Junction’s Sales Automation Platform Can Streamline Your Sales Cycle

Sales automation is fast becoming a critical need in today’s hyper-competitive business environment. The process of managing sales efforts has long been fraught with challenges. Identifying premium sales targets, making a meaningful connection with the individuals who yield the most significant buying influence, presenting the pitch and closing the sale has always been a time-consuming process that routinely failed to produce optimum results.

Technology is providing a unique opportunity for companies to streamline and economize the sales process while increasing the quality and productivity of the overall sales and marketing effort. An integrated, customizable software platform, sales automation provides a set of tools designed to generate leads in target markets, track customer interactions and measure the success of the overall sales cycle. To achieve success, it’s critical to align all marketing and sales initiatives, whether traditional or digital, reaching target audiences where they are looking for information. “Junction Creative Solutions’ (Junction) Sales Automation Solution is a proprietary solution designed to automate sales prospecting utilizing social media platforms. Within the solution, we execute sales campaigns to view, visit, connect, and engage potential sales prospects with the intent on setting qualified meetings with these prospects,” says Julie Gareleck, Junction Founder and CEO.

Initiation to Junction’s Sales Automation process begins with a strategy workshop where key stakeholders meet to discuss: Mission, Vision, Goals, Stakeholder Insights, Target Audiences, Existing Sales Metrics and Initiatives, Performance History, Future Performance Metrics, Content, Milestones, Time Line, and Tactics. Junction’s experienced team will audit the client’s content inventory to identify critical opportunities and content gaps with the intent on developing additional content assets if needed to support sales automation efforts.

Customized databases, based on the requirements for each identified target audience, are utilized to design, develop and execute a singularly focused campaign. Based on the Content Audit, Junction will develop custom content for each stakeholder campaign in the Sales Automation Platform.

Junction conducts periodic testing prior to the launch of each campaign to insure accuracy and compliance to Junction’s strict quality standards and the client’s goals and objectives.  Inclusion of an optional, third-party application that syncs with the client’s calendar and allows prospects to schedule meetings directly with the client is available. Regularly scheduled meetings follow each engagement to review campaign performance and metrics.

“Since launching its Sales Automation Solution, Junction has worked with various companies across industry verticals to improve visibility in the professional marketplace, drive lead generation, and increase qualified business opportunities,” says Gareleck.

“As the sales and marketing landscape changes and consumer expectations evolve, it’s critical to remain ahead of trends,” concluded Gareleck. “Regardless of industry, Junction can provide a comprehensive set of automation solutions to improve and optimize a company’s sales and marketing efforts.”

For more information on how Junction is specifically suited to help optimize your sales and marketing processes, contact info@junction-creative.com or call 678.686.1125.

Leveraging Technology to Support Faith-Based Marketing

There was a time when people’s lives revolved largely around local community churches. Members attended regularly, gave faithfully, invited guests enthusiastically, and supported the church’s efforts however possible. The church provided a sense of community and valuable relationships. While there is still an innate need for community, modern lifestyles make it difficult for today’s faith-based organizations to meet it. Traditional marketing strategies that worked in the past are no longer relevant.

As technology dominates the business world, churches are recognizing the need to leverage it to support marketing initiatives and increase results. While this may seem daunting and out of reach for some churches, the starting point is as simple and familiar as the website.

Creating a dynamic church website designed to attract, energize, and mobilize people provides a natural pathway for building community,” says Julie Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner for Junction Creative Solutions. “The website is often the first impression a potential member will have with the organization.”

In order to reach new people, the content, both digital and written, must be dynamic and should target multiple audiences with messages written to speak to each of them. For example, a mother of an elementary school aged child will have different needs when looking for a new church than a teenager searching for a youth group. Social media integration extends outreach possibilities even further enabling people to not only follow a church, but also share recent posts across multiple platforms and devices. Tweetable quotes and links, and digital images can be placed on landing pages making it easy for people to share messages. Live streaming sermons allows people who can’t attend in person to experience the service by simply clicking a button or tab. Other beneficial digital solutions include videos of past messages and events, podcasts, and online Bible studies. Imagine the impact a mobilized congregation could have on an outreach or giving campaign simply by sharing information with people they know!

E-commerce technology has also made its way to faith-based organizations enabling the growth of giving options. Recent charitable giving statistics posted by NP Resource show that online giving growth has been consistent for the past five years and 49 percent of all church giving transactions are made with a credit card. Online credit card processing streamlines the process making it possible for people to give more and give remotely.

As with most non-profit groups, marketing decisions are made carefully with little room for trial and error. With new technology emerging daily, it can be overwhelming for churches to identify the best strategy for their efforts. “We developed a proven, collaborative approach that allows both state level and subsidiary organizations to optimize marketing spend while providing innovative digital solutions that will have an impact on its member base,” comments Gareleck.

If your organization is looking for innovative solutions to improve engagement, increase giving opportunities, and engage members, contact us to learn more about our packaged solution at info@junction-creative.com.

Face to Face Networking in a Digital World

Much has been experienced and touted about how technology has disrupted, in a positive way, the flow of information between marketers and customers. The impact digital media has had on the speed and ease of making connections has revolutionized the entire process of marketing. The “old school” social interactions once thought to be critical to forming loyal and extended relationships were lost to all the pervasive hyperbole over the advantages of high-tech anything. Fast, efficient and user friendly web based social networks have demonstrated how technology can truly revolutionize communal conversations.

Data from these digital networks can be quickly gathered, evaluated and utilized to enhance the understanding of the conversations and allows for quick and free flowing interactions. However, making personal, face to face group encounters are proving to be powerful, albeit, old school methods that can contribute to long lasting relationships that enhance long term growth and stability in an organization.

While entrepreneurs typically tend to take a path of independence, there are times that long term stability and growth require a strategy of building relationships over time that is essential to marketing your business. In a sometimes too familiar proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others.”

Networks are usually local in focus and may be traditional groups like the Chamber of Commerce or Business Networks International (BNI) that conduct regular seminars and events to promote comradery and unity in a common purpose. Others are locally formed independent groups with a common thread of business purpose. The goal is to develop a personal relationship of trust among members so they will refer business to one another. Results are not immediate and take practiced effort over extended periods of time but can produce significant opportunities for business growth.

To discover networks that will work best for your organization, reach out to other individuals in industries or organizations that are the same or are those that compliment your own. It can be beneficial to participate in more than one group. Be prepared to share your knowledge and expertise. It should be an environment where giving more gets you more. Focus on your reputation for knowledge, performance and commitment to deliver on your brands promise.  Invest as much time developing a referral strategy as you do to formulate your marketing strategy and utilize the social media and technology tools to reach out to new contacts and stay in touch with existing ones. Initiate and maintain referrals on social media platforms, emails and follow-up phone calls. Staying connected with existing members of the group will build an inventory of influence that can be harvested long term.

“It’s hard to say exactly what it is about face-to-face contact that makes deals happen, but whatever it is, it hasn’t yet been duplicated by technology.”- Paul Graham.

Technology Changes Coming for Popular eCommerce Platform

For nearly 25 years, buying and selling over the internet has revolutionized the retail industry. Ecommerce, in the early years, was largely limited to B2B transactions but has grown to threaten traditional brick and mortar retailing all across the industry spectrum. Today, almost everyone in the United States has made a purchase on the internet and 80 percent of consumers have made a purchase within the last 30 days. Once considered a novel, passing threat, online sales were positioned to surpass $2 trillion dollars by the end of 2017 as consumers continue to make eCommerce a way of life. Some reports predict eCommerce will reach $4 trillion dollars by the year 2020.

The explosion of online stores has been the result of the availability of digital platforms that are easy to develop, user friendly, economical to build and efficient to operate. One such platform, Magento, became very popular among small to modest sized internet retailers when it was first introduced.  Built and developed as a flexible platform that permitted users to create stores with a variety of functions, it featured pre-made extensions that made changes or modifications easier to implement.  Unfortunately, the focus on flexibility left many users wanting options when it came to performance optimization, mobile-responsiveness and expanded administrative capabilities. Technology advancements and the demand for higher performance and increased user-friendly options spawned Magento 2.0.

Introduced in 2015, Magento 2.0 promises to address many of the short comings of its previous version.  Compared to its predecessor 2.0 will run, on average, 20 percent faster resulting in more sales and increases in website search engine optimization. The checkout process is more streamlined allowing customers to navigate quicker through the purchase decision to checkout. Additional extensions and better administrative interface help reduce time spent managing the online store. With more and more consumers utilizing their mobile devices to complete their shopping, version 2.0 has an improved look and functionality on mobile devices. Most important, Magento 2.0 promises to grow its capabilities as the online store grows.

Change is never easy, and many online retailers are reluctant to migrate from their current version to a newer version of the platform. Fear of disrupting their online business is the most common concern among retailers considering an update, but costs of maintaining older versions can soon eat away at initial apprehensions. With immediate improvements in scalability, usability, security and better consumer experience, making the move sooner rather than later may prove to be the best option. In addition, Magento has announced that they will stop supporting the 1.9 version or below in November 2018.

What does this mean?  For those eTailers on previous versions, it will require a complete redesign and development of the website to the Magento 2.0 platform. It’s not a standard upgrade. “Clients are coming to us asking when they need to move to Magento 2.0,” commented Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction. “If a client doesn’t want to move to the latest platform, they run the risk of having issues that can’t be resolved. If the shopping cart breaks, there is no supported fix from Magento. We encourage our clients to begin planning for the migration so that they can continue to operate the business without interruption.”

The other important consideration for the migration to Magento 2.0 is selecting a responsible partner to assist with the migration. “We have been working with Magento 2.0 since it was released. We are now starting to see firms quote outrageous prices for this conversion as they take advantage of Magento’s platform upgrade. We’ve had many clients question why our pricing is more competitive than others.  Our experience in the industry over the last 2 decades and our Magento expertise enables us to provide our clients with pricing that reflects the work required to complete their goals and objectives.”

For more information on upgrading and how Junction Creative Solutions can help you navigate to a platform designed to enhance the growth and sustainability of your online store, contact info@junction-creative.com.

Super Bowl Advertising: What and Who Defines a Winner?

At the beginning of each year something unique occurs in the advertising world. In an era where viewers use the latest technology to block and avoid most commercials, even the most avoidant advertisement public turns in anticipation to the Super Bowl, not just for the football but for the game’s commercials. While the action on the field remains the most attractive aspect of Super Bowl Sunday, the commercial breaks enjoy an equal share of the game’s viewer attention and anticipation. With mega numbers of fans tuning into the big championship game, broadcasters command as much as $5 million dollars for a 30-second commercial time slot. Takers line up to eagerly pay the cost to entertain the fans and, hopefully, motivate them into buying their wares. Other major sporting events, such as March Madness, the World Series and the Olympics successfully gather together millions of watchers but the business of advertising for those events pales both in cost, creativity and participation in comparison to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

At the conclusion of each year’s game, while sportscasters recount the maneuvers, plays and players on the field, marketing and media pundits pour over the commercial line-up to determine which advertiser scored the most points with viewers. The competition is intense, and with the cost to play the ad game so high, failing to make a play effectively can relegate a company to bench-sitting status. What makes a successful Super Bowl commercial? Messages and approach vary widely among marketers and, while social and political slants are a regular staple, the content and purpose of the advertisement often takes a back seat to an entertainment element. Comedy generally garners the most appreciation from viewers followed by a generous emotional pulling of the heart strings. Characterizations, animation and pets tend to do very well, but dark, preachy social messaging can hit a sour note among the usually large diverse audience. So, who scored the most points and who received the most penalty yardage in 2018?

The answer is: It depends. The Dirty Dancing ad was wildly popular for its comedic entertainment but left many viewers asking, “What are they selling?” Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” spot was named most entertaining and best overall among marketing pros surveyed by Morning Consult for Ad Age’s first Super Bowl ranking, not just for its entertainment value but for brand effectiveness. For sci-fi fans, Sprint scored a touchdown for its “Evelyn” play call, and Budweiser got those among us who are suckers for an emotional play cheering for its “Stand by Me” performance on the field. Pringles advanced the variety of flavors ball for several first downs, and Danny DeVito’s portrayal of the Red M&M scored extra points. Pepsi, a long-time veteran of the Super Bowl advertising game, took fans down a Pepsi commercial memory lane, while Skittles turned the traditional Super Bowl advertising model in a whole different direction. At the final tick of the game clock, the chronology of the winners was to be determined by the various perceptions of the audience.

Ultimately, the winners in this advertising contest between the best teams in industry will be those who cross the finish line with increased sales, advanced brand recognition or a shinier corporate social reputation. Popularity and likability does not always translate into consumer action. If the intent is to motivate the fans in front of the video screens to make a purchase, studies show that Super Bowl ads, regardless of their cool factor, are very poor stimulators of consumer intent to purchase.

Past studies by Genesis Media have found that 90 percent of consumer game viewers do not buy products based on Super Bowl ads, and 75 percent fail to even remember the previous year’s game winning ads. Advertising Benchmark’s ABX copy test scores indicate the overall results for the 2017 Super Bowl commercials were nothing to brag about. In fact, using standard ad effectiveness criteria, last year’s ads were a disappointment, at best. Overall scores of the last 5 Super Bowls generally fall short of ad norms.

If generating a lasting effect was the Super Bowl advertisers‘ ultimate goal, the leader is Lexus, whose Super Bowl ad was a crossover with the forthcoming Marvel movie “Black Panther,” followed closely by Jeep. This according to ListenFirst Media, which calculated the change in the advertisers’ social media followings after the game, considering both the absolute gain and rise relative to the starting point.

Bowl game advertisers should note, the same $5 million dollar spend would have bought 576 million mobile impressions. Just saying.

Super Bowl Advertisement: Risk Versus Reward

With the price of a 30-second Super Bowl advertisement consistently on the rise, advertising for the Super Bowl has never been an easy decision for marketers. The decision has been complicated in recent years by the political and social protests that appear to have the NFL viewer interests showing a downward trend. Add the serious concern over players’ head injuries, the 2018 Super Bowl marketplace may not be the promising investment for advertisers that it once was. Considering that a 30-second ad costs upwards of $5 million for the 2018 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, the decision to spend potentially $10 million dollars for a Super Bowl campaign can be concerning to those charged with calculating the impact.

The falling ratings in NFL viewership this year can be traced, at least in part, to the League’s insistence on mixing political and social protest issues on the field of play. “ Average game viewership has fallen to 15 million this season, down from 16.5 million last year and the lowest since 2008, according to data compiled by RBC Capital Markets. Analyst Steven Cahall says, “The sustained decline is what worries investors about media’s willingness to offload the NFL’s monetization risk.”

The danger of insulting consumers isn’t limited to the team owners and league management. In the past, Bowl advertisers such as Nationwide, 84 Lumber, HomeAway and GoDaddy have been sharply criticized for  Super Bowl spots. A $5 million backfire can be particularly startling, even to a well-healed brand. The ultimate questions remains “is leaving a really good impression worth $166, 667 per second?”

A recent study, “Super Bowl Ads,” indicates that the value of Super Bowl ads can persist beyond the conclusion of the big game. The study, co-authored by Wesley Hartmann of Stanford University and Daniel Klapper of Humboldt University in Germany, shows that the benefits from Super Bowl ads actually persist beyond the game’s conclusion with increased sales during subsequent sporting events like the NCAA’s “March Madness,” NBA playoffs and MLB games. Further, the research finds that the gains in sales are much more substantial when the advertiser is the sole advertiser from its market category or niche in a particular event.

Klapper says, “As the exclusive beer advertiser in the Super Bowl for many years, Budweiser outperforms competitors for consumption during the Super Bowl. Our findings suggest that there may be value for advertisers to negotiate exclusive advertising rights within a category to generate greater long-term value and it may make sense for the telecaster to offer such exclusive rights at a higher price. However, even though Coke does not exhibit increased consumption during the week prior to the game despite years of advertising during it, Super Bowl ads do help sell Coke after the game, especially among sports fans.”

In addition, the study’s co-author added, “For some type of ads, there is a large social media multiplier by provoking interest and subsequent conversations on social media and mass media that could be independent of Super Bowl viewership. That is good news for advertisers as it suggests that our estimates are only a lower bound of the benefits of Super Bowl advertising.”

Regardless of the falling fortunes, Super Bowl LII is expected to draw more than 100 million viewers with 70 percent of the Nation’s televisions tuned to the event. Last year the game attracted 190.8 million social media interactions from Facebook and Twitter.

Check back after the Super Bowl to see which advertisements hit the mark!

Prepare to Take Advantage of Prevailing Trends in Marketing for 2018

At the beginning of each year, prognosticators and crystal ball enthusiasts practice the craft of forecasting coming trends in everything from the coming year’s sports champions to the price of all things necessary or extravagant. The field of marketing has its own bevy of practitioners providing perceived trends for the coming year.  Regardless of the direction taken to connect best with customers in 2018, the journey will be marked by continued advances in technology and shifting consumer acceptance and utilization of that technology.

Newspapers, magazines and other written media channels will continue to see significant erosion in influencing consumers in 2018. With the rapid advancement and consumer acceptance of digital communication technologies, hard copy collateral’s decline appears to be in a free-fall that will be difficult or improbable to stem.  The forecast for 2018 predicts another 6.8 percent decline for the embattled industry segment. However, the traditional print media are not the only marketing purveyors predicted to suffer set-back in the coming year.

As other social media outlets continue to experience growth in user base, Twitter was unable to advance the ball in 2017. Twitter sought to increase its number of users by increasing the popular 140-character limit to 280. It didn’t prove to be the key to differentiate itself among other social media leaders. Marketers are already using other social media platforms to connect with prospects in more than 140 characters. It is a trend of decline for Twitter that some predict will continue in 2018.

With more platforms incorporating big data capabilities within platform infrastructure, marketers will tap into the myriad of consumer data points in order to remain competitive. In addition, consumers are expected to continue embracing interfaces that require little or no physical inputs, such as the smart speaker.  People are interacting with these devices as part of their daily lives, using voice commands and listening to the results.  Thus, there is a substantial opportunity for marketers to communicate with them in a different way.

Additional marketing tactics predicted to be winners in 2018 include:

Influencer Marketing.  Influencer marketing is expected to remain a useful strategy. With nearly 95 percent of marketers touting it a successful strategy in 2017, brands are expected to continue utilizing influencers to connect with their customers through social media.

Apps.  The future of apps remains bright. A prediction for 2018 suggests strong growth in app utilization and capitalization.

Live Events.  Nearly 66 percent of marketers say that they will increase their participation in hosting live events in 2018. Live event hosting remains a reliable and highly effective marketing channel.

Social Media.  “Social media has undoubtedly become a critical platform for marketers,” said E.J. McGowan, vice president and managing director of Campaigner. According to a digital marketing forecast survey by Campaigner, 73 percent of digital marketers believe it was a top strategy in 2017. Using video to carry more of the message through social media is forecast to rise in the coming year. “In their easily digestible format, videos serve as an excellent way to convey a brand’s message in a creative and interactive way,” says E.J. McGowan. “As a result, social networks and other media have made it easier for individuals to consume and broadcast video. As video continues to grow at a prodigious pace, marketers must learn to adopt this disruptive technology or risk falling behind to competition.”

Augmented Reality.  Ground gains are anticipated in the utilization of augmented-reality (AR) content. As new devices like iPhone 8 and iPhone X populate and go mainstream, brands will begin to increase their exposure through AR-branded content.

In-Car Advertising.  As driverless cars begin to arrive on the roads of America in greater numbers, in-car advertising may be the new frontier in advertising.

The best marketers may be those who effectively blend multiple digital channels to engage with their customers. The trend in social media integration is to combine marketing strategies to impact a broader audience.  “The most crucial integration this year, however, is social media and email,” said McGowan. “When leveraged correctly, social media and email marketing can have a synergistic relationship for brands, with social media driving email subscriptions and emails bringing more followers to social channels. Marketers should coordinate the timing and content of posts and emails, and ensure congruent messages are being sent across all channels. Marketers can leverage these social networking sites in 2018 by crafting media campaigns that highlight the strengths of each site,” continued McGowan. “For instance, video may fare very well on Facebook; however, marketers should pivot back to text content when launching campaigns on LinkedIn.”

“While some industries have embraced the paradigm shift in how they reach, engage, and mobilize new customers, I predict that we will see even more attention and focus being placed on getting the marketing mix correct,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO& Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions. “The buzz word used to be ‘contextual’ but we reached that stage when consumers adopted smart devices.  ‘Relevance’ is going to be the buzz word for 2018.”

How are your strategies stacking up in the New Year!?

Hobart Mayfield Launches Ecommerce Store

Any fan of high school, college or professional football is well-aware of the concern many players, coaches and owners have about the rate of head and brain injuries suffered by players across all levels of the sport. Head injuries and concussions caused by contact sports are a growing epidemic, particularly among young athletes. If left unprotected, concussions can result in long-term brain damage and may even be fatal. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that concussions have doubled in the last 10 years and The American Academy of Pediatrics has revealed a two-fold increase of emergency room visits for concussions in kid’s ages 8 to 13 years old. Concussions have also risen 200 percent among teens ages 14 to 19 in the last decade.

As school athletic programs and league rules committees scramble for ways to mitigate these injuries, one innovative early stage company, Hobart Mayfield, is applying science to finding a better way for players to avoid serious head injuries. Their innovative solution is S. A. F. E. Clip, an energy absorbing connector located at connection points where the facemask attaches to the helmet. By absorbing forces of a direct impact on the face mask, S.A.F.E. Clip demonstrated a reduction in force of 24% and 28% for translational acceleration and rotational acceleration, respectively compared to the standard face mask clips.

Justin Summerville, the President and CEO of Hobart Mayfield, is an entrepreneur who follows Thomas Edison’s mantra, “there is a better way, find it.” And he and his team found a better way. They are partnering with schools to customize and fit student helmets with the impact absorbing clips. Justin says, “Because we believe that every athlete deserves the opportunity to succeed and be protected from unnecessary head injuries, we have spearheaded a program that will help provide our product to athletes all around the country.”

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) recently partnered with Hobart Mayfield to design and develop a new website to showcase the S.A.F.E. Clip and its many benefits to athletes of all ages.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the folks at Hobart Mayfield,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO, of Junction. “We are passionate about working with start-up companies who believe not just in the power of the technology, in this case the S. A.F.E. Clip, but also in their ability to generate a positive impact for players of all ages. We look forward to watching this company impact this industry in a big way!”

For more information on Hobary Mayfield, visit www.hobartmayfield.com.

Cost Management Group’s New Digital Presence

The Gartner Market Guide for Telecom Expense Management (TEM) Services in May 2017 reported a 45% increase in end-user enterprise enquiries concerning TEM since 2016. With IT costs rising, organizations need to more closely monitor and control the cost of technology. The report stated, “The continued growth and evolution of enterprise telecom services prompts many companies to evaluate TEM services for ongoing cost optimization and efficiencies, especially if they lack the internal resources to effectively optimize or have limited governance on telecom and IT procurement over a complex enterprise footprint.”

Being able to effectively scale solutions with the right balance of strength and agility, for enterprise-level organizations, mid-size businesses, and SMBs, is nothing new to Cost Management Group (CMG). Headquartered in Atlanta, GA since 1996, with additional offices in Virginia, North Carolina, Costa Rica and the Netherlands, CMG specializes in driving down the operating costs of its client companies by applying proprietary methods and tools, or those of its carefully chosen partners who possess a particular and uncommon expertise. CMG, as a leader in the industry, is committed to its vision, believes in its mission, and is driven by a set of core values.

When searching for a partner to assist in telling the CMG story, it was important to find an organization that shared a common set of core values and focus on quality, extraordinary attention to service and innovative solutions. Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) worked with the team at CMG to redesign its online experience that includes a wealth of content to engage prospective clients and partners.

Julie Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner, Junction, says, “As the marketing landscape changes and consumer expectations evolve, it’s critical to remain ahead of design trends whether it is a website or a comprehensive set of solutions to support sales and marketing. We are proud to expand on our creative portfolio by working with an organization like CMG.”

Did Trends Become Reality in 2017?

Just as the green leaves of summer begin to turn color and fall from the trees, predictors of the coming year’s trends offer their insights as to how the most successful, leading companies will achieve their sales objectives in the months ahead.  Last year, Forbes cited important trends in business for 2017.   As we quickly approach the end of 2017, we wanted to see how those trend predictions materialized this year.

Reality: Subject Matter Experts Become the New Rainmakers

Once upon a time there were three sales approaches. The order taker, who called to fill a customer’s needs, the pitchman who focused efforts on remunerating product or service features and benefits to bag and ring-up the sale and the consultative sales person, the subject matter expert (SME), who approached the sale by utilizing advanced business experience and knowledge to close a deal.  Today executive B2B leadership is looking for folks that can provide experience and valuable insights to move their businesses forward.  While the days of sales representatives calling on the C-Level to get a meeting still has its venues, the future of sales lies with the SME Rainmakers.

In Process: Crowdfunding Validates New Products

The prediction that crowdfunding would replace venture capitalist (VC) in 2017, while gaining on more traditional sources of financing, appears to be encountering the learning curve.  Indiegogo CEO, David Mandelbrot says, “We’ve very focused on educating both entrepreneurs and backers of those campaigns. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s also very new.”  Early analysis of crowd funding indicates a growing popularity among real estate investors and those entrepreneurs seeking to secure asset-backed loans from accredited investors and for supplementary capital for ventures that have been successful in raising funds from traditional VCs.  While crowdfunding has become popular with start-up entrepreneurs, it doesn’t necessarily validate the success of a new product.

Reality: Sales & Content Marketing Fully Integrated

“More than just a buzzword, content marketing has become one of the most powerful tools for attracting targeted customers, building loyalty, and driving profitability,” says Veronica Stoddart, the principal of VS Content Strategies. “If done right and properly integrated within a brand, content marketing will benefit a cross-section of departments, including marketing, sales, public relations, and even customer relations.” The predictor’s crystal ball clearly scored on this one.   The emergence of this digital economy, content has become a clear driver in the sales process.

Reality: Video Becomes Essential 

The combined top three social media networks, Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube are producing 22 billion video views every day. Marketers can no longer ignore video. Video is becoming the method in which to distribute content that will resonate with a broad base of audiences.

In Process: New Collaboration Rethinking Email

Despite all the new emerging digital marketing tools, email remains a persistent survivor. While popular tools like Slack are becoming more common in the workplace, email remains to be an important communication tool.

Reality: Brick and Mortar Loses Retail Stores

We have experienced major retailers closing stores and retooling location strategy in response to consumers’ increase use of online sellers.  Those retail companies that understand the importance of customer experience will continue to excel. Brick and mortar retailers must find ways to be relevant to its customers and continue to evolve the in-store experience.

Reality: Subject Matter Experts Get Sales Support

With the push for content, thought leadership, and marketing tools, organizations are embracing a new way to structure sales and marketing departments. Silos have existed between the two.  In today’s fast-paced digital environment, integration is critical.  Subject matter experts bring knowledge and expertise that can inform sales opportunities.

In Process: Narrow Segments Capture Attention

Understanding your customer segment is critical in communicating a marketing/sales message. However, spreading the message too thin isn’t being effective. “It’s less about narrowing the focus of segments but rather focusing on those segments that are actively making purchase decisions.  The overall effectiveness of this strategy will improve, says Julie Gareleck, Founder and CEO Junction Creative Solutions.” 

In Process: Recurring Revenue

Companies will continue to shift from single, up-front payments for products to recurring revenue for a service.  In B2B and B2C, the goal is to engage a customer on a regular basis, with an ongoing need for goods or services.

Gareleck comments, “This is always going to be a conversation about value.  I don’t see the entire marketplace moving to retainer relationships as a portion of businesses are still looking for the cheapest option available or the most cost effective.”

In Process: Millennials Groomed for Leadership

Ian Altman, a B2B Integrity-based sales and growth expert predicted, “Just like past generations, millennials will emerge as the next set of managers and executives. Top performing companies will work to magnify their strengths and build systems to compensate for their perceived deficiencies.”

Organizations often lack the middle-management layer that trained young leadership to rise and grow within the organization. While Millennials are going to become 50% of the work-force in the next few years, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are prepared for leadership roles.

It’s clear that there is accuracy with trends and predictions.  Some of these areas are evolving while others have reached mass adoption. It will be interested to see what forecasters predict for 2018!