• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • MCohen
    Marcy Cohen on January 21, 2015

    Could a Pair of Bedazzled Bowling Shoes Lead to Social Good?

    What if 2015 became the year when the collaborative model didn’t just make it easier to buy groceries but helped emerging economies on their path to inclusive growth? What if it could be a force for social good?
  • The last few years have seen a whole host of social approaches and technologies enter the classroom. Whilst the likes of Khan Academy and the MOOC platforms have led the way, there have also been a wave of smaller, but no less innovative, projects. For instance, the likes of Smart Kapp and Socrative are offering up a couple of tools for making the mobiles that most students carry with them better learning tools.

    The last few years have seen a whole host of social approaches and technologies enter the classroom.  Whilst the likes of Khan Academy and the MOOC platforms have led the way, there have also been a wave of smaller, but no less innovative, projects.

    For instance, the likes of Smart Kapp and Socrative are offering up a couple of tools for making the mobiles that most students carry with them better learning tools.

    There has also been a growing use of games in the classroom, with a recent study highlighting just how potent they can be as a learning aid.

    Snapchat in the classroom

    A potentially unlikely platform to be used in a classroom setting is the latest social superstar, Snapchat.  The video messaging service that deletes messages after a short time would appear an unlikely candidate, but a recent study found otherwise.

    The study revolved around the delivery of feedback to students about the quality of their assignments.  It found that a video message delivered via Snapchat was preferred by students to the traditional method of annotating the assignment itself.

    “Almost everyone agrees student feedback is inseparable from the learning process – and some even say high quality feedback is the most powerful single influence on student achievement – yet the same literature points out that many students do not value the feedback comments but simply skip to the grade,” the researchers say.

    The researchers note how student expectations have evolved, with many not even bothering to collect their work physically, instead preferring to receive their grades remotely and automatically.

    “Even if students read the feedback, some researchers have argued that they do little with it, resulting in lecturers complaining that the many hours spent in providing feedback feels like wasted effort,” the authors say.

    “Basically, we wanted to find a something better than the established comments-in-the-margin with a red biro scenario.”

    The study provided clear evidence that students both found the Snapchat style video feedback more effective, but it also helped to create a closer connection with their teacher.

    “The students had already received detailed written feedback on their first assignment. The videos were generally recorded immediately after the assignment was read and while notes were made on the assignment as prompts no ‘script’ was written. The proximity of the recording to when the assignment was read, meant the comments were specific, the advice relevant and the language had a sense of immediacy.

    “This also meant that our time was not wasted making copious notes to recall the specific details of individual assignments. We rarely re-recorded and never edited videos as this would make the process too time consuming and ultimately unsustainable for larger or multiple classes. The recorded videos along with the grades were then uploaded to the grade book in the online student learning platform,” the researchers reveal.

    It probably goes without saying that this is a relatively untouched topic, so more research will be needed to see just how effective this could be across a much larger sample.  Nevertheless, it might be something for teachers to try out with their own class to see how pupils respond.

    Photo Credit: Snapchat in the Class/shutterstock

    Sales people, we have a PR problem. It’s real, we probably deserve it, and we need to do something about it. I just read this post by Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha, This CEO Will Never Hire A Sales Person. My initial reaction was, “This guy is clueless about professional sales.”

    Sales people, we have a PR problem. It’s real, we probably deserve it, and we need to do something about it.

    I just read this post by Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha, This CEO Will Never Hire A Sales Person. My initial reaction was, “This guy is clueless about professional sales.”

    He spoke about displacing sales with a Customer Success team, people dedicated to making sure customers are successful.  People on a profit sharing plan, but with no quota, not prospecting, without commissions, dedicated to the customers’ success.

    He went on to explain companies like his need to be driven by relationships, authenticity, collaboration, and information.

    In reading his description, I thought—this is exactly what high performing sales people do, how they act, and how they behave.

    The problem is, Brian is not alone in his perception, I (we all) encounter this every day.  We see customers who abhor sales people because their experience of sales people is horrible.  They see sales people who are poorly prepared, don’t understand what the customer is trying to achieve, don’t understand their own products, are not interested in the customer success, but only their own commissions, and on and on an on.

    We’ve all been there, heard that, seen that.  We (most of this audience) know that’s not what high performing sales professionals do.

    But perception is reality.  Brian’s experience has caused him to have a serious mis understanding of what sales professionals really do and how they perform.  Because of this misunderstanding, he is cheating himself and his company of developing a high performance sales team that can be devoted to customer success, while at the same time driving the growth and success of Aha.

    Lashing out at Brian and others is the wrong thing to do.  Changing our image, demonstrating what top sales professionals do, how they create value, how they build trust, how they help customers achieve goals they may not have realized possible is the only way we can start to change opinions of what sales professionals truly do.

    We have a huge uphill battle.  We have to overcome centuries of shoddy practice.  We have to overcome the bottom feeders that exist in every profession, but seem to multiply in sales–those hucksters and charlatans that pretend to be sales people, but actually are not.

    But to be honest, the biggest thing we need to overcome is mediocrity.  Far worse, far more pervasive than the hucksters and charlatans, is the mediocrity we see in sales performance.  Managers and people who know what they should be doing, who’ve been involved in sales training, who are using the best tools, who know we can’t be pitching, that we have to understand our customer problems, that we have to be prepared, knowledgeable…..

    But too many sales people are too busy or too lazy to do this.  They slip back into mediocre practice, they look for short cuts, they get sloppy.  Or they us the excuse of busyness to do things half heartedly.  We’ve all heard the excuses–some are legitimate for a moment of time, but never as a sustained issue.

    CEO’s, sales executives, sales managers should demand the highest levels of performance–but must set that example themselves.  They have to coach, develop, and hold people accountable for doing what we know is right for professional selling, and performing at the highest levels.

    We should not tolerate mediocrity in our own performance and in the performance of the people we work with.

    Slowly, after demonstrating this, we will start to shift the perceptions of the many people, like Brian, who do not understand, and probably haven’t met a true sales high performing sales professional.

    There are a lot of things Brian has wrong in his post, or at least I disagree with:

    No prospecting….  unfortunately, I see this in too many of the SaaS companies.  Unwittingly product focused, thinking of a “field of dreams—build it and they will come” approach.  It’s interesting, that the largest, fastest growing, and most successful SaaS and SaaS like companies have large proactively focused sales organizations, aggressively looking to find and serve new customers.  But I’ll write more about this in a future post.

    Then there’s that commission thing…..  Brian, and many like him are opposed to commission, but still revel in bonus programs.  Commission is just one form of “pay for performance,” compensation programs, as is any sort of bonus and profit sharing program.  The issue is not “pay for performance,” but the design of the program.  It’s actually very easy to design commission or other programs that achieve the goals Brian is trying to achieve, and drive business growth.

    Finally, the quota thing and not tying compensation to deals–in other words, performance.  I suspect when Brian sits with his Board of Directors, they are interested in:  “How have you grown revenue?  Have you hit your plan?  How can you grow more?  How are your growing profits/margins?”  I suspect, each year, when the look at his bonus, it is impacted by his attainment of those and other goals.

    Quota is nothing more than a goal we hold people accountable for.  Everyone in the organization has–or should have goals.  Whether it’s launching a product on time, with certain functionality, whether it’s manufacturing a product at certain costs, quality, cycle time, whether it’s reducing DSO and improving cash management, or acquiring new customers and new business.

    People must be and expect to be accountable.  We achieve nothing for our organizations and people if we don’t hold them accountable–and give them the tools, systems, processes, coaching and development so they can perform.

    So, while I disagree with Brian’s solution (and I suspect, much of his post was firing for effect), he along with hundreds of other customers continue to have an inaccurate perception of what professional selling is about.

    It’s our job to change that perception, by changing the way we perform, by not accepting anything but the best in what we can do.

    My friend, Anthony Iannarino, has another take on this, take a look at his post.

    Photo Credit: Sales and PR/shutterstock

    How many at last year’s Super Bowl party gave more attention to the ads than to the game? And how many marketers wondered if it was worth the megabucks being charged for a few seconds of glory during the hype surrounding one football game?

    How many at last year’s Super Bowl party gave more attention to the ads than to the game? And how many marketers wondered if it was worth the megabucks being charged for a few seconds of glory during the hype surrounding one football game?

    A conversation over at the Marketo blog caught my eye because it was about that very topic. There is definitely change happening with Super Bowl ads, and the mass-marketing blasts of the past have been joined by digital, targeted outreach that tends to be a good bit easier to track. But is that digital marketing actually better than the megabucks mass marketing we see on television?

    Who Are You Already Talking To?

    I think that it probably is better to have a smaller audience that wants to hear what you have to say and is able to interact. When you have interaction, they have already entered the sales funnel because they have opted into the conversation.

    If there is any reason at all to suspect your targeted audience will be watching the Super Bowl, the biggest return on your marketing investment will probably be some sort of social media outreach because the connections you have already made can be enhanced.

    This “hyper-personalization” is something we probably will see more often because it’s possible with today’s technology. People who spend a lot of time online are accustomed to being tracked and targeted with ads that are frequently ignored. But people who are part of a social media conversation have opted into the discussion and are strengthening relationships.

    Even though you may never meet a customer face-to-face, sharing the Big Game somehow will make them feel like they are watching with friends. There’s an element of trust in friendship, and trust is essential in business/customer relations, too.

    Photo Credit: Super Bowl Ads/shutterstock

    He pushed his way up towards the stage. I had just finished presenting the keynote at Driving Sales, an automotive dealers conference. He thrust out his hand and eagerly shook mine; saying “thanks … blah blah blah…. “ And then I heard him clearly “…too often I am obsessed with pushing customers through sales and I’m not helping them buy!”

    He pushed his way up towards the stage. I had just finished presenting the keynote at Driving Sales, an automotive dealers conference. He thrust out his hand and eagerly shook mine; saying “thanks … blah blah blah…. “ And then I heard him clearly “…too often I am obsessed with pushing customers through sales and I’m not helping them buy!” Really!?! That forced me to pay attention. I hope that he didn’t notice me picking my jaw up from the floor. It isn’t everyday that a car salesman genuinely expresses deep concern for a customer. Most of us would rather have a no anesthesia root canal than be escorted to the manager’s office in a car dealership.

    He followed up with me during lunch. After introducing me to his wife and business partner, they told me that they were excited to make changes. My jaw still hurt but I had to pinch myself.  I was impressed. During my keynote I had challenged the auto dealers by telling a Buyer Legend story of a completely different car buying experience. In that Buyer Legend the dealership creates a play space, like IKEA has, where kids can be safe and have fun while Mom and Dad are kicking tires. The dealer and his wife connected to the story, empathized, and decided it was a great idea to create a play space. I understand the science yet I’m always fascinated by how stories connect even when an avalanche of facts don’t.

    The facts are overwhelming. There is little doubt that car buyers aren’t loving car dealers. Traditionally car buying has been a male dominant purchase, but recent trends shows that this is changing.  Now more than ever, women are the ones buying cars.  There is no doubt that the auto industry needs to make some radical reforms in their selling processes. Still, I have hope for dealers like this one. Even if it was based on the story I told, they were benefiting from the Buyer Legends process. It helped them to understand what the customer needs in order to buy rather than emphasizing a sales quota.

    This doesn’t just apply to car dealers, it applies to you and me. Truly it applies to all of us.

    In the book “The Everything Store”author Brad Stone quotes CEO Jeff Bezos on his selling philosophy  “Amazon is not in the business of selling books, we are in the business of helping people buy books.”  That is similar to what I wrote in this column back in 2001, “…conversion rate is a measure of your ability to persuade visitors to take the action you want them to take. It’s a reflection of your effectiveness and customer satisfaction. For you to achieve your goals, visitors must first achieve theirs.

    There is a fundamental difference between working to sell more and helping customers buy more. When you focus first on selling that road veers towards shouting your message louder, increasing pressure to buy, overcoming objections, increasing exposure, in-your-face product placement, and online marketing devices like squeeze pages. Nobody likes to be sold, so please make it stop.

    There is good news. Everybody loves to buy.

    When you are helping customers buy what you sell you end up creating systems and features that benefit your customers, and that benefit fuels word of mouth and repeat business.  One only has to think about Amazon’s one-click ordering, it’s sophisticated wish lists, fast shipping, easy returns, (the list goes on and on), to realize that these types of initiatives are part of a larger narrative that Amazon is always working harder to make buying easier. This approach sells more long term, even more compelling is that this approach is long term sustainable.

    The biggest difference between selling and helping people buy is the degree of empathy the marketer feels for the customer. Empathy demands that you to think about how the customer goes about the process of buying and that you find ways to make it easier. Empathy begs you to help them make a more confident decision, remove their fears, and ultimately to allow them to make the decision that is best for them, not just for you. It doesn’t matter if you sell books, cars, diamonds, or a complex B2B enterprise solution when you become an advocate for your customers you win hard earned trust, and even if they don’t buy from you today that trust becomes currency in this increasingly transparent word-of-mouth marketplace. It’s hard to find a downside to this approach.

    So where is your focus? Are you overly busy selling or are trying to help people get what they already want from you?

    Even empathetic marketers can get sidetracked by their efforts to sell more. We recently wrote up a case study about how a simple process like Buyer Legends helped a well-known senior Social Media marketer get into an empathetic mindset. It’s worth reading for what you’ll learn about how you too can focus on helping your customers’ buy.

    I’m hopeful that you and your business can be more empathetic than a used car salesman. It’s not so hard to make your customer the hero of your Buyer Legends. It’s simple to do and doesn’t require more than a couple of hours. Try it and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.

    The post What A Used Car Salesman Can Teach You About Empathy appeared first on Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg.

    Photo Credit: Salesman and Empathy/shutterstock

    Something as innocuous as your Facebook Likes could in fact determine your personality type? The research certainly seems to suggest there is substantial and quantitative evidence that it is quite possible. Considering the level of activity, engagement and usage nothing can be ruled out.

    Facebook remained a powerful force in social media in 2014 and contributed job growth to the global economy. It is probably not unheard of nowadays that most people have an account with the platform and use it for professional or personal reasons.

    Whatever the scenario may be Facebook is a social channel that is gathering data from its billions of users to advance its efforts. A new paper published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States through the use of a computer model can predict your personality type from your Facebook Likes.

    Something as innocuous as your Facebook Likes could in fact determine your personality type? The research certainly seems to suggest there is substantial and quantitative evidence that it is quite possible. Considering the level of activity, engagement and usage nothing can be ruled out.

    To arrive at this model three researchers (Wu Youyou, Michael Kosinski and David Stillwell) explained that in order to measure the model’s accuracy they compared its verdicts to the subjects’ ratings of their own personalities, according to a New York Times blog.

    So the result was that the inclusion of Likes computers are far better at assessing human personality by the likes of an average co-worker, the average friend and even the average spouse, according to researchers.

    What the study did take into careful consideration was the conception of personality and the researchers utilized a five-factor model that examines traits like extroversion and neuroticism.

    Facebook has been known to prowl unethically around the use of privacy data from its users and is always subject to scrutiny. There is a tendency by some of trying to game social media metrics and specifically by purchasing Facebook Likes. Considering these practices are condemned and discouraged thankfully there are enough ways to determine when engagement is organic and authentic.

     So the use of this research and data could be meaningful in a number of areas. It could be used in some employment scenarios like matching a candidate’s personality type with a specific job position. The heart of the matter is it is still early to say if this will become a norm and a requirement.

    A couple of years there was plenty of controversy when some employers where requesting prospective employees for access to their Facebook accounts. This prompted legislative action in several states to ban the practice and give him or her the ability to refuse handing over such information.

    So the study may not seem harmful in determining your personality from just measuring the pages you Like. However, the issue at hand is of course is the right to privacy and factoring in your social media profile for an eligible job position is far from a done deal. This has to be further developed and include more additional research before putting into practice.  There are still a number of people who may not have a Facebook account and may just have the right qualifications-not to mention the personality type that meets the demands of the job.