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How social media can improve your sales process (A real business case study)

Sitting in our weekly sales and marketing meeting, I am so impressed with (yes, my company, but also) how powerful a tool social media is for helping improve your sales process. We’re having a conversation inspired by a single tweet from earlier that week.

The CaseClassroom - Improve your sales process

Recently, one of our sales reps was following up with one of his inbound leads that came through a website lead form. When he couldn’t reach the person on the phone, he left a voicemail offering to follow up on the resources he downloaded.

That could have been the end of that story.

But what happened was the person tweeted about the voicemail, expressing his discontent:

noahwesley : « Someone from HubSpot just left me a VM & told me he noticed I’d been on the site often & « …consuming resources… » …who talks like that? »

The Response

Whoa! That’s not a typical HubSpot voicemail. We create tons of free resources and LOVE when people get value out of them — whether or not they’re interested in our marketing software. We had to respond, and did so in two ways:

  1. The marketing team, which of course monitors company mentions in social media and noticed this tweet, forwarded this message to sales management to respond appropriately.
  2. The marketing team also responded to the tweet from the @HubSpot account, apologizing for the ill-phrased message.

HubSpot : @noahwesley Sorry for the ill-phrased vm. That’s not how we think of visitors. We LOVE when people take advantage of our free resources.

The Result

Noah responded to both the rep’s phone call and the @HubSpot tweet – Success!

noahwesley : @HubSpot No problem at all. I love your free resources, I just thought the phrasing was funny 🙂 Thanks for the follow-up call.

Taking It A Step Further

Improve your sales process - Business strategy plan over ladder leading to success

Already this is a successful use of social media — we uncovered an issue and resolved it quickly. We could have stopped there, but instead decided to learn from this case and improve our sales process. At our weekly sales and marketing meeting, we discussed this tweet and this voicemail. What could the rep have said instead? How can we better follow up with these inbound leads? The team worked together to brainstorm different approaches.

Lessons

There are plenty of examples of using social media for lead generation or for PR or for customer service. With this case study, we learned that social media is a powerful tool for improving the sales process itself. What are the key takeaways?

  1. Listen. Social media gives you visibility into the sales funnel where before you were in the dark.
  2. Respond authentically. This was our bad, we apologized, and that relationship was restored.
  3. Learn and improve. Take this feedback and use it to improve your processes. Never before was it so easy to get candid feedback — now utilize it.

How have you been able to use social media to improve your business processes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Advice for busy professionals to avoid burnout

Avoid Burnout

In our culture, we have a tradition of admiring people who stay busy. Unfortunately, for many professionals embracing that belief, it can mean losing fulfillment both at home and in their careers. If you want to avoid burnout, consider incorporating a few changes into your lifestyle to help you keep things balanced and feel more satisfaction in both the personal and professional realms.

Are you burning out?

Being busy is one thing, but burnout is a reality that can sidetrack your home life and career. When you continually overextend your time and energy, you put yourself at risk.

Even if you love your job, friends and family, without proper balance and healthy coping skills, you could be heading for trouble. Ask yourself if you recognize any of these signs of burnout:

  • Feeling fatigued all the time
  • Poor motivation
  • Feeling cynical or frustrated
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Waning performance or productivity
  • Unhealthy choices (poor eating habits, failure to exercise, self-medicating)
  • Continually thinking about work
  • Reduced general satisfaction
  • Increased health problems

All too often, we equate stress with success. A little bit of stress is helpful, such as when you’re preparing for a job interview or competing athletically, but our minds and bodies aren’t designed to be under a continual onslaught of stressful situations.

In fact, chronic stress appears to be linked with cardiovascular disease, digestive trouble, reduced immune function, and neck and back pain. It’s important to address this stress — and make positive changes to help reduce those feelings.

Lighten your workload

Avoid Burnout - Outsource

Being passionate about your job is wonderful, but cutting back can ease your schedule as well as your mind. Do you have tasks you could pass to other team members? Think about delegating some of your to-do list more often, and if you don’t have others who are properly qualified for something unworthy of your time, consider outsourcing it.

If funds or people power are a concern, another option is to add technology that facilitates routine tasks. For instance, bookkeeping, scheduling and communication can all be streamlined with well-chosen apps.

Positive coping methods to avoid burnout

Avoid Burnout - Yoga

There are healthy, natural ways to manage stress that you can incorporate into your business day. One natural stress management method is meditation. Harvard Health Publishing notes mindfulness meditation could potentially lower your levels of stress and anxiety. Not only that, it’s convenient since you can slip in some breathing exercises from your car, in the office, or wherever you happen to be when you feel the tension rising.

Yoga is another natural solution since it incorporates mindfulness with physical activity. If you aren’t getting in workouts, consider adding it to your lifestyle — it’s multitasking at its best! And supplements may be something to discuss with your healthcare professionals when it comes to stress management, as they may help regulate your mood and decrease anxiety.

Boost personal efficiency

Avoid Burnout - Boost efficiency

After parceling out tasks as much as possible, boosting personal efficiency can free up time and energy for things like working out or dinner with the family. Prioritize work carefully, and flex timing on less important tasks. Do your top items when your energy is best, so if you’re a morning person, schedule key meetings early in the day, and so forth. Lump lower priorities into low-energy, open slots in your schedule. And lastly, consider whether your workstation could be more efficient since you might not even notice that your office surrounding is slowing you down.

Burnout is a real thing, so avoid putting yourself at risk. Find healthy ways to manage stress, reduce your workload, and improve your efficiency. Balancing your personal and professional life can improve your health and save your career.

 

Up Next: Want to find business zen? Paying yourself first will help.

A businessman working

Seven things to consider prior to launching your business blog

launching a business blog

In many ways, launching a business blog is like designing a rolling ball sculpture. Rolling ball sculptures also known as kinetic sculptures are so engaging because of the visual and aural spectacle — following intricate roller coaster paths, clinging and clanging along the way.  But the basic element is they are designed for perpetual motion.

The same goes for your business blog and the basic key to success is to plan for it to be a perpetual outlet for remarkable content.  When planned right blogs end up with the appeal, rhythm and engagement found in rolling ball sculptures.

 

Here are seven things to consider prior to launching your business blog:

 

1. Set aside time

Blogs fail because businesses cannot keep up with them.  Blogging requires frequency and commitment.  You should think about how frequently you want to blog and how much time you need per week to write.  Then set aside that time and stick to it.

2. Build a network or following

Your blog has a greater chance of succeeding if you have a larger community to share your content with.  Plan to build up a network or following prior to launching your blog.  That way it will have a wider reach from the get-go because more people can share it.

3. Keyword research

launching a business blog - keywords

One of the biggest benefits of creating content is the search traffic it will attract to your site.  Do some research so you are targeting keywords that will bring in good qualified traffic to your site.  If you are struggling with what to write about this is also a great way to queue up some ideas for articles.

4. Create calls-to-action

You should take the time to think about what calls-to-action should go into your blog posts and create them.  If you want to derive business value from your blog in the form of leads and customers you need good, relevant offers to go along with your content.

5. Queue up articles

launching a business blog - schedule

It never hurts to stay ahead of the curve.  If you plan to write once a week it may not be a bad idea to queue up four to five articles so you have a month’s worth of content ready to go.  This way you can stay consistent and keep up with your established publishing frequency.

6. Set up RSS/Subscriber feeds

If you want to grow your business blog you need to build a subscriber base.  Think about how to position your RSS feeds or email opt-in on your blog and your website to maximize subscriptions.

7. Ways to promote it

Lastly, it is critical to think about ways to promote your blog.  Will you tweet your articles or include them in your company newsletter? How often? How about sharing them on Facebook or LinkedIn? You might want to include your RSS feed on each of your profiles.  Spend some time on figuring ways to get the word out there!

What are some of the preemptive things you have done to help the success of your blog? Please share your experiences in the comments.

 

Up Next: 10 ways small business marketers can crush big competitors

 

Photo credit: Crimfants

An island

Cash Flow Survivor: Could you outwit, outplay & outlast your competitors?

Use these 3 alternative business funding strategies to avoid cash flow exile.

Cash Flow Survivor

Yes, Survivor may now be the ‘old-timer’ of reality game shows, but who can deny the sheer thrill you still get when your favorite players claim victory and send the other team to Tribal Council? When it comes to battling it out in business, finding the craftiest ways of improving your bottom line can also feel like winning an immunity idol and sending the competition packing.

Your finances are likely where the game can be won or lost. For alternative business funding, in particular, there are trends that continue to shape the way modern companies can secure the right working capital — some brand new and some time-tested and client-approved.

Survivors Ready? Here are three to keep an eye on as you outwit, outplay and outlast your competition:

1. Outwit your bank loan challenges

Cash Flow Survivor Outwit

When you need business funds, one of the first places you likely turn to is your bank. But banks can have strict criteria and getting that loan can become an instant roadblock. Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that businesses can struggle when trying to access credit and a lack of cash could put you on the chopping block.

To outsmart the traditional loan criteria, form an alliance with an alternative funding partner who can offer you solutions such as factoring — allowing you to sell unpaid invoices to access cash faster. You get paid upfront and can continue operating as usual, even if your credit rating isn’t the strongest. The important part is to form that alliance with an alternative funding partner that has a proven track record and is willing to work with you to advance your business goals.

2. Outplay the risk

Cash Flow Survivor Outplay the risk

Being marooned with no lifeline is a horrible feeling, so it’s important to have a support team to help avoid any risk in the business that can leave you stranded. Whether it be the risk of not getting paid on time (or at all), being subject to fraud, cybersecurity risks, or not getting cash in time to pay your suppliers or staff, you’ll want to mitigate the issues.

To start, ensure that your tribe (aka your funding partner) has the experience to back up their claims. They should have their own team dedicated to assessing risky funding opportunities, and they should be willing to say no when that opportunity is more likely to lead to your torch being extinguished. And since 76% of businesses are concerned about cybersecurity risks, it’s important to work with partners who are equally aware of online risks and take data privacy and security seriously.

Related: 5 ways factoring can clear your cash flow hurdles

 

3. Outlast without giving up equity

Cash Flow Survivor Outlast

When you work so hard at growing your business, would you give up equity in the company to gain financing? Many business owners do this, turning to venture capital firms, angel investors, crowdfunding, or even friends and family to increase their working capital. But according to the University of Cambridge, 67% of companies would still rather follow a debt financing model (such as PO financing) than to give up a portion of their business

Why is this the case? It may come down to predictability. Looking at your balance sheet is often easier to understand, and knowing exactly how much you are borrowing (and need to pay back) can allow the average business owner to formulate a plan that fits into their schedule. The equity model, on the other hand, can raise more questions and leave you wondering just how much of your business you’ll leave on the table.

 

Even if you’ve been exiled to Redemption Island, you have a shot at coming back and winning Cash Flow Survivor. Obtain your secret advantage by updating your cash flow budget to accurately forecast your incoming and outgoing cash flow. Assess all the financing options available to determine which will be best at maintaining consistent cash flow to stay ahead of expenses. And of course, don’t be afraid to explore options beyond what a bank may have to offer.

 

To become the ultimate business survivor by making the most of alternative business funding, download The Invoice Factoring Guidebook now.

Learn how to ask the right questions so that you can ensure you choose the right working capital solution.

Click to access the eBook immediately.

Cash Flow Survivor

Survivant du jeu de la trésorerie : pouvez-vous déjouer les embûches, esquiver les risques et supplanter vos concurrents?

Utilisez ces trois stratégies de financement complémentaire pour éviter l’exil du tiroir vide.

Cash Flow Survivor

« Survivant » (Survivor) a beau être le plus ancien des jeux de télé-réalité, mais qui peut nier l’excitation que vous éprouvez encore lorsque vos joueurs préférés revendiquent la victoire et envoient l’autre équipe au Conseil tribal? Quand il s’agit de s’affronter en affaires, trouver les moyens les plus astucieux d’améliorer ses résultats financiers peut aussi vous donner l’impression d’avoir gagné l’immunité – et d’envoyer vos concurrents sur le carreau.

Vos finances sont le nerf de la guerre. Et au chapitre du financement complémentaire des entreprises en particulier, il existe des tendances qui continuent de façonner la façon dont les entrepreneurs peuvent obtenir un fonds de roulement adéquat. Certaines sont tout à fait nouvelles, tandis que d’autres ont fait leurs preuves et sont acceptées d’emblée.

Êtes-vous prêt à jouer? Voici trois manières d’avoir l’œil sur vos affaires, tandis que vous déjouez les embûches, esquivez les risques et supplantez vos concurrents.

1.   Déjouez les embûches en matière de prêts bancaires

Cash Flow Survivor Outwit

Lorsque vous avez besoin de fonds pour votre entreprise, l’une des premières ressources vers qui vous vous tournerez probablement, c’est votre banque. Mais les banques peuvent fixer des critères impossibles à respecter et l’obtention du prêt convoité risque de devenir un obstacle. Ainsi, malheureusement, il arrive souvent que les entreprises aient de la difficulté à accéder au crédit. Or, le manque de liquidités pourrait vous mettre sur la sellette.

Pour contourner les critères de prêt traditionnels, nous vous suggérons de forger une alliance avec un partenaire de financement complémentaire qui peut vous offrir des solutions comme l’affacturage – un mécanisme vous permettant de vendre des factures impayées pour accéder plus rapidement à des liquidités. Vous êtes payé à l’avance et vous pouvez continuer à fonctionner comme d’habitude, même si votre cote de crédit n’est pas des meilleures. L’important, c’est de forger une alliance avec un partenaire de financement complémentaire qui a fait ses preuves et qui est prêt à travailler avec vous pour vous rapprocher de vos objectifs commerciaux.

2. Esquiver les risques

Se retrouver sans moyens et sans planche de salut est un sentiment horrible; il est donc important d’avoir le soutien d’une équipe pour éviter tout risque commercial qui pourrait vous laisser en plan. Qu’il s’agisse du risque de ne pas être payé à temps (ou de ne pas être payé du tout), d’être victime de fraudes, d’incidents de cybersécurité ou de ne pas toucher l’argent à temps pour payer vos fournisseurs ou votre personnel, vous devez anticiper ces problèmes.

Pour commencer, assurez-vous que votre partenaire de financement possède l’expérience nécessaire pour appuyer ses prétentions. Il devrait avoir sa propre équipe chargée d’évaluer les possibilités de financement risquées, et être prêt à dire non lorsque cette possibilité est plus susceptible de mener à votre perte. Et comme 76 % des entreprises sont préoccupées par les risques liés à la cybersécurité, il est important de travailler avec des partenaires qui sont tout aussi conscients des risques en ligne et qui prennent au sérieux la confidentialité et la sécurité des données.

Lecture connexe : L’affacturage peut vous aider à surmonter les défis de trésorerie de cinq façons différentes

 

3. Supplanter ses concurrents sans renoncer aux capitaux propres

Cash Flow Survivor Outlast

Alors que vous travaillez si fort à sa croissance, renonceriez-vous à votre participation dans l’entreprise pour obtenir du financement? De nombreux propriétaires d’entreprise le font, se tournant vers des sociétés de capital-risque, des investisseurs providentiels, le financement participatif, ou même vers des amis et la famille pour augmenter leur fonds de roulement. Mais selon l’Université de Cambridge, 67 % des entreprises préfèrent encore suivre un modèle de financement par emprunt (comme le financement de bons de commande) plutôt que de renoncer à une partie de leur entreprise.

Pourquoi en est-il ainsi? C’est peut-être une question de prévisibilité. Il est souvent plus facile de comprendre son propre bilan, et le fait de connaître exactement le montant emprunté (et le montant à rembourser) permet au propriétaire d’entreprise moyen de formuler un plan correspondant à son calendrier. Le modèle de capitaux propres, par contre, peut soulever plus de questions et vous amener à vous demander quelle part de votre entreprise vous allez laisser derrière vous.

Même si vous avez été exilé du jeu, vous avez une chance de vous racheter et de gagner le prix du survivant de la trésorerie. Obtenez votre avantage secret en mettant à jour votre budget de trésorerie pour prévoir précisément vos flux entrants et sortants. Évaluez toutes les options de financement possibles afin de déterminer celle qui permettra le meilleur maintien d’un flux de trésorerie constant afin de garder une longueur d’avance sur les dépenses. Et bien sûr, n’ayez pas peur d’explorer d’autres options au-delà de celles qu’une banque peut avoir à vous offrir.

Financements récents – Mai 2019

Diagram

Recent Fundings – May 2019