Category Archives: Sales Strategy

4 Ways to Use Your Local Community to Scale Your Business

Creativity and hungry ambition run through the veins of Colorado’s capital city. Nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, it’s easy to get lost daydreaming while gazing westward out the window of any downtown Denver high-rise, filled with a sense of purpose and inspiration. But our geography isn’t the only thing separating The Mile High City – as we proudly tout from 5,280 feet above sea level – from other emerging startup hubs.

Named as the most active city for startups between the coasts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2016, strong networks, stretching across business, philanthropy, politics and academia are why Denver has matured and cultivated fertile grounds for young companies to grow.

 What began with a group of committed leaders driving iconic local industries — from energy to telecommunications to aerospace — has grown into a veritable mecca for burgeoning startups. Tightly bonded networks transcend superficial business card swap meets at happy hour. Creating a network, and the ability to activate it takes time and intention. Ask any collection of Colorado founders and small business supporters and you will detect a thread of state pride and a strong identity. That understanding of mutual success, or destruction, is rooted deep in our ethos. A sense of community, of connection and faith in others is what has helped Denver rise.

Here’s how to tap into the local magic:

1. Seek mentors

The most important professional contact you can make is a strong mentor. Mentors serve as an individual’s board of directors, providing guidance through challenges and offering wisdom from the long road. Effective mentors offer advice, while great mentors listen and teach us to trust our instincts and find the path that best fits.

Developing such supportive relationships takes time. It’s not one and done, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Building a cadre of people willing to shape your success is challenging but worthwhile and is critical to understanding any business landscape. Oh, and in case this wasn’t implied, when mentors offer wisdom … listen!

2. Discover community

Denver Startup Week began with a few friends chatting over beers about how to leverage and celebrate the city’s budding startup scene. Now, startup centric festivities happen all over the world. Out of those events, new ideas, connections and concepts for companies materialize every year. At the least, such gatherings consistently lead to new friendships. Given the opportunity, likeminded folks will gravitate toward each other and seek opportunities to connect. At the outset, major conferences can appear intimidating and chaotic but building a few close relationships can prove defining and a future source of productivity and inspiration.

3. Create value

Care about a cause? Get involved. Denver houses a community that judges success not by a title or earning potential, but by what you give back. There is never an easy time to take up a cause, and always plenty of reasonable excuses. Work, friends, family and kids will always be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean that right now isn’t the perfect time to take up a cause that you care about. Apply yourself, add value to a noble effort and you will find good people looking to have a positive impact. It adds to the richness of your life, in the short term and long haul.

4. Give freely

This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. Your time is valuable but so is everyone else’s. Those people who helped you? The mentors who invested their time? When it comes to building your own legacy, think long and hard about the impact you are having on the community. Building relationships takes time, and creating friendships with people at every stage of your career is the most valuable thing you will ever carry in life. Giving your time will consistently produce intangible rewards.

original article:www.entrepreneur.com

5 Tips on Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur-Tactics That Can Help Your Business Grow

Being a successful entrepreneur means that you often blaze your own trial, having no career guides, counsellors or maps that will guide you from one step to another making it up as you continue to go. There are a lot many opportunities available for entrepreneurs in order to create and make money from their business ideas. With such great opportunities, entrepreneurs easily make mistakes, mistakes that are made by others before them.

Love What You Do:

The road to success to any dream is the most difficult one. It’s a lot easier if you are passionate about your business purpose. If you don’t love what you do it’s really hard to be successful. This in turn helps you stay positive maintaining your optimism and once that’s gone it’s done.

Getting others to do the work for you:

Just like every successful entrepreneur on earth will make use of his/ her skills to get their goals accomplished, in the same way you could hire a virtual assistant in order to check things off your to-do list. So if you need to establish your brand or just improve your current website hire best developers and designers who will have help you get the best out of it.

Obtain The Gold:

Success is what defines an entrepreneur. You can never call yourself an entrepreneur if your business turns out to fail. It is said and believed that success breeds more success. In short, the more you try and accomplish through entrepreneurship, the more you begin to learn. As our surroundings are going through rapid transformation then you must also adapt to the change in order to get gold.

Outlining what exactly it takes to reach your goal:

As an entrepreneur, you need to define ideas that will help you in making the business successful. It’s only you who can control and know how to deal with it.  You will have ideas that will help your business go successful but it’s only when you experiment you know what works and what does not. Building your success stories requires you to first define what works.

Creating a delightful customer experience:

Several components come together in order to create a delightful customer experience, and everyone in the company needs to know their own role in gaining and retaining their customers. It’s a mission that everyone understands and knows how they will fit into the brand and what brings the value delivering a greater customer experience.

Quickly learning from the mistakes of others:

Mistakes are considered to be inevitable and the key is to learn from them fast. You can save some valuable time from re-inventing the wheel if you research properly on what others in the similar field did and the problems they failed. You have the advantage of knowing where they went wrong and save valuable resources in trying that. Pick from where they left off.

To conclude, it’s obvious that we as individuals will not be experts at everything.  So work hard in order to know and find out which are the most misleading things the entrepreneurs try and do on their own leading to issues for them and their organization.

original article:www.entrepreneur.com

How Sales Leaders Can Use Call-Recordings to Masterfully Coach Their Sales Reps

Diligently tracking a variety of different sales metrics has become a necessity for any business that hopes to achieve consistent results. It is such an important component of the contemporary B2B organization’s sales strategy that the data software industry has exploded in recent years, producing hundreds of products that promise innovative, efficient ways to collect and analyze every bit of information from the sales process.

However, there are still some details that you just can’t glean from an analysis of the hard numbers, and that’s where the importance of the sales-call recording comes into play.

Recording your reps’ sales calls and using the results to inform coaching andtraining sessions can yield new insights into your team’s performance and your sales strategy as a whole. While many managers are reluctant to utilize call-recording for fear that it will alienate their employees, most reps understand that the initiative is designed to help them  succeed.

They’ll welcome constructive feedback that is meant to empower them and help them achieve greater goals. Here are the necessary steps.

First, understand the legal and ethical issues.

Before instituting sales-call recording as part of your strategy, think about the legal and ethical implications involved. The legality of recording conversations can be tricky, because each state has its own specific rules regarding consent. In general, federal law allows for call-recording as long as one party gives consent.

Many laypeople tend to conflate call-recording with wiretapping. That’s incorrect. Wiretapping usually involves an unidentified party eavesdropping on and recording the conversation, and is usually categorized differently, legally speaking. So consulting with a local legal expert concerning your state’s requirements is a safeguard.

Even if your salespeople don’t have to legally inform their prospects that a call is being recorded, ethically it is “good form” to do so. Many experts recommendasking for that permission in the context of the salesperson’s giving his or her full attention to the conversation rather than taking copious notes. Most customers will be appreciative of a sales rep who wants to focus on their interaction.

Next, locate and correct listening gaps.

Many people automatically think they are great listeners, although an examination of the evidence may prove otherwise. Active listening is one of the most important skills for sales professionals to master, and prospects are typically adept at knowing when a salesperson is proceeding with his or her own preconceived agenda rather than remaining intently engaged in the conversation.

It can be hard to teach the fundamentals of active listening without real-world examples to fall back on, so a recording demonstrating where your sales reps are lacking in this regard will be extremely beneficial.

Then, build a foundation for a solid training program.

Plenty of generic sales-training programs feature video or audio of dramatized sales calls, in order to teach new reps the fundamentals of the process. Why rely on non-specific examples when you have a library of real-world experiences you can use to demonstrate both the best and worst ways to handle a client interaction?

These calls will provide new sales reps with relevant information about your specific company and customers, so they can immediately get a sense of the common hurdles they face when speaking with prospects.

Over time, curate a resource center for best practices

Sales-call recordings make for great instructional tools for new sales reps, but that does not mean that established employees cannot also gain new insights from listening to them well after their initial training has been completed.

Consider maintaining an evolving collection of your most instructive call recordings, and give your reps access to them for whenever they come up against an issue they are unfamiliar with. It is wise to develop an intuitive system for labeling and categorization so that reps can quickly find an example that fits their situation.

Finally, strengthen the connection between sales and marketing.

Conversations between your salespeople and prospects will often let you know if a disconnect exists in the lead-qualification process. If you repeatedly find your salespeople coming up empty-handed even using the techniques that should set them up for success, you may be able to use customer information from these calls to enhance the marketing experience.

Marketing will then be in a better position to identify the leads that will put your reps on the fast track.

original article:http://www.foxnews.com

How To Nurture Your Leads To Increase Conversion?

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A wise man once said, the best way to sell your services is by teaching or educating your customers. Educating and nurturing your leads is the most important part of the sales process.
The hard part in sales is acquiring a genuine lead. The harder part is to convert that lead into a relationship. In this article, we are going to explore some ways to nurture a lead.
Begin with an Audit
Don’t just look at the traffic numbers you’re getting on your landing page. Focus on the number of people who are actually in the conversion category. A leaky sales funnel indicates that you’re not nurturing your leads well enough. Compare your numbers to industry averages to see if you are doing as well as you should.
Lead nurturing is about getting those leads over the final hurdle. Monitor your leads and see how close they are to the conversion stage.
Craft Content Aimed at Your Perfect Customer
Everything is content driven these days. Sometimes, leads are not from the same segment. So marketers try to create different leads for different segments, which won’t work. Instead segment your lists into different groups.
If you can’t do that, then think about who your perfect customer is and craft content exclusively for them. This is true lead nurturing because you’re only focusing on the leads that are most likely to convert. Stop trying to please everyone. It will make your content far more effective.
Get More Value From Existing Clients
The easiest people to sell are your existing customers. If they’ve bought from you before, they are likely to buy from you again.
One brand that does this well is SBS Zipper. They regularly publish great content on their blog to attract new leads, but they also leverage their existing relationships. Often, they only send a single email and they’re doing business with some of their previous customers all over again.
But to take full advantage of this trick, you need to create a database, keep it warm, and regularly purge it.
Place close attention to your social presence
With millennials making up the bulk of the workforce, by far, the chances are most of your audience is accessible via social media. Brands are expected to be available 24/7. Without social media and a lot of content marketing you’re going to have a hard time educating your target market on the merits and benefits of your products.
Create a regular stream of content aimed at educating potential buyers on exactly what your company can do for them. Talk in the language of your market. For example, if you are in the b2b segment, you need to be talking about how your solution saves them money or increases their income.
Focus on the Needs of the Decision Maker
The decision maker is the person you need to be nurturing. But in some cases you could be dealing with multiple decision makers, and you might not be talking directly to the decision maker at the start of the relationship. So focus your content on swaying the decision maker.
Conclusion
Nurturing leads is more than just creating content. It’s about constantly paying attention to the problems of your target market, and consistently providing solutions to those problems.

original article:www.foxnews.com

5 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE STARTING YOUR BUSINESS

Starting a new business is no small undertaking. There are many factors to be considered, and it is important to do your research and prepare yourself as much as possible, with some 80 percent of new businesses failing within the first couple of years.

Building a business is a daunting task — from originally creating the idea, then planning and validating that idea to fund raising, staffing and achieving profitability. There are many pitfalls in the journey that could easily completely destroy your business.

There are thousands of books out there to help educate new entrepreneurs about what they’re getting into, so I wanted to review five books that I think will help any entrepreneur succeed with their start up:

1. The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup, by Noam Wasserman


The book is based on Wasserman’s research at Princeton. He did a masterful job of studying founders from many industries and detailing their experiences, good, bad and ugly. The book is captivating because it uses real identifiable examples, like Twitter and other recognizable companies. It is a must read for anyone who wants to start their own company.

This book focuses on helping entrepreneurs take proactive steps to keep them from making mistakes that, though common, can have a hugely negative impact on their business. It familiarizes new entrepreneurs with business structure and helps them to better understand all that goes into making a things run smoothly. This is a great book for teaching you how to appropriately manage your business and all that comes with it.

2. Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Reis


One of the biggest struggles you will face in building your own business is managing cash flow. You know the old saying, “Cash is king.” I don’t think that anyone can go far enough to explain the importance of cash flow management to a new business owner. Lean Startup is a book designed to serve as your guide through the many changes that a startup brings. It will teach you how to effectively manage your budget, allowing you the freedom to innovate and make your way in the business world. If you want your business to thrive, you’ve got to have precise, effective budget-management.

3. Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull


This one is a classic for a reason. Peter Principle is an amazing book for helping founders to understand when they reach the “point of incompetence” and how to recruit great people to help you. Why do things go wrong? I think it’s safe to say that every business owner has asked this question at some point. In this book, the question is answered by addressing the issue of incompetence in the work force today. You will learn the importance of staffing and how it can make or break your business.

4. Disney Way: Harnessing the Management Secrets of Disney in Your Company, by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson


Over the years, I have realized the importance of building a fun, warm culture into your business. The world’s reigning master of business culture creation is Walt Disney. In Disney Way, the authors do a better job then any other book on Disney to articulate how he thought and what actions led to the creation of the most culturally rich company In the world. This book details how Walt Disney’s mantra of “dream, believe, dare, do” has helped to transform businesses all across the globe. In it, you’ll learn how you can create the most productive, effective and positive environment for your employees and your customers. By adopting the Disney way, you can play a part in transforming our culture, and can impact your industry for the better.

5. Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry, by Marc Benioff and Carlye Adler


Behind the Cloud just jumped onto my five-best-books-to-read list. Chris Brady, an Inc Magazine Top 50 leadership expert, suggested I read the book, and I am so thankful. It is the story of salesforce.com and how Benioff and team built a world-caliber company before the term “In the Cloud” existed. Since it’s beginning, salesforce.com has been a leader in innovation. This book details the company’s unhindered journey to success, exemplifying how you can use the unique qualities of your business to generate massive revenue. This book is a great resource for making your business stand out in any circumstance.

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, or a first-time business owner, you should never stop looking for ways to make your business better. Examine your strengths and weaknesses and find the areas you wish to grow in. Perhaps you want to learn how to budget better, or maybe you want to strengthen your business structure. Whichever aspect of your business you wish to improve in, there is a book out there to help you do it.

original article:www.foxnews.com

5 Tips for Turnarounds That Unleash Your Company’s Unmet Potential

Every year, thousands of promising companies across the globe find themselves at a turning point. It could be that revenue targets aren’t being reached, the business model is no longer viable or long-term sustainability is called into question. Management might get tough calls from investors, face increasing momentum from competitors or realize their products are no longer meeting the changing needs of consumers. Whatever challenges they face, it’s clear that something needs to change. While it’s easy to panic, this turning point doesn’t have to end in failure. Businesses can turn themselves around.

Whether the company has existed for decades or is just starting out, the next steps you take as a leader are crucial. The research you conduct, the strategy you devise and the decisions you make next could determine whether and how, the company gets back on track.

1. Do your research.

This may seem obvious, but the most important first step you can take is to carefully and thoughtfully assess your business. Take time to sift through the data: look at the financials and review the numbers to evaluate where the company stands. Go a step further and talk to industry experts, partners and consumers. Check out your competition to see what they’re doing successfully and what they could improve and draw lessons from companies that you admire in other industries. Takeaways from them can be just as valuable as the ones you gather from competitors within your industry. Finally, consult with your staff and board to get a handle on what’s working and what’s not. This process can reveal a brand’s unmet potential that’s waiting to be unlocked.

When I first left Clorox to become CEO of natural skincare company, Yes To, I knew I had come across a winning brand that wasn’t fulfilling its promise. By conducting the appropriate due diligence, repositioning the company and finding our target audience, we took an unprofitable business and catapulted it to the number two ranking in the natural personal care category. In fact, we quadrupled its business revenue in just five years and increased the valuation of the company by five times. The work wasn’t easy, but by doing the right research, but we were to lay the groundwork for long-term success.

2. Create a plan.

Don’t be discouraged if your research points to the need for significant changes. Owning up to your company’s shortcomings is essential for a successful turnaround. The best way to move forward is to tackle your biggest weaknesses by devising a strategy that addresses those challenges head-on.

Consider the team an integral part of the turnaround plan and be transparent about where the company stands and where it’s headed. Once your team and your investors are aligned with the overall strategy, they will feel empowered to own the plan and play an integral role in its execution.

Don’t be afraid to make tough decisions, though. While your staff may have great ideas, it’s essential to stay focused, consider your resources and only move forward with the ones that fit within your overall strategy. If an idea is proposed that could steer the plan off track, don’t hesitate to say no.

3. Focus on innovation.

In order to set your company apart from the competition and stay up-to-date on the latest consumer trends and habits, innovation is essential. Companies that pivot and adapt to fit the needs of consumers, deliver their products more efficiently and effectively and get ahead of major trends will always win out in the end.

Consider innovation in everything you do, not just product creation. By cultivating an entrepreneurial culture that welcomes new ideas and calculated risks, regardless of the size or history of your business, employees will be encouraged to innovate at every level of the company.

4. Build the right team to execute effectively.

Once your strategy is developed and finalized, make sure you have the right talent in place to bring it to life. That is central to a successful turnaround. Without the right team to execute it aggressively and effectively, a great strategy is meaningless.

Rely on that team to translate the plan from paper to action. It’ll require focus and determination, but the right strategy executed in the right way will make a difference. After all, it doesn’t make sense to develop a thoughtful strategy if you aren’t diligent about implementing it.

5. Recognize achievements, celebrate progress.

Most importantly, be a cheerleader. By being transparent about how the business is performing and celebrating successes, no matter how big or small, you’re sending an important message that you’re moving in the right direction. Confidence will grow and your team will feel more motivated and invested knowing that their hard work is paying off. Great leaders are great communicators: the team should know and be acknowledged when progress is being made.

In my first months as CEO of H2O+ Beauty, we celebrated the first artwork that was developed for our new packaging, the first month we hit our profit goal, the first new product that came off the line. Creating an environment where hard work is acknowledged and team members are valued will pay dividends.

Turnarounds are as much an art as they are a science, and it takes both courage and tenacity to make them successful. What’s important is to believe in yourself and your team. Have the confidence that you took the right steps to identify challenges and create a smart strategy. With the right team in place, you’ll be able to dive in and stage a comeback.

HOW TO BUILD TRUST ONLINE: 7 LITTLE WAYS TO CREATE A TRUSTWORTHY WEBSITE

When it comes to establishing trust, it doesn’t matter how compelling your calls-to-action are, how engaging your content is, or how quickly your pages load on mobile screens. If visitors to your site have any doubts about how trustworthy you are, they’ll bounce right out and never come back.

Especially in the B2B sector, where the customer journey is increasingly self-service and often involves several months of careful deliberation, trust is a deal-breaking prerequisite for any sort of relationship building process.

1) Use authentic images.

Horribly generic and formulaic stock photos are everywhere. While there’s nothing wrong with using carefully curated stock imagery in the right places, it’s much better to favor website visuals that look like they were actually taken of you and your team in real situations.

Stock photos can get expensive, too. To truly maximize your site’s visual authenticity, you may want to consider hiring a professional photographer to take photos of your staff, products, and office. This way, you still get quality that will display well on your website and work well for other content assets, but authenticity will shine through to your audience.

There are also some great free online libraries of stock photos out there. The images on offer here are generally not going to be as specific to your content concept as something original or purchased, but they’re certainly visually compelling and have plenty of distinctive flavor. Three especially useful sites in this regard:

Igor Ovsyannykov’s Fancy Crave. This resource boasts seven categorized archive sections and two new photo posts per day
Death to Stock. Check out this resources for themed monthly downloadable photo packs and “maker” movement ethos.
Unsplash. Look here for highly curated images that favor elegant still lives and serenely stark landscapes.

2) Provide social proof via testimonials.

Social proof plays a big role in creating trust. Reach out to your clients every time you complete a project and ask them to provide feedback for display on your website.

Whenever possible, include a photo of the person, which helps to drive home the authenticity to the testimonial. Here’s an example of a visually compelling testimonial from the homepage of Sisense, a leading business intelligence software provider.

3) Create helpful content resources.

No one likes a constant sales pitch, and most visitors won’t be anywhere near ready to buy the first time they visit your website, anyway.

Instead of content that screams, Buy these products now, because they’re the most awesome things ever!, aim to publish resources that show the benefit of your product or service, without overtly selling. Creating helpful content, designed to help solve audience problems and address their pain points, is critical when building trust.

Many of your prospects will be looking for the same information, so use your website to provide it to them. Use your blog to explore the issues that matter most to your buyer personas and to showcase interesting ways to use your solutions. Share case studies to demonstrate how your other clients and customers have benefited from your offering to solve their issues.

A particularly excellent example is BuzzSumo’s Knowledge Base, which features a “Use Cases” section, allowing the social media analysis platform’s audience to learn more about the app in the context of how they’re likely to actually benefit from it:

4) Provide social proof via media logos.

Earned media commands more trust than messages on paid or owned properties. Sure, we all know that in the age of “native advertising,” the lines between journalism and sponsored promotions have blurred, but there’s still a certain mystique in being able to say that The Washington Post, for example, has found your company noteworthy enough to mention it in an article.

Those “as seen on” montages of publisher logos that you see on many B2B websites are great for boosting confidence at a glance. Are you getting any decent press? Make sure your website visitors know about it.

5) Provide social proof via client and partner logos.

We’ve already touched on how important social proof is, but the opportunities here extend well beyond testimonials and media logos. You can also use client and partner logos to show who your allies are. People will recognize larger brands, but even unknowns can make an impression.

Knowing you’re good enough to work with those partners goes a long way in convincing someone you’re good enough to work with them, too.

6) Include microcopy that sets expectations intuitively.

Behind all mistrust is fear of the unknown. Make it abundantly clear to your site visitors what’s going to happen when they click on your site’s various tabs, CTA buttons, and links. And make sure your navigation labels are extremely intuitive.

Quick disclaimers and labels below buttons are useful, too. If a prospect chooses to opt in to your email list, how often should they expect to hear from you? Will you sell them out to a telemarketing agency, or will you keep their contact information under wraps?

When the experience of interfacing with your business matches what you say it’ll be — a button takes people where you said it would and you email them only as often as you pledged to, for example — people will allow themselves to trust what you have to say.

Below is a prime example of trust-amplifying, expectation-managing microcopy from the newsletter signup page of inbound marketing agency IMPACT Branding & Design.

7) Put the audience in the center of stories you tell.

When you write content, or have someone write your content for you, make sure to use the word “you.” It works as a placeholder for the reader’s name, which helps to disarm people and help them be more receptive to your message.

Research suggests that some people were more likely to marry someone with the same initials as them — that’s how powerful your name is. On the other hand, using a person’s name too much comes off as creepy, so you have to be careful with it. “You” places the reader in your content as if you are speaking directly to them and involving them, without the risks of using their name too much.

This principle extends well beyond word choice. Instead of turning people off by making your content all about your company and its solutions, publish stories of empowerment where the audience is the hero.

Business management platform WorkflowMax does this extremely well with their website messaging, which emphases the product’s benefits to the audience:

Avoid Tripping Those Trust Alarms

Build your website and other brand presences with these tips in mind, and you’ll have a leg up on building customer trust. By amping up on your company’s credibility, your visitors will feel safe engaging with you.

original article:www.foxnews.com

7 PRINCIPLES TO TURN YOUR CONFERENCE ROOM INTO A CLASSROOM

Scholars have long held that when we see ourselves learning and growing, it creates an increased sense of competence, which in turn provides a greater sense of meaning in our work. What a great gift to be able to provide for your team – an ecosystem that nurtures learning and growth.

But not all learning is created equal – at least not when it comes to how adults learn. Facilitating a meaning-rich environment of learning and growth in the workplace starts with being mindful of what adult learning principles have taught us about how adults learn. Follow these principles to turn your conference room into a classroom:

Draw on Their Experience and What They Know

When adults receive new information, they will compare and contrast that new information with what they know; this process of reconciliation helps them learn. You can help the adult worker draw similarities and differences between old and new experiences to help cement learning. Likewise, you can provide context on the bigger picture to further facilitate the connection to what the adult learner already knows.

Attend to Attention Spans

There is a known data point that says the adult mind can maintain rapt attention for about 20 minutes of time. In today’s fast paced digital reality, however, that span has plummeted to about 8 seconds. For any classroom or training program that relies on a speaker/audience approach, it is important to be mindful of this reality to maximize the power of the learning experience. Breaking up lectures or presentations with visuals, videos, audio, discussions and stories can substantially expand the mind’s ability to stay engaged. Great content and context can further expand attention spans.

Provide Opportunities for Immediate Practice

Adults want to put what they’ve learned to use, fast. Creating opportunities for adults to practice and play with what they’ve learned at work makes the learning stick and is more likely to create a feeling of increased competence.

Make Clear the Personal Relevance/Value of the Learning Opportunity

While children will most often simply accept the process of being taught, adults need to understand why they are engaged in a learning process and how it benefits them. This is especially true in a work environment, where many priorities press at the would-be learning adult each and every day.

Ensure Self-directed Learning

Adults want to be more self-directed and active in the learning process, whereas children are more passive in the process and dependent on an adult instructor to feed them the requisite learning. Adults don’t need or want a lot of supervision. For you, this means facilitating the learning process versus overdoing oversight of the process. Micromanaging the learning experience will drain the potential fulfillment and meaning to be derived.

Leverage Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

Adults view learning from mistakes as one of the most valuable, potent learning experiences of all. That is, as long as the fear of being reprimanded for those mistakes is completely absent from the potential learning environment.

Take Into Account Different Learning Styles

  1. Divergers learn by watching and thinking from differing perspectives.
  2. Accommodators are hands-on, relying on intuition rather than logic.
  3. Assimilators prefer a logical, precise approach to learning that includes explanations and logical theories.
  4. Convergers first think through a problem, and then use their learning to resolve that problem.
  5. You can create a learning and growth environment in your place of work. Just be mindful of the lesson plan outlined in this article and go ahead and open up those classes!

5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A PR AGENCY

PR agencies come in all shapes and sizes, and they don’t come cheap! It is definitely not a case of one size fits all when it comes to PR firms. So, finding the right PR firm to match your expectations, fit your culture and, most importantly, accomplish the PR objectives that will move your business forward, can be quite a task.

Many companies I have spoken with in my seven years since founding and leading my own PR firm have told me that they were burned or severely disappointed by one or multiple PR firms in the past. In an industry characterized by large retainer fees and less-than-scientific outcome measurement and subjectivity, be careful and cautious: Here are five things to look for when assessing which PR agency to hire:

1. A great track record

Everyone talks a good game, especially in PR! But to weed out the talkers from the doers,check out what sort of track record the firm has. To get a feel for its level of experience and ability to produce results, ask which companies it’s worked with and especially which case studies and sample work it can share with you.

If you are seeking media relations support, ask the PR firm for samples of clips it has secured in publications. If you are looking for speaking and award opportunities, request a list of conferences and awards the firm has successfully secured for clients. If social media assistance is your need, ask for several handles and case studies that point to results. A PR firm should also be able to provide you with references you can talk to.

2. A specialization in your industry

Finding a PR firm that specializes in your industry is key. If you are a tech startup looking to get into business and tech publications in order to woo investors and customers, then hiring an entertainment-focused PR firm probably doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, if you are a celebrity looking to appear on morning shows and tabloids, hiring a tech-focused PR firm simply won’t work.

Not only does specialization allow the firm to understand your offerings and ramp up more quickly, but equally importantly, it means that your account director and PR team will have relationships with reporters at the publications where you want to be featured.

3. Transparency

The PR industry gets a bad rap, and often deserves it, for not being transparent enough. Just as with any business transaction, customers should know what they are getting for their money. Consequently, you should ask PR firms you are speaking to about what you will receive, and not accept generalities if you’re not comfortable with them. A competent PR firm can and should be transparent.

4. A ‘results’ orientation

You should expect positive results relatively quickly. Results will not happen overnight, but if many months go by and the firm is making excuses week after week, and month after month, then it is probably time to move on. Some PR firms have three- or six-month discovery processes — which is absolutely absurd. You’re paying big bucks, so the firm you select should be able to start delivering in a matter of weeks, and continue to deliver, if it is any good.

5. Customer centricity

Don’t forget, the PR company works for you, not the other way round, so at the very least you should expect to be heard! Pay attention to how its reps treat you during the proposal process. If it’s “their way or the highway,” run to another firm. You want one that will be attentive to you and work to achieve your individualized objectives, not just manage your expectations and treat you as a cookie-cutter client.

A good PR company is worth its weight in gold, so it pays dividends to do your due diligence when it comes time to bring one on board.

original article:www.foxnews.com

How to Build Trust Online: 7 Little Ways to Create a Trustworthy Website

When it comes to establishing trust, it doesn’t matter how compelling your calls-to-action are, how engaging your content is, or how quickly your pages load on mobile screens. If visitors to your site have any doubts about how trustworthy you are, they’ll bounce right out and never come back.

Especially in the B2B sector, where the customer journey is increasingly self-service and often involves several months of careful deliberation, trust is a deal-breaking prerequisite for any sort of relationship building process.

1) Use authentic images.

Horribly generic and formulaic stock photos are everywhere. While there’s nothing wrong with using carefully curated stock imagery in the right places, it’s much better to favor website visuals that look like they were actually taken of you and your team in real situations.

Stock photos can get expensive, too. To truly maximize your site’s visual authenticity, you may want to consider hiring a professional photographer to take photos of your staff, products, and office. This way, you still get quality that will display well on your website and work well for other content assets, but authenticity will shine through to your audience.

There are also some great free online libraries of stock photos out there. The images on offer here are generally not going to be as specific to your content concept as something original or purchased, but they’re certainly visually compelling and have plenty of distinctive flavor. Three especially useful sites in this regard:

Igor Ovsyannykov’s Fancy Crave. This resource boasts seven categorized archive sections and two new photo posts per day
Death to Stock. Check out this resources for themed monthly downloadable photo packs and “maker” movement ethos.
Unsplash. Look here for highly curated images that favor elegant still lives and serenely stark landscapes.

2) Provide social proof via testimonials.

Social proof plays a big role in creating trust. Reach out to your clients every time you complete a project and ask them to provide feedback for display on your website.

Whenever possible, include a photo of the person, which helps to drive home the authenticity to the testimonial. Here’s an example of a visually compelling testimonial from the homepage of Sisense, a leading business intelligence software provider.

3) Create helpful content resources.

No one likes a constant sales pitch, and most visitors won’t be anywhere near ready to buy the first time they visit your website, anyway.

Instead of content that screams, Buy these products now, because they’re the most awesome things ever!, aim to publish resources that show the benefit of your product or service, without overtly selling. Creating helpful content, designed to help solve audience problems and address their pain points, is critical when building trust.

Many of your prospects will be looking for the same information, so use your website to provide it to them. Use your blog to explore the issues that matter most to your buyer personas and to showcase interesting ways to use your solutions. Share case studies to demonstrate how your other clients and customers have benefited from your offering to solve their issues.

A particularly excellent example is BuzzSumo’s Knowledge Base, which features a “Use Cases” section, allowing the social media analysis platform’s audience to learn more about the app in the context of how they’re likely to actually benefit from it:

4) Provide social proof via media logos.

Earned media commands more trust than messages on paid or owned properties. Sure, we all know that in the age of “native advertising,” the lines between journalism and sponsored promotions have blurred, but there’s still a certain mystique in being able to say that The Washington Post, for example, has found your company noteworthy enough to mention it in an article.

Those “as seen on” montages of publisher logos that you see on many B2B websites are great for boosting confidence at a glance. Are you getting any decent press? Make sure your website visitors know about it.

5) Provide social proof via client and partner logos.

We’ve already touched on how important social proof is, but the opportunities here extend well beyond testimonials and media logos. You can also use client and partner logos to show who your allies are. People will recognize larger brands, but even unknowns can make an impression.

Knowing you’re good enough to work with those partners goes a long way in convincing someone you’re good enough to work with them, too. 

6) Include microcopy that sets expectations intuitively.

Behind all mistrust is fear of the unknown. Make it abundantly clear to your site visitors what’s going to happen when they click on your site’s various tabs, CTA buttons, and links. And make sure your navigation labels are extremely intuitive.

Quick disclaimers and labels below buttons are useful, too. If a prospect chooses to opt in to your email list, how often should they expect to hear from you? Will you sell them out to a telemarketing agency, or will you keep their contact information under wraps?

When the experience of interfacing with your business matches what you say it’ll be — a button takes people where you said it would and you email them only as often as you pledged to, for example — people will allow themselves to trust what you have to say.

Below is a prime example of trust-amplifying, expectation-managing microcopy from the newsletter signup page of inbound marketing agency IMPACT Branding & Design.

7) Put the audience in the center of stories you tell.

When you write content, or have someone write your content for you, make sure to use the word “you.” It works as a placeholder for the reader’s name, which helps to disarm people and help them be more receptive to your message.

Research suggests that some people were more likely to marry someone with the same initials as them — that’s how powerful your name is. On the other hand, using a person’s name too much comes off as creepy, so you have to be careful with it. “You” places the reader in your content as if you are speaking directly to them and involving them, without the risks of using their name too much.

This principle extends well beyond word choice. Instead of turning people off by making your content all about your company and its solutions, publish stories of empowerment where the audience is the hero.

Business management platform WorkflowMax does this extremely well with their website messaging, which emphases the product’s benefits to the audience:

Avoid Tripping Those Trust Alarms

Build your website and other brand presences with these tips in mind, and you’ll have a leg up on building customer trust. By amping up on your company’s credibility, your visitors will feel safe engaging with you.