Why Outsource your SDR Team?

According to Forrester, building an effective Inside Sales team is one of the most critical components of creating a predictable, repeatable and scalable sales engine.* A key cog in this engine is the Sales Development Rep (SDR), who is responsible for taking prospects gathered through demand generation activities and turning them into actionable leads, and, active sales discussions.

SDRs increasingly play a key role in both qualifying inbound prospects and generating new leads from outbound efforts. Building, scaling and managing an effective SDR function is now among the top challenges that sales leaders face. Here are a few reasons that many sales leaders are choosing to outsource some or all of this function:

Hiring and retaining SDRs is expensive and consumes significant resources: While hiring internal SDRs is often viewed as a way to build up a “bench” of future AEs, the reality can often be quite different. According to research by The Bridge Group, an inside sales consulting firm, the average tenure of SDRs is only 14 months. Outsourcing this function can drastically reduce the cost of recruiting and onboarding and keep your sales leaders focused on their core function–closing revenue.

Many companies lack the core expertise to get the most from their SDR team: Even if sales leaders are successful at recruiting, onboarding and retaining the right talent, an SDR team can often lag in performance due to a lack of effective lead targeting, inefficient processes and inadequate tools. As outlined by Forrester, it may make sense to initially outsource the entire function. For the manager who lacks the experience or skills to run an inside sales team, it can be a steep learning curve to understand candidates’ profiles, put in place plans to develop, motivate, and compensate reps, and successfully pick the best stack of enablement technologies.* Because of this, outsource providers often have highly developed processes and methodologies and the latest tools (and the best practices around using those tools) and can dramatically accelerate the performance of the SDR function.

Getting it right requires iteration and flexibility: Building and managing an SDR team usually requires a fair amount of tinkering. Deciding on the right compensation models, ratios and outreach methodology can become a major distraction for the team and often leads to frustration as SDRs are asked to implement too many changes. Outsourced teams can often act as a sales “lab”, allowing sales organizations to test messaging, tools, processes and compensation models without constantly disrupting the core team.

As the SDR function becomes more mature, companies continue to explore innovative ways to accelerate growth and get the best leads into the hands of sales teams. Building a strong outsourced SDR team can provide a strategic option for scale without unnecessarily burdening sales leaders or distracting from their core objectives.

Download the complimentary whitepaper: 5 Outsourcing Strategies for Inside Sales:https://www.marketstar.com/resources/5-strategies-for-outsourcing-inside-sales

*Forrester Report: B2B Inside Sales: “Inside Or Out?” — That Is The Question – Mary Shea, January 6, 2016

What Is Your Strategy For Enabling Inside Sales Activity?

Every day, I look outside my office and see “inside sales” happening. And it’s a wonderful thing to see, especially when it’s multiple teams selling multiple solutions for multiple companies.

Historically, B2B companies have built and run their own internal inside sales teams. The advantages of the exclusively inside sales model are clear from an oversight, human resources (HR) and cultural standpoint; managing this function internally leads to more directional and brand control. However, there are also some clear disadvantages. An entry-level sales employee can consume a tremendous amount of management bandwidth. Additionally, as technology and analytics increasingly enable the inside sales role, traditional sales managers may not have the skill set or understanding of the right technologies to adequately support this group. Finally, as these inside sales reps take on more of a micro-marketer’s approach to outbound engagement, we see leading organizations rolling these groups into marketing and/or outsourcing some, or all, of the function.

To build or to buy, that – ultimately – is the question. With the rise of “Sales as a Service,” which is an out-of-the-box sales solution, outsourcing has become a much more efficient and effective tool in giving your sales strategy a boost.

Increased efficiency and saving overhead costs is a major factor, but it’s not the only reason to outsource. Companies benefit from increased expertise and agility to validate sales motions, test value props and messaging, explore new opportunities and launch/promotional support on demand.

Whether evaluating a solution based on a particular challenge in the sales process, or looking to scale your entire motion, the decision to invest in staffing your own inside sales team or partnering with a solution provider is a big one.

If you want to see what goes into creating a “Sales as a Service” solution, download this infographic that highlights the key elements, and get closer to understanding how it can benefit your customer and your bottom line.

Recruiting and Retargeting in the Evolving Partner Channel

If you were a vendor in the 1990’s or early 2000’s, you were lucky enough to experience what it felt like to build a thriving channel with loyal partners who continually sold your products to your customer base. You took care of your partners with rich margins, and in return, they helped you develop a viable channel with a healthy 80/20 Pareto that produced for you for many years.

Shift to today…

Chances are, it’s now 5% of your partners driving 95% of your revenue and you’re fighting for every dollar in the current quarter short game. As you rapidly focus on emerging technologies to sustain your business long term, you ask yourself, “Is my channel future proof?”

Just as your strategy has been evolving, your partners have been transforming their business models as well. Are you still in alignment? Many vendors no longer really know their 2nd tier and only see that they are no longer producing. If you need a new, specialized set of partners who can take your solutions to market, recruitment may be the answer. But before you head down that path, take the time to reacquaint yourself with your existing channel to determine if you have enough disruptors to achieve your revenue targets or if you need to supplement with additional recruitment efforts.

On June 3rd, I’ll be presenting at the Channel Visionaries Conference  in Santa Clara, California. In my keynote, we will explore how to identify and target the right partners, both in and out of your network to redesign a healthy channel that will produce the revenues you need now AND in the long term.

Here are two key strategies we will be discussing in Santa Clara:

How to develop a partner profile based on the customers and business environments your solutions serve. A partner profile is no longer just looking at past performance and manual data gathered by your account managers. It requires a more complex profiling methodology to assess attributes like segment and vertical focus, services and capabilities, coverage and customer base, competitive landscape, share of wallet, and a propensity to engage. Our partnership with Foster MacCallum has perfected this process, and the result is a prioritized list of existing and net new partners customized for your revenue goals. This is the first step in our partner recruitment pathway but the old adage “Information is power” only applies if it’s acted upon.

How to approach partner recruitment and re-targeting as a data driven pipeline.Old school recruitment had vendors saying, “Let’s recruit 1,000 partners”. This unsystematic approach was not only costly; it usually yielded little return on investment and created a longer term channel drag. Vendors need to recruit quality partners who will achieve desired revenue goals, not just the number of partners recruited. We do this through a combination of people, data and automation to take prospects from first contact through on-boarding with conversion rates and aging at each stage. This allows us to focus the right attention on the right partners in their pathway to reduce the overall ramp to revenue.

I look forward to walking you through our partner recruitment pathway in more detail on June 3. If you have not already signed up, you still have time and if you register through this post, you can get an additional $150 off the Early Bird price. Click through and join us! I look forward to seeing you there.

Link to Channel Visionaries info: http://bit.ly/MSTARINFO

Link to the latest agenda: bit.ly/MSTARAGENDA

ShareShare Recruiting and Retargeting in the Evolving Partner Channel

Partner Management Best Practices: Mining the Long Tail

by Hobart Swan , originally printed in CCI’s Channel Management Insights Blog located here: http://outreach.channelmanagement.com/NL-2015-07-July-CMI_Main.html

The maxim leading many technology manufacturers’ channel strategy has long been the 80/20 rule: the top 20 percent of partners deliver 80 percent of sales so only focus on the top 20 percent. But what if the increasing sophistication of marketing technology can help alter that rule a little bit. Vaughn Aust, Executive Vice President for Digital and BI Solutions at MarketStar, says that advances in analytical and automation technology make it possible to get more business out of that often overlooked bottom 80 percent of partners. He’s been in the business a long time and just might be on to something.

Fresh out of college, Aust went to work for Laser Direct, a direct mail printing company. He soon left and was a founding member of a channel marketing company called Cohesion, which was later purchased by Hawkeye. Two years ago, Aust was recruited by multi-channel sales company MarketStar. For more than 25 years, MarketStar has proactively engaged business partners of companies like HP, Whirlpool, VMWare, and Google to drive sales and loyalty from targeted channels and maximize ROI across the entire channel. It is at MarketStar that Aust has focused his attention on helping manufacturers get the most out of their partner ecosystems.

Are SMB Partners Worth the Effort?

“We typically work with the mid- to lower-tiered channel partners,” Aust says. “Our clients usually handle the first tier using their own channel account management group. Clients sometimes employ us to re-engage the “long tail”; those smaller partner organizations that maybe at some point in the past purchased a product or registered for the partner program or responded to some marketing campaign. Looking at their RFM (Recency, Frequency, and Monetary return), vendors just don’t think it’s worth it to try to establish relationships with them.”

But, Aust says, given the heightened competition among vendors for the best partners, the rise of cloud services that require a different partner set and the potentially enormous new deals hidden in the long tail, some manufacturers are seeing the light. They understand that it is more than worth effort to identify those overlooked partners that have the potential to become very productive.

Large Vendors See Success from “Partnermation”

“The long tail is usually ignored because of the cost of engaging with them. We’ve asked our clients to give us a shot at finding the diamonds in the rough—to see if we can re-invigorate the bottom of the channel. “

A few very large vendors have taken MarketStar up on their offer and seen some very impressive results. In the first month of its work with HP’s lower-tiered partners, MarketStar closed $750,000 in sales. HP’s won opportunities soon rose to nearly $9 million with an open pipeline of $45 million. VMWare closed $1.5 million in incremental sales in the first six months.

If the goal is to efficiently locate these diamonds in the rough, then Aust’s solution is to use some very strong lenses. And that’s where technology, and people power, come in. Aust calls this combination “partnermation” and defines it as the use of lead-nurturing technology and personalized channel-account management to surface opportunities and close deals. Partnermation enables clients to first, reach every partner in the vendor’s ecosystem; to do it affordably, efficiently, and to scale; and then to prioritize the attention each partner gets based on its level of interest.

It Takes More Than Just Good Modeling

“I spent time early in my channel career building propensity models to see what a top-tier partner looked like: how many people worked in the firm, how many had a technical background, where was the partner located? We would look at tons of factors and attributes to understand what made a top-tier partner and look for similar partners to identify lower-tier partners to pay attention too.”
Like other companies, MarketStar ran propensity models and coverage models to try and determine what lower-tier partners to pay attention too. In the process, Aust realized something: The element they were missing was an understanding of a partner’s level of interest in doing business with a vendor. And to gauge that, he turned to lead-nurturing technology.

Good Technology + Real People

“You can use lead-nurturing technology to create value streams based on personas. If you have data about these partners—if you know that a partner is technology-oriented, or if the contact is the owner-manager, then you can use that information to start tailoring your messages.”

Identifying partners with the most potential comes down to sending tailored messages via values streams to the entire partner pool, and then seeing who has interest. The trick to engaging partners is to not send generic messages from the brand or the channel company.

“We send messages from a specific MarketStar employee—a real person we have hired and trained to represent a specific vendor. This is the person who, if the partner shows enough interest, will pick up the phone and call them. What this does is signal to these otherwise ignored partners that they are important, that we’ve got someone who wants to nurture their interest in doing business with the brand.”

The Scoring Rubric Table

Picking the right messages to the right personas and partners is a both an art and a science in itself. Marketing automation technology uses the concept that every bit of partner activity to marketing messages equals a score. If an otherwise unresponsive partner opens an email, they might get a score of one point. If the partner visits a key website, maybe they get three more points. A click on an email links, add five, then ten more for attendance at a webinar or trade show. Adding up these points enables the channel representative to understand a partner’s actual level of interest.

When the point total reaches a certain threshold, the human side of the partnermation model kicks into gear. That usually takes the form of a phone call from the sales representative MarketStar has hired and trained to represent that vendor.

Giving SMB Partners the Personal Touch

“Our rep might say something like, ‘Hey, I saw that you looked at our email about registering a deal, and that you clicked through and spent some time looking at our newest security product. If you want some more information on it, I can send you a brochure. And if you’re interested in registering a deal on it, I can get you three points on the deal.’ ”

And so begins the process of singling out those lower-tier partners that seem to have both the interest and the competence to make it worth the vendor’s money to engage with them.

“It’s absolutely true that it takes way too much money and time to go after the entire long tail. Our partnermation process enables us to efficiently find the 3 to 5 percent of the larger partner pool that we can graduate up to a higher, more productive tier.”

Make Things Easier for Partners—Even Small Partners

There has been a lot of effort on the part of vendors with a large channel presence to make it easier for partners to work with them. We’ve seen improved partner portals, better written documents, easier access to training tools, and similar actions. Partnermation is really a matter of extending that same welcoming attitude toward the long tail.

“If you’re a partner in the long tail, how are you going to get anything from a manufacturer that’s made up their mind you’re not worth the effort? How are you going to get information about their products or get support or training? But then you start getting a few tailored emails from the vendor, maybe you click on a couple of links and watch a webinar—and suddenly you get a call from a channel account manager saying, ‘Hey, it looks like you’re interested in selling our storage solution. I can get you an incentive.’ That can really get a partner excited.”

Speaking of Long Tails

Aust says he sometimes thinks of working with long tail partners as herding cats. This is not so much because cats are difficult to control, but because cats that have not been getting much attention tend to act in their own self-interest.

“Cats like you as long as you feed them and pay attention to them and scratch them behind the ears. But if you ignore them, they’ll just wander off and get their food from the house next door. Ignored partners tend to act the same way.”

Getting that Competitive Edge

Aust’s rollout of partnermation has clearly shown early success with companies such as HP and VMware reaping considerable upticks in channel sales. But Aust sees other benefits from this innovative mix of technology and human engagement, including greater pipeline visibility, more closed sales, and more channel engagement. There’s also more buzz for the vendor as long tail partners start talking about how the vendor has reached out to them and made them feel welcome.

“The bottom line is that those manufacturers that figure out how to get the return from their partner long tail without too much investment—those are the ones that are going to win. If they can find a way to efficiently generate value out of that lower 80 percent, then they’ve put themselves a much more competitive position.”

Through-Partner Marketing – How is your Field of Dreams?

One of the greatest challenges channel marketing groups face is how to generate measurable demand and sales results through and with their channel partners.

For channel marketing, enabling partners to gain access to vendor marketing tools and resources is generally a first step. However, today’s channel partners need more than access to standardized marketing resources to get results. So the question is if you build it, will they come?

The Promise (and Power) of Through-Partner Marketing Automation 

Through-Partner Marketing Automation (TPMA) enables vendors and partners to coordinate multiple marketing activities to build mutual pipeline, streamline lead management, and accelerate revenue growth.

Structurally, TPMA is software that allows channel partners to easily create and deploy targeted, multi-touch campaigns with tailored, useful content across the marketing spectrum – online advertising, SEO, social media, syndicated content, direct mail, event support, telesales, and other tactics.

The power of TPMA is in its ability, thru closed loop tracking, to measure ROI from the channel partner’s marketing efforts, ensure the vendor’s brand is represented thru professional marketing materials and increase the ease of doing business with a vendor.

TPMA Maturity Curve

Most vendors are somewhere on the following TPMA Maturity Curve in their implementation of getting their own marketing materials in partner’s hands.

Level 1 – Basic = Available + Awareness

The first step most vendors take is to get their marketing materials available via the partner portal and provide instructions for use. However, there is little brand control once the materials leave the portal and the vendor is reliant on self-reporting results, if the partner provides it at all. Because there is the issue of awareness and low usage – many vendors take the next step in leveraging their channel account management teams to promote and build awareness. Channel account manager’s can help partner’s understand they have MDF available and that there are marketing materials available.                    

Level 2 – Efficient = Automated + Available

At some point, most vendors recognize the need for automation which enables ease of use, brand control and a better ability to track results and measure ROI. There are a number of TPMA platforms available, my top six are Zift Solutions, SharedVue, Tie Kinetix, Structured Web, Revenew, and Elastic Grid.

Level 3 – Strategic = Concierge + Automated

Many vendors are stuck in the first and second levels and fail to realize the full potential and ROI results they were expecting. TPMA platforms are a significant investment that vendors can ill afford to not take full advantage of. I tend to disagree with Kevin Costner when it comes to TPMA – we can build the system but the channel partners will NOT always come and participate.

Why Not?

  1. Partners are not always aware of the platform
  2. Partners are not always knowledgeable about newer methods/tactics that TPMA systems offer
  3. Partners do not always have a marketing plan and/or the ability to connect their marketing plan to tactics available in TPMA
  4. There are very high drop-off rates when partners don’t understand how to use the system
  5. Relevant content or campaigns are not available

Our experience is that TPMA that generates a high ROI requires dedicated human capital to promote, train, enable, cajole, and ultimately generate results. The reason why vendors cannot successfully leverage their existing channel account managers is focus.

Not all partners will come and play, but the ones who are trying to actively grow their own businesses WILL see the value in effective marketing — if you make the resources available to usher them through the ins-and-outs of TPMA. If you build it, some will come, but most of them will need to be shown to their seats.

Addressing the changing landscape of sales? Turn to “Sales as a Service.”


It’s pretty obvious that the way we buy and sell goods and services has changed. As Business to Business buyers take more control of the process and move along their own journey on their own terms, it’s imperative that marketing and sales learn to adapt, personalize and provide value during the journey, or lose out in a hyper-competitive marketplace.

And that’s the crux of the situation – how do B2B sellers become more agile to reach customers when customers have more and more control over the buying journey? After reviewing tens, if not hundreds of articles, whitepapers and success stories, we at MarketStar have summarized the advice into 4 basic themes:

  1. Meet customers where they are doing research, which is increasingly online, digital and via peer networks
  2. Provide value to the customer’s research – aka provide “content of value”
  3. As a sales person, work to be a trusted advisor
  4. Use a fishing spear, not a wide net – aka “Account Based Marketing/Selling” tactics

With such a wide range of advice, tactics and technology, how can businesses mitigate investment risk?

We at MarketStar feel that just as cloud solutions augment and expand technology capabilities at scale for a reasonable cost, businesses should consider outsourced sales to expand into new markets, build new channels and scale sales teams.

MarketStar is a pioneer in “Sales as a Service,” which is an agile and scalable outsourced sales solution that helps you shift with the evolving buyer’s journey. This may be an inside sales force that reaches the elusive SMB space, or a field team that provides coverage in strategic accounts. “Sales as a Service” solutions can be very effective tests that scale if they provide long term value. Your sales team’s success relies on it, and your bottom line depends on it.

While there are undoubtedly a variety of factors, here are four reasons to consider augmenting existing sales teams with a “Sales as a Service” partner.

What We Sell Is Evolving

A majority of businesses have expanded their product and service portfolios to include new offerings, renewals, warranties, and subscriptions. These new services and offerings have, in turn, opened new revenue streams and sales opportunities that may be difficult to address or accommodate by an overburdened in-house sales team.

Additionally, the nature of a given offering may be too small, and the sales cycle too short, to warrant the costs associated with re-configuring existing in-house sales resources.

By augmenting their sales force with an outsourced solution, companies are able to allow the right level of support based on opportunity, buying cycle, and sales complexity. Each of these trends favors increased involvement by outsourced sales solutions in B2B motions.

Buyer’s Control their Journey

We are in the age of the customer, driven by empowered buyers, who have more control over their own buyer’s journey than ever before. In many cases, the buying process used to rely heavily on the sales person to initiate contact, drive conversation and be the subject matter of authority; that is no longer the case. For many buyers, the sales person is now a mere transactional irritant, engaged too late in the purchase process to influence or consult.

In today’s market, new technologies and methods of gathering prospective intelligence increase the likelihood of high-quality, personalized interactions between B2B buyers and sellers. According to a TechCrunch survey, 70% of a buyer’s decision-making process now occurs online. Through digital self-education, B2B buyers now spend less in-person time with sellers.

The Way We Communicate Has Dramatically Changed

There are now more mobile devices in the world than people. This statistic is both startling and exciting. Sixty-one percent of US adults are always addressable – meaning they use at least three connected devices to access the Internet from multiple physical locations, multiple times a day.

Digital engagement technology has passed the novelty stage and is now the preferred method of communication among most busy business professionals. This shift from live conversations to digital dialog has created a substantive shift in how people expect companies to communicate with them. “Sales as a Service,” while anchored by a centralized sales group, presents an integrated communication process that mixes automated yet personalized messaging with good ole fashioned one-to-one engagement.

We Know More About The Buyer

In today’s world, it’s rare to find an individual who doesn’t have some sort of online social presence. Naturally, this activity leaves digital footprints that marketers can, in turn, use to create a profile of potential buyers and track buying stages to classify the prospect. Businesses can then leverage this data to become smarter about selling by inserting relevant, timely content to nurture prospects and guide buyer behavior.

Additionally, savvy companies are using advanced analytics to build predictive targeting models, identify and engage the RIGHT prospects and inject thought leadership into communities and social networks at the most opportune time. “Sales a s a Service” solutions are completely reliant upon this data to make sales motions more agile, and also to optimize quicker. The more data that can be gathered, the quicker the sales process can be refined.

Generally, the old model of selling was focused around a product, rather than a customer’s experience. However, in today’s emerging market, a cross-channel, customer-focused strategy is essential to successfully interact with buyers. Buyer’s proactively seek out the information they need to advance their decisions through digital and social channels, from peers and from a variety of other online resources. Despite this obvious shift in the way customer’s buy and interact with products and companies, a recent survey found that only 17% of B2B marketers had changed their company focus to customer based instead of product based.

Enter “Sales as a Service.” In the age of “out of the box” solutions and services, no solution can add more immediate impact to your bottom line than prepackaged sales teams. Outsourced sales teams can be a key in helping companies to develop and maintain a more customer-based focus.

To get a closer look at the various elements that make up the “Sales as a Service” solution, click here and download our newest infographic.

After viewing the solution in-depth, a key question to ask is, “do I have the pieces in place to meet the changing landscape of sales?”

Why You Should Consider Outsourcing a Virtual Sales Team


Most people can agree that the sales environment has become more competitive, and more complex, to the point that sales require more than a good call list and a plane ticket. In order to solve a customer’s problem and drive more revenue, marketers and sales leaders need to consider outsourcing some or all of their market development, lead qualification, appointment setting, and end-to-end sales activities in order to not lose sight on developing great products and services.

This is especially true in today’s market where more products are virtual. Customers are starting to expect more demonstrations and sales that are completely off-site. There just aren’t as many opportunities anymore where you need to physically demonstrate the product in person, and this is drastically changing how you sell as well.

Recently, Vaughn Aust, MarketStar’s EVP of Product and Marketing, sat down with CCI’s Channel Wisdom podcast to discuss how the world of sales is quickly moving towards a virtual inside sales model. “Today’s tech businesses are being led by Millennials, or those close to them in age. They grew up in a world of virtual interaction, and are ready for the same type of engagement in their sales process.”

It may be time to augment efforts by bringing in an external partner, and possibly shift your engagement strategy at the same time when:

  • You’ve missed targets for one or more quarters
  • Your pipeline doesn’t support future goals
  • Your markets have become more difficult to access
  • You’re faced with inability to hire qualified candidates quickly enough
  • There is an overall lack of internal skills to launch and manage an inside sales team

A recent survey revealed that many B2B companies are experiencing a plethora of inbound leads, some of which sit untouched for 35 to 40 days. Given the wide range in the quality of these leads, having a outsourced partner to categorize, nurture, engage, close, or pass leads onto sales at the right time can be invaluable. It requires a specialized inside sales team to focus and capitalize on pain points, increasing sales in specific products and categories, while making sure viable leads don’t vanish from lack of visibility and contact.

Targeting your customer is imperative, whether you are selling with a wide net, or selling with account-based efforts. Today’s complex sales environments require you have the right digital tools and team to target and close deals. Outsourcing allows businesses to leverage the expertise of a specialist organization so that they can realize shorter sales cycles, lower cost per lead, and increased customer retention.

Ultimately, the successful sales teams of the future are those that recognize Enterprise and SMB sales are changing just as quickly as the products they are selling. In a world of virtual products, it only makes sense that virtual sales would follow. For most companies this means a dramatic shift in tactics, which is why aligning with an outsource partner will be necessary to ensure sales remain healthy, and revenue continues to increase.


Breaking Down the Psychology of Social Selling


More than 40 years ago, Stanford professor Walter Mischel conducted an experiment now commonly referred to as the “Marshmallow Experiment”. In this experiment a child was placed in a room and was presented with a treat. The child had the choice to either eat the treat now or wait 15 minutes and receive two treats.

This now famous study tested the ability of a child to resist the natural inclination toward instant gratification for a more favorable long-term reward. The children in the study who were able to resist were much more successful later in life and made better life choices.

The psychology of social selling really comes down to building lasting relationships and potentially sacrificing instant insincere sales for more favorable long-term results. Sales are the byproduct of relationships not the other way around. No question that you can pound the pavement and hit your quota; however, building lasting relationships will always produce greater long-term success, even if only realized in the long term.

My wife recently entertained the solicitation of a door-to-door salesperson that cared only about pushing their subscription-based product. The sales person was so pushy that my wife finally relented just to get the sales person out the doorway and on her way. The tactic ultimately backfired as my wife called and canceled the subscription before it ever got started.

SocialSelling-banner1Social selling is not new, it’s just another way of discovering the interests of someone so you can begin a meaningful conversation. When someone is posting their interests and achievements, that’s an open invitation for you to talk to them about it. It comes down to basic human needs: people need to connect, both neurologically and physically. It’s about them, not about you. Allow your prospects to talk and actively listen. When you’re doing most of the talking, you’re not building relationships you’re dictating them.


Having a hard time trying to figure out how to shift the conversation? Try this:

  1. Get prospects to talk about their success. Ask them about how they got to where they are in their career, their challenges and failures, their interests and achievements. Show that you care about them as a person.

  2.  I believe it takes most people less than 5 seconds to know your intent. Never present a façade; always be genuine, be respectful, and be witty. Nothing turns the tide of a sales call faster than arrogance and entitlement, (e.g. “Do you know to whom you’re talking? I’m the {insert ostentatious title] from Company XYZ!” – bad idea, wrong attitude).

  3.  Build relationships based on trust and accountability. Do what you say you will do and when you say you will do it. If for some reason it’s not going to happen, be sure to contact them and let them know what to expect instead.

  4. Never insult a person even in jest. Never stereotype and make sweeping generalizations about gender or religion. We are talking first impressions here. Be genuine and don’t offend. 

One might think that some of these principles are obvious, but I’m amazed at how many sales calls I listen to where they are simply ignored.

I recently received a call from a company looking to provide salary and cloud based compensation software. The sales rep was personable and interested in me, my role, and even commented that it sounded like I had a cold—which I did. Overall I was intrigued but not that interested until the next day when a package shows up on my desk. Opening the package revealed a box of herbal tea with a note, “Thought you could use this, hope you get feeling better”. I went from slightly interested to very impressed and all it took was a simple gesture from the sales person that said, “I care about you as an individual not just in your business”.

So what is the profile of a good social selling rep (SSR)? Where SSR’s are valuable resources across the entire sales funnel, the most value will come in qualifying leads and setting appointments. Look for these qualities and you’re sure to succeed.

  1. Personable—good communications skills, both written and verbal.

  2. Genuine—a “people person”, one who loves to talk, listen, and is interested in others.

  3. Empathic—not just sympathetic but has the ability to do things that make a difference in others.

  4. Determined—loves a challenge and will face it head on.

  5. Passionate—enjoys taking notes and recording the subtle details not just the summary.

  6. Witty—quick on his or her feet. Someone who is ok with a “no” but willing to try another angle before just giving up. Thinking on one’s feet is not often a skill that is taught but a personality trait that’s possessed by a select few.

  7. Unique—uniqueness (not uniformity) is what stands out and demands attention.

  8. Persistence—willing to keep trying. Thrives on a challenge. 

If you truly care about an individual and what they are interested in, you will always succeed in your sales career. It takes effort and, most of the time, multiple outreaches to someone to really show them that you care. But watch out, you may also develop some life-long friendships along the way.

The Psychology of social selling is about developing real relationships and caring about the individual and not just about the sale. It comes down to hiring the right people with the right personality, then teaching them behavior that will drive real results.

SocialSelling-banner3I’m convinced that it’s the right move for any business but don’t just leave it up to chance—measure it, test it, and, ultimately, adopt it.

“I Love It When Retail Brands Ignore Me.” – Said No Customer Ever.



In 1995, Gary Chapman published a book called “The Five Love Languages.” This book highlights five common ways individuals express their commitment and loyalty to their loved ones including giving gifts, spending quality time, sharing words of affirmation, planning acts of service, and providing physical touch. Love languages need to be nurtured in different ways, in order to show you care.


Harvard Business Review highlighted that companies should pursue emotional connections with their customers as both a science and strategy. The article titled, “The New Science of Customer Emotions,” stated, “Although brands may be liked or trusted, most fail to align themselves with the emotions that drive their customers’ most profitable behaviors. Some brands by nature have an easier time making such connections, but a company doesn’t have to be born with the emotional DNA of Disney or Apple to succeed. Even a cleaning product or a canned food can forge powerful connections.”

As an integrated marketing professional of 10 years, I often apply the “love language” approach to my own strategies in creating interest and engaging conversations with target audiences. Do my clients know I appreciate them and hear my thankfulness expressed often? Do my customers have face-to-face interactions with the products I support to tangibly hold and interact with their services? Here are three of these love languages to best highlight and gain recognition for your brand, while ensuring your customers feel appreciated.


In a Google Holiday Consumer Intentions Study, 80% of retail shoppers reported they still prefer to experience a product in-store before buying. Another 50% of shoppers stated that they research products online, but still purchase items in store.

It’s important to provide tangible touch points to help move shoppers emotionally. Give them a hands-on experience to discover, understand, desire, buy, and love your products and services. It’s one thing to read about a product online, but it can mean love at first sight to actually see the product in action! That face-to-face, hands on experience, can be the customer’s deciding factor between cutting the conversation short or taking the product home.


In 2014, 80% of all sales took place in-stores. Only 6% were through e-commerce, and half of those were ultimately transacted through a brick-and-mortar store. Consumers are more aggressive than ever in their search to find the best bargains, deals, and ideal products for their shopping needs.

Retail associates are the key! These reps are your loving “boots on the ground” armed with knowledge and product expertise that can assist in wooing a shopper to become your customer. Educating a retail sales team on the features and advantages of your product is like arming reps with retail cupid arrows. It empowers in-store employees to validate the customer’s questions and either reaffirm or redirect interest to making the right purchase. Reps are the last contact customers have before the sale, prepping them with these tools can successfully help them promote your brand amidst that final courtship of any lovers quarrel between other competing products.


Everyone wants quality time with the ones they love. For a manufacturer, this equates to cozying up to a shopper at an experiential store event. Experiential events are designed to create and combine tactile sensations and emotional resonance with consumers. Shoppers are emotional and rational beings who look for experiences and interactions every day, and not just with other people. They seek out these experiences with brands, products, and retailers.

A recent study conducted on the effectiveness of experiential events for an automotive brand demonstrated the power of an experience. Following an event, 67% of attendees said that they now considered the automotive brand to be a trustworthy manufacturer as a direct result of their experiential activity, while 86% said they had a more positive opinion of the brand. When asked if they would consider purchasing a car from them, 58% of attendees said they probably would.

Creating an experience that makes people feel good, valued, and appreciated is the key to their hearts. By combining an opportunity to interact with your product, with an atmosphere that is built for the product, you win on every level.


In closing, customer loyalty increases by strengthening their confidence in your product, offering, or service. This loyalty drives your customers to buy time and time again. So to help your customers feel loved, make sure you are speaking their “love language.” It’s all about their experience. Work to address the way your customers are seeking appreciation, validation, and interaction with your products. Turn their brand awareness into brand advocacy, and help spread the love.

Are You a Burden on Your Partners?


Back in 2011, while writing one of my first white papers on partner enablement, a seasoned channel colleague told me about the three elements a manufacturer must provide to its partners in order to make them successful.callout-1Since that conversation, the channel has seen many changes…again. Four years seems like a lifetime ago in terms of the channel, but those three elements have always stuck in my mind; and they are still sound rules to live by.

So as we head into 2016, let’s revisit one of these three simple rules based on what I’ve been observing with our clients. Let’s talk about what it means to be “easy to do business with” so you don’t become a burden to your partners.


Whenever someone asks me to explain the channel, I always feel I need a whiteboard and three or four colored markers to draw it out for them. It’s not a simple task. But if you have a good product or solution, and you have a loyal set of partners, it doesn’t take rocket science to build revenue. If it is priced well, has a competitive advantage in the market, you’ve done your job to properly incentivize partners and show them how to sell it, your offering should move.

But the truth is, the channel has NEVER been easy and it will continue to get MORE complex. What starts out as a well-conceived and well-executed solution quickly becomes encumbered by complicated deal registration systems, convoluted MDF procedures, a difficult incentive model, and the daunting task of bundling multiple vendors into one alliance.

What started out as a great idea is now buried by layers of programmatic sediment weighing down your program and your partners.

Simplify! We gain sales and partner loyalty by not just building a great solution, but by creating a channel program that is easy to navigate and does not add unnecessary weight to a partner. I won’t try and solve any problems with this post, but there are a few simple points to think about – which should form questions in your mind and expose the real problems.callout-2Three simple questions, but simplicity is the key to being easy to do business with. If you have to fumble and stumble over your answers to these simple questions, you just might be a burden. You probably need to have a strategy session.

Building partner sales and loyalty is a complex process as it is. The manufacturer has to continue to introduce innovative approaches to enable partners.

With a sea full of partners with limited attention spans, manufacturers who act strategically, actively enable their partners, and respond to their needs will win both wallet and mind share.