate outreach to prospects via email messaging can be the publication of a press release.

Social Engagement
We like to present the rationale for participation in social media as a twofold effort to open opportunities to engage with contacts and to optimize web sites with search engines through the creation of inbound links from high ranked external, authoritative websites. Beyond these two reasons we see little value in habituating on facebook business pages, etc.

We appreciate any opportunity to expand on these points through one to one discussions. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

20
Mar

What Constitutes a Valuable Sales Lead?

An important job for anyone in a sales management position is to define what “valuable” means with regard to leads. Not all leads are the same. Some leads will be very valuable. But other leads will have little value. Therefore, it is safe to say that defining what constitutes a valuable lead is an important job for sales management. Why waste precious time working on leads with little promise? Perhaps leads can be obtained that will support efficient selling efforts and hasten attainment of revenue objectives. If there is a possibility of obtaining valuable leads, then sales management ought to allocate as much time as may be required to formulate a system to capture valuable leads. Further, sales staff should always work on as high value leads as possible.

We should note that sales management engaged in defining value for leads very often will have an opportunity to also define the stages of development for leads that will be typical for the specific business at hand. We spend considerable time working with leads for clients over telephone conversations. Therefore, what follows is specific to telemarketing and, further, very specific to teleprospecting. However, in a subsequent post we will present complementary stages that contribute to lead maturation from raw to high value for electronic media — social and email marketing. The stages for lead maturation from the perspective of teleprospecting include:

  1. Identifying Potentially Useful Contacts within a Prospect Business
  2. Engaging in an Initial Conversation with a Potentially Useful Contact. This first conversation is characterized by the teleprospector gathering information to identify what the prospect needs as well as contacts within the prospect that have the authority to purchase products and services to satisfy needs
  3. Engaging in a Conversation with a Potentially Useful Contact that Expands on the Original Conversation. The teleprospector plans this second conversation to provide the contact with information that can be useful to identify needs and decision makers
  4. Engaging in an Initial Assessment with the contact. A teleprospectors utilizes this third conversation to exchange information with the contact on the needs and decision makers that have emerged from the first and second conversations
  5. Mapping into the Prospect Company. The teleprospector enters into as many additional conversations with other contacts as may be required to identify all of the other contacts from this prospect who need to be included in any subsequent conversation about the needs and decision makers who have been determined from the first three preceding conversations
  6. Vetting Assumptions about Needs and Decision Makers. These conversations provide the teleprospector with the opportunity to establish the credibility of apparent needs and decision makers.
  7. Obtaining Referrals. Authoritative contacts are used by the teleprospector to secure the participation of all of the contacts produced by the mapping exercise in step 5, above in subsequent conversations with the prospect business
  8. An Unqualified Meeting with Unqualified Decision Makers. The teleprospector engages in a group meeting with the contacts who have been identified. The meeting topic is specific to the need assumed to be pressing for the prospect business. The outcome of this meeting will determine any further steps in the development of the sales opportunity

If we find that the sales opportunity has further promise beyond #8, above, we are comfortable turning the lead over to clients for further development as a valuable lead. If you care to learn further about our methods, then please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. We welcome contact. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

19
Mar

What is the Likelihood of Successfully Delegating Responsibility for Marketing and Sales Strategy to One Individual?

Obviously, an early stage innovative technology business faces substantial growing pains, many of which stem from funding constraints. A prominent type of growing pain is identifying and recruiting an effective management team that can deliver on the promise of a business plan. Curing this pain can be difficult as the result of funding constraints. Simply consider the following typical scenario to understand why: the compensation plan for an inner management circle for this type of business is sparse to non existent. The CEO usually either funds the business or has attracted the required capital to get the business off the ground. The management team usually contributes to the funding with either cash or sweat equity–literally working full time on the business project with little or no compensation. Based on all of the above the human resources available for either a VP of Marketing and/or a VP of Sales may be quite limited, not to mention an individual who can wear both hats.

As we have written elsewhere in this blog and, in fact, quite early on, we are of the mind set that the task of defining a strategic marketing plan for an innovative technology business resides at the very top of the list of priorities for the business. We do not think it is possible to skip the critically important decisions that must be made about competitive markets, products and branding (effectively to find all the answers to Michael Porter’s 5 Forces) and still go to market with a promise of success.

We are hard pressed to find an individual who brings to a business all of the engineering expertise required to launch a product, who also has the capability of making the aforementioned marketing choices for the business. We have worked closely with an individual who did bring the requisite skills and experience to his new business venture to expertly guide his start up through a definition of market strategy and sales planning, but we need to note that this individual had taken two other start ups to public offerings prior to our engagement with him. Further, we need to note that his educational background solidly emphasized business FIRST and engineering second (he had achieved a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Sloan School at MIT). Finally, this individual was an enthusiastic conversationalist who welcomed opportunities to engage with prospects; therefore, he could head up early stage selling efforts for the company.

There are subtle clues as to the limitations of individuals with regards to executing correctly on the responsibility of guiding a business through marketing strategy and sales. As the result of our first hand experience we can reduce time wasted on a wrong choice, or provide a justification for adding a player to a management team. If you head up an innovative technology business and understand the critical importance of framing a successful market strategy while you commence sales, then please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. We welcome contact. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved