Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

Why Join.me is a smart choice for Inside Sales, SMB's and consultants

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, Feb 27, 2013

I'm not in inside sales, I'm a consultant, but 95% of my interaction with prospects and customers occurs over the phone and Internet, so I think I can bring some insight to inside sales pro's, consultants and particularly SMB salespeople working from home. 

In the past 18 months I have used Glance, Fuze, Webex, GotoMeeting, Adobe QuickConnect and Join.me, either as a tool provided by the company, or as a personal subscriber. I have no financial affiliation with any of these providers. This assessment is application-specific based on my work profile and may not be relevant in your work environment.

If you require fast screen-sharing and hassle-free, download-free interaction with prospective clients and customers, then tools that require a downloadable client are sub-optimal. I don't use a Webcam in my conferences, so I don't need the higher-end video capabilities that come with Webex and Gotomeeting. If I want to do a face-face Web meeting I will use Skype, but the dynamic is usually social with a friend or acquaintance and the connection set up in advance.

Containing costs

Containing cost is important in a small business and the overhead of CRM, web conferencing, phones, survey software, marketing automation, and all of the other ancillary monthly subscriptions can quickly run into thousands of dollars a month. High cost and an intermittent usage profile that is what led me to explore alternatives to the conferencing heavyweights Gotomeeting and Webex I had used in the past. My subscription to Gotomeeting when I canceled was $39.00 per month. Join.me is free for up to remote 10 viewers.

"I'd like to share my screen with you now"

If you have a prospect on the phone and you determine that it is appropriate to show them a demonstration screen, report, visual confection or some form of sales aid, you need a tool that will in a matter of seconds, enable your prospect to view your screen, regardless of the browser, firewall or security settings on either computer. This is where Join.me shines. Join.me has evolved from LogMeIn, which you may have experienced if you have had a specialist provide remote support to diagnose a problem on your PC or Mac at some point. A brief story to illustrate.

Frustration

Have you ever had a Gotomeeting or Webex with an important prospective customer and you just couldn’t get both parties to communicate over the link? 

Well it happened to me. I had developed a one page 
visual confection  to show the prospective customer how their sales team could tell their story on a one page visual, instead of using their traditional 10 slide PowerPoint sales deck.

The first 20 minutes of our scheduled 30 minute meeting were wasted as we tried multiple video conferencing tools and browsers….nothing worked, no visual communication through their firewall.  

Resolution

This does not happen with Join.me, because there is no client download to install on the other end and there are no network or browser dependencies. The prospect is viewing your screen.

Let's continue our example. "Ms. Prospect, are you sitting in front of a computer? You are, - great. I'd like to share my screen with you to illustrate the point I would like to discuss. In your browser can you go to Join.me/rmarkgibson and I will start a session". I click on the Join.me logo in my toolbar and a session starts and as soon as the client arrives at my Join.me address they "knock" to request entry and I begin to share my screen. 

If your client is on a tablet or smart phone, they will need to download a viewer, and this applies to all of the conferencing services.

Join.me is free for up to 10 users. I elected to use Join.me Pro and am paying less than $12 per month for a vanity URL (join.me/rmarkgibson) and it allows me to share my screen with up to 250 others. Audio is via VOIP or a non-toll free number.

Join.me does not have recording capabilities, but if I want to record my Webinars I use Screen-Flow to create them as my experience with the quality of recorded Webinars using high-end tools has been mixed.

Here are several reviews of Web conferencing tools that may be of interest.
http://lifehacker.com/5878067/five-best-online-meeting-services

http://www.networkworld.com/reviews/2012/102212-desktop-videoconferencing-test-263197.html

http://web-conferencing.findthebest.com/compare/42-66/WebEx-Meeting-Center-vs-join-me

http://web-conferencing.findthebest.com/compare/1-66/GoToMeeting-vs-join-me
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Topics: sales presentations, effective presentations, inside sales

Lessons from a Sales Legend - The Vern Getman Story

Posted by Mark Gibson on Mon, Jan 14, 2013

My friend Adam Zais is a reservoir of interesting and insightful sales stories based on his own sales experience.
This one is about the lessons learned early in his career from an extraordinary salesperson, Vern Getman.

Where I Learn Sales Lessons From One of the Best, Vern Getman

My first job out of college was at a subsidiary of the company that had acquired my Dad’s company. It was a lighting fixture manufacturer based in New Jersey.

I was hired as an Inside Sales rep. We had an office environment in the front and a factory in the back. My job was to work with outside rep organizations who called on electrical distributors that carried our line of products. One of these guys was Vern Getman who covered upstate NY from Albany to Buffalo. He had been in the business forever and, in the parlance of today, was absolutely crushing it!

And it was an organization consisting of only him and his wife. He routinely outsold other rep organizations with far larger numbers of reps and, on paper, richer territories. He was a legend around the company. One of the rites of passage for every Inside Sales guy was to spend a week with Vern. So, after getting my bearings and learning the biz a bit, it was time for me to take my turn.

My Week with Vern

The way this worked was that I drove up to Vern’s house on a Sunday evening. Vern and his wife hosted each of us on a pull-out couch in their home. A bit unusual, but I didn’t have enough experience at the time to see it this way. Of course, this was all part of Vern’s plan to better size me up. I just thought they were being super nice and hospitable.

We get up on Monday morning to start the week at 4:30am. Mrs. Getman has prepared breakfast and packed a huge cooler full of sandwiches and drinks for the week. Seriously. We pile into Vern’s car - an absolutely huge late-60’s Mercury - and set off for our first call.


Oh, by the way, ol’ Vern has a unique style - he has a “high-and-tight” standard Army-issue flattop haircut and a uniform. Black suit, white shirt, and a red clip-on bow tie. I kid you not. In fact, he has a box of bow tie’s in the trunk. One gets dirty, he tosses it and gets a new one. He orders by the gross. He hasn’t worn anything different for work in nearly forty years. His biz card has a little caricature of him and his red bow tie. His card says, “Getman Sales, just ask the guy in the red bow tie.”

Every stop we make it’s the same thing. We walk in and everyone greets him with a smile and a big “Vern!” He knows everybody’s name. If there’s a new employee who he doesn’t know, he makes a point of stopping and chatting them, learning their name, asking about their life and congratulating them on their new job and giving them a nice word of encouragement. And he gives them his card and a bow tie. Even if they’re female and have zero intention of wearing Vern’s fashion statement. They only cost him thirty cents each but, as he says, the memory of getting one’s first Getman bow tie is priceless.

Remember that we’re calling on electrical distributors. They sell stuff to electricians and building contractors. They’re wearing Carhartt work pants / overalls and flannel shirts and stuff. And there’s Vern in his black suit, holding court and roaming through the stockroom looking for low inventory and checking on how much of the competitor’s stuff the supply counter is selling, and so on.

Basically, he comes up with the order and brings it to the owner or manager to sign. He NEVER gets resistance or a question about his judgment of what the guy orders. He ask only about the local business climate, housing starts, and so on. He talks about new stuff coming from the factory but only if asked by the customer. Or as a seemingly off-hand remark as part of shooting the shit about how biz is going for the customer.

The orders he gets are strong, but they’re not padded....which he could easily do. He knows that’s not only wrong and a violation of the serious trust he’s built up over the years, but it’s also not in his best interest long-term. He simply checks every possible SKU, not just the high-margin stuff or fast-moving inventory. And he’s ALWAYS asking how he can help in any way. This goes on for a solid week. First calls at some supply house at 6:30AM or so, last call twelve hours later. Same routine.

At the end of the week he’s got scores of order sheets and he knows that he got everything there was to get, he solidified his reputation, and left the customer happy. And I’m exhausted and I’m 22 and he’s forty years older than me! Amazing!

Lessons Learned

  • Doing what Vern does, has nothing to do with what most people think of as sales.
  • Vern would hand them the sheet for the customer to sign....Vern was deeply embedded in the customer’s business, he was a trusted partner - he was more help to the business than the other guys....they outsourced the buying to Vern...he was more helpful and more valuable to the business than the others.
  • The industry is in denial about the empowerment of the buyer and the disenfranchisement of the salesperson.
  • What would Vern do today?
Understand How Customers Buy - Killer Products Whitepaper
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Topics: inside sales, salesmanship, trusted partner

Time to Bring Outside Sales Inside - A Guide to Virtual Selling

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Jul 19, 2011

This article is relevant for B2B technology sales professionals, not just inside sales, as we are all becoming more virtual in our engagement with prospects and customers. 




Findings from the CSO Insights 2011 Telemarketing/Inside Sales Performance Optimization survey set the stage for our conversation. The big Aha in the 2011 survey is that nearly 50% of inside sales are selling independent of field sales.

Inside Sales - No Longer a Junior Partner

The perception of inside sales as the junior partner, being confined to lead-gen, appointment setting and qualifying is changing, as inside sales increasingly handle the complete sales cycle and create trusted adviser relationships with clients. Soon this will become the dominant mode of selling.

Inside Sales Effectiveness Focus in 2011


Inside Sales Priorities

Once again the top priorities for sales leaders in the CSO Insights survey are to align sales and marketing and to increase lead generation.

These two objectives are inextricably linked, only in my view, sales leaders have them in the wrong order and I propose the following priorities.

1. Sales and Marketing Alignment

  1. As a first step, we need to align sales and marketing messaging around product usage and value creation; features and benefits selling is dead and most marketing teams have work to do to translate features and benefits ("product-speak") into something the sales team can actually use to engage prospects.
  2. Aligning sales and marketing also means agreeing on the definition of what makes a sales-ready-lead. Innovative companies like HubSpot have established service level agreements between marketing and sales and both groups are tightly aligned in their objectives.

2. Enhancing Lead Generation

Once you’ve established a value proposition that is built on product usage and value creation, you have something that both sales and marketing can use. Creating content that prospects value attracts interested visitors to your Website; engages and converts them into leads using an Inbound Marketing process.
David Baga  
I spoke to David Baga, VP Sales at hot SFO-based RocketLawyer last week about his challenges in running a rapidly growing inside sales team. (RocketLawyer is a fast growing startup designed to make legal services easy and affordable for individuals and SMBs)

"The #1 challenge is connect rate....getting the prospect on the phone is becoming increasingly difficult. Cold calling is virtually impossible in today’s environment and would be a crude waste of time and money compared to an inbound marketing engine.”

 

Inbound Lead Generation Requires a Technology Foundation

Baga continued, “We need interested prospects to raise their hand and Inbound Marketing platforms like Marketo and HubSpot make this possible and the performance predictable.

Our lead generation is dependent on an integrated technology fabric consisting of:-
•    Inbound Marketing Automation platform (Marketo)
•    CRM systems (Salesforce.com)
•    Cloud-based call center technology with predictive dialers, ACD (auto-dialers), IVR (Interactive voice response) (Five 9’s)
Putting this stuff together and delivering the right content at the right time is hard to do; we’ve been at it 9 months now and are just beginning to realize the benefits of our efforts”

3. Revising Sales Team Structure.

There is a perception in sales that inside sales earning potential is limited. This is no longer the case and it is possible to achieve income parity with outside sales reps in many inside sales positions.

“We have chosen to centralize our sales team so that we can provide them with technology, education, collaborative support and sales management needed for high productivity. The productivity gains alone make it advantageous over individuals working out of a home office”, added Baga

Salesforce.com, like RocketLawyer and HubSpot have created very successful, centralized inside sales teams. Salesforce.com has created various roles and specializations for their inside sales team to provide a career path for advancement and to lower customer acquisition cost.

A typical Inbound Sales team structure is;
•    Lead Development – work inbound leads, responsible for lead qualification, pass lead on.
•    Small Business Representatives - quota carrying, responsible for a territory
•    Account Executives - responsible for major accounts; travel from time-time to meet customers

4. Revising Sales Process

BANT - Discovery and Qualification, the Achilles heel of selling.

If salespeople spent less time talking about their products and more time listening to the buyer's answers of their insightful questions, they would improve their diagnosis of the client condition.

Without a strong qualification process like BANT, underpinned by skilled diagnosis and discovery, pipeline reviews and forecasting are a magical and mystical event.

Using a whiteboard to Create Buyer Vision

On the minus side, inside selling means salespeople must work harder to develop rapport because the visual dimension is missing in the communication feedback loop.

The good news is that there are new tools that can really help in creating a dialogue and engaging the buyer around their issues. My WhiteboardSelling customers are spread across the World and 95% of my sales calls are virtual. I prefer to sell this way now.

Using the Paper-Show digital whiteboard and GotoMeeting or Webex videoconferencing service enables me to engage buyers in a whiteboard discovery session and present our approach to the prospect’s sales and marketing challenges using a whiteboard and to gain excellent feedback at every transition in the process.

I follow up the meeting with a qualification confirmation letter with the whiteboard from our session embedded as a .jpeg in the letter. This has a huge impact on forecasting accuracy as the qualification confirmation process eliminates non-buyers at the outset and makes it much easier for your mentor or internal champion to build and position your case against competing projects.

5. Facilitating a Buying Process.


Shift in Power in the Buy-Sell Equation.

The relationship with buyer has shifted from managing the sales process to facilitating a buying process…prospects buy when they are ready to buy.

“We spend a lot of time and effort with our middle funnel process generating relevant information that maps to buying needs/process once the visitor has converted into a lead by completing a form.   
  
With the buyer in control, lead nurturing is essential to manage and establish a trusted relationship and stay top of mind until the buyer is ready and to measure online behavior and interaction. Leads are scored based on activity and routed to sales at the right time.” said Baga.

Take Aways:

1. Sales and Marketing alignment is step 1 on the journey to improved sales performance for Inside sales.
2. Inbound Marketing underpinned by a tightly integrated technology fabric is no longer an option – it's essential to Inside Sales Success.
3. Lead nurturing is the way to stay top of mind and build a relationship with prospective customers until they are ready to buy.
4. Skilled whiteboarding can restore the communication imbalance in a virtual environment.
5. You don’t have to sweat closing deals if you have done your job in discovery and qualification.

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Topics: inbound marketing, CSO Insights, value proposition, inside sales, whiteboarding

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