Ah, information technology. Having worked in the IT world for several years, I can confirm that it has a reputation for being unnecessarily jargon-laden and user-unfriendly.
Help with a Smile, however, is an IT company working to shrug off this reputation. Their President and Chief IT Specialist Michael Spadaro has built a company that is friendly and customer-centric, and at the center of all of their communications is Tout.
How Help with a Smile Uses Tout
Michael: We're an NYC-based IT support and consulting firm, and we use Tout for communicating with sales prospects that are (hopefully) looking to improve their IT support situation. We store our e-mail templates in Tout and share them among the sales team. Being able to collaboratively develop sales messaging templates is not only a time saver, but it makes sure that the communications are on-point with our sales strategies. At the same time, we love how easy it is to customize a template on-the-fly to keep things personal.
Before Tout, our sales processes were very "shoot from the hip"- as a small company without a dedicated sales staff, we don't have the luxury of spending a lot of time writing and re-writing e-mail communications to prospects, which is exactly what we were doing before.
3 things you can do to embody the voice of the customer
- Constantly tweak and hone your templates
- Use your Tout templates to keep your team on-message, with a positive and light tone.
- Ask others outside of your field to [read your templates] and give you suggestions.
IT professionals have a well-earned reputation for not being able to relate well to the rest of the business world- bucking this trend is what Help with a Smile is all about, but many IT companies could use a dose of user-friendliness in their sales processes.
3 signs your prospects are engaged
There's been several occasions where we've used Tout to focus our sales efforts on prospects based upon their positive interaction with a message we "touted" to them. We can see when a prospect is showing a great level of interest, whether by:
- Repeatedly viewing the message
- Forwarding the message to others who are also viewing
- Clicking on links in the message
Even those bits of information alone can tremendously inform the sales process. Given this knowledge, we can prioritize our sales tasks to reach out to these individuals through other methods of communication as a follow-up to our e-mail.
Any experienced businessperson has attended their fair share of conferences and tradeshows. They’ve networked, they’ve delivered their pitch, and they’ve handed out and received endless swathes of business cards. As our society continues to talk about going paperless, the fact that business cards are still prevalent seems a little outdated.
At Tout, our mission has always been to make emailing simpler and more efficient by providing features like templates, tracking, and easy-to-message groups. Still, our product is flexible and ever-changing; we hear about new use cases from our customers every day. So when we heard about users relying on Tout as a replacement for business cards, we had to share it!
Tout solves a key problem for any salesperson: following up.
Picture South by Southwest in your mind: It’s a time for concerts, panel sessions, parties, and endless, endless amounts of networking. And with networking comes business cards. And with business cards come dead trees. All that aside, though, keeping track of the sheer volume of contacts met during SXSW is a daunting task.
We caught up with Vivek Sharma of Movable Ink who attended South by Southwest this year to get some insight into his use of Tout.
What was life like before Tout?
VS: [Before Tout, I would] carry a stack of business cards and do a card exchange. No one ever follows up on collected business cards. One could spend hours sorting through cards, transcribing data, and following up. Why not skip the steps and go directly to a personalized email? I've saved hours and hours of time with this streamlined process.
My inbox is also searchable so I'll always be able to go back and track older communications with someone I met. I love Tout!
How did you use Tout at SXSW?
VS: I used Tout to send people my contact information, follow up with them, and demo my company's technology. My company, Movable Ink, delivers live and streaming content in emails. Tout's the perfect solution to demo this to people I meet. I send people I meet a personalized email with an example of Movable Ink technology (see below).
It's the perfect tool to get people to experience what we have built on a visceral level.
Have you recommended Tout to anyone? How did you describe it?
VS: I do… in fact I describe Tout to anyone I've met and I'm about to send an email to. I tell them it's like a Mailchimp for personal use.
Bonus: What are your favorite Tout features?
VS: Tout's delayed send is an awesome feature. People are very busy during SXSW so its useful to auto-send the follow-up three days after the event, when they can actually absorb it.
The iPhone app is very easy to use when you're on the go. Finally, being able to track whether your email was opened or clicked on is a big benefit.
Have you ever emailed customer support or your IT department for help with a problem? Most of the time there's a lot of emailing back and forth, just to identify the problem. It clogs your inbox and it takes forever. If you can effectively communicate the right information to customer support or your IT department, you'll not only avoid an extensive and unnecessary email dialogue, but you'll also get your problem solved much faster.
Take the first steps to solve the solution yourself
You know what they're going to say first - stop, close, and restart. Go ahead and get that taken care of, and if you're still having an issue, move on to troubleshooting. Most sites have a help page. If it's easily accessible, search for your problem in the help page and see if there's an answer. Yes? Do what it says. No? Proceed to step two.
Send the right information
Since you weren't able to solve the issue yourself, it's time to go ahead and email support. While we all want to be polite in our communication, the best way to get your tech problem solved fast is to be direct.
Here's what to say in your email:
- Describe the problem
- Describe how you came to encounter the problem (what did you do before)
- List the steps you've already taken to try to solve the problem
- Attach a screenshot of the problem
Once you've done all the steps above, you'll probably get an email back with a list of action items that you can do to solve the problem. You'll avoid the back and forth, and the support team will be able to answer your questions right away.
This week, we were honored to be featured by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the 7 Essential Apps for Sales Teams. And of course, we're in great company. As the article points out, there are a lot of small details required to for a salesperson to close a sale. If you can't manage the tiny details, there's no way you will be able to be a successful sales person.
A Better Way to Work
Luckily, tools like Tout will help you increase your productivity and manage each step in a smarter way. For example, the ability to schedule emails means that as soon as you've left a meeting, you can follow up immediately, but you won't seem over-eager. The fact that Tout will automatically update your CRM with not only a copy of the email, but also analytic data on that email, means that you have one more step you don't have to worry about. People are raving about it.
A browser plugin automatically scans for any email addresses listed on a Web page, helping you quickly find the person you need. 'Click the [contact] you want, click the template button and you're sending an email in two minutes,' says Beth Morgan, vice president of marketing for Palo Alto, Calif.-based healthcare tracking site Simplee.
It's all about streamlining the process. If we can find ways to help salespeople close deals faster and more efficiently, we ultimately help salespeople partner with their customers to bring them more of the products and services they need, without losing a bit of the personal touch.
Want to streamline your sales email process? Try Tout for free today.
And of course, a big thank you to Entrepreneur Magazine for helping us share our love of workplace productivity with the world!
If you've ever thought small towns and city governments are behind the times, think again. Sid Burgess, the Director of Government Relations at DotGov, has helped change all that. DotGov makes an application called YouTown, which makes it easy for cities and towns across the US to connect with their citizens - it's a mobile app that constituents can download, and governments can share information like maps, news, events and standard information.
The barrier of entry for a local government actually going mobile is now gone, and the only obstacle before them is about 5 minutes to sign up. When you stop and think about what it would mean to have most governments mobile, the idea gets pretty exciting.
YouTown: Bringing Mobile to Government
Sid and the YouTown team beta tested the product for a year before they brought it to market - they wanted to make sure it worked exactly the way that city and town governments needed it to. They did a great job, so much so that the White House recognized YouTown as a "Champion of Change."
The YouTown team is still extremely dedicated to customer development and interaction with current users, but as they grew, finding ways to expand their reach was a challenge. Sid found that there were two ways he could connect with customers over email - he could either send out a mass mailing or he could send personalized emails to each person.
I didn't want the primary way that our customers heard from us to be through a newsletter -- a fairly impersonal form of correspondence.
Customer Development - The Personal Way
In order to maximize his reach and still maintain a personal touch, Sid decided to use Tout. He started using Tout groups to segment the people he wanted to reach out to. It made it really easy for him to create personal messages that were relevant to the right people.
I describe Tout as the easiest way to be as personable as you have always wanted to be, without the time of crafting hundreds of emails.
Tout has allowed Sid to maintain an extremely high level of engagement with people in governments using YouTown. He's able to quickly let people know about new features and get their feedback - it's the same concept as when YouTown was in beta, but at scale. Tout is the perfect tool for Sid to maintain fast, personal emails, and it's allowing him to get hugely beneficial interaction with YouTown users.If you're looking for a way to engage with your customers in a very personal way, try Tout today.