October 27th, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

57 percent of consumers say that they are willing to share their data with companies in exchange for personalized offers and discounts, according to a new study from Salesforce. Additionally, 76 percent of respondents reported that it is essential for salespeople to be attentive to customers’ needs, as opposed to focusing on making a quick sale.

The report delivers several other findings that indicate the importance of personalizing communications with customers. Tailored interactions build customer loyalty, with 68 percent of consumers saying that offering rewards for purchases influences their loyalty. Additionally, 65 percent reported that personalized or exclusive offers and discounts had an impact on their loyalty, while 58 percent said that rewards for referrals, feedback, or product reviews affected their loyalty.

In addition to illustrating the importance of personalized communications with customers, the study also offers information on what qualities customers look for in salespeople. 79 percent of consumers expect a salesperson who doesn’t try to sell them products they don’t need, with 75 percent saying that it is important for the salesperson to be available when they need them. Furthermore, 74 percent place an importance on being treated as a valued customer, and 68 percent look for an understanding of their preferences and needs.

October 24th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

A salesperson’s success is often attributed to an abstract and/or innate set of skills. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to hear that Johnny is an excellent prospector, that he has great negotiating abilities, and–perhaps the most common– that he’s just a natural born closer. But when a salesperson struggles to meet his required numbers, it’s not necessarily because he lacks the ability to develop the needed skills, argues Anthony Iannarino in his new book, The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need. Most often, the failure stems from the fact that the salesperson in question is operating with the wrong mindset.

the-only-sales-guide-cover“What I noticed as I was working with salespeople, sales managers, and sales organizations, is that it’s really easy to identify someone that is not performing, and it’s easy to say ‘This person’s not doing well in sales’,” says Iannarino. However, the term ‘sales’ covers a lot of ground, and it requires some digging beyond what he calls the “presenting problem” (e.g. a failure to meet quota, or to generate a set of prospects), to discover the root causes leading to a person’s struggles with different parts of the funnel.  

Iannarino recalls from his experiences: “Somebody might say, ‘This person’s not doing well; they’re not putting up their numbers.’ And it could be [due to] a combination of things, but it wouldn’t be that they’re not good at closing or negotiating, or they’re not good at asking questions. It would be that they’re not spending enough time prospecting, they don’t really have enough opportunities compared to their peers to succeed. So I would see it and say they have a prospecting problem. Or, more often, they were fine at prospecting, but they had a self-discipline problem. Or sometimes, somebody would be poor at communications, but the thing that really made them poor communicators was not that they couldn’t talk about their company or their value proposition, it was that they were self-oriented. They liked to talk about what they wanted and what they were going to get out of a deal, and it started using self-oriented language that turns [customers] off and makes you think that you don’t care about them and can’t trust you.”

Perhaps unfortunately, a mindset “is harder to teach, train, coach, and develop” than a skill set, says Iannarino, because it is not a matter of cognitive ability, but rather one of willingness. “It’s the ability to let go of some things you believe, some of the excuses that you make, and take on new beliefs that are going to better serve you.”

However, the mindset hurdles can be tackled, as people can and do change, Iannarino assures. “There’s a ton of research by people like Robert Kegan and Lawrence Kohlberg and Carol Gilligan–developmentalists who say, ‘Yes, humans continue to grow and develop over time.’ But you need an awareness first, and you need a willingness.”

The first half of Iannarino’s book tackles common barriers to a winning attitude, including self-discipline, optimism, initiative, resourcefulness, communication, and empathy. The second half focuses on skills such as diagnosing customer problems, storytelling, prospecting, negotiating, and closing deals. At the end of each chapter are exercises designed to help teams  hone in on, and improve, these qualities. “For example, for discipline–how am I going to create a disciplined list, and pick two or three things at are really important and just focus on these until I nail them and they become routine for me?” Iannarino says.

While coaching and training are important, Iannarino stresses the importance of individual efforts. “Self-discipline is totally underrated, and no one pays enough attention to it,” Iannarino says. “No manager right now likes to manage anyone’s activity, and they don’t like to have the uncomfortable conversation where the salesperson doesn’t have enough activity. And a sales person doesn’t want to work in a boiler room. But if you can’t manage yourself and your own activities, then someone’s always going to manage your activity. So discipline ends up being the cornerstone attribute for all the others in my opinion. If you get that one right, it’s much easier to get the rest.”

October 20th, 2016 by Sam Del Rowe

Embedded, opt-in ads that reward attention and are contextualized in users’ app experiences yield deeper engagement than standard interstitial video ads, according to a study conducted by neuromarketing companies True Impact and Neurons Inc. on behalf of in-app mobile video advertising platform MediaBrix. The study tested users’ reactions to ads using two different delivery formats but featuring the same creative, and found that the contextualized ads yielded eight times more mental engagement, upwards of three times amount of time spent with the brand, and higher brand recall and positive sentiment than their standard counterparts.

The study also yielded several other findings. The interstitial ads initiated a fight-or-flight response for users at twice the rate of the embedded opt-in ads, and just 25 percent of users watched the entire interstitial video ad, compared to 90 percent for the opt-in versions. Furthermore, users spent three times as much time fixated on the brand’s creative and were eight times more cognitively engaged for the opt-in ads than they were with the interstitials.

“We believe mobile is the most powerful advertising medium of our day, but the industry as a whole lacks research and real innovation to capitalize on it.” Ari Brandt, CEO and co-founder of MediaBrix, said in a statement. “This research allows marketers to understand the opportunities that lie in mobile and the implications of how we approach consumers there. We’re excited to expand upon these findings and analyze more formats in our mission to build meaningful, coveted one-to-one connections between brands and consumers.”

October 17th, 2016 by Oren Smilansky

Just a few years ago, one might have raised an eyebrow if you told them you made a living by making videos and uploading them to YouTube. But in 2016, “YouTubing” is just as viable a career path as, say, hosting a talk radio show. This is because brands now recognize that the medium serves as phenomenal marketing tool, and they are increasingly willing to pay the average Joes running online channels to promote their products and services.

To illustrate this reality, Google (the owner of YouTube) has purchased FameBit, provider a technology platform designed to help connect brands with the social media personalities best suited to represent them. On FameBit’s platform, content creators with at least 5,000 subscribers (read: potential customers), can create a profile and reach out to companies with pitches explaining why they believe they are a good fit; businesses, meanwhile, can chose who to work with, and leverage tools that help them negotiate the terms of their deals (e.g. budget, video type/format, etc.).

Companies and video bloggers (AKA “vloggers”) have been able to use partner programs and other such tools to collaborate for years, but it hasn’t been easy for everyone to profit from them. One goal of the acquisition, according to a blog post from Google’s vice president of product management, Ariel Bardin, is to create more opportunities for smaller brands, as well as lesser known YouTubers.

“Our hope is that FameBit’s democratized marketplace will allow creators of all sizes to directly connect with brands, as well as provide a great technology solution for companies like [multi-channel networks] and agencies to find matches for their creators and brand partners,” Bardin wrote in his blog post.

Bardin added that, despite the acquisition, creators will still have choices in terms of how they link up with brands. However, he noted that “we believe that Google’s relationship with brands and YouTube’s partnerships with creators, combined with FameBit’s technology and expertise, will help increase the number of branded content opportunities available, bringing even more revenue into the online video community.”

October 14th, 2016 by Leonard Klie

The latest consumer satisfaction numbers are in, and they don’t bode well for contact centers. According to CFI Group’s Contact Center Satisfaction Index, customer satisfaction with contact centers fell to 68 on a 100-point scale, the lowest in nine years, driven by contact centers’ inability to resolve issues on the first contact and a growing impatience with interactive voice response (IVR) systems.

According to the index, just 52 percent of contacts were resolved on the first attempt (down 6 percent from 2015), and nearly one-third (32 percent) of consumers couldn’t successfully self-serve through the IVRs.

The overall score of 68 is a four-point drop from last year and represents the lowest score since CFI began compiling the index in 2007.

The index also shows a widening gap between what consumers expect and what contact centers can actually deliver, with millennials feeling it the worst.

“Expectations of millennials are completely different from those of any generation preceding it,” said CFI Group CEO Sheri Petras in a statement. “Millennials simply expect the information to be available at their fingertips. Just having to reach out to a contact center at all because they couldn’t find the information themselves with a few taps on their phone puts an organization behind the eight-ball right away. And when half of these inquiries are not resolved with the first contact, you are creating ill will among a key customer base. Millennials are now the nation’s largest living demographic, so paying attention to the preferences of this group is absolutely critical if contact centers hope to thrive in this changing customer service environment.”

So what can contact centers do to improve? CFI Group recommends, among other things, improving IVRs, expanding the communications options for reaching the contact center, offering a virtual hold/call-back option when the contact center is overly busy, and resolving issues on the first try.

When customer issues are resolved in the first five minutes of the first contact, customer satisfaction was found to be very high, at 90 percent.

Here’s the infographic, which breaks down some of the numbers a little more:

CCSI 2016 Infographic (PRNewsFoto/CFI Group)

CCSI 2016 Infographic (PRNewsFoto/CFI Group)


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