Sales management

So now you have it — a great product with a lot of resources invested in promotion finally presented to the market. But how do you start making money on it? 

Sales are what technically brings your company revenue, and the effectiveness of sales management is what sets out your corporation’s long-term survival.

What is sales management?

Sales management is the process of developing, planning, monitoring, and controlling the entire process of selling your company’s goods or services. It also concerns recruiting, training, and supervising your sales force and covers all pre-sales, sales, and post-sales activities.

Sales management components

Sales management stands on three pillars:

1. Strategy

Without having a clear strategy your sales efforts will be fruitless. To know what resources and specialists your business may require, you should set up a sales process and plan a series of activities at every stage of your sales funnel or sales pipeline. This can be done for either the whole company or in regard to individual brands, goods, or services.

A sales funnel is a powerful analytical tool, if designed with a data-first approach. It describes a single customer’s journey through 5 steps: awareness, interest, consideration, decision, and — the most desired stage for all businesses — purchase

Sales funnel stages

The funnel conditions sales pipeline — determined stages of reaching out to clients. It varies between companies, depending on the market type, resources owned, and business objectives. But as a rule, the pipeline has such stages as lead generation, qualification, meeting, proposal, and closing the deal. 

Keeping in mind the funnel and the pipeline, you’ll be able to come up with a documented sales plan. This typically covers:

  • Development goals
  • Sales KPIs
  • Buyer personas profiles
  • People and processes
  • Exact selling methodologies
  • Software needed.
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2. Operations

A sophisticated strategy isn’t worth a penny without being implemented. You need the team on paper to come true. People are the stumbling block that separates average companies from the best players in the market.

It’s not only that sales reps bring you revenue — they are your brand’s ambassadors. Salespeople directly deal with:

  • Lead conversion. They build a bridge between what the client needs and what your company can offer.
  • Business growth. Sales representatives initialize referrals and help build customer loyalty.
  • Client retention. Their connections with customers shouldn’t be under-evaluated. Remember that a 5% increase in retention rates may boost profits by 25%.

3. Analysis

Sales analysis concerns either KPIs and sales metrics. A key point here is to bring actionable insights that can be further used in the sales strategy. The following effectiveness indicators are usually used by most sales managers:

  • Total revenue
  • Revenue growth rate
  • Revenue distribution by sources
  • Revenue distribution by representatives
  • Average conversion rate
  • Sales-to-date
  • Average purchase value.

Sales management process

Even though all team members contribute to commercial goals, it’s the manager’s responsibility to get the job done. Their tasks include:

1. Setting goals

To manage the process, you need to have a sales roadmap. With it, it’s possible to track the reps’ ongoing performance and timely determine whether comprehensive assistance is needed to achieve the goals.

2. Planning and managing sales activities

This area of responsibility concerns developing and testing sales activities. Trying out new technologies and approaches is the only way your team can succeed in nurturing customers better than competitors do. 

3. Motivating the team

If you build team members’ competencies, you’ll boost employee retention and increase employee lifetime. Don’t become too experimental, however. Use good old methods of employee retention — the ones that have been tested by generations of managers:

  • Set SMART goals. A never-ending pursuit of unattainable results is exhausting and leads to emotional and professional burnout.
  • Appreciate personal contribution. Gen Z are not the ones who will wait for changes — they want to lead them. If you value talent, be ready to give them enough space for initiative and decision-making.
  • Build trust. Let each team member see the big picture and go over plans with your people. Share growth-hacking insights, corporate strategic goals, and how the company’s doing overall. If there are some issues — communicate these. 
  • Encourage high-performance culture. Cultivate a results-based work environment approach rather than just a work-to-do-work approach.
SMART goals

4. Evaluating and reporting

For every decision you make or insight you speak, put numbers in front. Use essential software, create sales dashboards, and deliver comprehensive sales reports. Make data integrated and visualize where relevant.

Sales management software
Sales management software example (Source: Zoho)

Using automation in your sales reporting will prevent:

  • Revenue discrepancy
  • Poor data access
  • Decision-makers being overloaded with irrelevant and outdated information.

Effective sales management tactics

The best tactic is the one that brings you results. Whichever you adopt, make sure it doesn’t sound like “Increase sales by 500% the next month.” Just don’t. Numbers can’t be a tactic. A quarter of companies don’t even know if their salesforce achieves that quota. 

Instead, focus on combining managerial best practices and come up with something that’ll boost your revenue:

1. Find the right people

Of course, staffing is a responsibility of the HR department. But for the manager, it’s crucial to translate vision and requirements to future employees to hire the right people. 

The “right” doesn’t mean “the best”, though. Don’t look for Jack of all trades. Overloaded job descriptions are not effective. Define 2 or 3 key points that are relevant and go ahead hunting future sales reps. 

2. Avoid “one-size-fits-all” decisions

Whatever you manage, people or processes, avoid oversimplification and too much extrapolation. What works in crisis may not work when the growth starts, and vice versa. Be flexible and an out-of-the-box thinker.

3. Hire specialists for different roles

If your business grows, you’ll have to divide responsibilities. One employee can’t combine several roles. As soon as you feel your workers can’t cope with the amount of work and tasks they get — hire more professionals.

4. Contribute to the growth of each sales representative 

Best salespeople bring your company the most deals thanks to their experience, personal qualities, luck, or all three at a time. But if the team’s imbalance grows rapidly, you get a lot of deferred risks:

  • Inner tension
  • Loss of motivation
  • Irreplaceable employees.

The manager’s task here is to understand why one sales rep performs much better than others and stabilize the situation. This is not about equalizing all, this is about finding points of growth for every team member.

Wrapping up

Sales team success largely determines your company’s overall performance because these guys bring in the revenue. Pay attention that the strategy and techniques used are relevant enough to achieve business objectives.

Sales champion

No sales champion, no deal. That’s what sales gurus will tell you with 100% assurance, and that’s what you as a sales rep should strive to be.

So what does sales champion mean?

A sales champion is a stakeholder within a prospect’s organization who sells your product or service to their colleagues on your behalf. They guide you on how to run your sales campaign successfully and introduce you to decision-makers, those who have power in making final decisions whether to buy your offering. 

Experienced sales reps understand that nothing can streamline a sales process better than tights with a person within their prospective company who would influence local purchasing decisions. So, they’re highly concerned with nurturing a sales champion and striving to make the best of such cooperation.  

Importance of the sales champion role

Now that it’s clear your company can’t do without finding a sales champion, let’s dive deeper into their importance for your business, both during and after a sale. 

During a sale

They help you understand what decision-makers are thinking

The decision-making process is often complex. In companies with 100 to 500 employees, 7 people on average are involved in the majority of buying decisions. This poses difficulty in understanding how it works and whom to contact with your cold email to make the deal roll. 

A sales champion is the one who’ll communicate what stands behind the curtains of decision-making. They can tell you why their company’s management may be interested in purchasing your product.

They identify purchasing criteria for you

Since a sales champion has a vision of what decision-makers expect from your solution, they can define clear purchase requirements for you. This will help you adjust your offer to the prospect’s needs and have better chances of convincing them to buy

They have a word in your offering assessment

When decision-makers within your prospective company evaluate your solution, a sales champion will be that person who will defend your positions, highlighting the purchasing criteria that your product or service meets.

They provide you with their company’s metrics

Knowing their organization’s internal processes and KPI, a sales champion can share the necessary metrics to support your offer with real numbers and help you prepare a business case that would justify the purchase.

They help you withstand competition

Most likely, your potential customers are considering a solution from one of your competitors. And there is already a sales champion in place who advocates for it. 

Your sales champion knows what makes your product or service a good fit for their company. So, during a sales process, they may help you handle sales objections and inform you what you should improve about your offering to withstand the existing competition.

After a sale

They support your early customers

As soon as a sales champion helps their company, i.e., your prospect, buy your product or service, they don’t disappear. On the contrary, as they know your solution well, they may provide extra support to users who have made a purchase and might have a turbulent period of learning how everything works. 

If you doubt that extra customer support is so vital for your business, consider the fact that 86% of buyers are ready to pay more for a great customer experience.

They can be your referrals

It’s a common situation when a sales champion may know and get in touch with sales champions from other companies. So, if their organization has become your customer and the deal was successful, they may eagerly recommend your product or service to other businesses, creating a chain of new potential leads for you to nurture

And not only new leads… Let’s not forget that customers acquired through referrals have a 37% higher retention rate.

They may help with a follow-on sale

If you are a software company operating in B2B sales, you know that after selling your tool, you’ll always have a follow-on sale option. The reason is that you will go on developing your service, upgrade or add new features, provide useful extensions, and so on.

That’s where a sales champion may be helpful. After the initial sales, they will keep track of your product performance metrics and use these numbers to support your follow-on sale.

sales champion role

Qualities of a champion

If you feel this position suits you, keep in mind the top qualities you should possess to perform this role well:

Enthusiasm

Did you know that about 68% of B2B customers are lost because of the sales rep’s indifference or apathy? To become a good sales champion, you should be energetic and enthusiastic about the sales process. This quality will help you engage prospects and customers, increasing conversions and wins. 

Drive to succeed

Sales are the vast area for growth for every sales champion, meaning there are many career opportunities to use. What you need is to be ambitious in your goals and never reluctant to achieve more.

Desire to learn

As a sales champion, you should understand that knowledge is power and be keen on learning new ways of doing sales. That’ll allow you to use a highly personalized approach to prospects, which will help you build trust and keep them engaged.

Passion for the product and sales process

Prospects are more inclined to do business with those who love sales and the company they represent. As a sales champion, you should know the sales process inside out and be ready to answer all questions, which is possible only when you are passionate about your role and the product you offer to potential customers.

Ability to prioritize 

The sales process often presupposes tons of tasks that no one but you will have to solve. If you can set priorities, of course. You need to understand your responsibilities, control deadlines, and know how to prioritize your tasks. That requires good sales planning, which is one of the keys to success in sales. 

Healthy attitude to failures

A sales champion is not a person who never has failures; this is a person who isn’t afraid of failures and is ready to face them. As a sales champion, you should view any obstacles as new opportunities. This includes getting over stresses connected with the sales job. Just remember the 3 P’s success formula: you should be patient, persistent, and positive.

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How do you become a sales champion?

That’s the main question left to answer when you feel ready to do your best as a sales champion. Here are some basic tips that can get you there:

Become an expert in your product or service

Almost 80% of customers won’t engage with sales reps who lack knowledge of their company. You won’t make it to the sales champion position unless you learn every detail about what your company is selling. Besides, you should always keep track of any updates that concern your product. 

Study the industry and competitors

Being an expert in your product is one thing, but you should also keep up with the industry your company operates in and study your competitors. Competition is your best teacher: learn more about other businesses that are launching a similar product, get valuable insights, and incorporate their brightest ideas into your sales organization.

Research your prospects

To get a sales champion belt, get accustomed to studying your prospects from the very start of your sales career. Always do your homework — research their buyer personas, link to them via social media, and don’t shun away from direct contacts when necessary. That’ll prepare you for a sales champion role, which is based on highly personalized cooperation with customers.

Live and learn

Consistency is what differentiates one salesperson from another. Sales aren’t easy, so be persistent and curious, learn new sales techniques, study available data and use cases. Success is a matter of consistency, so be prepared to live your job. 

how to become a sales champion

Wrapping up

A sales champion is a powerful role, as this is the person who helps both sides — the selling company to drive the deals and the potential customer to better understand the product they are going to buy. 

To become a sales champion your company may rely on, you should demonstrate your understanding of the industry, organization, competition, product you are selling, as well as your desire to learn, ability to overcome sales stress and prioritize tasks, no fear of failures, and passion for sales. Not every sales rep may fly as high to hold this position, but with Snov.io, building a successful career in sales is more than a reality.

After all, who if not You deserves to become a sales champion?

Sales coaching

A sales rep has lots of goals: closing deals, hitting quotas, generating more revenue. However, not always do sales managers understand that meeting these goals doesn’t only depend on how skilled their salespeople are. What enhances the success of a sales team is well-planned and effective coaching. 

So what is sales coaching?

Sales coaching is the process that involves organized teaching of sales reps to help them improve their skills, performance, and achieve sales goals. It’s commonly a sales manager’s responsibility that includes:

  • Guiding salespeople on the tactics of the sales planning and achieving quotas
  • Correcting behaviors that prevent sales reps from the successful performance
  • Identifying areas for improvement 
  • Providing salespeople with the necessary knowledge 
  • Motivating them to self-growth
  • Strengthening relations inside the sales team

Importance of sales coaching

Without exaggeration, sales coaching is the most important sales manager’s role. As reported by Sales Readiness Group, managers in high-performing sales organizations usually spend much more time on sales coaching than managers in average and low-performing sales teams:

importance of sales coaching
Source: Sales Readiness Group

Let’s find out why sales coaching should be a number-one responsibility of a sales manager in your company:

Sales coaching increases sales productivity

Coaching sales reps with an effective strategy at hand, you may boost your sales organization productivity by 88%. Such gain is achieved due to the individual productivity of salespeople, who’ll maximize the quota attainment of the whole team. 

Sales coaching enhances individual skills

Coaching for sales reps helps them get other necessary strengths such as communication skills, product and service knowledge, psychological background for effective sales prospecting, presentation skills, and so on. 

Sales coaching increases employee engagement and retention rates

A confident 66% of companies claim that the implementation of clever sales coaching programs may grow employee engagement. Meanwhile, 65% of organizations assure it improves the salespeople’s retention rates. 

expected outcomes of sales coaching
Source: Value Selling

That’s logical. When a company contributes to developing its employees, they become more loyal and stay with that organization longer. 

Sales coaching increases customer loyalty

Sales coaching isn’t only about making your sales reps more loyal. That may sound incredible but organizations that practice sales coaching see up to 56% customer loyalty growth.

Sales coaching grows sales

Create an environment where salespeople feel motivated to demonstrate top results and get valuable guidance and support on how to overcome challenges. This will increase the chances of closing more deals. In fact, sales organizations claim that effective sales coaching leads to a sales jump by 10-19%.

Sales coaching techniques

Now that it’s clear what makes sales coaching so important for your organization, let’s dive deeper into the sales coaching techniques your company shouldn’t miss a chance of using:

Analyze the sales data

Gathering sales data is a vital part of a company’s routine, provided it’s aimed at success. Having all the information in your CRM, you’ll be able to analyze it and identify those aspects that should be improved in the course of your sales coaching program. 

As a sales manager, you should regularly track conversion metrics to see the progress and compare it with the efforts sales reps have put into achieving quota. For example, you may notice that they are hurrying up to close the deal, but it negatively affects the close rates. So, you’ll need to interfere with the way they conduct cold calls or schedule meetings. 

Customize your sales coaching

No matter how well-prepared you are, be flexible enough to adjust your sales coaching to unexpected issues that may arise within. Your sales reps may communicate their challenges, so be ready to listen and make on-spot corrections.

For example, you may dedicate sales coaching to the practice of overcoming objections but then realize that some sales reps have troubles with cold emails. You’ll need to stop there and tackle the problem with cold emailing. 

Engage sales reps in the improvement process

‘You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink,’ the proverb goes. Probably not the best comparison, but it works. Your salespeople are your power, but you won’t make them perform better by simply telling them what to do. 

Engage them in a sort of brainstorming. Let them find solutions on how they think they work, how they can improve their results, and what tools or metrics they need to demonstrate better performance. 

Involve best salespeople in sales coaching

You most likely have sales reps you can be proud of: they have more closed deals, know how to reach prospects, and have some tricks up their sleeves. Ask them to share any specifics concerning sales prospecting, messaging, whatnot. 

For instance, if one of your sales reps is good at prospecting on LinkedIn, they can make a presentation to help colleagues master the art. 

Yes, your salespeople are all hunting for meeting quotas and closing deals, but it doesn’t mean the teamwork should be neglected. Sales coaching is about motivating your reps to work in coherence, remember?

Use sales coaching tools

Streamlining your business processes with sales automation platforms like Snov.io, you shouldn’t forget that a sales manager, no matter how skilled and experienced they are, also needs reliable sales coaching tools that would help them keep this practice regular, well-organized, and controllable.

Email drip campaigns

Good sales coaching software may record sales conversations with customers, analyze, and score them on necessary parameters. As a sales manager, you’ll be able to look at those parameters in which reps should be given the most help and training. So, with a sales coaching tool, your approach to salespeople will be more personalized. 

Gong.io, SharpenAX, Allego, now you may find hundreds of sales coaching tools on the market. Your choice should depend on:

  • The industry you are doing business in
  • The sales channel of your preference
  • Your business goals
  • Integration possibilities

Wrapping up

If your sales organization is growth-oriented, you should never underestimate sales coaching practices. When done effectively, they can dramatically improve the performance of your sales team and your company in general. As a sales manager, always be ready to dive into the working process of your reps, help them improve their skills, and encourage a positive attitude. Special sales coaching tools will arm you with the necessary functionality. And when it comes to choosing the right sales automation solution for your team, Snov.io will be your optimal combination of made-for-sales features, user-friendly interface, and astounding possibilities, including its compelling freemium you may start using today.

Purchase order (PO)

A purchase order (PO) is a fiscal document released by a purchaser. In it, they commit to paying the vendor for selling some service or product that will be provided in the future.

POs are a helpful tool in B2B transactions. The benefit for the customer is that they can put in a request for the purchase and pay for it a bit later. PO is also helpful for the supplier since it serves as a binding contract. It shows that the purchaser admits their obligation to pay the required price for the product once it’s delivered.

Every PO has an identification number that allows both parties to easily track the delivery and payment. 

A blanket PO, or a standing PO, is an agreement between the client and the vendor that the goods or services will be purchased/supplied on an ongoing basis for a specific period (most often 1 year), or until a certain maximum is reached.

What information does a purchase order include?

Details indicated in a PO may vary. But it usually includes the following data:

  • Delivery/payment information

The name of the person or company buying services or goods, date and time of delivery, mailing location, and billing address.

  • Order details

Payment details and terms, such as time frame of delivery, the ID number of the PO, supplier name, and contact information.

  • Services/goods purchased:

Names, quantity, and the price of services or products, SKU numbers or model numbers, certain brand names, etc.

Purchase order example
Purchase order example (Source: Planergy)

Formats of a purchase order

Paper purchase orders

In many companies, all purchasing requests are still kept in paper format. There can be various reasons for that. 

Paper POs might provide a better vision of transactions or essential requirements of the order. And for some organizations, it’s just the way of doing business. With paper POs, it’s easier for them to manage documentation behind each deal and make a better impression on their clients.

Electronic purchase orders

Nowadays most POs are issued electronically and sent via email. It’s a popular way of purchasing all sorts of services or products online. Electronic POs have many synonyms: e-purchasing, e-procurement, e-purchase requisition, etc.

Purchase order request

A PO requisition or purchase request is issued by an employee internally to request the purchase of needed products and services, including stock. It’s a record that tells the procurement department exactly what services and products are requested, their amount, the vendor, and the required costs.

Purchase order form example
Purchase order form example

How to make a purchase order?

A PO makes the purchasing process much easier for both parties. It usually looks like this:

  • A customer decides to buy some goods or services for their organization.
  • The organization issues a PO to the vendor. It’s most often done online, using a PO template. (It may also send a request for information beforehand).
  • The supplier accepts the order and verifies that their business can accomplish it.
  • If not, the vendor explains to the client that the order can’t be executed and is, therefore, annulled.
  • If the PO can be executed, the vendor starts preparing by collecting the required goods or planning to involve the required staff.
  • The services are provided or products are delivered, according to the order. It has its unique number on the shipping label so that the client knows which order has been delivered.
  • The supplier uses the unique number of the order to send an invoice. It will be easily tracked and associated with the order details.
  • The client pays the invoice in compliance with the requirements described in the order.
Purchase order process
Source: Planergy

Why do companies use purchase orders?

Organizations use POs for a number of reasons:

They determine distinct expectations

POs help clients precisely explain their requirements to vendors. This approach has its benefits, as it makes you certain that you are both on the same page. 

POs help arrange orders in the company 

Itemizing the inventory usually includes handling incoming POs. These tasks, as a rule, belong to finance, procurement, or operations departments. The staff members can track and organize the orders more efficiently because they can use POs as formal documents that correspond to pending or arriving deliveries.

POs are legal documents

In case there is no official contract, a PO can be used as a juridically binding paper. It takes effect right after it is acknowledged by the vendor.

Purchase orders help with budget estimates

Once a PO is created, clients can directly attribute these figures to the budgets of their organizations. It’s an advantage for any company to have transparent documentation that describes how much is being spent and on what purposes.

They are an essential element of audit trails

Auditors are always searching for fiscal discrepancies. They will be focused on the list of services and products delivered to your organization and on outgoing payments for these orders. Clean work with POs always makes your company look good in the auditors’ eyes.

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Advantages and drawbacks of purchase orders

We can name lots of reasons to use POs. The most significant of them are:

  • Precise inventory and budgetary management.
  • Enhanced budget estimations, since money needs to be provided before a PO is issued.
  • The delivery is more rapid since POs help schedule it right when the client needs it.

As far as the drawbacks go, there are only a few:

  • More bureaucratic work for minor purchases.
  • PO will be useful only for short-term deals, and you can’t use this option for long-perspective financing. 

Wrapping up

We hope that using POs will help you enhance your company’s cash flow and manage your business more successfully.

EOM (end of month)

EOM is a term used both in sales and accounting, so we’ve decided to tackle both definitions.

What does EOM stand for in sales?

EOM (abbreviation for the end of the month) in sales is the monthly deadline for salespeople to achieve the goals set at the beginning of the month, e.g., close an expected number of deals and hit the quota. 

The main challenge of EOM for salespeople is to keep to the chosen direction and avoid cases when they lose reality, trying to get as many wins as possible. 

Typical EOM sales mistakes

Let’s consider some of the mistakes salespeople tend to make at the end of the month ― the ones that only lower their chances of closing more sales and hitting the quota:

1. Sales reps don’t select the right prospects

Being pressed for time, salespeople may resort to impulsive EOM selling. They may start pitching to everyone. 

That’s a completely wrong approach. No matter how close your EOM goal is, remember you should contact only those prospects who are most likely to buy your product or service right away. 

2. Sales reps neglect proper timing

You should be clever enough to align your EOM sales with the customer’s ability to pay. Most people get paid during the period between 25th and 30th every month. That’s usually the best time for them to spend money. 

Try to tie your sales efforts with their perfect purchase timing. For example, you may make a discount and create the effect of urgency in your emails so that they won’t miss a chance to buy your solution. 

email drip campaigns

3. Salespeople start pushing too hard

Approaching the EOM period, sales reps often forget the crucial sales rule: ‘In sales, you should listen more than speak.’ Don’t try to overdo it with words. Your prospects may count your expressiveness as a kind of pressure, which will only avert them from a purchase. Stick to your strategy of asking them critical questions, being empathetic and helpful. 

Critical questions

EOM sales techniques and examples

To avoid widespread EOM mistakes, you may adopt several effective sales techniques that will help you remain professional and trusted during this stressful period. Each of them is supported by a sales email template for your inspiration:

Play with the price

Around 83% of customers claim they are more likely to purchase if they are offered a discount. It’s true, though not always when it comes to EOM B2B sales. Here you should be more prospective. 

Work out a strategy where you’ll offer a discount to your prospects in the middle of the month. Four or five days before the EOM, contact them again and inform them that the price will be raised starting from the next month. This way, you may motivate your prospective customers to think twice and buy your solution at an old price. 

Consider the following email template example:

Hello [Prospect name],

Since the month comes to its end, I would like to inform you about a new pricing structure that comes into action on [Date]. Starting from this day, the price of our [Pricing plan name] plan will rise to [How much]

You may still buy [Service or product] at a current price till [Date].
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Regards,
[Your name]

2. Involve your leaders in a conversation

You get targets from your sales leaders, so why not ask them to participate in a sales EOM closing challenge? If you ask them to write a message on behalf of their name, there will be more chances your prospects will react. 

Customers appreciate attention and care, so a message from your company’s executive may sound like a sign of respect and push them to consider your offer more seriously.

Your sales leader’s email may look something like this:

Hello [Prospect name],

[Rep name] informed me about your current issue with [Problem] at [Prospect company]. So, I decided to contact you personally to answer any questions you might be having at the moment about [Your company name] solution.

I’m highly concerned about seeing our product as the right fit for the companies we work with, so I’m open to all your inquiries. 

I look forward to hearing from you and will be pleased to provide you with all the information you are interested in. 

Regards,
[Executive name and title]

3. Ask reflection questions

When prospects object to your offer, which is not a rare thing, the deal gets stalled. It’s high time to break the ice and remind them you are still here to come in handy. Again, your goal is to drag words from a prospect, not bombard them with your visions about how wonderful your solution is. Be ready to ask questions that can help your prospects reflect on their need for your product.

For example:

Hello [Prospect name],

We chatted with you about [Your company name] offer two weeks ago, and you were not ready to accept it due to [Objection, e.g., lack of budget]. Since a new month is approaching, would it be right for me to suppose a free trial will be a good starting point for you right now to solve your [Share their pain point]?

If not, no need to worry. I can contact you in the future when this solution becomes a higher priority for you.

Regards,
[Your name]

EOM sales are never easy. Just keep in mind that you won’t make them easier if you start accelerating your efforts and pressing prospects.  

Now that it is clear what EOM means in sales and how to close your deals before the end of the month, let’s go ahead and find out what EOM stands for in accounting. 

What does EOM mean in accounting?

EOM is an accounting term commonly used in two meanings. 

  • EOM may stand for the period (commonly the number of days) when a customer has to issue payment following the end of the month. For example, “net 14 EOM” means that payment must be made in full within 14 days following the end of the month.
  • Likewise, EOM often presupposes the process of EOM accounting, i.e., procedures your company should do at the end of the month to ensure all financial operations have been completed and all financial reports have been prepared before a new month begins.

Benefits of EOM accounting

Data accuracy

The end of month accounting procedures represent a step-by-step work with financial data, so the chances you miss any transactions, in this case, are zero-low.

Meanwhile, doing EOM accounting once in a blue moon may cost you long tedious hours afterward, when you’ll have to recheck all data. After all, you don’t want to experience the problems as PPG company once had, when a single error in expense recording cost them a $4 million downfall in net income.

Better decision making and forecasting

60% of small business owners feel they aren’t knowledgeable when it comes to accounting. Preparing the EOM report, an accountant will help your company decision-makers evaluate the current financial situation, come up with more effective business solutions, or sometimes initiate more strategic changes for your brand. 

Another benefit of EOM accounting is that it helps your company predict revenue and strengthen its position on the market. 

Easier audits

In case of regular EOM accounting, you keep financial data organized, accurate, and accessible. Thus, whenever your accountant needs information about your revenue, they may easily find it. 

EOM accounting procedures

Successful EOM accounting rests on three procedures your company should complete regularly: 

Account for necessary financial adjustments

It’s a common practice for your company to collect revenue and deduct expenses. However, at the end of the month, the number of transactions may not coincide with the time when original transactions have been made. 

For instance, the company has paid a salary to its employees of $25,000 in total via bank transfer. However, the bank has issued additional commission that month, which cost the business $5,500 of unexpected expenses. As a result, the accountant had to correct the original entry and report $30,500 as a total sum.

Calculate account balances

When all financial adjustments have been made, your accountant should calculate the balances of each account your business holds. In other words, at the beginning of each month, the accountant records the opening balance and then adds deposits and subtracts all expenditures. 

Make the end of month report

Once the balance of each account is calculated, all numbers should be recorded into your business’s accounting database. Based on these entries, an accountant should prepare the necessary reports to highlight the current financial position of your company. These reports should be presented to the management.

Tips on end of month accounting procedures
Source: Patriot Software

Wrapping up 

The way how well you control your sales and operate with your finances tells a lot about your future business position on the market. End of month sales help you analyze your monthly sales performance and come up with strategies to improve your sales efforts in general. Dealing with EOM challenges, you’ll have a better vision of what you should change in your company strategy at the moment to see your sales going up tomorrow. The rest won’t be a problem ― Snov.io will provide you with all necessary tools for your sales and revenue growth.

Request for information (RFI)

A request for information is better known by its acronym RFI. It’s a document that a company uses to request information about a product or service from suppliers. This way, the organization can get an idea of possibilities offered by each vendor, compare different providers, and gather information on a market in a more structured way.

RFIs are especially useful for companies that want or have to research many potential partners. 

What information to include in an RFI

There is no set way to write an RFI. Each business decides what specific information it wants to collect from different suppliers. Also, it chooses the number of details it wants to request.

Still, it doesn’t mean that every RFI is that different. There are several specific elements that you usually include in you request for information form:

  • Basic information about your company (such as business activity and contact details).
  • A request to the supplier to fill in basic information about their organization (such as business activity and contact details).
  • Confidentiality agreement to prevent providers from sharing information with third parties.

Aside from the information above, there is a wide variety of different things a business can request. Below is a non-exhaustive list of common elements:

  • Presentation of the applicant company.
  • Statement of the reason for the RFI.
  • Questions about the vendor’s experience with similar projects.
  • Questions about the supplier’s action plan, financial situation, and technical skills.
  • Clients’ references.
  • Selection criteria matrix based on which the requesting company will choose the supplier.

Did you know? Some businesses ask providers to solve a case based on a realistic scenario. This way, you get the advantage of testing the supplier’s dedication to the project. However, doing it this way requires more effort and time to compare different vendors and their techniques.

rfi sample
Source: Smartsheet

How to write a request for information

With so many elements to choose from, we’ve compiled a short request for information template that covers basic points that should be included to communicate your needs to potential providers:

Overview
It should describe your business’s background, goals, objectives, and confidentiality policies. At the end of this part, the supplier will get an overall image of who the requesting company is and what it wants.

Qualifications

Here you can include the skills and credentials required for your project. Specify everything you need: the size of the team, technical restrictions, operation systems, level of experience, etc.

Requested information
This section contains specific questions about the supplier’s infrastructure, working methods, credibility, project management, quality control, and more. The information must be obtained to know if the supplier is viable for the project or not.

Response expectations
This part should describe what is expected in terms of information and deadline. You can also include evaluation criteria here.

Some tips for developing good RFI are:

  • Restrict your request just to the information you need.
  • Try to be as specific in your request as possible.
  • Ask about capabilities and resources. Price isn’t discussed at this stage.
  • Give your vendor a fair amount of time for response.
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What is the difference between RFI, RFP, and RFQ?

We’ve dealt with the RFI definition, but you might still be confused since there are so many similar terms and acronyms. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Often, RFI, RFP, and RFQ are used interchangeably, but this is wrong. All these notions have their meaning and reason for existing.

Let’s dive deeper into them.

RFP: Request for proposal

An RFI generally precedes a request for proposal (RFP). An RFP is a document in which you ask different vendors to propose solutions to your problems and request information about the price of their product or service. 

This is a more complex request where you should detail both the starting point and what is expected to be achieved, not only in economic terms but also in terms of quality, safety, execution, etc.

Without going into much detail, an RFP should contain:

  • A confidentiality agreement, if necessary.
  • Information about your business.
  • Objectives of the hiring process (i.e., needs that are expected to be covered).
  • Description of the current situation and needed improvements in as much detail as possible.
  • Details on the execution of the project, if successful.
  • Calendar of phases of the process (presentation of the proposal, decision-making, start of the project, etc.)

Although RFPs usually follow RFIs, they can also be combined in certain cases. Due to tenders, this combination occurs frequently in government agencies. By doing it this way, all the relevant information is gathered to make the first selection.

RFQ: Request for quotation or budget request

The objective of an RFQ or request for quotation is to ask different suppliers about the price of a specific service or product. It’s used when you are committed to buying and judge the solution primarily on price.

In this case, you ask the supplier to give a budget for a specific product or service, making it easy to compare proposals since they are budgeting for the same thing.

In this case, the information that an RFQ must contain is:

  • Information about your company (business activity and contact details).
  • Specific request on the price of a product or service offered by the supplier, specifying in detail what this product or service should include.
  • Request to sign a confidentiality agreement, if necessary.
  • Deadlines for submitting the budget and next steps for the project.
  • Criteria that will be taken into account when deciding.
rfq vs rfp
Source: RFP360

Wrapping up

As you can see, RFIs are less specific and contain less information than RFPs or RFQs. However, their advantage is that they are less complex to prepare and can help you filter out suppliers from the beginning if you already see that they don’t offer what you want.

A good RFI request will obtain answers and key information to make the supplier viable, forming a portfolio of vendors of great value for future purchasing strategies. It’s a simple way to carry out a comparison between vendors if what you want is to quickly contract a small project.

Goal card

A goal card is a visualization tool that helps write down your goals and make up a plan for achieving them, all in one place. 

This term was once used by many motivation coaches. Bob Proctor, a world-renowned speaker and coach, is one of them. The Bob Proctor goal card pertained mostly to achieving financial success. Now, this tool may be applicable to all spheres of life, business included. 

It’s a common and necessary practice for companies to set a list of goals for every year, quarter, and month. Yet only 60 out of 300 small businesses attempt to keep track of them. As a result, while some targets are achieved, others are never put into action. In this scenario, a goal card enables business owners, managers, or team members to reify all targets instead of just keeping them in a subconscious mind.  

Importance of goal cards for business

The reasons you might need to implement goal cards (if you haven’t done it yet) are the following:

  • A goal card allows controlling the goal achievement in midstream. It’s natural that you always divide long-term goals into intermediate objectives. A goal card will help you focus on your intermediate results.
  • A goal card instills motivation. Having a set of goals recorded, you are ignited to fulfill your plan more effectively. For a team member who has the company’s bonus system in mind, goal cards may become the best encouragement.
  • A goal card allows for continuous business growth. Using goal cards, all members of your company get adjusted to regularly evaluate their performance, improve their productivity, and increase the overall business potential, which can’t but contribute to its non-stop growth.
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Tips on writing a goal card

Your goal card is solely your business. You may make it the way you find working for you. However, if you plan to start using it today and think of any landmarks, these tips will help you: 

Choose readable size

Some experts claim that a perfect solution for your goals is a 3×5 index card since it is the easiest to carry. That’s pretty logical. Yet, for business purposes, you’ll more likely stick it to your board or computer or just pin it to the magnet board. The key is to be able to clearly see your goals every day.

Use one card for one goal

Writing several goals on a card will most likely distract your attention from the one that is in priority at the moment. You should dedicate each goal card to only one goal. As an option, you may use sticky notes of different colors for different goals. 

Make the main goal card prominent

Your main goal should stand out from the rest as your core ambition. Make it bigger, put it in the center of the board, or highlight it in a different color. As soon as you reach smaller goals, you will feel exhilarated by how closer you become to your primary target. 

Choose attention-grabbing ink

Some experts claim that using blue ink is the best choice for making goal cards because the blue color boosts focus and mental strain. Anyway, you know yourself better than anyone, so choose the color that will help you pay constant attention to the goals you are pursuing. 

Highlight your goal

Underline your actual goal so it could catch your attention all the time when you look at your card. If you use digital notes as your goal cards, make your goals bold. 

Don’t use the future tense for goal-setting

While writing your goal on a goal card, don’t aim at the distance far ahead. If you feel ‘To do’ structure sounds encouraging, use it. Still, the most recommended way to motivate yourself is to begin with ‘I want to.’ Thus, you’ll refocus your attention from the obligation to your desire to reach your destination point.

Edit your goal card 

Goals tend to be modified with time, depending on some inner and outer business processes. Be ready to update your goal card whenever you come across any changes in the company’s objectives globally.

Read your goal card at least twice a day

Start your every working day by looking at the goal card that is your top priority. Once kept in mind, it will move you through your daily tasks. Read your goal card once again at the end of the working day to get fueled with motivation to continue tomorrow. 

Use a scrum board

If you choose to make your goal cards in the form of sticky notes, make the best of a scrum board. This tool is especially popular with teams that always need to visualize and divide their tasks into targeted, processed, and completed ones. 

You may use this technique for your personal goals. This way, you will get another portion of motivation seeing the results of your work in the right column: 

Scrum board

How to compose a goal card

To visualize your goal and make it memorable, think of how you’ll structure your card. Here are basic recommendations on what to write on it so that you could always stay focused on what you wish to achieve:

Start on a positive note 

Mention one of your previous achievements connected with the current goal, for example:

“I am happy I could convert five prospects into our customers last month.”

Voice your current goal 

If it’s connected with numbers, a good solution will be to add such phrases as ‘At least’ or ‘A minimum of.’ Remember that every goal should have a deadline; otherwise, it is just an intention: 

“I want to close at least eight deals with new prospects till 30 November.” 

Mention your feelings afterward

Add how you’ll feel upon achieving your goal (e.g., happy, excited, relaxed, etc.) and mention what results it will bring. Don’t say ‘If.’ ‘If’ is about doubts, but you must be sure you’ll hit the target. So Instead use ‘When’ or ‘As soon as:’

“When I achieve this goal, I will feel even more motivated to continue growing the customer base.”

End it with encouraging words

Stay supportive of your efforts. Remember to voice out that you believe in yourself:

“I’ll do it for sure!”

Put down a date

Once you’ve written your goal card, be sure to put a date to see in the future how much time it took you to achieve the goal. This will help you evaluate your work and elaborate on how you may do it more effectively:

“20 November 2020”

Goal card template and example

There is not the only goal card sample you may find on the web, yet most examples will deal with spheres out of the business world. The following goal card template will help you create a goal card specifically for your business role:

I am _____ (Your feeling). I could _____ (Your previous achievement connected with your current goal). Now I want to _____ (Your current goal). As soon as I reach this goal, I will feel ______ (Emotions about achieving the goal).
 
And so it is!
____ (Current date)

And here is the goal card example you may use for one of your sales prospecting objectives:

Goal card template

Wrapping up

There’s no better way to bring your thoughts to reality than visualizing them. When it comes to your business goals, the first thing to do on your way to achieving them is simply voicing out what you want to achieve. And that’s where goal cards can come in handy. 

This is the tool you create on your own and adjust to your senses and mind. If you have any doubts whether it works, try making your first goal card now and see how it will boost your motivation and productivity.

Account development representative (ADR)

An account development specialist works with their company’s most important clients to build prolonged, loyal, strategic cooperation. This position demands a set of skills that include multi-functional leadership, strategic planning, and the ability to effectively close sales. 

You can be a salesperson searching for new career opportunities or an existing account development representative preparing to work with bigger clients. In all cases, this article will be useful for you. If you’ve got everything it takes to be an account development representative, catch the chance and bring more profit to your company. In serious organizations, it will be properly rewarded.

Account development representative job description

To be successful, account development representatives (ADRs) should possess specific soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, empathy, self-confidence, and being customer-oriented.

When it comes to hard skills, candidates should have relevant experience to perform fundamental job duties. This includes account management, experience with CRMs and statistics, etc. Here are the main duties and responsibilities that an ADR is likely to perform in their role:

  • Cultivate new business connections using cold outreach, arranging personal and group meetings with clients, growing existing networks, and using professional social channels like LinkedIn.
  • Communicate with VIP clients to build trustful and loyal relations.
  • Design effective presentations and share them with key-level clients and stakeholders.
  • Grow fruitful relationships with clients and stakeholders, enhancing service quality, efficiently negotiating price, and improving the company’s ROI.
  • Manage ROI analysis, reporting, creative and technical account development.
  • Monitor and manage relevant data in your company’s CRM. Track and record all client interactions in the system.
  • Determine the budget and timeframe for the business project.
  • Research software solutions in your industry that encourage meaningful communications with clients and lead to an increase in sales leads.
  • Create a regulated method of onboarding new ADRs, developing call scripts and email drip campaigns.
  • Interview applicants, coach new ADRs, and teach them the details of the work process.
  • Create and follow an account management strategy.
Account management in sales funnel
Account management in a sales funnel (Source: Gmelius)

As for the account development representative salary, you can check it here.

What is an account management strategy?

An account management strategy is a plan that helps manage all operations between your company and customers. With this document, you can do the following activities:

  • Identify your business’s goals
  • Consider the objectives and how they are assessed
  • Incorporate your organizational goals into the work with your customers
  • Determine what should be done (and what shouldn’t)
  • Monitor your progress

An account management strategy is not just a list of tasks that helps you achieve your business goals. It’s also the strategy that will help you earn the attention and appreciation of senior stakeholders and encourage your professional growth.

Five key account management skills you need to become an ADR

If you’re considering the opportunity of becoming an ADR, you should know that the previous experience in other positions will facilitate your career growth. In particular, experience as a sales representative, an account manager, or a customer service assistant might be a requirement.

ADRs have a significant workload. The key talents they require are not only sales skills but also powerful communication, leadership, and management abilities. Below are the five most important skills you will need to be a successful ADR.

Communication and negotiations

Communication skills are crucial. An ADR must be perfect at negotiations – over the phone, via email, in person, and across teams.

As we have mentioned, ADRs will most likely have to deal with each level of the business to guarantee that the client’s needs and anticipations are met.

ADR’s ultimate goal is to boost customer lifetime value (CLV). That is why they must know how to negotiate deal conditions so that both participants end up happy. This demands a genuine sense of timing, strong presentation skills, and the ability to stand their ground and move back when required.

Customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value (Source: Qualtrics)

Business and client success expertise

An ADR must nourish strategic connections with top clients, so they should possess an in-depth knowledge of the company and its customers. This skillset helps them recognize the best chances for growth and assistance to the client.

An ADR needs to offer custom solutions tailored to the customer’s particular needs. To do that effectively, they must know every part of the business, present solutions, and create customized offers effectively.

Strategic vision

ADRs need to have a strategic view that exceeds the limits of monetary profits. They must know what deals to offer and what long-lasting strategies to introduce to bring all parties mutual benefits.

That is why top sales reps might not be the best candidates for an ADR position. While powerful selling skills matter a lot, a professional ADR concentrates on the long-term involvement over short-term sales goals.

Leadership talent

ADRs are leaders. They should know how to guide a client and organize staff at all levels of negotiations. ADRs should also be confident in their skills, initiative, and gain the respect of both sides, their customers and colleagues.

Value-centered selling

Long-lasting success is based on the skill of presenting value to the client. As an ADR, you will financially and strategically present the value of your offer to your customers.

ADRs with a good knowledge of the business can create personalized offers. This way, they provide more value for their leads, encouraging them to work more productively and maintain long-term business connections.

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Bottom line

As we can see, an ADR is an excellent next career step for talented and disciplined people who have leadership talent, as well as sales and business administration skills. If you meet all of these requirements, you’ve got all the chances to bring profit to your company, make its key clients happy, and accelerate your career growth.

Base salary

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, it’s critical to know all components of the compensation package and calculate how much you or your workers will earn when agreeing to a job or negotiating a raise. And here’s where the understanding of base salary can help. 

What is base salary?

Base salary, aka base pay, is a fixed sum of money that an employer pays to employees in exchange for their accomplished work. This term doesn’t consider salary benefits, bonuses, or any other possible reward from the company. 

If you apply for a job, the base salary is the sum of money that an employer offers you for specific tasks. Your job description can also include extra details about other financial components of your future wages if you accept the offer. However, the base pay you are proposed remains consistent.

It’s most commonly expressed as an hourly rate, base monthly income, or annual base salary.

Who receives base salary?

Now that we’re done with the base salary definition let’s consider who receives it. Base salary is paid to exempt or professional employees who are expected to work for a set number of hours per week (usually 35-40). Such workers usually are not required to track the number of hours they spent on work. And if they work overtime, salaried employees don’t get paid for it. 

Exempt vs. non-exempt employees
Source: SurePayroll

Surely, it can differ depending on the employer. Some employees from the public sector, often union-represented ones, are expected to keep a record of compensatory time off, which is not the standard in private companies. Compensatory time for base-salaried workers is, as a rule, the result of the union workplace. 

Is base pay gross or net?

Base pay and gross pay may seem to describe the same or similar things. But there’s a significant difference between the two. Gross income represents wages received, which includes the employee’s base salary and additional earnings and financial bonuses. Meanwhile, net income is the amount left over taxes and health insurance. 

Gross income vs. net income
Source: MintLife

Is base income the same as annual pay?

Again, even though these two concepts sound similar, they are different. As mentioned earlier, base salary doesn’t take into account any extra compensation, such as health insurance, commissions, bonuses, stock options, etc. In contrast to it, annual pay includes additional earnings (e.g., overtime and awards) over the year.

What employers look at to determine the base salary range?

The salary range is set by companies to pay their employees for a specific job. It usually includes the smallest pay rate, the highest pay rate, and a number of mid-range options for salary raises.

The base salary can be defined by several determinants:

  • Average market wage rates for employees that do similar work in the same spheres in the same geographical region.
  • Base salary limits established in the company.
  • Level of education, skill, experience, and knowledge required to perform the job. The salary range for executive-level positions is commonly the highest. The pay range for lower-level jobs is usually the narrowest. There is more adjustability regarding senior positions because their choices influence the bottom-line.
  • The number of people offering their service to accomplish similar tasks in the business’s work area.
  • Competition for specialists with the demanded skills and experience.
  • Availability of job positions.

Base salary rates also depend on the average market pay outside of the company’s geographic area. The reason for this is that the desired skills become more difficult to find, and businesses increase base salary rates to hunt the talent they need and gain competitive advantage. 

In the end, businesses want to create salary ranges that motivate their staff to contribute. They also want to attract and retain the best employees.

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How to keep base salaries competitive

A reliable source of information about the base salary in the US is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Its website gives the employer salary research data for many different professions in multiple industries, as well as for people who work in various geographic areas. 

More information on base salary is accessible to businesses through the SHRM Compensation Data Center. Many organizations participate in market surveys of salary ranges to form a reliable source for salary analysis. Nowadays, wage studies are happening online with the help of salary calculators and comprehensive info sources obtainable from such websites as PayScale.

These info resources give an employer an opportunity to see the base salaries range that specific positions are paid. Besides, it allows applicants to see identical information. An advantage that businesses had in the past doesn’t give them superiority in the negotiations regarding base salary anymore.

Wrapping it up

To retain excellent talent, most companies use all means to guarantee that base salaries they pay are reasonable and fair. We hope this information will help you manage payment and salary issues in your company in a way that increases staff motivation and builds rapport.

Sales director

A sales director, or a director of sales, is employed by a company to manage the work of subordinate salespeople and lead an effective selling strategy for the business in general. As a rule, a sales director has full control over the sales functions and reps within the company’s budget and is often a part of its higher management.

Sales director job description

Sales directors are responsible for all sales team activities, motivating sales reps and ensuring they meet expected goals. Besides, they may be involved in strategic planning and launching of new products or services. Specific sales director responsibilities may vary based on the company and industry, but they typically include:

  • Leading and motivating the sales team 
  • Setting and communicating weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual sales goals
  • Ensuring salespeople know how to achieve set goals 
  • Developing and implementing strategic plans to achieve sales targets
  • Working with customers to better understand their needs
  • Expanding the company’s customer base and building lasting relationships with them
  • Preparing detailed sales reports and checking their accuracy before submitting them
  • Introducing alterations to the sales program in response to competitor changes and industry benchmarks 
  • Assessing costs, supply, demand, and competitors to determine selling prices
  • Estimating sales volume for current and new products
  • Implementing a sales training and onboarding program to educate new employees
  • Establishing a referral network with other businesses and finding opportunities to maximize value from these connections
  • Meeting with sales managers to assess company performance
Sales director role

Sales director vs. sales manager

People often mix the position of a sales director and the one of a sales manager, although a line should be drawn between these roles. Let’s compare.

Both a sales director and a sales manager are leaders of sales teams. They are part of the hierarchy and follow the company’s mission and set goals. 

The difference between these positions is that while a sales manager manages a team of salespeople, a sales director manages a sales manager. It means that a sales manager communicates with a sales team and reports to a sales director, while the latter is responsible for downward communication.

What is more, a sales director is responsible for creating a sales strategy and decision-making, whereas a sales manager is in charge of implementing, monitoring, and controlling the sales strategy. Finally, while a sales manager is in charge of a particular region assigned to them, a sales director should control all regions under supervision. 

Sales director vs. sales manager

How to become a sales director 

To succeed in the role, a sales director needs to have the following qualifications:

Education

A sales director must possess a bachelor’s degree in Sales, Marketing, Economics, or any other business-related discipline. However, many companies would consider candidates with a master’s degree (PhD preferred).

Experience

As a rule, it’s required that a sales director should have 10 years of experience working in sales, preferably in one of the senior positions such as head of sales, head of sales operations, or head of account management. The candidate must have a substantial background in working as a leader of a sales team.

A person should also be ready to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of sales operations and processes and have experience in building sales strategies in a complex sales organization.  

Skills

A sales director should possess both hard and soft skills. Some of the most required ones are the following:

  • Business development skills. They presuppose the ability to analyze a company’s current performance and identify areas of improvement. A sales director should always set new sales goals and continue growing the customer base. This requires constant evaluation of the business’s ongoing processes.
  • Leadership skills. A sales director should have these skills to motivate salespeople and coordinate their work toward achieving set goals. This position requires effective and positive leadership.
  • Interpersonal and communication skills. To maintain a healthy work environment, a sales director should have strong verbal and nonverbal communication skills. They should be able to communicate objectives, provide constructive feedback, and cooperate with other departments.
  • Analytical skills. A good sales director will show interest in business drivers and understand sales quota and compensation plans. Besides, they should demonstrate the ability to derive insights from new information and develop clear sales strategies to be followed by the team. 
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving. A sales director should be ready to use their knowledge and reasoning for solving problems and react quickly to any business changes.  
  • Time management. A sales director position presupposes multitasking, which can’t be conducted effectively without proper time management. They should be able to prioritize tasks and delegate some of them efficiently if such a need arises. 
  • Computer skills. A sales director should have substantial computer skills as their job includes typing and using specific company software. Besides, they should be proficient in using tools necessary for the creation of reports and presentations for the senior sales management, stakeholders, and collaborating departments.
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Certifications

Although not required, they are preferable if you want to become a professional in this position. Here are some of the certifications for sales directors:

Apart from certifications, a sales director should always develop their skills by attending special courses and reading practical sales books

Wrapping it up

A sales director is a responsible position that presupposes taking control of the sales department’s overall productivity and effectiveness. It requires solid knowledge and skills, so not many can be well qualified for this role. 

However, if you are sure you are tailored for the job and are ready to step on this time-consuming and not easy career path, be prepared to get respective education and always improve your expertise with additional certifications. The position of a sales director, to which you will grow up to, will be rewarding enough to compensate for all your efforts. 

Point of contact

A point of contact serves an important role in the relationship your brand will have with its clients. Every interaction between customers and a point of contact can either build or damage your organization.

So, what is a point of contact?

A point of contact (POC), or a single point of contact, is an individual or a department that handles communication with customers. They serve as coordinators of information in terms of an activity or a project and act as an organization’s representatives.

Their role is to help organizations maintain good relations with their potential and existing customers. At the same time, a POC increases brand awareness and visibility in the market. 

Point of contact examples

Let’s consider who may be a POC in a company: 

Customer service department. It helps clients solve their problems effectively and promptly. The customer service team handles all complaints and inquiries via various communication channels, such as phone, company website, email, etc. 

Salespeople. They are one of the first POCs every new lead gets in touch with. 

Service desk. This type of POC is typical of IT companies that offer service desks to deal with any service support request. 

Project manager. The manager in charge of a project may represent a POC, responding to any project queries.

Point of contact

Why is a point of contact important?

The benefits of having a POC are the following:

It eliminates the risks of miscommunication

When a company has one coordinating entity, customers can always be sure their inquiries will be solved efficiently. A POC prevents questions from being repeated, handling all communication in one place. As a result, not a single issue is ever lost or miscommunicated.

It ensures timely solutions

Did you know that 67% of customer churn is preventable if companies resolve issues the first time they occur? With a single point of contact, an organization shouldn’t worry about keeping customers waiting for their problem to be considered by different representatives over phone chains. They have a person or a board who has immediate access to all client information and company resources, which will enable them to solve problems in a timely manner. 

It helps build trust

When a customer knows there’s a real person they can rely on in solving any difficulties with using a company’s product or service, the relationships with this person become more trustworthy and longer-lasting. 

It creates a positive brand image

About 68% of clients believe the key to excellent customer service is a polite customer service representative. So, whenever a POC maintains friendly and professional behavior with clients, they associate it with a brand as a whole, which improves a company’s reputation.

It increases customer satisfaction

56% of people worldwide have stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service experience. This shows that the most crucial advantage of a POC is their ability to create a positive customer experience.

Importance of good customer care

As long as the client feels secure and has no doubts that their problem will be tackled by a company representative professionally and a solution will be offered quickly, the brand has big chances to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. 

Point of contact tips to follow

Being a POC for your customers is a challenging part. You should have good tech skills and balance them with knowledge of professional communication. Here are some POC best tips that can help you build trust and improve customer experience:

Apply the right tools  

Install automation tools that will help you manage incoming customer requests and enable people in charge of solving them to get access to client information. 

For instance, if a POC is a customer service department, you may consider using a help desk. This service platform organizes your team’s open cases with customers by setting up tasks for your reps, providing pre-written email templates, and sending automated follow-ups on the opened issues.

Maintain personalized communication

Use a personalized approach to contact your customers. Avoid too formal tone and robotlike communication style. Instead, address your clients by name and sign off your emails using a personal name even if a POC is represented by the department in your company. 

Use positive language

A positive tone of communication encourages a better customer experience. By using it, you’ll demonstrate that you are confident in resolving the client’s problem. Speaking positive means finding the words that won’t get the issue escalated but rather make the customer feel easier about their case. 

Let’s imagine a client has experienced an unpleasant situation with product delivery. Telling them, “I’m sorry, we can’t deliver the goods on time” will aggravate the situation, as you will agree with the problem by using negative language. Instead, you may say, “The goods will be delivered in 2 days. We’re sorry for this delay and would like to offer you free delivery for the next purchase”. 

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Stay clear

Be prepared to respond to your client’s inquiries as if you are communicating with someone who has little understanding of the problem and how it should be resolved. If you are a sales rep, be clear about the qualities of your product or service and how it can satisfy your prospect’s needs.

Know how to end the conversation

Your ability to correctly close down the conversation demonstrates that: 

  • You care about getting your customer right.
  • You’re willing to keep going until you get your client’s needs right.
  • The customer determines what “right” is.

Customer support needs to keep in mind that other customers may be waiting for help, too, so you cannot just lose time answering tons of aimless questions. Scope the problem, promise to help by reporting it to the people in charge, and remember to ask your customer directly if they need more assistance. 

The rule is the same for a sales representative: never leave the potential client with questions to be answered. Discuss your further steps of cooperation and ask whether there is anything else your prospect needs. 

Unify the team

If a POC is represented by the department, it’s necessary to ensure all team members follow the same culture: use the same rules, notions, and words. Provide a handbook on how to communicate with customers, focusing on examples of positive language that should be used and negative language patterns that should be omitted. 

You can also make a list of guidelines for all team members to use as a map in their contact with potential or existing clients. This way, they will be given autonomy yet work as a single unit.

Wrapping it up

A POC is a key person or department in the company that starts a relationship with potential customers or brings the interaction with existing clients to the next level. So, the responsibility of making the impression about the whole brand lies solely on their shoulders. 

Customer satisfaction with the company being at stake, a POC should have a defined strategy of communication with clients. This would boil down to adopting clear guidelines and tools for the unified system of conduct for all team members, using positive language, and keeping communication clear to customers.

Baseline

Although it’s not easy to accurately measure the feedback on your actions, every marketer needs to do so to improve their business efficiency. One of the best ways to start using marketing analytics is to establish a performance baseline.

What is a baseline?

baseline is an attributed value of everything outside of your marketing efforts, including all costs, sales, or other variables that would have happened anyway. It’s considered to be a fixed point of reference and is used for comparison purposes.

What is a baseline?

There are the following baseline elements: 

External and long-term factors

These factors don’t depend on your current marketing campaigns, such as your brand awareness, your competitors’ production level, and much more. For example:

  • Do you already have an extensive brand awareness? 
  • Do you have loyal customers who appreciate your company and can promote your brand? 
  • Have your competitors changed the marketing strategy to be more visible in the market? 

Seasonal factors

The seasonal factor depends on the kind of business you have and affects some companies more than others, e.g., the travel industry or the retail sector. 

However, it’s important for all marketers to track customer’s purchase trends according to the time of the year, climate, holidays, or other events. Understanding how and when your clients make a purchase can give you a substantial advantage.

Unmeasured marketing

This includes factors that can’t be measured in terms of data, such as word of mouth, product reviews, etc. For example:

  • How to measure efficiently the internet activity of a person searching for your product when they receive information from a third-party site? 
  • How does an advertisement affect a person? 
  • What is the reason the customer comes to you a month later and buys the product? 

All of these things must be included for an accurate baseline measure.

Why is a baseline important? 

First, identifying the company’s baseline helps you accurately calculate the incremental impact of your marketing efforts. You can track the percentage of your sales growth in general and the percentage of the sales growth you gained because of the new marketing method. 

Let’s say your sales increased by 25% in the last quarter. You can use baseline modeling to measure this improvement accurately and define that, for example, 15% of the sales growth came from a new marketing campaign launched in that quarter. This is a great benefit to justify your marketing plan.

Second, it helps you understand and explain fluctuations in product sales caused by external factors without marketing intrusion. For instance, you may define to what extent your competitor influences the revenue. By establishing a baseline algorithm, it will be much easier for you to explain the highs and lows in sales, even if your budget is the same.

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How to set an effective working baseline?

Now since you are aware of the benefits, it’s necessary to establish a unique and well-organized working baseline according to your business. To do this, you should take into account the following basic factors:

Dynamics

The baseline should be dynamic. Considering mean values only will lead to the expected results, and you will have no external factors pointing to “jumps up” or “falls” in sales. This means that changes in customer behavior will also go unnoticed.

Inclusiveness

The baseline should be inclusive. Consider every conversion made, not just those made by the customers who were attracted to your marketing. Without this data, it’s impossible to determine the baseline.

Integration 

The baseline should be integrated into all attribution calculations. Ignoring this, your marketing attribution is no longer valid. With the precise baseline, you can get new information about your marketing channels and identify conversion sources.

Wrapping it up

Sales may increase or decrease even though your marketing spending stays the same. Baseline helps analyze this change by considering other factors that don’t depend on your marketing activity. Therefore, setting a baseline is vital for every company to fully understand the gradual value of their marketing.

Sales compensation

Selling is getting more difficult — at least 61% of salespeople consider it much harder than 5 years ago. Decision-makers are less approachable, customers are less trustful, and their challenges are bigger. All these factors may easily undermine your sales reps’ motivation unless you set up your rewarding system and come up with smart sales compensation initiatives. 

What is sales compensation?

Sales compensation refers to the payment a salesperson receives for their work. As a rule, it includes a base salary, commission, and additional monetary incentives to motivate a sales representative.

Sales compensation should be well-planned to drive the sales team’s performance to success. This is why when speaking about sales compensation, one commonly means working out a clever sales compensation plan that would:

  • Be aligned with sales roles. A sales compensation plan should be specific to the various roles and responsibilities of members within the sales team.
  • Fit a company’s culture. A sales compensation plan should reflect your company’s unique set of assets. In particular, it’s necessary to understand how competitive your plan is in comparison to other businesses within your industry and how it is different for top and underperforming sales reps.
  • Be clear and motivating. Your sales compensation plan should be simple enough to help your sales teams understand your company’s goals and the benefits they would get from it. Besides, it should presuppose rewarding them for the behaviors that result in business growth in general. 
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Sales compensation plan examples

There are many examples, or models, of a sales compensation plan. We will consider five models applied by companies worldwide:

1. Salary-based compensation plan model

The main advantage of this plan is that it makes it easy to calculate the compensation and predict hiring requirements. Besides, it relieves sales reps of stress associated with not meeting the goals. 

Among its main disadvantages is the fact that without commission, sales teams may not be motivated enough to close many deals. As a result, a company risks losing its top-performing salespeople who will be interested in receiving commissions for their extra efforts. That is why this model is not common among sales teams now. 

Salary-based compensation plan model

2. Commission-based compensation model

A commission-only plan presupposes paying sales reps based on their performance only. So, if they don’t close a deal, they get a zero. This model isn’t risky since the company pays per closed deals only. It also motivates sales representatives to work harder and get more money. 

On the other hand, this sales-compensation plan makes it difficult to foresee your expenses and plan your budget correspondingly. 

Commission-based compensation model

3. Salary+commission-based compensation model

This is the most common plan that allows sales reps to get a fixed income and stimulates them to sell. Besides, this model is beneficial for a company, which can budget the base salary and employ a motivated competitive sales team. 

As a rule, the percentage of commission in this plan is lower because of the fixed salary. The pay mix (the ratio of fixed pay to variable pay) usually depends on the industry and sales roles. 

There can be:

  • More aggressive ratio: roles with more influence on purchasing decisions.
  • Mid aggressive ratio: managers with wider sets of responsibilities.
  • Less aggressive ratio: reps with longer sales cycles and strategic or consultative roles.
Salary+commission-based compensation model

4. Salary+bonus compensation model

This plan can be used if you know that your sales reps tend to meet the pre-set goals. You may foresee your expenses by paying your salespeople a base amount and a predictable bonus per the particular number of sales. 

For instance, if you know that 3 out of 5 sales representatives always hit quota and get $40,000, you may annually budget $120,000 for bonuses. Nevertheless, this model still makes it hard to motivate your salespeople to overperform. 

Salary+bonus compensation model

5. Straight-line commission model

This sales compensation plan presupposes rewarding salespeople based on how much or little they sell. For example, if a total commission is $1,000 and a sales rep reaches 90% of their quota, they get 90% of the commission, which is $900. 

Being quite easy to calculate, this model may be not motivating enough. Say, if a person is okay with 80% of the quota, they will not be driven for selling more. 

Straight-line commission model

How to create a sales compensation plan

To ensure you have a right sales-compensation plan at hand, you should take the following steps:

Set your sales compensation plan objectives

Determining your goals is a key step for any strategy. Setting your sales compensation plan priorities will help you decide how to reward your salespeople in a way that works best for your company. Consider some examples of objectives you may set for your sales compensation plan:

  • Grow revenue
  • Increase the percentage of repeat customers
  • Increase the customer lifetime value
  • Lower expenses
  • Boost sales for specific products, and so on

Determine your sales compensation model

Now that you have defined your goals, you should choose the type of compensation plan you will use for your sales team, which will depend on:

  • The type of your company and its product
  • Your sales cycle
  • Your budget
  • Your sales team size
  • Analysis of sales compensation plans your competitors use
  • Your salespeople’s expectations

Choose when and how you will provide compensation 

If your plan presupposes a commission, determine when your salespeople will get compensated: when a customer signs a contract, when they send you their first payment, or every time a customer pays. Besides, you should choose a payroll software option to carry out your sales compensation plan. 

Set quotas

Determine what you expect of your sales reps so that they will know how they can earn compensation. Remember that quotas must be reasonable, feasible, and yet reflecting the business goals. 

As it is, only 24.3% of salespeople exceed their quota, which means the number of top performers is usually lower than the rest of your sales team. Thus, it’s advisable to target average performers while setting quotas to drive their movement several points upwards. 

Review your sales compensation plan

Any business strategy can’t be actionable forever. The same goes for your sales compensation plan. As your sales team grows, and company objectives become more ambitious, it should undergo corresponding changes. However, remember that these changes must always be aligned with your sales reps’ expectations: they should feel motivated and rewarded.

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Wrapping up

Sales compensation is an important factor in motivating your sales team. This is why choosing a sales compensation model that would be both targeted to your sales reps’ expectations and aligned with your company’s goals is a number one priority if you are pursuing sales growth. What your business will need to do next is to review its plan as long as you change your sales goals or direction. 

Needs assessment

Each organization is a complex unity. This is why it’s often difficult to realize what prevents the company from growing. Needs assessment helps analyze the business needs and pave the way for attaining them and ensuring its constant growth.   

What is a needs assessment?

Needs assessment, also called ‘environmental scan,’ is a process that involves determining the company’s needs and setting criteria for understanding how to best allocate available resources such as money, people, and facilities so that the business could improve its structure, operations, and processes. 

But what are the needs then?

Needs are the gaps between your company’s current achievements and your desired future accomplishments. When organizations define a need, they determine it as a priority and start looking at all possible activities to improve their performance and reach their goals.

Let’s say, a company feels its marketing processes are unfolding slowly. Upon conducting a needs assessment, it realizes a strong need for marketing automation. The business decides to implement an outreach automation solution, e.g., Snov.io. Here’s how it happens:

  • The company’s technical advisors decide whether the chosen platform fits the intended purpose.
  • The financial department estimates prices and determines whether they are affordable.
  • Senior management may ask external stakeholders for their opinion on the proposed change, if appropriate.
  • The company also browses alternative solutions to determine whether there are any more suitable options available.

As a result, the organization decides to use the service, which helps streamline its marketing processes. 

What is the purpose of a needs assessment?

Needs assessment plays a pivotal role in a performance improvement cycle, as it makes it continuous and systematic.

Needs assessment in improvement cycle

It happens due to the following reasons:

Needs assessment guides decision-making. It’s a systematic process that offers a set of procedures companies can always reflect on and continuously improve to enrich their decisions in the future.

It justifies decisions before they are made. Needs assessment allows businesses to avoid situations when decisions are made spontaneously, and it’s too late for changes. Instead, it helps organizations think proactively.

It’s adjustable to any project, time frame, and budget. No matter how monumental your project is, your needs assessment is a flexible process that can take place at any time and be scaled up.

It provides solutions to complex problems. The performance of any company is not a result of a single decision. Thus, its improvement must be due to complex measures. Needs assessment allows canning the company’s processes from top to bottom, which enables management to combine various activities for improving their performance.

How to conduct a needs assessment?

Smart companies are used to following four stages of needs assessment: needs identification, data collection & analysis, data application, and evaluation. 

Needs identification

At this stage, the company analyzes its current state and needs. It should also discover other undisclosed needs that may be hindering the organization from moving to the desired goals. Then, the business should rank them in order of importance to the improvement. This way, it sets the scope for its research.

Data collection & analysis

This stage presupposes gathering information necessary for the company to better understand the gaps between where it is now and where it strives to be. Data may be collected both from internal company records (micro-level research) or externally (macro-level research). The latter means getting information through market research techniques such as surveys. 

Here are some needs assessment example questions that can be helpful at this stage:

  • Is lead generation regular? 
  • Do employees understand they are the best fit for the company?
  • Do the company’s goals align with its vision?
  • Can the company provide a proper onboarding for talented employees?
  • Do existing customers bring in regular referrals?

Data application

As soon as the company has collected and analyzed the necessary data, it uses these findings to evaluate solutions and determine which one is best from the point of costs and benefits. This helps come up with an action plan on how to implement the chosen solution and also allocate resources required for this.

Evaluation

Evaluation can help organizations understand what made an action plan successful or find any weak points in the needs assessment. For example, you may find out that you have missed an important gap or allocated not enough resources to fill it.

Needs assessment model

Tips for effective needs assessment

Now that you understand how to build your needs assessment process step by step, here are some tips that will let you complete it most efficiently:

Find your best way of collecting data

Remember that your company is represented by people of different ages and backgrounds. This will determine the choice of your best method of collecting data. More so, the larger your organization, the more factors will influence how you should collect data. Think about gathering information via a diversity of forms: one-on-one interviews, surveys, focus groups, etc. 

Ask everyone and be consistent 

When it comes to improving the company’s processes, every word matters. To ensure needs assessment is accurate, ask the same questions to every person within your organization. Beware of ambiguity and don’t ask the same questions in different ways. 

Know where you’re going

While completing the assessment, you should have a clear picture of what needs you are trying to satisfy. Don’t be shy to draw the ideal picture of your company’s state and keep it as your main landmark on the way to improvement.

Don’t stick to only one solution

Different needs require different solutions. Sometimes you will rearrange your company’s resources. Or you will have to change the way of employing staff. Be ready to look for various approaches to achieving the desired results in the course of your needs assessment. 

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Wrapping up

No matter how successful the performance of a company is, one day the time for changes will come. The question will arise: ‘What should be done to improve the business processes?’

Needs assessment is a tool that helps organizations fill the gaps between what they currently have and what they want to have in the future. Initiated at the earliest stage possible and run systematically, it’s a reliable guide for the strategic planning of your business.

Business development representative (BDR)

A business development representative (business developer or BDR) is a member of the sales team. Their duty is drawing new business opportunities to the company. This includes cold calls, cold email campaigns, all kinds of networking, and social marketing.

In its turn, business development is the activity of generating strategic chances for a company – in driving new partnerships, lead generation, and sales. 

Why business development representatives are important

Business developers are priceless stuff for organizations that work hard to build lead gen campaigns. They make sure every channel is improved and optimized so that it generates a steady flow of business opportunities.

But note that BDRs provide lead generation, not conversion. That’s the work of sales reps. Business development representatives build a solid outbound strategy, and that is their contribution to sales success. 

Also, BDRs don’t focus on organic leads. They look for new, fresh possibilities that will help you extend your business to new markets and draw more prospects. 

Business developers are at the front line of your business. They are accountable for sparking curiosity and engagement among your audience, who presumably don’t even know yet about your services or products.

Business development and sales
(Source)

What does a business development representative do?

The main chores of a business developer are:

  • Discovering new business opportunities
  • Qualifying new leads
  • Transferring them to co-workers in the sales department

The more detailed specific tasks can be:

  • Qualifying leads from marketing campaigns as sales opportunities
  • Contacting potential customers via emails and cold calls
  • Presenting company to potential clients
  • Identifying customers’ needs and recommending relevant products or services
  • Customizing offered solutions to enhance client satisfaction
  • Establishing long-term trustful relations with customers
  • Exploring new marketing opportunities among the target audience
  • Arranging calls or meetings between account executives and prospective clients
  • Reporting (weekly/monthly/quarterly) to the business development manager on the achieved sales results

Fast-growing companies usually hire BDRs when they are no longer a small startup and are ready to expand. They also do so when there are not enough incoming opportunities to supply the pipeline workload. When a company needs more business opportunities, BDRs can generate more leads by involving potential clients.

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How business development representatives attract new leads

1. Research

BDRs scan markets for new channels and untapped opportunities, any place their ideal customer might be found. Besides, using insights from current clients’ profiles and behavioral data, they discover new chances for lead gen.

2. Lead generation

BDRs’ essential task is the generation of leads. They are mostly engaged in creating lists of contacts they might approach or call. 

3. Cold calling and emailing

Cold calling is a powerful way to engage with potential clients, and BDRs are champions at it. Cold email outreach campaigns are another effective method to examine a new market and find fresh leads. BDRs know how to create email drip campaigns and write cold emails that work.

4. Networking

Along with online measures, offline communication is a valuable instrument in BDRs’ hands. They’re “networking people,” skilled at establishing personal connections, building trust, and ultimately bringing more leads.

5. Social selling

Experienced BDRs remember the value of selecting the right platform for lead search. They continually engage with the target audience to establish field authority and convince people in their expertise.

Business development representative schedule
Business development representative schedule (Source)

How to be a good business development representative?

One of the principal skills any BDR specialist requires is the knowledge of business industry trends and challenges in their market niche to successfully find the best solutions for their clients.

Doing their job, BDRs face refusal regularly and have to stay motivated and focused even on the toughest days. That is why they need to develop 4 soft skills to keep getting the job done.

1. Creativity

The success of a business development representative depends on their ability to generate fresh, innovative ideas to get on with their target audience and creatively react to objections.

Sometimes they need to think outside the box and improvise. This helps advance their company ahead of opponents and discover innovative techniques to spark interest. 

2. Adaptability

BDRs spend a lot of time communicating with various people from various backgrounds, all with various anticipations.

Adaptability and talent to quickly react to change help BDRs build a relationship and generate results — no matter how many sudden turns in a discussion might appear.

3. Attention

A professional business developer must be able to actively listen to others, hear the implicit message, and perceive what others are trying to say. This enables them to react to objections fast.

While listening to others, BDRs are concentrated on the concealed meaning — understanding, not just listening, what clients are saying. This way, they build a connection with a lead and make them feel special and cared about.

4. Persistence

Persistence allows you to take many “No’s” before getting one “Yes” and finding a perfect lead, truly interested in your services or products.

Professional BDRs are patient and can keep moving despite refusal. Business growth is a marathon, and it will take time to bring the results they want.

Business development process

Inviting a business development representative to your company is a great long-term investment in business growth. And to do it efficiently, you should set adequate expectations.

Profoundly study the business development process and what BDRs need to achieve good results. Invest in studying your target audience. Supply your BDRs with all the knowledge they need to creatively generate leads and scale your business.

Keep in mind that business development is an investment in the future that demands a lot of time, work, and dedication. It’s a tough game, but it can bring you immense growth when properly implemented!

Clawback

After the global financial crisis of 2008, companies started to add clawback provisions to contracts more often. The reason is that they allow businesses to cover incentive compensation from CEOs if there are any flaws in the company’s fiscal reports

What is a clawback?

A clawback is a contractual requirement that presupposes that funds previously assigned to an employee must be returned to an employer or sponsor, sometimes with a fine. Many businesses use it in agreements with their employees for rewards like bonuses. Most clawback clauses are non-negotiable. 

The word clawback also relates to the drop in a stock’s price after its increase.

When clawback provisions are used

Clawbacks are included in employee agreements to control bonuses and other payouts based on incentives. They serve as a form of guarantee in case the business needs to react to misconduct, low achievements, or a decline in revenue. The employer can also withdraw funds from employees if their performance has been unsatisfactory.

Clawbacks are different from other refunds because they often come with a sanction. In other words, an employed person must pay extra funds to the company in case the provision is put into implementation.

Why clawback clauses are used

By having clawback clauses in contractual agreements, businesses can restrict their employees from using and providing inaccurate data. For instance, they can serve to avoid the improper use of fiscal data by a financial company’s employees.

Clawbacks are a significant part of the strategy because they help rebuild the trust and loyalty of investors and society to a business. For instance, banks started to apply reclamation requirements after the world economic crisis as a method to correct any future faults by their staff.

What are federal clawback laws?

The first federal clawback law is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. It allows the reclamation of bonuses and other incentive-based rewards paid to the company in the situation of staff misconduct that leads to discrepancies in financial statements and low financial achievements.

The next law is the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. It is implemented in situations where business’ reporting is inaccurate, regardless of whether there was any fraud or misconduct. The statute only refers to companies that got the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.

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Examples of clawback provisions

Apart from federal laws that permit clawbacks, businesses may also include clawback clauses in employee agreements, whether such terms are required by law or not. Following are some of the most typical clawback provision uses:

  • Medicaid: Medicaid can reclaim any payments made for the healthcare of a Medicaid recipient after they pass away.
  • Pensions: Businesses can claw back pension payments if there is any proof of fraud or suppression of information by the pensioner.
  • Executive compensation: Clawbacks can be used if a staff member violates a contract, misuses the information, or decides to work for a rival company.
  • Life insurance: If the policy is canceled, payments and benefits might need to be repaid according to clawback provisions.
  • Dividends: These can be returned under specific conditions, such as bankruptcy. 
  • Government contracts: Contractors or suppliers may be subject to clawbacks if some conditions of the agreement are not met. 

Wrapping it up

  • A clawback is a requirement in an agreement that demands an employee to return money previously paid by their employer, sometimes with an additional penalty.
  • Clawbacks serve as protection policies in case of fraud, misconduct, a decline in business earnings, or the weak performance of an employee.
  • Provisions usually only refer to incentive pay like bonus rewards or other compensations.
  • Clawbacks are applied most often in the financial sphere, but can also be observed in government contracts, as well as used for Medicaid and pensions.

Gatekeeper

Gatekeepers may sound like a nuisance, but they hold an integral part in keeping decision-makers from wasting their time on every call or offer that comes looking for them. It’s in your best interest to treat them with respect if you want to get in with their boss.

What is a gatekeeper in marketing?

A gatekeeper, most commonly a secretary, an executive assistant, or an associate to the decision-maker, is a person who can grant or block access to key decision-makers. In other words, they screen all calls, messages, and visits for their boss. 

In its turn, gatekeeper marketing is the act of adequately directing your messages or objectives to gatekeepers who then may allow or shut down admittance. Their job is to quickly analyze attempts to communicate with key decision-makers and forward only the information that has a good chance to help the business. 

What is a gatekeeper?
Source: Spotio

Keys for handling gatekeepers

A gatekeeper in business has two main goals: 

  • Keeping the wrong people away from the decision-maker 
  • Allowing the right people in to see the decision-maker

If your instinct is to be rude to a gatekeeper, know you are shooting yourself in the foot. These people are the ones who decide if you’re worth their boss’ time. Here are some pieces of advice:

Ask meaningful questions
The gatekeeper is your best friend if your goal is to meet with the decision-maker. They are likely aware of their boss’ pain points, and your solution may also benefit themselves. Talk to them as you would if they were the decision-maker and get their advice on the best way to approach their boss when it’s time.

Use social media
Creating a sense of familiarity through social media is easier than it has ever been. Social media gives you a chance to interact with the gatekeeper outside of calls. For example, if you see them share content relevant to their line of work or company, leave a comment thanking them for sharing or give your thoughts on the topic.

Find a mutual connection
This is a bit of an extension of using social media, given LinkedIn is a social site. Using it, see if you have any mutual friends with the gatekeeper who can “formally” introduce you to them. This helps establish credibility, while also showing you’re not just a solicitor. 

Be different

The main idea is that, to get past the gatekeeper, you need to differentiate yourself from other marketers and salespeople. You need to prove you’re the real thing, or you won’t make it past them. 

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Remember, the gatekeeper is not your enemy – they are simply doing their job. How they treat you is very much up to how you treat them. So if you want an appointment with their boss, you ask for one. Speak up and say something that will interest them.

How to get past the gatekeeper

Here are nine tips for getting past the gatekeeper:

  • The one who asks questions has control over the call
  • Ask who sets the company’s budgeting and policy
  • Don’t show gatekeepers your pitch
  • Keep your message original and under 30 seconds
  • Be professional and polite
  • Don’t shy away from using humor
  • Try scheduling a follow-up appointment or call
  • Know and stick to your objective (which is getting an appointment with a decision-maker)
  • Even if you get an initial “no,” keep trying if you believe that that specific decision-maker is important

Once you’re past the gatekeeper, you finally get the attention of the decision-maker. Have a script prepared for that too. You don’t want to put forth all that energy to get to them to be wasted on a bad or confusing pitch. The gatekeeper deemed you worth the decision-maker’s time and effort, so put time and effort into your pitch.

Wrapping it up

You’ll never be able to gain control over gatekeepers if you assume they have more authority over your value proposition than you do. Resist pitching to gatekeepers, stick to your objective, and understand that they can be excellent sources of valuable information. 

And finally, remember that gatekeepers can be an ally or obstacle to get to your prospect; it’s up to how you approach them. When you view them as an extension of the decision-maker, it throws off their complacency. Treating the gatekeeper like the decision-maker seems contradictory. So given this, you must convince them that you are worthwhile and not going to take “no” for an answer. This is how you get past the gate.

Zeroed out

In sales jargon, zeroed out is when a salesperson earns enough commission to make their draw balance equal to zero. This means that they have paid out all their draws and can start earning commissions again.

To understand what being zeroed out is, we must first have some context and talk about how commissions and draws work.

Commissions and draws

What are commissions, how do they work? When a salesperson is given a percentage of a sale they make, that’s a commission. Sometimes sales go through highs and lows, just like revenue. During the lows, the rep is not making enough money through commissions, thus needing a draw from the company. 

So, what is a draw? It’s an advance from the company paid back through the sales representative’s future commissions. It’s like a loan from your employer to be paid back.

Back to zeroed out again

Once the draws are all paid back, the sales rep can begin to earn again. This means the salesperson is making money again with no strings attached. It goes directly to them, and it’s no longer paying off the rep’s advance.

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Time kills all deals

There are many things that can get in the way of you closing the deal: high price, bad sales approach, competition, or lack of the knowledge of the customer’s pain points. Still, time is perhaps the number one reason marketers fail. 

What does “time kills all deals” mean?

If you are a sales representative selling your company’s product or service, and the sales process with a specific buyer continues for way too long for reasons you can’t identify, no good would come. While closing a sale, time isn’t your friend; it’s the enemy of every deal. 

“Time kills all deals” is a statement relevant to many different industries, but it’s used most commonly in sales. Every sales rep knows that the most efficient and effective sales are performed fast. Once you lose momentum, your chances of closing the deal drop considerably. 

Time gives the buyer more time to re-think the reason for the purchase. It gives freedom to unforeseen circumstances that can arise any minute to derail the deal. What sales representatives can do is to give a gentle push to the customer to go forward and keep them on track to closure.

Techniques to force the deal

Here are some ways for you to force the deal while negotiating:

Give feedback on time

You might make your customers wait for too long for you to get back to them about estimates or responses. With every passing minute, you are killing the deal. Respond to all buyer’s questions the same business day they are received. 

If some points need to be approved from a source that is unavailable the same day, provide an explanation for the delay. Don’t allow yourself to be the reason for delaying the deal. 

Help to make a decision

Very often, customers hesitate to make a purchase at once. If your business terms are questionable and hard to understand, prospects start to consider other service providers and compare your product to the others. Give them all the needed information for making the right decision.

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Eliminate deal procrastinators

Some clients won’t make a decision until you announce that it’s too late for the purchase. Make them feel worried because of losing a good proposition. Set deadlines; for example, “The discussed conditions are available till tomorrow evening only.” 

Find out how much time they need – a couple of days or a week – and say “Ok, I’ll call you in a week, does that work for you?” Limit their time for making a decision. If they say “no,” cross them off the prospects list and move forward.  

Come to an arrangement with your customers

If customers aren’t satisfied with the price, think about a small discount. Keeping the deal alive and getting the product sold is always more important than having an unwavering price, provided that the two amounts are pretty close and don’t make a significant difference. You will get the result in the end – isn’t it worth a slight discount on the price?

Take care of your reputation

“Our reputation is more important than the last hundred million dollars.” 

— Rupert Murdoch

Don’t let a buyer ruin your reputation. It’s a small world, and bad rumors can quickly spread, hurting both you and your clients, now or in the future.

Learn from professionals

Adam H. Michaels, an inspirational leader who is passionate about selling and leadership, shared his ideas on the importance of time while closing a deal:

Wrapping it up

So, the most crucial things in carrying out a successful deal are to prepare well, gather the strength, and keep the dynamic through the whole business sale process. Be creative, be decisive, and don’t let time work against you. 

Monday morning meeting

It’s no wonder that most employees don’t like meetings — either because they consider them stressful, boring, or long. But still, weekly meetings are crucial for all team members to keep the pace up and discuss problems that they have encountered. 

What is a Monday morning meeting?

Monday morning meeting is a practice of conducting meetings on Monday morning with the whole team, including managers and sales representatives. During such meetings, you talk about business, the working process, issues that need to be solved, goals that need to be set, etc. They are usually held to make sure team members are focused on the right thing aimed to improve sales and revenue

Either you are an entrepreneur or a solopreneur and doing everything yourself, it’s highly suggested to still find time in your schedule each week to start over, take on new responsibilities, and finish the work you have already begun. Before getting immersed into the workflow during the following week, you can devote some time to organizing thoughts and deciding the goals you want to accomplish by Friday.

Is Monday the best day to have a morning meeting? 

Most entrepreneurs consider Monday morning meetings as a critical element of getting ready for the workweek.  However, others might think it’s a waste of time. 

As for the choice of the day, some argue that Monday morning is the worst time that could ever be scheduled for a meeting. Lynn Taylor, the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant,” claims that employees’ productivity is higher during this time. This is why distracting them with meetings is a bad idea.

According to a study conducted by YouCanBookMe, the most appropriate time to schedule a meeting is on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. – neither too early in the morning, nor too late into the week.

Whether to conduct meetings on Monday or not is up to you. The goal is to have them regularly, know what is on your meeting agenda, and plan what can be done to make your team more productive. Many teams don’t have regular meetings, and even if such sessions do take place, they often fail to accomplish much, so you don’t want to be one of them.

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How to make the most out of your Monday morning meetings

To make your team understand that Monday morning meetings are beneficial, the following goals must be reached:

  1. Make sure your team knows their priorities and goals for the week ahead, as well as their role in accomplishing those goals.
  2. Build an organizational structure in which everyone is accountable for achieving their responsibilities.
  3. Maintain communication with your team and be attentive to identify small issues before they become big problems.
  4. Keep your team inspired and motivated so that everyone leaves the meeting being enthusiastic about the upcoming week. You can find some inspiring ideas here
  5. Be laconic and focus on essentials so that these meetings improve productivity rather than cause burdens.

How to conduct an energetic meeting

Here are some insights by sales leadership Clint Babcock:

Invite a guest speaker

It can be a person from a different department or company that can share some fresh ideas about business.

Roleplay 

Knowing what you should do in theory is very different from acting in reality, as theory is nothing without practice, particularly when we are dealing with sales. Sales roleplay helps practice positioning, presenting, and moving a sale forward under a controlled environment. Therefore, it’s a significant aspect of skill improvement. 

Book report

We are sure you have team members reading various sales, marketing, B2B, B2C, and psychology books. So, ask 1 or 2 of them to provide a broad overview of what they got out of the last book they’ve read.

Change the location

If you meet in person, have your meeting outside or at a coffee house. If you meet on the phone, ask everyone to join a videoconference. It’s marvelous how a change in the environment can change the mood.

Video collaboration
(Source)

Teach your team members about business

Nowadays, sales professionals need to be aware of how to identify business problems and their impact. Shed some light on basic accounting/finance, marketing, customer support, etc. You live, and you learn.

Wrapping it up

As we see, Monday morning meetings are a powerful way to start your week, but keeping them fresh and energizing takes some effort. Nevertheless, they are worth it as they can help take your business to the next level. 

Annual sales report

Annual sales report, also known as yearly sales report, is an annual activity report made by a salesperson or their management. It presents the trends that took place in the business’ sales volume over a year and gives an overview of what goals need to be set for the upcoming year. 

For example, a typical annual sales report might contain data on sales volume observed per item or group of items, how many new and current customers were contacted and when, and any costs involved in promoting and selling products. Yearly sales reports are generated using compilations of daily, weekly, and monthly reports.

Why do you need annual sales reports?

Sales reporting is more than just adding up revenue and the number of sales you made. What makes for effective sales management is knowing the sales process, as this forms a foundation for successful sales operations, strategy, and analysis. 

The process of recording the information of every step of the sales process and analyzing the data helps predict where your company’s success is and how to improve its results. You need to see exactly what is driving the sales to figure out how to keep them up as your company grows.

What to report on

Sales metrics are the quantifiable indicators that show you whether you are achieving your targets and how different aspects of your sales operations are performing. They help you determine where your efficiencies and inefficiencies are.

Number of prospects

This is the total number of prospects you have in various stages of your sales funnel. While it’s important to know how many deals are in your pipeline, it’s also crucial to know what stage your prospects are in, when they are expected to close, and the likelihood of them converting into revenue sources. 

Deal size

Sales contracts can have widely different values, depending on a number of factors. Still, it’s necessary to determine the average deal size in your sales funnel to make quick but accurate sales forecasts and strategies.

Conversion rates or close rates

These metrics help you determine the average number of cold prospects you need in order to convert one prospect into a paying customer, based on past results. In other words, for every deal that you closed, how many open deals do you have?

Sales velocity or sales cycle time

It refers to the average time it takes for a lead to enter the sales funnel and go to the final stage of the sales process – purchase. The faster it takes them to complete the sales cycle, the better.

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There are some other questions you can ask that are not technical but still important in understanding your sales and prospects:

  • What is your ideal customer profile (ICP)?
  • Where are your best leads coming from?
  • What motivates prospects to convert into paying customers?
  • What factors prevent prospects from making a purchase?
  • Are there any bottlenecks in your sales funnel? If so, how can you improve them?
  • Do individual reps meet their sales quotas?
  • Is your sales team on track to meet specific goals?
  • What are your top sales representatives doing, and how can the rest of the team replicate it?
  • How do sales compare to previous periods?
  • What is your forecast for the next period?

Such reports can also be done weekly, monthly, or quarterly to stay on track and test the waters if you are new at this, while the bigger analysis can be done at the end of the year. It may be tricky to figure them out when you are just starting out, but after you have tracked activities for a while, you should start seeing the value in your sales reports. 

How to create a sales report

To easily create an annual sales report, you should keep daily, weekly, and monthly reports to compile. Using a CRM program or even just Excel, all information can be organized and made into graphs to see trends. 

Daily sales report

To make a daily sales report, pick information that regards daily progress. For example, include lead data that came in that day. Gathering this data saves a lot of headaches later when putting together the yearly report. A few factors that you should consider reporting are:

Weekly sales report

Weekly reports allow tracking and measuring your productivity week by week. By doing so, you can see trends over time without having to wait for monthly reports. Some of the factors to report include:

  • Weekly revenue
  • Number of new clients acquired
  • Comparison of the current week numbers with the previous week numbers
  • Where your clients are in the sales funnel
Weekly sales report example

Monthly sales report

A monthly sales report enables you to get a broader perspective of sales performance and an insight into what to expect next month or for the rest of the quarter. Important factors to consider are:

  • Number of conversions
  • Number of deals closed 
  • How clients move through the sales funnel
Monthly sales report example

With all the information you have been gathering, it’ll be easier for you to make your yearly sales report. By focusing on the measurable data that has clear conclusions, you can add value to each salesperson and the company, in general. 

Wrapping it up

Sales reporting helps take the guesswork out of your business decisions by giving you an open understanding of where your company stands at every step of your sales process. Because of this, sales reports are crucial for companies of every size, even if the sales teams are small. Knowing where you have been shows you where you are going.

IaaS

Cloud computing services can be divided into three main types: infrastructure as a service (Iaas), platform as a service (Paas), and service as a subscription (SaaS). Each form of cloud computing has its architecture and intended purposes.

What is IaaS?

Infrastructure as a service (Iaas) is a form of delivering infrastructure services over the internet. It’s a hosting model that is responsible for different components of the operating infrastructure. The IaaS computing form provides high-grade APIs (application programming interfaces) to improve the level of data security and accompany other infrastructure components.

IaaS architecture and peculiarities

IaaS typically involves the use of a separate cloud orchestration technology. Its model entails virtual machine creation alongside hypervisors (physical hosts) that are aimed to support various virtual machines at once. 

According to IaaS architecture, all of the essential infrastructure components are hosted by one cloud provider. They include:

  • Physical data centers
  • Networking hardware
  • Storage
  • Servers
  • Additional services (monitoring, clustering, and billing tools, etc.). 

This way, IaaS provides the same capabilities and technologies as a traditional data center, but you won’t have to maintain them physically. Still, compared to PaaS and SaaS, there are quite a few aspects that IaaS clients are responsible for managing themselves, such as runtime, middleware, applications, O/S, and data. 

IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, On-Premises
(Source)

IaaS set of services improves the level of automation and operation of different infrastructure tasks. Using IaaS, users get the necessary capabilities, such as efficient load balance algorithms for better performance of apps. 

The basic idea of IaaS products is to satisfy customers’ requirements for data storage and application maintenance. For instance, it’s possible to install an IaaS platform for backups and cloud workload storage. It’s important to mention that IaaS services give an opportunity to rationally allocate storage volumes and all the necessary data within the working platform.

Most common use cases for IaaS solutions

IaaS can be used to cope with different business tasks. A wide range of solutions for automation of various processes allows applying IaaS model for:

  • Website hosting. Using IaaS solutions for running websites can be less expensive than traditional web hosting.
  • Backup, recovery, and storage. IaaS requires no skilled staff to manage data, so it’s useful for handling growing storage needs. It can also be used to manage recovery and backup systems.
  • Support for online applications (including networking options). Organizations can quickly deploy web apps on IaaS when needed.
  • Testing and development operations. IaaS solutions make it easier to scale up test and development environments. 
  • Computing. This includes modeling, evaluating projects, and computer clustering.
  • Analysis of big data. This includes patterns, algorithms, and trends practice.

It is worth noting that the IaaS cloud computing model is suitable for various purposes. For example, marketers can create their projects for data analysis before moving on to the lead generation process. At the same time, IaaS solutions can be optimal for email marketing, digital marketing, customer resource management, and internet of things (IoT) applications.

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Who uses IaaS?

Companies of different sizes prefer IaaS solutions. For example, startups and small businesses can stick to it to avoid spending money and time on purchasing or creating software and hardware. At the same time, companies that experience rapid growth may prefer using IaaS solutions because they are scalable and allow changing hardware and software quickly. 

Top-ranking IaaS global providers

According to the research of Stackify magazine, the top three IaaS providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Digital Ocean, and Microsoft Azure. They offer a vast range of computing services, including fast network, backup, storage, simple ADI, and other helpful options.   

The full list of top ten IaaS examples is:

  1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  2. Digital Ocean
  3. Microsoft Azure
  4. Rackspace Open Cloud
  5. Google Compute Engine
  6. HP Enterprise Converged Infrastructure
  7. IBM SmartCloud
  8. Green Cloud Technologies
  9. CloudStack
  10. Linode

Users can try some of the available products and capabilities for free, as many of these providers have a free tier. Some providers guarantee extra options. Among them are template creation processes, virtual desktops, and multi-cloud platforms. To find an appropriate IaaS provider, the customer just needs to consider what options the pricing plan should contain.

IaaS advantages and disadvantages 

The main advantage of the IaaS cloud-based computing model is high-level customization. People can use all the services offered by their IaaS providers for cost tracking, performance monitoring, network balancing, and other purposes. Other key advantages are:

  • Low expenses. IaaS is budget-friendly for testing and monitoring processes. Using it, you won’t need to worry about maintaining hardware and network equipment.
  • Scalability. The infrastructure makes sure that all the resources are available to its users when they need them.
  • Disaster recovery is available, which brings data safety to the next level.
  • The full range of digital tools for the fast launch of new products (application, website, etc.).
  • Business orientation. IaaS helps companies concentrate their time and resources where they are needed (for example, focusing on consumers’ aims and requirements).
  • Reliability. Both software and hardware are stable, reliable, and supportable.
  • High-level security. All stored data is guarded against unauthorized access and other frauds.

The main shortcoming of the IaaS model is the lack of transparency for better system management. IaaS service providers fully control all the processes, which reduces the level of customization. 

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Wrapping it up

When it comes to using IaaS, many offers are helpful in creating a flexible platform with suitable computing, monitoring, and other solutions. IaaS can be more efficient for companies than owning and managing their infrastructure. But this is only possible if the provider is reliable.

PaaS

Cloud computing is powerful due to its flexibility, storage options, and efficiency. It includes three main categories: IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service), and PaaS (Platform as a Service).

What is PaaS?

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is responsible for application development, running, and management. It is widely used for platform-based service delivery. This model is usually called an in-between element in the chain of cloud computing services. As shown in the picture below, PaaS consists of the infrastructure and the platform.

Cloud computing categories

Cloud computing categories (Source)

PaaS allows developers to avoid additional hardware and software installation while working on a project. And according to the Oracle research, the number of PaaS solutions will only increase year by year. Such services are helpful for:

  • expansion of different integrations (1st and 3rd parties)
  • increased automation
  • native support improvement for various projects

PaaS solutions are aimed to solve the problem with native support of blockchain, IoT (Internet of things), and AI (artificial intelligence) projects. It is necessary to understand the model’s peculiarities before delving deep into this category of cloud computing services.

PaaS infrastructure and platform peculiarities

The main idea of PaaS products is to provide users with efficient solutions to cope with complexities in management and administrative areas. Its architecture is different from other cloud computing models, as its infrastructure is prebuilt.

The model’s operating systems, storage, databases, and other components of the infrastructure are maintained by the provider. It makes PaaS applications easy to manage and audit. Speaking about platform peculiarities, it should be mentioned that PaaS cloud computing products can provide users with additional tools:

  • libraries
  • programming languages
  • a helpful set of development and database management options.

Experts prefer to compare PaaS architecture with the concept of the serverless model. Most developers find that these architectures are very similar. Both cloud computing models have a provider that is responsible for the distribution of services. It means that the infrastructure is not shown to application developers. IT-specialists can count on the hosted infrastructure and ready solutions.

The main purpose of the PaaS provider is to create an appropriate environment that will meet users’ needs. These environments can be not only public or private but also hybrid ones. Most platform-based services have support for application creation. It includes development, design, and testing options. Additionally, PaaS providers guarantee the high-level security of all stored data. So, all willing users can count on PaaS solutions and:

  • create their database/storage account
  • develop apps using different programming languages
  • use available libraries, etc.
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Platform as a Service examples: the most reputable PaaS providers

Here is a list of the top-ranked PaaS providers, according to the DevTeam analytical research. These companies provide consumers (web-developers, businessmen, designers, etc.) with a wide range of services:

  1. AWS Elastic Beanstalk (Amazon Web Services)
    This provider is known for its wide variety of options. It is possible to choose one of the available PaaS cases (data & analysis, databases, enterprise apps, storage, websites & applications). AWS Elastic Beanstalk pricing depends on the resources you use.
  2. Oracle Cloud Platform (OCP)
    This provider offers a cutting-edge automated and secure infrastructure that will be suitable for cloud application development processes. The service range also includes an autonomous database, analytical and computing options, marketplace environment, etc. Users can try any capabilities for free – Oracle offers a free-of-charge tier.
  3. Google App Engine
    With this PaaS, it is possible to use all the available options, including app development, libraries, programming languages access, etc. Google team guarantees fully-managed PaaS capabilities paired with app versioning and traffic splitting.
  4. Microsoft Azure
    This provider offers a range of standard features, including storage, infrastructure, networking, databases, and development tools. There is a free trial period with a number of products that you can use right away.

Other reputable providers are expected to have the same high demand for PaaS services. Among the leading PaaS vendors are IBM Cloud Platform, SAP Cloud Platform, and Mendix aPaaS.

The most common use cases for PaaS solutions

The main field of PaaS usage is application development. But such solutions can also be used to solve other actual tasks. For example, Platform as a Service is a great automation and data management tool (it will be helpful in email marketing, API management, and other processes). In addition, it has great capabilities for information storage and database forming. 

Other PaaS spheres of application are:

  • Business analytics
    Marketers can create any enterprise application to meet special needs. For example, PaaS solutions would be helpful for lead generation processes and comprehensive analytical research.
  • Communication
    PaaS is often used to build a platform for communication. Users will be able to interact and solve different tasks faster with the help of innovative platform-based projects.
  • IoT field
    As mentioned before, PaaS solutions can improve the IoT world. Most experts think that blockchain and IoT application will be tightly connected with PaaS in the near future.
  • Databases
    One of the PaaS providers’ options is to administer databases. It’s an efficient way to manage information and store hundreds of gigabytes of data.
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PaaS strong and weak sides

PaaS cloud computing model has both advantages and disadvantages. 

The main positive characteristics of PaaS resides in its optimal environment for application developers. It is also suitable for business representatives to improve different marketing and management processes. The weak spot of PaaS is its dependence on service providers. If the PaaS vendor decides to block access to some options, users will lose all the privileges they had before.

Wrapping it up

PaaS includes all the well-known advantages of cloud computing services mentioned before. Users can bank on a flexible and efficient environment that meets all the users’ requirements. Achieving business goals and successful application development with PaaS solutions is a good idea. But this is only possible if the provider is reliable.

B2C

B2C (or B-to-C) stands for business-to-consumer and describes a commercial transaction between a company and an individual customer who is also the final consumer. This type of business relationship is viewed in contrast to business relationships between companies – B2B (business-to-business).

We’re all familiar with B2C: an example of a B2C business would be a company that manufactures leather goods and does not sell its products to wholesalers or other retailers, but instead sells them directly to the end consumer through brick-and-mortar stores or online shops. The transaction here takes place between the business and the consumer. It is not uncommon for one company to practice both B2C and B2B sales.

The difference between B2C and B2B marketing

The type of business – B2B or B2C – affects the company’s marketing and sales strategies, if only because individual customers are approached in a different way than companies, where there’s usually more than one person involved in the decision-making process. 

B2C vs B2B Marketing
Source: BMA

Targeted marketing techniques, brand building, and emotional approach are techniques traditional to B2C marketing: an emotional charge can be particularly effective here since individual consumers are usually less fixated on rational arguments and logic than companies.

B2C marketing and sales

Your B2C marketing and sales strategies are likely to start with customer and market analysis and cover the following points:

  • define your goals
  • create a buyer persona
  • choose your best-performing marketing channels
  • analyze your sales funnel

B2C goals 

The goals of B2C marketing include:

  • Generating leads
  • Building brand awareness
  • Driving sales
  • Improving engagement
  • Creating brand evangelists
  • Raising customer retention and loyalty, as well as CLV

These goals are achieved through a variety of channels (some working better than others depending on your product niche).

B2C marketing channels

When choosing which marketing channel to invest in, it’s important to analyze which one brings in the highest ROI. According to Econsultancy, these are the marketing channels delivering the highest ROI in B2C:

ROI of different marketing channels B2C

As you can see, email marketing has the highest ROI, and has long been the channel of choice for both B2C and B2B businesses, along with SEO and content marketing. 

SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) helps achieve multiple goals – generating leads and improving brand awareness to begin with. In basic terms, SEO makes you rank higher in search results, automatically putting you in the top choices of the potential customers searching for a solution or product like yours. Developing useful SEO-optimized content is one of the ways to rank higher in your niche.

Content marketing

Content is a great marketing strategy that helps with every single B2C marketing goal we’ve listed above. It’s important to remember that the content you create will also depend on which stage of the buyer’s journey your lead is on – awareness, consideration, or decision. There are endless possibilities for content in the B2C niche – but there are types that perform better than the rest:

  • Lists of tips or hacks
  • How-Tos
  • Insights and behind the scenes
  • News and announcements
  • Case studies and customer reports

These can take the form of articles, interactive online pages, social media posts, videos, etc. The choice will depend on which platforms work best for your business.

Email marketing

Email marketing in the business-to-consumer niche helps build and expand branding, works great for direct sales and is used as a supporting or primary marketing channel.

A big advantage of B2C email marketing is that consumers are addressed directly, which leads to a shorter sales cycle. For this, you must know your target group very precisely.

Design also plays a major role in B2C email marketing campaigns. Any mailings, especially newsletter templates, should have a high recognition value and be created according to the corporate design of the brand. This contributes to strengthening the brand.

Sending times and email frequency are also some of the crucial differences between B2B and B2C email marketing. In general, for B2B you want to send in the working hours, when the recipient is most ready to consider your offer (~11am). For B2C, the most common strategy is the complete opposite – finding the recipient when they’re free and preferably bored. The frequency of mailings usually depends on your product niche, what you have to offer, and the subscription frequency the recipient has chosen themselves. 

It’s also important to remember that one of the easiest ways to improve email marketing KPIs is working on the campaign’s segmentation and personalization.

All in all

To succeed in B2C sales and marketing, you need to define exact goals, adapt your content and email marketing to the relevant target groups and always consider the buyer’s journey. 

Customers in B2C anticipate a large number of potential purchasing opportunities and often make purchasing decisions based on emotions, as opposed to B2B leads. Choose the marketing channels that are perfect for your product niche, and start converting.

Forecasting

Forecasting is a part of the sales and market analysis that helps predict future sales, trends, numbers, and characteristics in the target market.

Any kind of business needs to be planned carefully. It is necessary to see the tendencies and react to any changes in time. Forecasting is one of the most effective planning methods. It helps cope with market changes and create an appropriate strategy.

Forecasting relies on the gathered data – usually collected from both the past and the present, followed by the analysis of the market trends and the development of the description of the actions to follow.

Forecasters are responsible for the actual analytical results based on a set of variables, preparing reports that are then used by the marketers for marketing strategy development in the next quarter/month/year. Besides the existing data, forecasting leans on three pillars:

  • experience of management
  • experts’ knowledge
  • judgment

Forecasting and backcasting – what is the difference?

Forecasting uses different techniques and is often paired with one more planning method – backcasting. As can be obvious from the name, backcasting is the forecasting process in reverse: if forecasting is a prediction based on the past and present showings, backcasting is performed by setting a future outcome. Backcasters define the hoped-for result (statistics, sales, conversion, etc.) and then marketers analyze the actual scores. 

The third planning method that is used by the analysts and marketers is scenarios. It’s easier to see the difference between all the three prediction methods with the help of the illustration presented below.

Forecasting, scenarios, backcasting
Distinctive characteristics of forecasting, scenarios and backcasting
(based on data by Researchgate)

To sum up, the 3 main predictive planning methods are:

  1. Forecasting – prediction of future showings, results, and statistics based on the past and present-day scores.

  2. Scenarios – prediction of the alternative future. Analysts and marketers try to take into account each pace of development.

  3. Backcasting – prediction of the hoped-for results and their comparison with the real scores after a certain lapse of time.

Experts name forecasting the most efficient planning tool that can bring actual strategies and better scores to your marketing in the future. And it is necessary to take into consideration all typed of forecasting.

Types of forecasting – quantitative and qualitative prediction techniques

Two main forecasting approaches are qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative method is based on expert opinions and the comprehensive analytical research of consumers’ behavior. The quantitative method is built on the concept of past statistics research. 

Marketers consider a complex forecasting technique as the most effective one, which means that both qualitative and quantitative prediction methods should bring actual results that will be used for strategy creation. Forecasters usually take into consideration the following aspects:

  • expert evidence
  • consumer surveys
  • regression & input-output analysis
  • moving averages, econometric models, etc.

All existing forecasting methods are presented in the table below.

Forecasting methods
Forecasting methods (Source)

Forecasting for lead generation

Marketers always aspire to find the best digital marketing tactics. That is why forecasting for lead generation has become popular is now widely used. 

Besides the analytical tools that can be implemented for quantitative forecasting methods, it is recommended to also focus on the following aspects:

  • Lead generation is closely related to the company deals and their size.
    The head of the project needs to determine the average deal size to make the lead generation prediction correctly. Knowing the desirable deal size, forecasters can run the analytical research and provide marketers with the predicted quantity of total leads, MQL (market qualified leads), SQL (sales qualified leads) and clients.

  • The second stage of forecasting in lead generation is the allocation of spendings.
    Marketers need to know beforehand the cost of an efficient conversion. Forecasters take into consideration the historical rates and provide the predicted spendings. It should be noted that lead forecasts might change and the predictions can and should be performed repeatedly.

  • The final stage is the marketing tactic development.
    Note that lead generation requires the implementation of multiple tactics at the same time. Forecasters and marketers must work together to develop an actual plan for the future lead generation process that takes into account company development.

One more scope of digital marketing activity where predictions play a key role is email marketing.

Forecasting in email marketing  

Sales forecasting is one of the most in-demand prediction methods for email marketers.
It is necessary to divide all email stats that form unique sales statistics into separate groups (all the items here are placed in the order of importance, from least to most):

  • Emails sent
  • Emails opened
  • Email clicks
  • Website views
  • Viewed conversion rate
  • Sales

Email sales forecasting should be based on the past and present-day scores. In general, the more email letters are sent, the more email sales there are. So if, for example, marketers send about 30,000 messages per month now and get 50 unit sales, it can be predicted that 50,000-mailout will bring 70 unit sales.

Forecasting is an effective planning tool for digital marketing that helps achieve enhanced management, more targeted marketing and higher sales.

Statement of work

A statement of work (SoW) is a project document that lays out project requirements, terms, timelines, contractors, etc. It’s a detailed, high-level plan that helps set expectations for budgeting, resource needs, timing, and other important factors. Statements of work are not always necessarily a contract, but the two can be combined.

The statement of work contents

Statement of work covers every aspect of the project. Such thoroughness pays off later as the project progresses and you need to solve disputes or simply need guidance on what needs to be done next and how. 

Your SoW can differ, but generally there are some important sections your statement of work must have:

  1. High-detail description of the project
    This should be a highly detailed, overarching view of what the project is. Explain what needs to be done and who will be doing it.

  2. Objectives
    Laying out objectives is a big part of a SoW. Base objectives on the overall assignment purpose, the expected outcomes, and how you plan to get there. These should be well detailed, exact objectives, not vague plans. The more specific you are in your statement of work, the easier it will be to reach those objectives as you work towards them.

  3. Planned end results
    Planned end results are technically a part of your objectives, but they’re worth noting separately, as it is always going to be a big deal for the client to know what they can expect at the end of the project. Being able to very thoroughly and expressly explain what you plan to deliver is very important for the workflow, client’s peace of mind, and the solution of any potential disputes.

  4. Project costs and budget
    Provide detailed costs of every process outlined in the statement of work, as well as the overall budget estimates. This includes the rates and fees of any contracting companies. Note when and how the payment will be delivered.

  5. Timelines, deadlines, and milestones
    Define all process timelines and deadlines, as well as major project milestones. This will help project managers track the progress, and defining specific milestones will help present the project plan in a comprehensive, understandable way, breaking the main schedule into separate trackable phases. Once again, the more specific you get, the better.

  6. Responsibilities
    SoW should specify who is responsible for which part of the project or a task. This will help in disputes over results or delays.

  7. Quality standards
    Everyone wants quality work. However, you must always define which quality of work is expected and how it will be defined. Putting in your statement of work that you have self-imposed quality standards sets a professional tone and gives you a chance to shine by meeting them. However, if the project requires an independent quality check at the end of the project, note it in the statement of work, along with who will perform the quality check, how, its costs, the time it will take, etc.

  8. Inside and outside scope
    A statement of work always defines what the project will entail, but it is just as important to make clear what you will not be doing, or what is outside of your scope. Construction contractors are experts at this: they do the work agreed upon and nothing more, no matter what they run into, at least not until they have made a new statement of work or contract with their client. It is not a matter of being stingy or lazy, it keeps the project on task and makes sure the client is on board with paying for extra services.

  9. Ongoing support
    For some projects, ongoing support is not necessary, but when it is, it is important to give the client a plan for how this support will be provided. Depending on your business, support could be a million different things, so create a clear outline in the SoW of what will be included in these support services, for how long, and at what price.

These are just some of the elements of the standard statement of work. It can also contain an outline of locations, testing conditions, certifications, security requirements, working hours, how the project will be accepted, and more. It is recommended to use a statement of work template to make sure you don’t forget any of the hundreds of details that can be outlined in a SoW.

How to make a statement of work official

Once you finish writing up your statement of work, you have to get it signed off by the client. This will help create the management of expectations on both sides. Having both you and the client in agreement over the statement of work, which is arguably the most detailed project document, makes for a smooth project. Upon signing you will have official authority to begin the project.

Sticking to your statement of work is not always easy and there are often roadblocks, but it is a hugely important part of working under contract with another company. Having everyone on the same page and having a well-timed plan will help prevent misunderstandings, disputes, and conflicts as the project progresses. 

SaaS

Software as a service (SaaS) is a model for the distribution of software where customers access the software through the internet. In SaaS, the service provider hosts the application on its server or cloud, and the customer accesses it via a web browser. SaaS is also known as on-demand software, web-based software, or hosted software. 

It differs from traditional installed software in that it can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection, updates are automatically done by the provider, and no hardware needs to be installed. Usually, SaaS is available on a subscription basis. 

How does SaaS work?

SaaS applications are not installed onto a single computer, they are accessed through the internet. A very well-known example of this is Gmail and other Google apps, which can be used from any computer, and the server is hosted by Google. Any and all updates and maintenance are done by Google, and as a user, all you have to do is simply have an internet connection, log in, and use the application.

Though Gmail and Google apps are free and permanent, many SaaS are subscription-based, usually with monthly or yearly plans. Given they are internet-based, stored on a separate server, not required to be installed or updated, and more user-friendly, they are becoming increasingly popular with companies over traditional software.

Why use SaaS?

There are several reasons for the popularity of SaaS: 

  • Subscription-based
    Instead of purchasing a license for software installation, SaaS are paid for per account and desired services, on a monthly or yearly basis. Buying long-term subscriptions is often encouraged by discounts. This makes the cost predictable and more easily budgeted.

  • Mobility
    As opposed to traditional software, SaaS can be used from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection, which means the user is not tied down to the single computer that has the software installed on it. This is a very attractive quality of SaaS, especially given how on the move the world is today and that working from home is becoming increasingly common.

  • Quick set-up
    For most SaaS, the process of starting is just registering an account and then proceeding directly to using the service. This makes adding new employees or users to the program a cinch.

  • Automatic updates
    Since the provider stays in charge of the software, the user doesn’t have to deal with updating the program, downloading the latest version, or maintenance. All the functions will be up-to-date and ready for the user when they sign-in.

  • User-oriented
    Software licenses for an entire company can be very expensive, whereas most SaaS offer per-user payment options. This way the company only has to pay for people who actually use the program.

  • Equal opportunity
    SaaS platforms are accessible to companies large and small, to individuals and groups, and everyone in between. This means a start-up has access to the same tools as a large, well-established business.

  • Cloud storage
    Saving data to the cloud leads to less data loss, as the SaaS platform provides the same security level to all company accounts, big or small.

  • Free offers
    Many SaaS will provide a limited but free version of their product, which both gives the chance to evaluate it before purchase and to use only the basic functions for free if that’s all that’s needed.

Despite all the advantages, there are a couple of things that might be considered as the weak spots of SaaS:

  • Sharing data
    Giving access to your data to a third party is inherently a risk. Your security is only as good as their security. However, there are numerous international laws that protect the extent to which your data is used and shared, and determine the data storage conditions to assure the highest level of security.
  • Dependance on the internet connection
    One of the great things about SaaS is all you need is an internet connection. One of the problems with SaaS is sometimes you don’t have an internet connection and you still need to do work, but can’t. That said, if the SaaS you’re using has a scheduling option or offers a constantly running service, you won’t even need an internet connection or a running device for the work to be done.

  • Downtime
    Sometimes the service will not be available as the provider is updating the program or doing other maintenance work. These updates usually take only a couple of hours.

  • Service termination
    There’s always a chance a company will just stop their service for whatever reason. This could result in loss of data. Usually, though, there will be a warning and a chance to download all data and documents.

  • Browser compatibility
    This one is simple, not all programs will run on all browsers. While most SaaS apps are compatible with any browser, some may have problems with older browser versions.

The advantages of SaaS greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

The SaaS revolution has already begun

The 2017 Gartner report predicted that sales of SaaS solutions will continue to grow at nearly 20% per year, from $39bln in 2016 to $76bln by 2020. The future is bright for SaaS. As long as SaaS performance is constant and consistent, it will continue to change the way we use apps. SaaS are fluid and flexible, and can quickly keep up with changing technology in a way installed programs just can’t. And while many people are still wary of cloud security, more and more SaaS are providing cloud access security management which gives full control to the user. 

SaaS and you

You use SaaS everyday. We’ve already mentioned Gmail and Google apps, but there’s also Netflix, Uber, Adobe Creative Cloud, and DropBox. You probably already have accounts with some or all of those. My personal favorite is Habitica, a habit-forming (literally) RPG. We use SaaS all day, every day, and we will even more in the future, in both our personal and professional lives. If your company isn’t using any, I’m not really sure how, as they are ubiquitous and increasingly necessary.

Wrapping it up

It really looks like SaaS is the future of software. While not all programs will switch to SaaS, or are even suited for the format, a lot of them will because of the cost, convenience, mobility, and ease of use it provides. As of 2017, 56% of companies were already using at least one SaaS provider, and that number will only grow.

B2B

B2B (business-to-business) is a transaction made between businesses, as opposed to transactions between a business and the final individual consumer (B2C). All industries have companies that engage in B2B. This is a necessity, as all companies require specific supplies and services, and many companies provide those specific supplies and services. 

While commonly B2B trade means transactions over the internet, it has always been standard for companies to purchase goods and supplies, outsource, and insource from other companies. For a simple example, car manufacturers have never made all of the components of their cars from scratch – they buy the materials and parts from other companies to put them together.

B2B in the modern age is really no different except more and most often these transactions are done via the internet. B2B is a huge e-commerce market, dwarfing B2C (business-to-customer) by nearly 260%

Many B2B companies are also B2C, like computer companies or office supply companies. Personally, I buy about 5 pens a year, whereas a company’s 10-story building’s worth of people will probably need quite a few more and are going to buy them in bulk. A computer company may sell tons of personal computers, but the real money maker is selling bulks of desktops and laptops to companies and offices. For a second, imagine how many computers are sold to the US government or hospital systems; how much more money do you think a company makes off of these white whales vs. the selling of personal computers? So while many B2B companies are strictly B2B, there is plenty of overlap between B2B and B2C.

Vertical B2B

Vertical B2B is companies selling goods and services specifically within one industry. Again, the car manufacturing industry is an excellent and easy-to-understand example of vertical B2B: one company makes steel and only sells it to car manufacturers, another provides the tires or the engines. All of the companies involved have car manufacturing as their one reason for existing.

Horizontal B2B

In horizontal B2B, multiple industries are served. These companies reach broader and have more than one demographic to serve. If you’ve ever watched the tv show The Office, you’ll immediately understand the difference. The fictional Dunder Mifflin is selling paper, but they sell to all types of companies, from supplying different offices with copier paper to winning losing the bid to provide the print paper for the Yellow Pages. That is horizontal B2B.

B2B E-commerce

Digital B2B is rising, and rising as one of the most lucrative and creative realms of business. E-commerce is quickly replacing many more traditional approaches to business. Websites are the new vendors, allowing for information gathering, proposals, purchases, brokering, and bidding. 

Web tools and services are also moving in and shaking the B2B world. From website development to email tools to infomediaries to software (and more!), you will find many companies needing those services and hiring other companies to do them. For example, every company needs a website and they’re going to want professionals to make it, not Tom from the mail room who runs a meagerly followed Facebook group about ferrets. Right? Right.

E-commerce especially lends itself to niche markets. Businesses can need some extremely specific services, niche companies exist to fill those needs, and online is where to find those companies now.

Going back to ferrets for an example, niche markets can be something as specific as pet ferret care: even if a company is hand-making all of their products, they will still need to buy the supplies, thus creating another B2B relationship. Their suppliers may be varied – a bottle of ferret shampoo has different ingredients than that of a ferret treat – yet on the other side, the ferret supply company’s buyers will be less varied – pet stores, mainly. B2B is a chain with many links, even in the niche realm, and that is why it is so lucrative. 

B2B marketing

Whether vertical or horizontal, B2B marketing is a big world. Building your brand, creating relationships, maneuvering negotiations, and filling a niche are all required for success, but it’s getting your product out there that creates revenue. The internet plays a vital role in this now. Company websites and blogs, social media, SEO, emails, videos, and ebooks are all used to create brand and product awareness.

B2B marketing must begin with research. Researching the marketplace (including competitor brands), prospective and current clients, and services puts you in a position to make correct business and financial decisions based on facts. Going in blind isn’t going to help you with building a strategy. As mentioned earlier, finding a niche or specialization is key. Creating a strategy to fill that niche is how you get to success. In B2B transactions, companies are looking for experts who distinguish themselves from other companies in some way. 

Next is getting your name out there. When someone is searching for a product like yours, you want your product to show up. Having a website is just the tip of the iceberg. You need your website to rise to the top of google searches. Fine-tuned SEO (driven by thorough websites, blogs, and articles) is a great start that will get you on the radar fast. 

Along with always having your inbox open through customer service emails and chats, sending out exploratory emails will help you bring in an audience. If you’re willing to break an egg to make a cake, paid advertisements can be well worth their money because, even though it’s business-to-business, human beings make up a business and are enticed by ads.

The single most important thing once you get the attention is to keep it. Reviews, follow-ups, customer service, and keeping your product information up to date is going to keep you in business.

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