Sales Tools Buyer’s Guide

When shopping for software solutions for your sales team, it can be tempting to take the path of least resistance and go for the first sales tool you can find. However, it's important to identify your sales team's unique needs first so you can ask the right questions during your buying process to guarantee that you find a sales tool that meets your needs.

There is an overwhelming selection of sales tools out there and PGi is here to help you sift through them to find the one perfectly suited to your unique goals. There are a number of sales tools that could revolutionize how your sales team operates that you might not even know exist. PGi’s Sales Tools Buyer’s Guide is designed to assist you through your sales journey and help you find a sales tool that will integrate seamlessly into your workplace practices.

Increasing Pipeline Acceleration Using Webinars

Contrary to what you may think, webinars are not just for driving top of funnel leads. Webinars can help engage prospects throughout the buyer’s journey. When researching B2B purchases, 67% of buyers attended webinars – ranking webinars in the top 3 for content formats.

View the on demand webinar Best Practices for Using Web Events to Increase Pipeline Velocity, conducted by Sirius Decisions and PGi, to learn how you can engage your audience and increase velocity of leads through your pipeline using web events.

As one of the industry’s leading providers of conferencing and collaborations solutions, PGi has a wealth of knowledge to share with customers like you.  Contact us today to learn more.

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How to Build a Sales Technology Stack for Better Productivity

Sales technology has long been limited to a slim selection of tools: an email account, a phone and customer relationship management (CRM) software (which often turned into more burden than relief for sales). Now, we’re entering the era of sales technology.

Much like marketing, a new sales technology landscape exists that promises to shorten the increasingly long and complex sales cycle, engage the self-researched buyer and help reps meet quotas constantly on the rise.

How Sales Technology Evolved
As explained in “The Social Sales Revolution” eBook from PGi, there are several causes of this new wave of sales technology:

  • The evolution of the buyer’s journey has given rise to inside sales, which creates new challenges for sales reps. Sales must rise above the noise and make the impersonal personal again in order to connect with customers and their communities online.
  • Social selling, customer-centricity and advances in technology have revived interest in CRM software. Now, by closely integrating CRM software with other applications, sales can use the tool in more meaningful ways to better personalize the customer experience.
  • Research has proven that team-oriented sales departments have advantages over those with the old “lone wolf” mentality. With this in mind, sales teams are looking for ways to increase teamwork, collaboration and transparency.
  • Sales technology continues to get better at automating, measuring and speeding up virtually every sales activity, and, thanks to unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) technology trends, sales can continue adding new applications to their arsenal without getting slowed down by disparate tools and information siloes.

How to Get Started Building a Stack
The sales technology landscape is now comprised of many categories: productivity, acceleration, intelligence, automation, engagement and more. When you build your own sales technology stack, you must consider not only what technology you need at every point of the sales cycle but also what types of technology most impact your sales team’s unique goals.

For instance, are you B2B or B2C? Do you still rely heavily on field sales, or is your team trying to master inside sales from headquarters? Do you need to accommodate remote teammates? With your sales pipeline in mind and your unique needs identified, you can select and combine tools that best help you close more deals.

Here’s a look at just some of the sales technology that can make you faster and more efficient along the sales pipeline:

  • Online Collaboration Software: Inside sales teams typically share a lot of content online to engage and nurture prospects. Technology like online collaboration software streamlines the document management process and ensures teams maintain consistent messaging. Sales teams can also use online team workspaces to share information—winning presentations, lessons from losses, etc.—to get a competitive advantage.

 

  • Sales Productivity Software: Sales acceleration tools like video presentation software enable sales to continue nurturing leads within a more personalized and engaging format, as well as more efficiently qualify leads with data from the results. Video presentations can be used in several creative ways by inside sales teams, for everything from producing more personalized presentations to sending video alongside thank you.
  • Online Meeting Software: After a lead has been qualified, it’s time to progress the lead to close through nurturing and demos. Online meetings help sales reps meet with more qualified leads from anywhere and help them do it in a highly personal environment.
  • Smart Calendar Apps: Innovative smart calendars can be used to save sales time entering data into Salesforce, joining online meetings and conference calls and notifying dispersed teams of product and company updates.

Try PGi’s iMeet Narrate to accelerate your sales funnel, create engaging content & have better lead tracking. Request a demo today!

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Generate Higher Quality Sales Leads With Video Presentations

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to sales leads. When sales professionals focus the majority of their time on pursuing a higher quantity of sales leads, instead of higher quality leads, time and resources are wasted and quotas are still hanging in the air. Focusing on quality is the best way for sales teams to close more deals.

So how can sales best determine which leads are hot and which are not? Video sales presentations are the answer.

Quality vs. Quantity
Most sales and marketing professionals agree that the importance of quality surpasses quantity when it comes to sales leads. Increasing the quality of leads generated by marketing remains a top business goal for 47 percent of companies, according to Aberdeen Group research, compared to just 24 percent focusing on increasing lead quantity.

Not all marketing qualified leads are sales-ready leads. Even sales-ready leads can still get stuck along the buyer’s journey and lengthen the sales process. Roughly half of leads are qualified but still not ready to buy, according to Gleanster Research.

In order to stop wasting time on leads that are not ready to move through the funnel, your sales team needs a better way to assess lead quality and streamline the lead scoring process.

Metrics & Automation
Using sales productivity software, your sales team can use video presentations to whittle out the cold leads and mine for the hot leads. Leverage accompanying data to better score leads and automate the process with sales acceleration technology.

Anytime a prospect views your video presentation, you not only receive an instant notification that they viewed it but also metrics on how long and how much of the presentation they watched. In other words, you now have the ability to track engagement, and thus, better assess who to contact immediately and who to nurture further before pursuing.

In fact, sales productivity software like iMeet® Narrate ensures you really know who actively watched your presentation vs. who simply ran it. When a viewer opens up your presentation in their browser, iMeet Narrate only plays it so long as they keep that tab actively open. As soon as they switch tabs or programs, the video presentation stops, keeping multitasking at bay and attention in order.

Engagement is a crucial way to determine lead quality. Demographics and buying stage alone cannot help you determine lead interest and lead behavior. Even leads that are a perfect fit aren’t ready for the next steps in the buyer’s journey if they simply aren’t opening your content or paying attention to your sales presentations.

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Featured Image Source: Pexels

Sales Presentations: Are You Doing Them all Wrong?

The art of the sales presentation takes a lifetime to perfect. Over the years, you hone your personal appearance, speaking skills, negotiation tactics and customer service methods. However, between constantly evolving technology and buyer behaviors, modern sales professionals find that the old way of things are no longer the right way of doing things.

So, when it comes to the ever-important sales presentation, are you doing them all wrong? Here are four symptoms that you’re behind the times when it comes to sales presentations:

  1. You’re using the same slide template from 2001.
  2. You only make sales presentations in person or over the phone.
  3. You shake hands, hand out a business card and that’s that.
  4. You speak for over five minutes without interruptions or questions, and every meeting lasts exactly 60 minutes.

If these scenarios sound familiar, it’s time to get you back on track perfecting the art of the sales presentation.

Step 1: Upgrade your presentation creation tools.
Slide decks and business cards are still staples in the presentation arena, but new tools take those old-school methods, add a little tech polish and provide a better experience for everyone. Here are some great tools that will get you out of the PowerPoint® funk.

Canva‘s free online tool helps professionals of any skill level create high-quality graphic design elements, including presentation slides that are available to download and share as PDF files. Free templates and layouts offer the most up-to-date, modern design styles, which you can customize with your own images, colors and fonts.

Haiku Deck‘sfree app also helps you make visually compelling presentations in minutes. Just select your format and layout for text, add high-quality images to the background and then export presentations as PPTX or PDF files for sharing.

Step 2: Add video narration to your presentation slides.
The average business person attends 60 meetings a week, either in person or via conference calls. For you, the salesperson trying to get in and close a deal, that means you’re competing to just get in the door. Effective sales reps, however, are taking modern tech tools like sales productivity software to gain customers’ attention, facilitate simulated face-to-face presentations and close the deals.

In fact, iMeet® Narrate lets you record audio and video to narrate slides and better tailor online sales presentations for your audience. By sending personalized, video sales presentations, you’re not only better able to capture attention through the power of video but also track and monitor engagement, more effectively score leads and reach multiple prospects at once so you can close more deals, faster.

Simply upload your slide deck (as a PPT, PPTX or PDF file) and choose whether you want to add video or audio-only narration using your webcam or microphone. Next, you can customize your presentation with additional chapters, polls and attachments; set up tracking and lead generation; share it by email, link, social media or embedded in a website and view real-time analytics to assess your presentation’s reception.

Step 3: Follow up virtually.
Once you analyze your presentation’s performance metrics, quickly follow up with the warmest leads by using your personal iMeet online meeting room.

Step 4: One more thing…
Outside the techie ways to get the presentation done, even the methods employed during speeches and presentations have changed. The listen-and-learn philosophy is over. Customers want to collaborate with trusted partners more than ever before.

To really learn about your customers and establish yourself as not just a vendor, but a trusted adviser, employ these techniques to put the “it factor” in your sales presentations and follow-up online meetings:

  • Identify their pain points. Come prepared with a list of questions and ask them. Easy as that.
  • Share your human side. Salespeople often try too hard to impress customers. In the era of social media and collaboration, however, customers want to get to know the real you. Share photos of your animals, kids and hobbies in your slide decks and don’t be afraid to share a personal story.
  • Engage all five senses. Salespeople can get stuck in the corporate-approved, road map-style presentation, but, again, that’s old-school, one-way-dialogue thinking. To really engage your prospects and customers, remember that customers learn not just with their ears, but also their eyes, nose, taste and touch. Use visually appealing slides that will engage all the senses for a 100-percent sensory understanding of what you’re putting on the table.

For more presentation ideas to help kick your sales methods into the next era, download the newest, free eBook by PGi, “The Science of Sales Presentations.”

The Science of Sales Presentations

3 Tips for Salespeople on Creating an Authentic Social Presence

Social networking is a powerful tool for the modern sales force. In fact, 75% of B2B buying decisions today are influenced by social media. If you want to stay relevant and engaged with your customers and potential buyers, you have to master the ever-changing landscape of social media across several different platforms.

Here are 3 tips for salespeople looking to create an authentic, engaging social presence online:

Be Yourself
No one online wants to interact with a faceless corporate drone! Even if your primary reason for starting a social network account is to engage customers or prospects, you have to bring your own personality to the table to create an authentic social presence. Share content from your favorite websites, even if they’re not related to your product, service or industry. Talk about your favorite sports team, movie or TV show.

And if you are sharing content that’s related to your product or service, why not show a little personality and do so through video?

Don’t Mindlessly Share
The most annoying social accounts are the ones that simply blast out link after link from other sources with no context or purpose. You’re never more than one annoying share away from being unfollowed, unsubscribed or unliked online. Even if you are sharing content online, add your own commentary to it. Demonstrate your expertise, challenge an author’s point or encourage your followers to respond and discuss. If all you’re doing is hitting the “RT” or “Share” buttons on everything you find, be prepared for your follower numbers to plummet.

Know Your Medium
Different social networks have different “rules,” even if they’re mostly unspoken, about what to share and how to share it. For example, Twitter is much more of a stream of consciousness, where you’ll be expected to add your personal commentary and personality (see “Be Yourself” above). LinkedIn, on the other hand, is all business: it’s the perfect place for you to share more industry-specific content that helps make the case for your product or service. If you don’t respect the tones and mores of each of your respective networks, you’ll come across as patently inauthentic.

For more social selling tips, download PGi’s free eBook “The Evolution of Sales: A Survival Guide,” featuring chapters from sales leaders at PGi, LinkedIn, Hubspot, Top Sales World and more.

How Do You Make Better Sales Presentations?

Sales teams now have so many methods to attract and engage with prospects in today’s complex buyer’s journey: LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, webinars, videos, meetings, phone calls, etc. What still holds true to sales, though, is that all it takes is a tenth of a second to lose prospects to every other sales professional racing you to the next big thing.

The defining difference between sales reps that get a “yes” and the rest is: presentation!

So how do you rev up your game and make better presentations?

Take a Scientific Approach to Sales Presentations
The best sales presentations are stories, and there’s a science to creating more than slides and pitches. Here are three ways to be a rock star presenter and a better storyteller, backed by research in the newest eBook by PGi, “The Science of Sales Presentations”:

  1. Incorporate your story into the presentation design. That means thinking about the order of your slides in terms of a story arc, creating a design theme and using visuals that strategically evoke emotions.
  2. Tailor your story for each potential customer. Even if your presentation design is rock-star quality, your audience won’t care if the story isn’t meaningful to them. Each potential customer has a unique challenge, learning style and even communication style to research and incorporate into your presentation.
  3. Test your story to see what works. With the right sales technology, it’s easier than ever to monitor and analyze the effectiveness of your sales presentations with data. Use that to your advantage to make ongoing efforts to tweak and perfect your story for the right audience.

 

 

Learn More

  1. Learn how to create engaging sales presentations with iMeet Narrate at The Future of Business Collaboration.
  2. Before you turn on the webcam, learn how to improve your presentation skills and delivery here.
  3. Download the sales presentations eBook now for the complete, scientific formulas to make prospects say “yes.”

The Science of Sales Presentations

Featured Image Source: Pexels

The Science of Killer Sales Presentations

How do you compel prospects to say "yes" every time? Download the newest, free eBook by PGi to learn the science of creating killer sales presentations, including three formulas:

  1. Elements of winning presentation design.
  2. Theory of sales relativity.
  3. Schrödinger's sales pitch.

Presentation Tools to Collaborate & Create Better Sales Pitches

Crafting a sales pitch is a key component to becoming a successful sales professional. Modern effective sales pitches require collaboration and conversation—a two-way street between you and the buyer, listening to their concerns and offering them tailored solutions.

Knowing this, creating an effective sales pitch may require some collaboration with your peers. Instead of relying on traditional methods – like practicing in the mirror – here are some presentation tools that can help you work with your peers to create a great sales pitch:

Online meeting tools, like PGi’s iMeet®, are great presentation tools to use if you’re preparing a sales pitch for a prospect. After you’ve crafted your presentation, log into your iMeet® room to record yourself with both video and audio so you can see where the strengths and weaknesses lie in your presentation. You can then access your recordings in your iMeet files for future reference.

Take your practice to the next level with real-time interaction. Use your iMeet room to video conference a colleague or sales leader before your client meeting. Present your pitch and ask them for critiques on your body language and tone. Because body language is important when making first impressions, this is a great exercise to critique your natural reactions to questions during your pitch.

 

Team workspace tools are easy ways to make sure you’re keeping up with the latest marketing and product messaging. Among various other uses, these spaces are designed to upload documents, like product and marketing materials, to help sales professionals stay aligned with a company’s messaging and goals.

Use this database to help build your pitch with useful information like product specs, unique selling points and benefits and tailor them to your buyer’s needs. Have questions or need ideas? Some team workspace tools, like iMeet® Central, have the ability to create discussions, so you can work collaboratively with your team members in the workspace, instead of flooding your inbox with email threads.

Smart calendar apps are designed to keep you organized. As a sales professional, your schedule is probably packed with meetings with prospects and clients. Use a smart calendar app, like PGi’s Agenday®, to ensure you’re never late for a pitch again. You can also log your calls straight into Salesforce from the Agenday app to streamline the sales process. You’ll be able to keep track of contacts, make notes about your conversation and record where the prospect is in the business process inside Salesforce.

Harness the benefits of technology and collaborate with your peers to create a better sales pitch by using these presentation tools. Want to learn more about the new era of sales and how you can continue to use technology to improve your sales process? Download PGi’s new free eBook, Join the Social Sales Revolution: Your Guide to the New Way to Sell.

Why Do You Need a Sales Acceleration Tool?

Sales quota — if that phrase raises your heartrate, makes your palms sweaty or makes you want to curl up in a ball under your desk, you’re not alone. Consistently meeting sales quota is one of the most stressful parts of a sales professional’s job, especially in lieu of today’s evolving sales landscape.

Luckily, sales teams now have sales acceleration technology available to shorten the sales cycle and sales productivity software to overcome today’s biggest challenges in the sales industry, like:

  • The Complex Buyer’s Journey: Today’s non-linear buying cycle doesn’t always fit the funnel defined by marketing and sales. Buyers independently research purchases and rely less on salespeople for information: browsing social media and websites, reading peer reviews, comparing vendors, analyzing ROI on their own, etc. Purchases now involve more decision makers, too. On average, salespeople now need to engage 5.4 decision makers in B2B purchasing decisions, according to the Harvard Business Review. Because of the increased touchpoints and buyers involved, sales cycles often last longer. About 53 percent of B2B buyers responded that their buying cycle had increased from last year, according to 2015 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report from Demand Gen Report.
  • The Rise of Social Selling: To meet buyers where they now are—online—sales must rely on social selling, also known as inside sales. This strategy allows sales teams to reach more prospects and build better relationships, while eliminating travel and cold calling, but it presents new challenges: building authentic relationships online, standing out from the noise and maintaining momentum. It requires sales to constantly create and personalize compelling content and to put in more legwork monitoring and tracking content effectiveness.
  • The Scientific Approach to Sales: Data-driven business is the future of every line of business, including sales. Every salesperson needs insights to take a more scientific approach to sales and quit spending time on dead-end leads. To maintain a competitive advantage, sales teams can’t afford to ignore the latest data and technology while competitors use them to identify optimal response times, what’s working and which leads are the most promising.

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With sales productivity software, you can yield powerful and data-driven insights to become more effective at converting prospects to customers, while automating processes in your social selling strategy. This way, you will have more time to close bigger deals.

You can create more engaging, personalized and effective sales messaging (leveraging existing marketing material) and create a better feedback loop with marketing on what’s working. Also, you can reach multiple prospects at once, set up real-time email notifications and improve lead tracking. Utilizing a sales productivity software that integrates with your CRM software means you can spend less time entering data.

Combined with ways to shorten the sales cycle, sales acceleration technology ultimately increases your company’s revenue.

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What is a Sales Acceleration Tool?

As a sales person you know that standing out from the competition is one of the top elements to continuing success. Instead of traditional cold calling, email chains and constant follow up with prospects, you can stand out from your competition and impress your prospects by using a sales acceleration tool like PGi’s iMeet® Narrate.

This tool is designed specifically for sales professionals to improve their ability to generate top of the funnel prospects and move them quickly through the sales process all the way to close.

With PGi’s sales acceleration tool, you can not only facilitate closing deals faster, but you can also gain knowledge about your prospects and streamline your overall sales process through a few key features of the tool:

Video narrated presentations: In today’s world of vast information, videos have become king when it comes to disseminating information. In fact, according to an Implix email marketing survey, including a video in an introductory email increases click-through rates by 96%.

Instead of utilizing the traditional method of contacting a prospect through cold calling and a follow up email with a presentation about your products, stand out from your competitors by including a video narrated presentation.

By combining these two features you’ll be able to create engaging content that is more likely to lead to securing a sales meeting and building a relationship with your prospect. You’ll quickly learn who is interested and which prospects are more likely to close, saving you precious time during the sales process.

Distribute and track: With a sales acceleration tool, not only can you create compelling content, but you can also reach a wider audience and gain valuable insights about them. With iMeet® Narrate, you can distribute your presentation to multiple prospects at once, as well as track which prospects opened the presentation and how long they viewed it, cutting down on time used pursuing dead-end leads.

Through this robust feature, you can also drive greater engagement and collect valuable data through the use of polls and online forms within your presentation. Finally, distribution of your content is simple; with just a few clicks you can send your presentation to multiple prospects through email, social networks and embedded codes, giving your messages greater reach.

CRM and marketing application integration:  As a sales rep, building relationships is important, but as you meet tens and maybe hundreds of prospects, it can be hard to keep their contact information and where they are in the sales process up to date and accurate. That’s where a CRM tool, like Salesforce® steps in. But because many of these tools require a sales rep to manually update records, reps can fall into a rut of spending way too much time updating records and out-of-date forecasts.

A sales acceleration tool like iMeet® Narrate provides users with the ability to build relationships and close more deals efficiently by connecting directly to third party CRM applications. Whenever viewers watch your content, you’ll have them automatically added as leads in various CRM tools yours company uses, like Salesforce®.

Following up with a prospect? With iMeet® Narrate, you can meet in your very own iMeet® room and utilize video and audio conferencing capabilities to meet with the prospect virtually. From your iMeet room you’ll be able to instantly update contact and opportunity records and automatically send iMeet recordings to Salesforce® to review at any time—keeping you from spending too much time keying in data and allowing you to stay up to date with each prospect’s sales process.

You can leverage these tools to help sales teams streamline their sales process and helps sales managers understand how their team members are doing individually. As a manager, you can see your teams’ iMeet sales meeting recordings and summaries within Salesforce® so you can provide valuable feedback and coaching to sales reps who made need extra motivation. You can also create video messages for announcements and sales training.

Sales acceleration tools help create impactful, engaging and tailored content for sales reps who are having trouble standing out to prospects or securing meetings and building their pipeline. Through this type of a tool, reps and sales managers can work together to efficiently determine the best leads to pursue and close those deals faster.

If you’re ready to try a sales acceleration tool that will help your sales team accelerate your sales funnel, create engaging content and have better lead tracking, check out PGi’s newest tool, iMeet® Narrate or request a demo.

How to Encourage Collaboration Between Sales Teams

It might seem contradictory to encourage collaboration among some of the most competitive workers in your business, but research shows sales teams that collaborate together, win together. According to data in the PGi eBook, “Join the Social Sales Revolution,” world-class sales performers collaborate on large deals, account management and customer profiles at much higher rates than other sales professionals.

And the key to making teamwork happen in sales is collaboration technology. Collaboration tools like audio, web and video conferencing help some of the most dispersed sales teams and field offices connect and learn from their counterparts across the region and the world, no matter where they are.

The Benefits of Collaboration Tools for Sales
A lot is written about the importance of building sales alignment with marketing, but what about the importance of collaboration among sales teams themselves? That’s how modern sales teams are breaking ground on new ways of driving leads to closing.

Collaboration tools enable greater knowledge sharing in sales, which helps breathe new life into sales opportunities with roadblocks. It happens not only in formal virtual sales training programs but also now in regional meetings and peer-to-peer mentoring. For sales teams, who face pressure to adapt to constantly evolving buyers’ journeys, training and learning, investing in the right collaboration tools will help encourage everyone to take the initiative to find and share information.

Your leaders in social selling have invaluable insights on what works and what repels prospects on social media sites, and your veterans have years of experience to give newbies a kick in the right direction. Everyone has losses and successes for your sales organization to learn from, and you never know who might help you uncover a soft lead to close a major deal.

Plus, every sales rep knows that response time makes a huge impact on interactions with prospects. Without the technology to make ongoing, real-time collaboration possible, you miss out on the potential to make response times faster by rapidly crowd-sourcing ideas and expertise.

Getting Started
If your sales team’s technology has always consisted of tools for reporting and customer relationship management, you’re probably wondering, “Where do I even start looking for the right collaboration tools?”

The easiest way to ensure your sales reps have technology they’ll use with ease and frequency is looking for an all-in-one collaboration solution. By combining audio, web and video conferencing into one, user-friendly interface, sales reps have enough collaboration options to suit their unique communication styles and on-the-go workdays, without having to navigate multiple platforms.

Social Sales eBook Cover

Looking for more resources on collaboration for sales? After you download your free eBook, “Join the Social Sales Revolution,” to learn about the role of team collaboration in the new sales landscape, check out these blog posts to learn more about the importance of cross-functional collaboration for your sales team:

How to Build Stronger Relationships with Audio Conferencing

Beyond products and revenue, business will always be about people—without customers and fans or employees and partners, a company is nothing but a name and a logo. Whether you’re wooing new customers or improving teamwork, building relationships can be the difference between the success and failure of both your job and your company’s brand at large.

Relationship building no longer happens just face to face. It occurs over emails, tweets, webinars, instant messaging and other virtual forums that make it quick and convenient to do at a distance.

While these tools all have a place in connecting with the people powering your business, nothing beats the speed and human touch of a good, old-fashioned phone call. Don’t overlook audio conferencing as a tool to build stronger relationships.

Why You Still Need to Pick Up the Phone

Audio conferencing will improve your business relationships and ensure that they are long lasting ones.

  • Phone calls are quick. Every salesperson knows that the faster you respond to a lead, the better your chances are of turning them into a customer. That’s because prompt communication demonstrates your genuine interest in helping someone, and unlike email and social media, you don’t have to wait for the person on the other end to find your response when you call. So if you want to make someone feel like you really care, try audio conferencing instead of sending an email or waiting to find a time to meet.
  • Conference calls are convenient. Not everyone is always in a setting to turn on their webcam for an online meeting, but people are more likely to answer a phone call, no matter where they are. And even when someone joins an online meeting on the go, most people prefer a more reliable, higher quality audio connection over VoIP.
  • Audio conferencing is more personal. If you want to get to know your teammate or a sales prospect, it sounds much more authentic to go off your talking points when you’re on the phone rather than email. Getting to know someone on a more personal level and hearing each other’s voice helps you develop trust and rapport. Plus, everyone has different communication preferences and learning styles. For instance, some prospects may prefer talking with sales primarily over emails, but many people still prefer the personal, instant, human interaction of phone calls.
  • Conference calls offer richer feedback. Building relationships requires you to not only reach out often but also to listen and learn about the other person, and conference calls help you do that better than text-based tools. Knowing how someone says something, not just what they say, tells more about what they’re thinking and feeling. Hearing pauses, sarcasm, laughter or a grave tone reveals hesitancy, anger, joy or concern, and you wouldn’t be able to pick up those insights just by reading a response. As a plus, audio conferencing captures all of that deeper data in a recording so you can go back and further analyze and archive your conversation, too.
  • Calling gets you in the door. How many times have you ignored an email? While most people are bombarded with emails, updates and messages, phone calls and voice mails don’t typically arrive by the hundreds every day. People will be much more likely to engage with you and remember you if you call.

If you want to accelerate relationship building and improve the quality of your relationships with customers, teammates, vendors or partners, audio conferencing should be part of your communication strategy.

Even if you’ve moved on from in-person meetings to video conferencing, having an all-in-one conferencing solution that includes crystal clear audio will ensure you stay in touch even when you don’t have the time for a formal online meeting or aren’t in the place to turn on video.

Learn more about the benefits of audio conferencing and all-in-one collaboration solutions for sales professionals and marketing teams today.

Featured Image Source: Unsplash

Ask the Experts with SiriusDecisions: 4 Pillars of Building Sales & Marketing Alignment

Companies that have aligned sales and marketing teams achieve up to 19% faster growth and 15% higher profitability.*

Marketing and Sales are often on opposing teams when they should be on the same team – in lock step on increasing revenue and driving new business.

Although it can be challenging, aligning the marketing and sales teams is essential for meeting and exceeding pipeline and revenue goals. So how can you improve collaboration between these two teams and create alignment to drive results?

Watch this Q&A session with Sirius Decisions and PGi to learn:

  • 4 pillars of building Sales and Marketing alignment
  • Best Practices for developing shared definitions and processes
  • Key metrics that marketing and sales should be sharing
  • Tools for better collaboration

Get the answers to the questions you always wanted to ask from the Experts!

*Source: 2015 B2B Buyer Benchmark Study by SiriusDecisions.

This on-demand webinar presented by:

Jason Hekl, SiriusDecisions

Jason Hekl is a seasoned b-to-b sales and marketing leader with more than 20 years of experience at companies large and small, specializing on the development and execution of demand creation strategies to accelerate growth. His responsibilities have spanned most facets of marketing, including strategy and planning, operations, demand generation, communications, product marketing and management, inbound marketing, analyst and media relations, channel marketing, partner management and lead development. Prior to joining SiriusDecisions, Jason was vice president of marketing at Coupa Software. Under his leadership, Coupa grew 100 percent year-over-year and went from a virtual unknown to recognition as an innovative challenger to industry leaders. Before joining Coupa, Jason served as vice president of corporate marketing at InQuira, and was responsible for all corporate marketing initiatives. During his tenure, revenues grew nearly 10-fold and the marketing organization won one of the original Markies (for Best Lead Scoring). Jason holds an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a BA in international relations and economics from the University of Delaware.

Cheryl Hanley, Director of Demand Generation at PGi

With more than 15 years’ marketing experience, Cheryl Hanley is passionate about developing B2B marketing strategies that result in the ultimate goal – revenue.  Her expertise is in creating marketing and sales alignment, launching integrated programs, and driving demand through content, events, social, search, web, and lead nurture and scoring programs. As Director of Demand Generation at PGi, a leading global provider of innovative collaboration solutions, she has led the way in building the company’s demand generation engine and infrastructure. In addition, she’s created messaging to enable the PGi sales organization to deliver the Challenger Sale methodology. Prior to PGi, Cheryl was responsible for new customer acquisition for Sage Software’s small business accounting unit. In addition to her corporate experience, she has worked at a number of agencies, including running her own agency for seven years serving the software, technology, financial services, and utility industries.  Cheryl lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her husband and they enjoy traveling, cooking, and biking.

How to Create a Virtual Sales Training Program

Keeping your sales team up-to-date on the latest tools and techniques is no longer a complex task thanks to virtual sales training software. By using virtual meetings to train your sales team, you can experience all the interaction of face-to-face training without the inconvenience and expenses of in-person training events.

Sales training software like PGi’s GlobalMeet® gives you the full, immersive experience of meeting face to face. Attendees get to not only see the presenter’s face but also streaming videos, shared documents, poll results and group chats.

Moving training online means you save time and money on travel to get your sales pros in the field to a central location.

Since travel’s not required, your team’s sales productivity stays up and downtime down. In fact, virtual sales training lets sales pros on the move join right from their mobile device. And on top of it all, the recording feature gives you much more bang for your buck because you can reuse trainings by sharing the on-demand link.

Get Started: 5 Steps to Virtual Sales Training

  1. Establish your objectives. What do you want your virtual sales training program to accomplish? What new skill do you need your sales team to learn? What behaviors or attitudes do you want them to adjust? Establishing this first will help you better develop everything else, from your platform to your cadence.
  2. Commit to a cadence. Determine whether you need a one-time, comprehensive training for new hires or ongoing, monthly workshops to reinforce sales culture, align sales and marketing or introduce new strategies.
  3. Choose a platform. If you’re hoping to create a more intimate, interactive session with small groups at a time, consider sales training software like GlobalMeet for up to 125 participants. If you want to roll out new marketing campaigns all at once or hold bigger events for up to 325 people, consider a tool like GlobalMeet Webinar. Both web conferencing products offer easy setup and access, superior audio quality and engaging presentation features.
  4. Collect resources. Before you start creating your sales training presentation, collect everything you’ll need to design valuable slides, effective quizzes and impactful leave-behinds. Win-loss customer stories, white papers from marketing, sales enablement messaging and industry stats will pack lots of juicy resources to educate your sales team.
  5. Decide how to measure success. If a sales training program doesn’t accomplish the objectives you established, it’s a waste of time. Plan ahead how you’ll measure the ROI of your efforts. For example, pre- and post-training assessments are simple ways to measure knowledge transfer or changes in attitude, and you can use built-in polling and survey features in GlobalMeet to conduct them.

Sales is no longer a one-man show. It takes a team to engage today’s buyers. Find out how to train your sales team to embrace the radical new way to sell on social by downloading PGi’s free, new eBook, Join the Social Sales Revolution.

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What is Social Selling?

Social selling is more than just a buzzword – it’s a part of the new era of sales. Simply put, social selling is leveraging social media platforms and your professional brand to engage and build relationships with the right prospects.

So how can you or your team make sure they’re properly representing themselves on social media?  Here’s how to build a social selling strategy that will establish a social savvy sales team:

Create a professional brand
Eighty-one percent of buyers are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand according to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey. Your company may already have a recognizable and professional brand, but what about your individual sales reps?

Building a strong, professional brand online strengthens credibility and can often shape a prospective buyer’s first impression of your company. Through platforms like LinkedIn, ensure your team is presenting the right image with complete profiles and compelling, customer-centric messaging. Once these essentials are complete, your team can focus on utilizing the benefits of social media to generate results.

Find the right people
A great advantage of social selling is that it takes away the guesswork and time required to find the right prospect. Sales reps can now utilize social media platforms to filter prospect searches using various parameters such as title, role and industry to find the right decision makers and influential leaders in their own networks or in their extended networks.

Using tools like LinkedIn’s Advanced Search, the search for qualified potential prospects and connections becomes much easier. Examining a prospect’s profile can show mutual connections and commonalities that the sales rep and the buyer share. All of this information can help a rep qualify a potential connection as a prospect or as someone who can connect them with the right buyer.

Engage with insights
Establishing relevance and delivering value has become the core of sales. Reaching out to the right people at the right time with valuable insight and relevant content can open up various communication channels for sales reps.

By following a prospect through their posts, statuses, shares and news updates, a sales rep can gain insight on where they are in the business cycle. Through this information you and your team can use personalized messaging tools to connect in a timely, relevant and useful manner.

Build strong relationships
Social selling makes it easier for reps to provide ongoing value that builds better relationships. With the wealth of real-time information that social media networks provide, sales professionals have the opportunity to build credibility by providing valuable insight before, during and after the decision making process.

By using a prospect’s profile as a resource, reps can share their perspectives and views on relevant information, including common pain points in the industry. Sparking a genuine conversation before concentrating on the sales process can further the strength and value of relationship with the prospect.

Due to the competitive nature of sales, your sales professionals will always be on the hunt for new practices to help them gain an edge over the competition. In today’s business climate, that means relying on new technology and strategies to become more effective in bringing in new business.

Now you have an understanding of the importance of social selling and technology in today’s sales process, stay ahead of the curve and learn more about the ever-evolving sales process by downloading PGi’s free eBook, Join the Social Sales Revolution: Your Guide to The New Way to Sell.

Join the Social Sales Revolution

Social selling continues to be more than just a buzzword, and PGi's free eBook, Join the Social Sales Revolution, shows you just how to sell your way through the new sales landscape. Learn how to connect with the right prospects online, leverage CRM, become a thought leader, adopt a culture of teamwork and earn trust in the new world order: social selling.

How to Personalize Your Online Meeting Space

Being able to customize your online meeting space gives your meeting attendees a unique way to identify with you and your company, and ensures them they’ve “made it to the right place”. Clients and customers will feel a deeper connection with your organization through the personalization, instead of logging into a plain, dull corporate meeting room.

Through unique URLs, bio descriptions, photos and more, you can easily create an online meeting space that assures a more personal environment and engaging experience for your customers and clients.

You can personalize your online meeting space by modifying the following:

URL: Creating a custom, persistent URL for your online meeting space is both helpful for you, the host, and for your meeting participants. Hosting a meeting to showcase a product to a prospect or working with colleagues on a project? Customize your URL with the company name, product or project name before sending the link in your meeting invitation.

This will assure your participants they’re entering the right meeting. It also keeps things simple for you, as you can quickly launch a meeting and have attendees join via a simple URL—ideal for those spur of the moment meetings.

Background: With PGi’s iMeet®, there are a host of preloaded animated backgrounds or themes that you can chose before your online meeting starts. From cities to landscapes, these animated backgrounds allow you to tell a story about yourself and your personality without ever saying a word.

Some meeting tools even offer full branding and customization, allowing you to put your brand forward as part of every online meeting you host. You can customize a theme according to your corporate design or create a background with your prospect or client’s logo, giving your meeting a competitive advantage.

Bio: Filling out your bio is a great way to let your participants know a little bit about you, and can even serve as an icebreaker before your meeting starts. In your bio description, consider highlighting your hobbies, passions, where you grew up or even a motto you live by. Bio descriptions are a way to give some insight to your personal life, spark a conversation and put participants at ease before your meeting begins.

Photo: Finally, having a photo of yourself gives participants the opportunity to put a face with a name. Depending on who you are meeting with, this photo could be a professional headshot, a picture of you and your family or even your favorite team’s sports logo.

Regardless of your meeting’s agenda, following this guide to personalizing your online meeting space will ensure a comfortable meeting experience for you and your participants. If you’re ready to take advantage of an online meeting tool that allows you to customize your meeting space, try PGi’s iMeet, free for 30 days.

Entering Into the Mind of the Executive IT Buyer

Executive IT buyers respond to certain sales techniques better than others.

This webcast is designed for sales leaders, sales directors, sales managers and salespeople who are looking for the “inside scoop” on how to penetrate the executive office of an IT leader. You will hear from our panel of IT executives on what techniques work and which do not when trying to sell to the C-suite. Other topics include:

  • Emails, voicemails and social media…oh my! What’s working, what’s not working.
  • Penetrating their office to get that first appointment.
  • Characteristics of a good salesperson versus a not-so-effective salesperson.
  • Use of virtual meetings compared to other types of meetings.

Register now for the iMeetLive for Sales webcast to hear valuable insights from the nation’s leading IT executives.

This on-demand webinar presented by:

Randall N. Spratt, Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer (Retired) at McKesson Corporation

As CTO, Spratt guides the overall technology direction for the company’s healthcare technology products, and provide support and guidance for application development processes companywide. As CIO, Spratt is responsible for all technology initiatives within the Corporation. Spratt has been with McKesson for more than 18 years, most recently as chief process officer for McKesson Provider Technologies (MPT), the company’s medical software and services division based in Alpharetta, Georgia. He also managed MPT’s Business Development, Information Technology, and Strategic Planning offices, as well as MPT’s Technology Services business.

Jill Von Berg, CIO and VP of IT at Calix, Inc.

Von Berg has been Vice President, CIO at Calix, Inc for the past four years and is responsible for all enterprise IT initiatives.

Prior leadership roles: Technology leadership positions in global high-tech corporations across the US and in Europe, including McKesson, Hewlett Packard, the ABB Group and General Electric.

Gina Tomlinson, Chief of Technology at Sphere 3D Corporation

Tomlinson leads the IT business systems strategy and execution for the Technology Solutions segment within the corporate U.S., and international locations. Tomlinson defines the IT vision and strategy to enable business growth that allow for rapid business acquisition integration and innovative product development.

Prior leadership roles: Chief Technology Officer for the City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) and Chief Information Officer for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

John Perkins, Vice President Global IT at PGi

As VP of Global IT PMO, Perkins has spearheaded an adaptive leadership philosophy for the IT organization. Perkins drives business transformation throughout his organization by applying agile project management processes, with the ultimate goal of helping the business grow, compete and mature around best practices.

Prior leadership roles: Senior Project Manager for Macy’s, Senior Manager, Information Systems for Intercall

Mario Martinez, Jr.

Formerly, a RVP of ECS Sales for PGi, Martinez was responsible for managing all acquisition sales activities & customer satisfaction within the Enterprise, Public Sector and SMB segments in the West.  He has managed small and large sales teams and revenues of up to $300M.  In addition, he is a Speaker and Social Selling expert teaching, training & motivating sales leaders and teams how to take their skills to the next level.

How is Web Conferencing Used for Sales?

The role of the sales professional is constantly evolving in the face of changing consumer demands, changing products, services and business models and, of course, changing technology. The ways that sales professionals can reach out to new prospects, nurture existing relationships and close more deals have all been impacted by technology – and communication and collaboration tools like web conferencing software are both at the forefront of these changes.

The cold call is long dead – in fact, over 90% of CEOs never respond to cold calls. And consumers are more educated than ever before. According to Forrester Research, the average buyer has completed between 60 and 90% of the decision-making process before engaging sales.

It’s up to you – the sales professional – to learn how to leverage the latest collaboration technology. Web conferencing solutions can provide big advantages over traditional prospecting and follow-up methods, and give you the edge you need to close deals over your competition.

Video Closes Distance, Builds Rapport
It’s important for sales professionals to get in front of their prospects early and often in order to establish rapport and become memorable in the mind of the buyer. Audio calls alone don’t generate the same kind of personal, engaging experience that in-person meetings do, however in-person meetings can be expensive and time-consuming.

By meeting your prospects and existing customers online over high-definition video, you can reap all the benefits of in-person meetings right without ever leaving your desk or home office. Online meetings also let you meet more often; rather than having to fight schedules for a long lunch meeting, you and your prospect can hop into an online meeting for a quick ten minutes follow-up. You get to stay top-of-mind without inconveniencing (and ultimately annoying) your customers.

Get Your Well-Crafted Collateral and Decks in Front of More Prospects
One of the best weapons in today’s sales arsenal is a well-crafted piece of collateral. Your marketing or sales enablement organization invests heavily in creating the most impactful, up-to-date pieces of content for you to wow prospects with, but if you’re having audio-only sales calls, they never get to see your documents.

Web conferencing tools offer the ability to share files, your desktop or even an individual application, letting your pitch deck shine in all of its well-designed glory. And, best of all, you can stay on video while presenting, continuing to generate those engaging personal impressions while sharing valuable stats and product information.

Focus on the Conversation, Not the Technology
On the subject of impressions, you only get one chance to make your first. Once you’ve committed to meeting with prospects online, you have to ensure a seamless, painless experience for your guests; otherwise, all they’ll remember you for is being the salesperson with the technical difficulties. In fact, in a recent PGi webinar, over 40% of respondents cited “Having to download software to enter the meeting” as their biggest frustration with online meetings.

Web conferencing software can be a cumbersome, confusing experience if you choose the wrong tool, particularly for guests trying to enter your meeting. Be sure to pick a tool that doesn’t require guest downloads, offers easy one-click audio and web connections and provides options for mobile entry. It’s important that you remove all barriers and confusing interfaces so that you and your prospect can focus on the conversation, not dealing with the technology.

Web conferencing is just one of the many new tech tools in the sales arsenal. By learning to use it effectively, you can meet more effectively, meet more often and close more deals.

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