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Confessions of a Content Marketer


I have something to confess. I’ve never been in sales.

I don’t make cold calls, I don’t have a prospect list, and don’t even have a quota.

So why on earth would it be okay for me to write content about Sales?

Plain and simple: knowing how to sell and discovering how to sell are actually two different things.

I’m on a mission. A mission to deliver fantastic, empowering, and educational content to salespeople everywhere. And I’ve just had an ‘Aha!’ moment that there’s an amazing way to do this, so I'm writing to you. 

I Almost Messed Up.

As the voice of ToutApp’s blog and social media, my gut instinct upon entering this role was to sound exactly like a top-notched seasoned professional. I wanted to research as much as I possibly could, and learn every piece of up-to-date sales “jargon” there was. The problem was, and still is with any new role, it takes months to understand the company’s voice and space. And when you’re in charge of writing blog posts and posting on Twitter from day one, the challenge sets in. I had a huge fear of sounding fake.

So, I’ve decided that rather than writing a best practice post on “The Best Cold Call Ever Dialed” from my perspective, I’m going to change the way we’re doing things. I’ll interview and learn from my sales team and other reps, and find out that answer for you. Because, in reality, I don’t even have a headset or use my desk phone.

Down in the Trenches.

I'm getting in the trenches with our Sales Team. Fighting for that closed deal with them on their sales calls is the best way I’ll understand what they are going through, and ultimately, what you are going through. Every sales team has similar fundamentals that help them win deals:  perseverance, motivation, clock-speed, PLUS one big common denominator. As TK our CEO puts it simply, sales is on the rise because people still just want to talk to other human beings. “When a human being talks to another, that, my friends, is when selling happens.”

And that’s what I’ll be doing, talking to you from an honest and real point of view. I’ll be writing posts from my perspective of “discovering” sales. Discovering what our VP of Sales thinks about strategy, “discovering” how our sales reps deal with obstacles of selling like fear and resilience, and then “researching”  our SDR’s messaging and finding out which templates work best.

I’ve decided the best and fastest way to master content marketing, as well as Sales in general, is working right along with my badass team to learn as much as possible.

My Three Goals Around This Blog:

1. Have fun and interesting content that you’ll actually want to tweet to your friends (not just click-bate headlines).
2. Interview the best salespeople in the country. From thought leaders, to VP’s, to top selling reps; I’ll pick their brains for you and get their best practices and sales techniques.
3. Be a weekly go-to for “all things sales.” And by all things, I mean all of the things YOU want me to write about.

My Final Confession.

SO, I have access to some of the BEST salespeople on the planet. I dare you to write in the comments section, email me, tweet at me, and tell me what you’d like me to ask them. What would you like to learn more about? This blog is not for us– it’s for you!

In return, I promise you this blog won’t have drab and boring content that “the other guys” constantly deliver. I want you to stop skimming sales articles, and start enjoying them.  My focus will be on delivering authentic and real content that’s going to be interesting to read, and helpful in your sales process.  And I’ll do this by following my three goals above.

So, I confess to you, I’m not a professional salesperson. And I don’t track leads in Salesforce.

But I’ll bug the heck out of my sales team and other people that know a thing or two more than us, and give you the scoop. #iclosedealstoo.


*Brittany is the Marketing Happiness Officer/ Content Marketing Manager for ToutApp.
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Why you should consider a career in Sales

Last week I had a particularly exciting moment. I had to write two 5-figure commission checks for two of our top sales reps, and surprisingly a commission check for our MDR who had extra time after qualifying inbound leads and so she started closing deals. We call her Meghan “Oops I Closed a Deal” O’Donnell.

What’s the big deal? Aside from the fact that we offer a 20% uncapped rip on every $1 you bring into the company here at ToutApp, the big deal here is that two of my top reps were never in Sales before. In fact, one of them explicitly told me “I don’t want to do Sales. I don’t want to do Sales” at her job interview, and the other started as a Marketing Intern at ToutApp and I convinced her to “help out and call some customers” when we were overflowing with leads.

Duh. Sales is changing.

On one hand, I feel incredibly happy to be paying forward the value that my team delivers. In fact, it is my hope that every single person in the company earns some form of commission for value delivered to the customer, even Engineers. On the other hand, as someone that thinks deeply about where Sales and Marketing is headed (see my article on Wired for more on this), I couldn’t help stop and think about what this all means for what it means to be a “salesperson.”

The experts have been preaching on and on and on about how “sales is changing” — yes we get it, it’s all changing. The experts have also been going on and on and on about “social selling.”  I had to have Jill Rowley explain to me what “social selling” was because to me, and to most of us that haven’t sold before LinkedIn, Google, or ToutApp existed, before “Inside Sales” became a “thing” and before we had to specifically define “Consultative Selling” — quite frankly, we, us amateurs in Sales, just call all of this stuff: SELLING.

The Un-Salesperson

Anyway, I digress. The point here is that it is old news that “Sales is changing.” In fact, Sales has changed. That’s old news. It’s done. What’s new and more pressing today is that the definition of a successful salesperson is changing. I’ve been bugging Jen, one of our top sales reps, who also frequently blogs, and helps make marketing videos, to finish writing her blog post on “Sales Pros vs. Sales Bros” because I think it perfectly articulates what it actually takes these days to be successful in Sales.

Sales is definitely not this guy anymore:

And, Sales is no longer this slick clean shaven well dressed bro either:

Sales today looks more like this, normal human beings:

Salespeople today are no longer defined under a stereotype. The most successful salespeople today are not the Type-A “meat eaters,” they’re not the ones that can “sell anything, close anything, don’t give a damn.” Salespeople today could quite frankly be you, the person that hasn’t sold a day in your life, but you are a real person, an intelligent person, a humble person, a self-reflective person, a person that can communicate, a person that belives in delivering value, in solving problems, in being the best that you can be. YOU can be a salesperson.

Everybody is selling something

Truth is, at some point in our industry, salespeople started to get a really bad rep. And so with the onslaught of incredible access to information via Google, with companies like Dropbox, like Atlassian, and to a certain extent, a huge part of the valley decided “To hell with Salespeople.” Maybe it was the slick Oracle salespeople, maybe it was the used car salespeople, maybe it was both, but we all decided, we don’t want to be lied to anymore.

And yet, it looks like the pendulum swung back in the other direction. With the biggest SaaS companies showing incredible growths, their glimpse into their balance sheets show how a majority of their spend always goes toward “Sales and Marketing.” But this time around, as the pendulum swung back, Salespeople came back with a vengenance.

And the reason salespeople made a come back is because we as human beings realized that even with Google feeding us all the information we need, with all the white papers, and automated nurture campaigns, we still just wanted to talk to another human being. And when a human being talks to another, that, my friends, is when selling happens.

Whether you’re the founder of a company, or you’re a teacher at a parent teacher conference, or you’re a PR person pitching your story to a reporter, you’re selling, and you’re in sales, and you’re doing it with pride, prestige, and honor.

Your Career In Sales

And so with this new definition of a salesperson, if you’re feeling stuck in your career, or are unsure about where you fit, or are looking to take your own development, the amount of money you make, and the amount of value you deliver to the next level, YOU should consider a career in sales. Because sales has changed, and it wants you, the person that emodies the human spirit of being social, of connecting, of helping others and of thriving and building wealth for yourself and your customers. We’re hiring by the way.


If you’re interested in a career in sales, we’re building a massive army of salespeople:
Learn more about becoming a Sales Happiness Officer


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ToutApp’s New Marketo Integration

Conquering the Divide: Marketing and Sales

It’s your typical sales scenario.

Marketing receives a lead from a webinar or website sign-up, they create messaging, and then send it along to the sales team. They wait, they hope, and over time, they see if the communication leads to conversion. There isn’t a lot of transparency throughout the entire sales process such as: real-time click through rates, most engaged leads, insight into what’s being opened, etc.

Meanwhile, Sales teams are not finding the messaging or sales enablement training effective, and Marketing is confused because they have data saying otherwise.

Well folks, we think it’s finally time to create a system that makes both sides happy and closer than ever. ToutApp’s new integration with Marketo cleverly bridges the divide between marketing and sales that has kept each department ignorant about what happens during the other half of the selling process. This unprecedented level of collaboration between two historically divided teams will make it effortless for sales and marketing to share insights

What will you get?

1. A unified view of the entire customer funnel
2. Unprecedented level of collaboration between two historically divided teams
3. Real-time sales activities and engagement data will be fed directly into Marketo’s lead record
4. Marketers get a 360-degree view of what happens to leads once they cross over to the sales side
5. Never again will sales reps have to worry about marketing getting in the way of a sales email with a blast campaign

Marketo is for Marketing. ToutApp is for Sales.

“Marketing and sales have always had a tumultuous relationship because of the lack of visibility each department has into the other’s activities.”

“This new integration provides a full picture of the entire customer acquisition process and enables sales and marketing teams to work together to find out what messaging works, without wasting valuable time assembling notes and debriefing the other side.”

-ToutApp CEO Tawheed Kader.

Driving Sales and Marketing Alignment

When sales and marketing teams have easy access to a unified view of the customer across the entire process, they can quickly work together on how to boost conversion rates. Instead of each team preparing lengthy reports about how they are interacting with prospects, the ToutApp integration with Marketo automatically provides the data that enables marketing and sales teams to rapidly identify which strategies are most effective. In other words, Marketing teams can find out which of the prospects they send to salespeople are actually converting to real customers, and in turn sales teams can see which marketing strategies generate the most successful leads as fast as possible.

It’s an addictive win for both sides.

Read What People Are Saying:

Sales platform ToutApp adds Marketo integration
-MarketingDive.com

Sales+Marketing= Sucess
-Betaworld.com

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How Dyn Uses ToutApp’s Email Tracking and Analytics to Delight Customers

You’d never thought DNS and email delivery could get this exciting. Dyn are the coolest kids on the block making the internet work. They’ve delighted us with their Most Reputable Sender in the World campaign and their nontraditional take on classic internet memes.

When they’re not busy powering the internet, Dyn’s business development and marketing teams use Tout to improve their emails.

Tout is great for “reaching out to existing customers… Since there are wayyyyyyy more customers than there are BDRs, it helps us keep in contact with them all and inform them of other offerings Dyn has.” – AJ Garron, Business Development Rep

As a very customer-centric company (we’ve written about Dyn’s credo and how they put the customer first here), the Dyn team use ToutApp to stay in touch with more customers while keeping the conversation personal. Our templates save the team time re-writing the same communications, and email tracking kicks in to make sure that Dyn’s reps are engaging with the most interested customers.

“Our team loves using ToutApp. Efficiency and 'working smart' are some of our credos here at Dyn, and ToutApp is a major tool to help promote both of them. It's a great connection tool that we use every day.' – John Zahr, Business Development Manager

“ToutApp is a great tool to not only learn how effective you are at first impressions, but also increase the number of first impressions you can achieve in a work day. It makes your emails more about the customers, rather than yourself using its customized templates. If there is one tool in your marketing and sales teams’ hands that is fist pump worthy…this is it.” –Ryan O'Hara, Event Marketing

Tout’s offerings not only help Dyn send out a larger quantity of emails, they also improve the quality of them. Template analytics keep the team on top of their game by letting them know how effective each email is. Not only does Tout help Dyn succeed as a business, it lets them give their customers more of the information they want.

In fact, if you’re a Tout customer looking for your own email servers to send from, we definitely recommend that you check Dyn out. Existing Tout users can set up SMTP with them here.

You can learn more about why Dyn loves us by signing up for a ToutApp account today.

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Trada Hones in on Hot Leads with Tout

About Trada

Online advertising is a crowded, confusing industry that Trada brings sanity to. They run the first and only crowdsourced, community-based marketplace for online advertising. Clients sign up, detail their needs, and are matched with industry experts, eliminating the need for a full in-house paid search team. Their business provides an easy solution that’s ideal for mid-market and larger small businesses.

We've profiled Trada in the past to spread word about a job opening for Business Development Reps. Check it out to learn more about their team and great culture – as well as their annual scooter race! 

The problem

Trada’s messaging and lead follow-up process were systematized, but they lacked key insights into their day-to-day sales communication. Their Business Development Reps weren’t sure which leads were the most qualified to follow up with, and they also weren’t sure what communications resonated the most with prospects.

The Solution

Trada’s sales and marketing departments worked together to get Tout running for the team. Marketing created templates for sales, and sales used these in their everyday communications to A/B test and gather usage metrics. Tout’s templates save Trada time writing repetitive emails, and they ensure that messaging is consistent across the team. As a fast-growing company, new Business Development Reps can quickly get up to speed on the sales process and messaging. Trada’s sales team can now gain critical insights on a lead-by-lead basis – by knowing who opened their emails – to hone in on the most interested leads with targeted follow-up.  

Tout enables our sales team to prioritize their day. In the past we wasted time chasing leads who never opened the emails we sent them. By using Tout we can now target prospects that we are confident have opened their email. Tout also gives us insight into how quickly they are opened, how many times and what action they take after reading,”
– Chris Crawfurd, Director of Training and Sales Enablement

Bonus: ToutApp best practices from the Trada team

  • Move recipients with the most clicks and views on emails to the top of the list for follow up
  • Have marketing and sales work together to create and test sales email templates
  • Follow up with an email or phone call when the Live Feed shows a lead viewing your email
  • A/B test sales templates to see which perform the best, then use the ones with the best statistics.
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Toutapp Helps Lawgical Increase Engagement

Our featured Team of the Week entry comes from Lawgical. Every week or so, we'll profile a different user group who uses our app to improve their email productivity. If you would like to be featured in the future, you can apply here.

About Lawgical

Lawgical is an online marketing company that serves select legal niches. We have a number of brands such as ServeNow, PInow, AboutBail, and the Legal Talk Network that are recognized as industry leading networks for the legal communities that they serve. Our activities range from building our networks to actively promoting the products.

How Lawgical uses ToutApp

 

ToutApp is an incredibly useful tool for outreach and sales productivity. We use it throughout our marketing and sales departments to create and enhance engagement with clients and leads.

An example of how we've used ToutApp is in communications with governmental agencies for marketing projects. The responsiveness of agencies and their bureaucracies can vary greatly. So being able to view whether they opened or clicked on our emails has guided our communications, especially for when and how we follow up. As a result, we've increased the number of responses to our requests and gotten much better project results.

Beyond just tracking, the ability to create and use templates within ToutApp has helped us routinize and refine certain processes to make them faster and more efficient.

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How We Made our Customer Support Kickass

A customer-centered company

Here at ToutApp, we’re really dedicated to making our customers happy. My job title as “Happiness Officer” is a fairly excellent example of thisA month or so ago, though, as we amped up our marketing efforts, we started to experience some growing pains – especially in customer service. We’d been having trouble listening to our customers, responding as quickly as we used to, and making necessary improvements within the app – all while staying friendly, accessible, and helpful. It felt like a compromise to some of our ideals. To that effect, we decided to make some important changes to our support structure that I’ll talk about below.

Though none of this is directly sales-related, I hope that at the very least it’ll spark a discussion about how to best communicate with customers, as well as how to structure customer service at a growing company.

Here are some important changes and realizations we made where it comes to support:

1) “Customer service” is NOT a happy term.

Before doing any real restructuring of our support system, we meditated on our methodology and language for working with customers. “Customer service” is reminiscent of being put on hold and transferred, having to answer the same question over and over, or getting a nine digit case number to reference. Not the sort of experience we wanted to provide to ToutApp customers.

Since we’ve never been fans of doing things the old fashioned way, we’re throwing these terms out internally. If you want to get in touch with us, you can contact the happiness team to ask a question, report a problem, or talk to our enterprise sales team. No fuss.

2) Support tools can actually hurt productivity.

One of the biggest challenges I personally have been up against is the juggling of many different platforms in my daily workflow. At one point, I sat down, mapped out what I was using each service for (it looked something like this [right]), and decided things needed to change.

Here's all the tools I was using for support....

Now I’ve got Hipchat, Pivotal Tracker, Salesforce, Google Docs, Salesforce, and our internal database all hooked up to Zendesk and everything is finally in one place. I know when new cases come in through Hipchat, I can log bug reports easily, record user requests in a spreadsheet, and, most importantly, easily reference our customers’ data while chatting with them. Even if it takes some effort to build a custom setup like this, I can guarantee that the final result is worth it. Your customer support, service, or happiness team – whatever you call it – is not one size fits all. And your internal chaos will likely reflect itself when dealing with a customer. Your zen is their zen.

2) Your feedback mechanisms should be customized.

After a ton of research, we decided to migrate from Desk to Zendesk as our help desk platform.

Ask a Question

Zendesk provided some standard forms for submitting tickets. However, after looking over them we realized these were too generic for our business. So we decided to design our own forms.

Our main reason for this was the need for two very different forms: one that allowed customers to get simple questions answered (e.g. What’s included with your free plan?), and another for more in-depth problems with our product (e.g. Why won’t my templates load?). We’re a fairly complex platform that has a lot of different integrations, so we built up a really comprehensive “Report a Problem” form that asks as many questions as it can so that we can minimize back-and-forth exchanges by grabbing a ton of information up front.

Check them out:

3) Showing is telling.

Our new FAQs!

Throughout this support facelift, it had become fairly apparent recently that we’d outgrown our

homemade help/FAQ pages, so I completely redid these. Our two worst problems with these FAQs were a lack of up-to-date information and too much text. Rather than spend the necessary time updating these FAQs, I typically ended up communicating one-off with customers to show them a feature or walk them through a necessary process.

I’m cringing a bit as I write this, because we all know that’s not a sustainable process. Investing the time to make your help pages great and create good articles and video content goes a huge way in making any support organization successful. After just a week on our new FAQ pages (using Zendesk’s framework – thanks!), I can already notice a lot more customers educating themselves about the product, which makes everyone’s lives happier.

4) Our customers’ priorities are our priorities.

We previously asked customers “How are you feeling?” in our customer forms. This was a suggestion that Wufoo made at Userconf (a conference that was really helpful in us defining our support priorities!).

In the end, though, we made a basic realization: customers who have to fill out a “Report a Problem” form usually tend to be annoyed – who wouldn’t be?

We wanted to have a more meaningful way of humanizing communication with our customers, so we took a tip from Zendesk and added in a “Priority” field instead. Is this a low urgency issue? Or is it highly impactful? Now we can determine if something needs to be solved right away or in the near future.

In conclusion….

We realized we weren’t scaling something well, so we fixed it. It was this realization that allowed us to create an even better experience for our customers. ToutApp customers can now get help more easily and quickly – with a friendlier face.

I’m sure we’ll continue to have challenges as we continue to scale, but now our revamped infrastructure will better scale with them. If your company is experiencing anything similar, I’d love to talk about ideas, techniques, and tools. If you’re a user, I hope you notice the improvements. We’re here for you guys!

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User of the Week: ToutApp gains lifetime fans from BabyList

Every week or so, we'll profile a different person who uses our app to improve their email productivity. If you would like to be featured in the future, you can apply here.

I spearhead marketing and PR initiatives for BabyList. We provide expectant moms the ability to add items from any store to one universal baby registry – it's just as easy to use as Pinterest. BabyList is currently a part of an accelerator program and one of our main goals is to increase user sign-ups. We have a niche target market of pregnant women so we are constantly thinking of creative ways to reach them.


We LOVE ToutApp because it provides us greater insight to how the editors and influencers we are contacting are responding to BabyList. Our emails typically contain several links so we are able to gauge where people are clicking…and what they are interested in. And, at the very least, we'll know that they viewed our emails and how frequently.

Recently, I noticed one email I sent was viewed 27 times – I just knew that the recipient was interested and would respond soon. And, sure enough, she did!

We have just started using ToutApp and are already fast fans. I'm sure as we start drilling into the additional bells and whistles that Tout offers, we'll be lifetime fans.

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ToutApp Adds Presentation and Website Tracking to Sales Communications Platform

 

We’ve been pretty busy at ToutApp lately – have you noticed? Today we’re announcing two additions to our powerful email tracking: attachment and site action tracking.

 

Email Attachment Tracking

For the average person in marketing or sales, email attachments are incredibly important. They provide compelling content to the recipient, they supplement what can’t be said in a short business email, and they’re what help sign the deal. If you know your recipients are interested in the content you’re providing them with, you have a far better chance of doing business together.

Now we’ll let you know when your recipient opens an attachment and is paging around the content. You’ll know when they open it, what’s most interesting to them, and if they come back to view it again and again (a good sign!). This new attachments platform is called Tout Connect, and we’ve got some great additions coming to it soon…. so stay tuned.

Here’s an example of what one of our trackable attachments looks like:

  New attachment.docx

Getting Started with Trackable Attachments

Tout Connect works in both on our website and in Gmail and Google Apps.

1) To attach a trackable email, go compose an email, and then click either the “Link” or “Link to File” buttons.

     

2) Choose your attachment and send it out. We support PDF, Word docs, and Powerpoint presentations.

3) Hit “Send” and fire up your Live Feed. You’ll see your recipients as they open and page through your attachments.

Site Tracking Actions

We rolled out our Site Tracking feature a few months ago to let you know when your email recipients independently visit your website.

We rely heavily on Site Tracking internally at ToutApp to see when prospects visit our pricing, “About Us”, and trial account pages. However, we quickly realized that there’s more to site tracking than just browsing around pages on your website. Now Site Tracking will alert you to the key actions that your leads are taking on your website: buying a product, signing up for an account, downloading an asset, etc etc.

Cool! How do I set it up site actions?

Log into our app and head over to our Site Tracking page in the Integrations pane. Follow steps 1-4.

Site tracking requires you to have access to your website’s underlying code. If you don’t have access yourself, you’ll need to talk to your web administrator to get started. All you’ll need to do is paste in some custom Javascript on the pages and action areas you’d like to track.

If you’re have any questions, you can always email team@toutapp.com for help.

We hope you get a chance to play around with the new features! As always, we’d love to hear your feedback. And if you haven’t had a chance to get started with our app yet, you can start your free trial today.

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User of the Week: Eric Wu from Bracket Labs

I'm one of the founders of Bracket Labs. We're a Boulder, CO startup building enterprise software apps for the Salesforce AppExchange. Our apps are TaskRay and Campaign Calendar, and together they're helping thousands of sales and marketing people around the world work more productively in Salesforce.

We're a small company, so as a founder I wear a lot of different hats. One of my primary roles is sales, so I spend a lot of time talking to customers who have found our apps through the AppExchange and are looking for more information so they can make a purchase.

I love ToutApp for three big reasons:

1) It helps me do more faster! We have a set of emails we send to new leads to help them understand the apps and determine whether there's a good fit for their team.

ToutApp has allowed me to send (and schedule) my emails in a way that has reduced my time per lead by about 30%.

2) The ability to deliver nicely formatted, trackable follow-up email responses from within the Salesforce Leads tab but sent from my own email address (rather than Salesforce's mailer) is great because I don't always trust the deliverability of the Salesforce mailer.

3) The Live Feed of activity on my sent emails is awesome and gives me new insight on customer engagement with my emails. I can prioritize my follow-ups based on their activity and interest level, timely response to an engaged customer is a big part of showing them you're paying attention and you are ready to help.

Every other week, we'll profile a different person who uses our app to improve their email productivity. If you would like to be featured in the future, you can apply here.

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