A look at LinkedIn’s Top 10 Global Buzzwords

It’s January. The start of a new year and for many companies, the start of a new hiring budget.

Many job seekers say to themselves, “this is the year I’ll look for a new job.” Whether job seekers are looking for opportunities in a new industry, a company move or just looking for a more challenging position – studies show that January is the time to do that. There’s just something about a new year that inspires many to start thinking about the future and their careers.

But, before your start massively updating your skills and experiences on LinkedIn – take a few notes from their annual report of 2014 buzzwords and nix ‘em from your profile.

“If you’re motivated about your career, passionate about doing your best work, and are highly creative, then I’ve got news for you: so is everyone else,” writes Catherine Fisher, the Director of Corporate Communications & LinkedIn Career Expert.

Yikes. I think we’re all guilty of using at least one of those words on our LinkedIn profile and résumé.

Should we all bust out thesauruses en masse?

Fisher suggests, “don’t go to your trusty thesaurus and replace one buzzword with another lackluster adjective. Rather, include examples that illustrate how you’re motivated.”

So, in short, it’s less about using words such as “motivated,” “passionate” and “creative”—anyone and everyone should describe themselves as those adjectives. In Journalism school, I was taught the show don’t tell method and I think that applies here.

Instead of showing how motivated you are as a person, provide an anecdote of a time where you were relentless in pursuit of something—whether it’s selling a product, writing a story or solving a problem.

Telling a hiring manager that you’re motivated doesn’t really mean anything. Rather, showing a hiring manager exactly how you’re motivated does paint a vivid picture.

Today, LinkedIn is encouraging their users to update their profiles and eliminate buzzwords. You can read more about their Brand YOU Year here.

Photo courtesy of LinkedIn.

Sales 3.0: Personalization at Scale

In Part One, we established how taking a marketing automation approach to sales is dated and destined to fail. We introduced how successful salespeople deliver relevant content to both empower the buyer and initiate a mutually beneficial relationship.

Predictable Revenue: End of an era.

Traditional sales theory taught us to use Aaron Ross’ Predictable Revenue as a model for our sales outreach. The message is clear and simple: go high and ask for the referral. I can speak to the use-case for this approach and have deployed it to generate revenue, however this method was used at Salesforce.com in 2004.

We’re at the tail end of 2014, today’s buyer expects a different experience. A relationship that begins with an education on how similar companies are addressing the same challenge.

This is challenging for Sales professionals to implement at scale, as the prior theory simply required templates and a delivery mechanism. The success of this method has lead to an undercurrent around sales intelligence. Sales professionals are starting to ask questions:

How many emails does it take to generate a reply?

How long should I engage with a buyer?

Who should I engage with within an organization?

These are important, but I’d like to focus our attention in a different direction.

The number of emails means nothing.

In a webinar in April, I introduced the concept that it’s not the number of emails, rather the content that drives engagement. Information overload leads buyers to want one email, not ten. It’s simple: send one email instead of ten – just make the one email 10x better.

Sales communication through email boils down to two types: (1) “Nurture” messages to educate the buyer and (2) “Activation” messages to incentivize buyer action. (1) is in your control, while the buyer’s existing business environment affects (2).

With the release of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, sales professionals now have access to a treasure trove of data, and possess the ability to push organizational and individual trigger events to their inbox.

Breaking through the buyer’s status quo is tough. I’ll defer to Jamie Shanks on how he defines the six trigger events that lead to action:

  1. Company gets acquired
  2. Competitor releases new product/solution
  3. Incumbent sales rep leaves
  4. Prospect changes decision maker
  5. Prospect wins large account – increased capital availability
  6. Capital raise

Using these events, sales professionals can determine the right messaging and engage the buyer at the right time to activate an action.

But, how do companies achieve personalization at scale?

There is a common thread throughout the the fastest growing companies. Individuals who are able to deliver personalized messages without sacrificing value – while somehow magically painting broad outreach strokes – are infinitely more successful.

The 10/80/10 Model. 

The philosophy is widespread, but the concept has never been articulated. This method was implemented at Responsys and drove revenue from 80M to 200M over the course of 16 months. The concept draws on several themes: Hoffman & Barrows’ Why You Why Now; Elias’ Shift Selling; Grant’s Give & Take.

The Breakdown:

10: Spend the most energy on your message’s opener – the first 10% of your email (including your subject line) should enchant your buyer. The first sentence of an email has one purpose: engage the reader to read the second. How do you enchant your buyer? We’ve all heard the mantra: make it about them. This goes beyond mentioning one tidbit from their LinkedIn profile, rather employs leveraging technology to push trigger events to your inbox and intertwining the message with something hyper-relevant to the reader (e.g. a recent Twitter post declaring National Sandwich Day or perhaps a link to the Neil Diamond classic Sweet Caroline for those lucky enough to hold the name). Get creative.

80: If your reader continues, it’s because (1) Your 10 sparked a level of curiosity or (2) your 10 indicated utility in solving their current challenges — but best communications combine both curiosity and utility and weave in your value proposition for product/service. It’s imperative that you tailor the message to the persona of the buyer.

For example, if you’re trying to reach a VP of Marketing, focus your message so that it describes how your product/service would solve strategic challenges. Conversely, if you’re contacting a Manager or Analyst, refine your message to illustrate how your product service would solve day-to-day challenges of a tactical position.

10: If they’re still reading, they’ve crossed the chasm and now need confirmation that you’re credible (1) individual and (2) marketplace contender. You’ve piqued your reader’s interest, told him a bit about your company – now, tell him how you’re helping his peers — and make it easy for him to join them. At this moment, the reader would like to engage with you – make it easy for them. This doesn’t involve a call-to-action of “what time would work for you next week”. Make it easy for the reader to review your proposed times, and check their calendar to confirm if one of the times works with their schedule.

We’re all human, and it’s time to treat your reader like one. Personalization requires personality, and as sales people it’s our job to form mutually beneficial relationships. Let’s leave automation to the Marketing team and strive for personalization at scale.

 

December 31st: Sales Day or Vacation Day?

Today is Tuesday, December 16th, 2014. Excluding weekends and the Christmas holiday, that means there’s only 11 business days left in 2014. Translation: you’ve only got 11 days to close deals.

Having said that, if you haven’t established conversation with your prospects as of today — good luck. As the end of the year is fast approaching, people tend to unplug and rely on their trusty Out of Office (OOO) auto-reply. But, don’t turn into a Scrooge in the face of the “OOO” blocker. We at ToutApp still believe that Wednesday, December 31st will be one of your most important sales days of the year.

Think of December 31st in these terms: it’s another day to do what you do best. Sell.

Know Your Pipeline

As mentioned earlier, December 31st isn’t the best day to go around and try to open new business. It’s more than likely that you won’t be able to reach the right people, let alone anyone at all. December 31st is all about tying up loose ends. Wrangling in the stragglers and making sure they sign that DocuSign.

Chances are, you’re in sales at a company that has some sort of organized pipeline. You know your pipeline. And, you know exactly where each prospect is in that pipeline. If they’re in the training stages–great, make sure they have everything they need to get them going on January 5th. If a prospect is in final evaluation stages, give them a ring and close that deal.

Close from Anywhere

The beauty about technology, but more importantly, technology paired with sales is that you can close from anywhere. Your parents couch in your PJs? Close those deals. In an empty office in San Francisco? Close those deals.

If your prospects are like you–they’re just trying to close deals too. Sure, some of them will be OOO. But, maybe they’re in sales too and they’re trying to close out the year and quarter on a high mark.

What I’m saying is this, everyone needs a break from their family during the holidays, and they’re going to check their email. And, if they’re going to check their email you might as well sign them a DocuSign with an end-of-day expiration date.

Soon-to-Expire-Deal

On December 31, 2013, Market Wired published an article titled “Today is the year’s best day to buy a car.” Why? Because everyone loves a deal. Why pay full price on December 30th when you can cut a deal on December 31st? People wait until the last day of the year because the odds are in their favor. Last day of the year = prices are slashed!

Salespeople need to clear their inventory and meet their sales quota for the month. And people, well, we’re a buying culture and we’re always on the hunt for a deal.

Like any consumer, everyone knows that a good thing (like a deal) won’t stick around forever. There’s an steadfast expiration date. Unlike those Bed, Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons (though, technically, they have an expiry date–but the store honors them anyway).

It’s the last day of the year and if you don’t sign today, prices are going to skyrocket next day on January 1st.

On the prospects’ side, most likely, if they haven’t spent their entire 2014 budget yet–chances are they’re going to do it on that day. Prospects are on the hunt to spend the rest of their fiscal budget money and get the best deal to set them up for success in 2015.

What better way to end off a successful year than with a strong sales close? In the words of ToutApp’s VP of Sales, Eileen Wiens says, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

Here’s to December 31st!

 

 

A Shout-out to You from ToutApp!

It’s that time of year again and we’re kicking off the holiday season a bit early this year, and wanted to give a huge shout-out to you. Yes, you—our amazing customer community.

Next week is Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday season. Across the country, friends and family will gather around a table to share memorable moments from the year, have a good ‘ole time and say thanks to the people that mean the most to us. We here at ToutApp are no exception.

It’s no secret that that entire team at ToutApp loves our customers. We’ve even made a page on our shiny new website dedicated to you–that cutting edge sales team. As a Tout customer, you become a card carrying member of the Tout nation and a true voice in our company mission, product features and every day #toutlife. We’ve hosted customer dinners, happy hours, workshops and networking events all for you. Because you’re simply the best.

Welcome to The Closers Club, it’s for those who close deals.

One of those inaugural members of The Closers Club is the entire sales team at Kareo, an electronic health records company that streamlines everything from billing to collections for thousands of doctors’ practices nationwide. Headquartered out of Irvine, California–this team of closers are truly exceptional.

When Rick Palmer, the Sales Operations Manager at Kareo was continually faced with productivity and messaging roadblocks for his sales team — he found ToutApp to be his solution. Read more about the Kareo sales team and their story on how they supercharge productivity here or click the image below.

casestudy_kareo

So, in short, here’s to you. We hope you have a great start to your holiday season and bring on home those deals well into the new year, because we’re all closers here.

Jarvis is coming. Announcing the next wave of innovation from ToutApp

Today, we’re launching a brand new version of our Analytics platform. We’re also launching a brand new website and blog that really represents the soul of our company. And, we’re announcing the initiative around the next generation of our sales platform: Jarvis.

Today is a good day, and on this day, I thought I’d take some time to share thoughts about what’s ahead for us and the mission we’re embarking upon.

Looking Back

First, before talking about the the future, it’s always good to look back. About 11 months ago, we announced our Series A raise of $3.35m. And what a great eleven months it has been.

At the time of our raise, we had a fantastic product, an eight person team and some amazing customers and traction in the market. We took on the capital so that we could double down on what we were seeing in the market: a tremendous demand for beautifully designed software that helped make salespeople more successful.

Fast forward to today – we’ve not only made tremendous progress in our product offering, including enhancements across our Gmail, Outlook and Salesforce integrations, we’ve also grown in size by a factor of four. Growing and hiring more people is not a metric we optimize for — in fact, it is our goal to have an incredibly high employee to revenue ratio; however, size is still important because it does mean we have more resources to better serve our customers.

Another huge part of our growth has been the establishment of our management team. Earlier this year, we brought on Eileen Wiens to lead our sales team, and Cliff Cate to establish and lead our customer success discipline. We also brought on Daniel Barber to build out our sales development organization. Each and every one of these leaders have already made a tremendous impact to ToutApp and our customers and they’ve each gone on to hire great people to join our mission.

As we look back through the past three quarters, we’ve grown to over 350 enterprise accounts, more than 80,000 salespeople registered on the platform, and our platform is now processing 1m+ sales emails per month.

Our Mission

One of the most important things that we clarified this year was our mission. In order to define our mission, we also had to deeply articulate the vision for the company and what we think sales software should look like 5 years from now.

Why are we building this company? Why should our customers pick us over competition or copycats in the market? There are a million great business ideas, why are we here?

These were questions that I personally asked myself when starting the company back in 2011, but I’ve found it is great to keep revisiting and answering as the company grows. Because as we bring on more and more customers and as we learn more about their needs, the mission grows, and the vision grows, and it’s important to always clarify what we believe in.

The biggest thing we came to realize is one simple thing: we’re here to build software to actually sell, not manage sales. Amazing companies like Salesforce, Siebel, Goldmine and others have built great businesses for managing salespeople — but very few have truly achieved an effective way to make salespeople reach zen-like productivity.

Without fully realizing that distinction, we started our company with simple table stakes such as Tracking, Templates and Analytics for salespeople. As we continue to look to the future of our platform and our offering, we’ve realized that our mission is quite simple:

Tout Overview Deck - v6

Fortunately for us, when we empower salespeople, sales managers win too. Either way, we’re building software for people that say “I Close Deals.”

What’s Ahead

As we spent more time with customers and as we looked inward to clarify our mission and our vision, we set out to write the blueprint for what sales software should look like if it were to be done right.

And as that blueprint came together, we started to see patterns emerge around where salespeople needed the most help, where managers could provide help and how software can elevate the game of an entire sales team.

We’ve already set out to deliver on this audacious roadmap. We’re calling this initiative Jarvis. We could not be more excited about what’s ahead for our company, our platform and for our customers.

Today, we’re launching the first installment of Jarvis, our revamped analytics offering. If you are an existing customer, you can check out your own report here, and if you are not yet a customer, you can learn more about it here.

In Conclusion

I want to take this moment to thank all of our absolutely amazing customers. Each and every one of you are working to build great sales teams using the best technology and we thank you for partnering with us.

As we forge ahead, don’t think of us as sales acceleration software, not sales engagement software, or sales communications software. We’re sales software, and we build it to empower you.

ToutApp named a Top 10 Fastest Growing Cloud App of Q3 2014

The cloud is the future. We trust the cloud to run our businesses, store data and be a reliable ally when we need to send documents. Quarterly, Skyhigh Networks, a cloud security software provider publishes a list of the top 10 fastest growing cloud services; and ToutApp made the list for Q3 2014!

With more growth and team signups than ever, we’re thrilled to be included in Skyhigh Networks’ list alongside BlueJeans, ProofHQ, Doodle, Wunderlist, and other great companies. To make their list, Skyhigh Networks publishes information on cloud trends based on anonymized usage data of over 8,000 cloud companies and over 13 million of enterprise users.

That’s a lot of people.

So, a huge shout out to you—our users for continuing to give us feedback about ToutApp, so we can make it better for you, every day. Keep closing those deals.

Social Selling: Truth or BS?

Let’s play a game called Truth or BS. I’m talking about Social Selling–is it truth or BS, hype or reality, useful or useless?

Here are the Social Selling ground rules:

Social selling is more than a buzzword in both the tech world and the sales world. Social selling is, in itself, a way of life and a better way to do sales.

Social Selling is often misunderstood as being exclusive to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. While these platforms play a huge role in the game, Social Selling is less about the medium and more about building strong relationships with potential prospects based on personal authenticity and deep empathy.

Creating a personal connection with a prospect is paramount for a successful career in sales, with or without technology. Technology, in the case of Social Selling and social media platforms, facilitate the conversations. Inevitably, you–the salesperson–create the content and start the conversation.

So, are you ready? Let’s play Social Selling: Truth or BS.

Truth or BS: Social Selling allows you to effectively target prospects.

Truth.
Effectively targeting prospects via social media, especially through Twitter micro-bios,  gives you quick facts about them and insight into their buying power at the company. If a 160-character micro-bio isn’t enough to satiate you, check out a prospect’s LinkedIn profile for a full view into their role at a company. Now, instead of a shot in the dark, you can aim for the goal.

Truth or BS: In a instant gratification world, we no longer need to build customer loyalty.

BS.
Just because we’re living in a 15-second Instagram video world doesn’t mean that we’re casting customer loyalty aside for get-in-now service. To stay and play in the sales game, you have to build and maintain strong relationships. No ifs, ands or buts. If you want new business, you have to build a strong and loyal customer foundation. Take the time to develop those relationships over social media and then, once you’re ready to make that cold call or email—you’ll have real details to sprinkle into your conversation.

Truth or BS: Conversations don’t happen over social media.

BS.
Conversations happen all the time over social media. You can even design your own conversation over social media. Great conversations happen between people who are interested in each other. How do you accomplish this? By being authentic and targeted your conversations.

Target key conversations to your audience and define what you want to say to your audience. What do they care about? What are their problems and how can you listen and help solve them? How do you put solutions into action? By asking these questions, sparking these conversations, and answering these questions with your audience, you’ll capture their attention and build their trust.

Truth or BS: With Social Selling, you don’t need to use an old-school selling tactics to close deals.

BS.
Sales is a process. Some aspects of old-school selling still works. And you definitely still needs those in your daily process. If the sales-cult-favorite film Glengarry Glen Ross taught us anything, it’s our ABCs–always be closing.

Is Social Selling for me?

If you’re a salesperson today, then the answer is a resounding yes. Social Selling is all about creating new opportunities and getting to the core of people and their interests that sidestep many of the out-dated and underperforming values of the traditional sales process. Let’s all be apart of that because, afterall, people want to buy from people they like.

The First Thing I Ever Sold

By now, you’ve all had enough time to recover and decompress from your post-Dreamforce bliss or blues. Don’t worry, Dreamforce will be back in 11 months.

Until then, let’s throw it back to last week and recap our Dreamforce 2014 experience.

At this year’s Dreamforce, we wanted to cut through the noise of the “Do you mind if I scan your badge?” and the hard sell of ‘XYZ’ platform. Instead, we wanted to ask you one simple question: What’s the first thing you ever sold?

Whether your day-to-day is knee deep in sales, your heads down in marketing or you’re doing a balancing act between tickets and support calls in Customer Support–you’ve definitely sold something, at some point in your life. I sold chocolate candy bars for an elementary school fundraiser. Mind you, I’m using the term “sold” in a loose way… as my parents paid for those candy bars which I ate after school because I was “hungry.” How many of those candy bars did I actually sell? I’m not sure.

We asked Dreamforcers both at our ToutApp booth and online atTheFirstThingIEverSold.com. We’ve collected a few of our favorites (in no particular order), check them out below:

1. Chickens

 

 

2. Mobile Nokia 3310

 

 

3. Bacon Bits

 

 

4. Worms

 

 

5. 10-yard chain of paperclips

 

 

6. Painting curb addresses

 

 

7. A Star Wars Action Figure

 

 

8. Jump rope-a-thon

 

 

9. White Snake Tape

 

 

10. Kool-Aid (ooh yeah)

 

 

11. Organic Blackberries

 

 

12. Dial-up Internet

 

 

So, what’s the first thing you ever sold? Be sure to share the first thing you ever sold here.

Stories from the Street: Dreamforce Edition

 

Live from San Francisco, it’s Stories from the Street: the Dreamforce Edition. We’ve left the office behind and hit the Dreamforce pavement to talk to you–the dreamers.

ICYMI: Dreamforce is going on right now. This very instant. If you’re in SF, hurry, because this dream is ending RIGHT NOW.

Whether you’re pounding the Dreamforce pavement or experiencing a bit of #FOMO because you’re not here, don’t worry. It’s a cool 62 degrees outside Moscone Center aka the epicenter of the Dreamforce universe and we talked to a handful of Dreamforce-newcomers about their 2014 experience. These are their stories:

[cue Law & Order title sequence music]

Keynote Speakers

 

 

 

Dreamforce 2014 welcomed key political players to take part in their Keynote series. Namely, Former Secretary of State and Former U.S. Senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton and 45th Vice President of the U.S., Al Gore.

However, for Chelsea and Susan, first-time Dreamforcers and Business Development interns at DocuSign, their favorite keynote was from Salesforce ringleader Marc Benioff. Benioff, for many years, has been a master business man and showman. Dreamforce 2014 was no exception.

Dreamforce is all about networking, professional development, and learning. Benioff’s keynote, which emphasized the need for philanthropy, struck a chord in our first-time attendees minds.

Learning First Hand

For Chelsea and Susan, Day 3 of Dreamforce also happened to be their third day on the job. Talk about first hand, on-the-job training. First and foremost, Dreamforce is a cloud computing conferencing that aims to teach its audience–whether it’s emphasizing philanthropy and giving back, or if it’s showcasing a new suite of Salesforce products.

It’s undeniable that every person we talked to, whether it was on the street or at a booth, wanted to strengthen their knowledge about cloud technology and discover the different players in their industry.

Mack, a second time Dreamforcer and Solutions Architect at Dealertrack, said he’s interested in being on the leading edge of his industry. Earlier this week when Salesforce introduced Lightning, a new platform to build mobile apps. This product launch immediately struck a chord with Mack. Lightning is being touted as a WYSIWYG, drag-and-drop dashboard to help Salesforce customers build and code mobile apps–in the lightning speed. As a Solutions Architect, this is huge for Mack. It’ll tremendously change his day-to-day workflow at Dealertrack.

Everyone Loves Salesforce

 

 

 

It seems like a no-brainer, but everyone at Dreamforce really loves Salesforce. Waleed, a first-time Dreamforcer and Sales Operations Manager at Intelex Technologies, one of the most compelling points about Dreamforce was everyone’s love for Salesforce. As a former Netsuite advocate-turned Salesforce user, Waleed’s definitely the newest edition to the Salesforce advocates.

Dreamforce: A Definite Return on Investment

Bottom line: everyone is coming back next year. Whether it’s because of #FOMO, your company already booking a booth, you wanting to see the 2015 Tesla, all 145,000+ faces will definitely be back next September for Dreamforce 2015.

What’s the first thing you ever sold?

Dreamforce — literally simultaneously — is our most celebrated event and our most dreaded event every year. There is nothing more invigorating than getting together with 125,000 people all congregating to learn about the latest and greatest in cloud technologies.

At the same time, we’ve always hated the hard selling around booths, booth babes, trinkets and the mindless “Mind if I scan you?!”

So ever since we started participating with Dreamforce, we’ve always strived to bring a unique perspective to our presence so that it is fun, uplifting and educational for all.

I Close Deals at Dreamforce 2013

Last year, we had our “I Close Deals” booth — which happens to be our tagline for ToutApp. It was simple, we put the amazing people we met in front of a camera at our booth and chatted about Sales Tips and Tricks that worked well for them.

 

 

Dreamforce 2014

This year is no different. As we continue to evolve into being the all-in-one platform that helps empower salespeople, we’ve dedicated our booth to salespeople and to celebrating your first sale.

 

 

 

Are you at Dreamforce? Come visit our team and take the Tout Challenge at Moscone West, Booth W118.

What’s The First Thing You Ever Sold?

For salespeople, it’s a profound question. What’s the first thing you ever sold? For me, it was a book. I sold books to engineers to monetize the website I had created around programming resources back in 2001. As we asked around, we started to uncover really fun and interesting stories. Even more importantly, it made salespeople stop and think: “Wow… I’ve been doing this for a while!”

 

 

 

(yes, we will be giving out our t-shirts at our booth!)

So, to celebrate, Team Tout will be at full force with “I Close Deals” T-Shirts and we’ll be polling you on “What’s the First Thing You Ever Sold?” Come to our booth in Moscone West W118 to take the Tout Challenge. The reward? Our highly coveted I Close Deals T-Shirts.

Not at Dreamforce?!

Did you stay back so that you can GSD and close deals? No worries! We’ve put together an entire online community site for you where you can share the story of your first sale.

 

 

 

Take the Tout Challenge

(it only takes a minute!)