By Guillaume Delloue, Director of Marketing at Vsnap
As any athlete will tell you, competitions breeds excellence. It’s only when the best practitioners compete against each other that records get broken and standards are elevated.
A similar phenomenon happens in highly competitive economies — it’s during those times that merely good companies are separated from the truly great. And according to the latest research from sales performance experts Miller Heiman, the gap between the two is steadily growing,
Called “World-Class Sales Organizations”, these companies are the cream of the crop, outperforming their peers by an average of 20% in key sales performance metrics. So why are they thriving when everyone else seems to be struggling?
It’s not a one-word answer, but according to Miller Heiman’s latest research, it has much to do with how companies manage and communicate with customers. Their 2013 report “The Growing Gap Between Good and Great” (you can download the executive summary here) identifies a distinct set of behaviors top sales organizations have in common, including:
Having a formal value proposition that’s compelling to potential customers
Aligning sales and marketing in what customers want/need
Clearly understanding customers’ issues before offering a solution
Consistently reviewing the results of the solution with strategic accounts
Spending sufficient time each week talking with customers
Taken together, these attributes form the foundation of a customer-first culture that’s becoming increasingly necessary to stay competitive in today’s economy. Miller Heiman are hardly the only ones to believe this either — just listen to Microsoft’s head of Business Solutions, who recently called on businesses to adopt a customer-centric view if they wished to remain relevant. Yet the sad truth is that most companies continue to underperform in that department.
One possible solution may be the promise of technology. Used correctly it has the potential to foster more meaningful relationships with customers while also measuring the success of such efforts (especially important for larger companies). And given the enormous sums companies spent in 2013 on those emerging sales technologies (at an average of over $2,000 per person), the future may be right around the corner.
What do you think? Will the tech revolution engender a sea change in how we engage customers or will it further alienate us from their true needs? Let us know in the comments!
By Dave McLaughlin, CEO & Co-Founder of Vsnap
Yesterday was a great day because Bill Harris joined Vsnap as our VP of Sales. Bill has been serving as an advisor for me on sales for over a year now, and it’s just fantastic to have him on the team full-time.
Vsnap’s clients are in Sales and Support. They’re customer-facing, and they need easy, measurable tools to make sure those customers feel cared for. Bill’s mission is to help them understand how to use one-to-one video messages to bring warmth into the customer interaction – and measurably grow business.
If you read our blog regularly, you know we have a set of six simple beliefs that guide everything we do. One of them says: “Only help. Never just add noise.” That mandate is essential to our vision of customer engagement. Only help. That’s what you get from Trish Fontanilla and from me. And that’s what you can expect from Bill.
By way of background, Bill has helped lead sales teams at several great companies, most recently at NetProspex and OneSource. If you want to reach Bill, you can email (or vsnap him) at email@example.com.
And while we’re talking hiring, we are about to post a new position for another full-stack developer. If you want to solve hard problems as part of our quest to bring the human layer back into business, we want to hear from you. You can find me on Twitter (@davemacboston) or you can email me.
Editor’s note: We were just so excited about Bill joining the team, we started eating the pie (key lime) before we took the picture.
By Trish Fontanilla, VP of Community & Customer Experience at Vsnap
Last week, over 800 events took place in Bangalore, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Lagos, Milan, New York, and Tokyo for Social Media Week. More than 25,000 people attended SMW and hundreds of thousands of people streamed online and connected with their mobile apps. I was one of the many social media fans that flocked to NYC to attend events at the Highline Stage and AOL. Here are a few of the common themes I saw throughout the week:
Stop focusing on content length, start focusing on value and how your content is being consumed.
More and more, we’re typing in 140 characters, but that doesn’t mean all of our communication needs to fit into a text message. Editor-in-chief at The Atlantic James Bennet, emphasized during the panel “Is Social Killing Storytelling”, that as human beings, we’ll always want long-form pieces. He believes (and I do too) that we all have a basic need to deeply understand the world around us. But, you have to be a great storyteller and provide value if you want to keep your audience’s attention. Content that’s overly salesy or even bland is what drives customers away, not the length.
Once you’ve pulled together a great piece, you need to think of what your customers are ready to experience and when. Are they reading your blog on their phone during an hour long morning commute? Glancing at your newsletter between meetings during the day? Or looking at your website on their tablet during TV commercial breaks at night? And speaking of phones and tablets, Mashable CMO, Stacy Martinent, shared that 45% of their traffic comes from mobile. On top of that, 2013 was the year that mobile met desktop/laptop usage for social networking. You really can’t afford to have a site that isn’t mobile-friendly!
PS - Don’t forget, advice without measurement doesn’t mean much. See what works for you and your audience.
The center of every great business is community.
I can’t really write a blog post without mentioning community or “being human”, can I? The best SMW panel that paid tribute to both was, "Build a Brand that People Don’t Buy, they Join" with panelists from Zady, Naked Wines, and charity: water. While those companies all have a “social impact” slant, they’ve all worked to build amazing brands as well. Just like customers won’t read a piece that doesn’t provide value, they also don’t want to associate with a company or community that doesn’t speak to them like human beings.
Paul Young from charity: water talked about how important it is to map out the community experience. How are you inspiring people to use your product? What are you doing to make your customers feel connected? Make your community a part of your story.
You should also empower them to be evangelists with a clear story they can share. Let them know the valuable role that they play, and don’t forget to say thank you. By the way, I love how much “thank you” was emphasized during SMW. Via letters, tweets, or videos, the power of thank you goes a long way.
Social video = more sales.
If you’re a Vsnapper already, you probably believe in the power of video. And a big topic for SMW was around shareable video (I refuse to call it viral). While there are differences between one to one video (where Vsnap falls) and social video, I think a lot of the insights work both ways. One of the sessions I went to was Unruly’s, “7 Key Insights To an Always-On Video Strategy”, which focused on their measurement for social video success (share rate equals the number of shares divided by the number of views - droppin’ science).
According to a McKinsey study, shared video increases purchase intent by up to 50X via word of mouth. But why do people share videos? 2 reasons: There’s a psychological aspect - inspire emotion (more on that below) and people will share. Also with social video, you have to consider social motivation. This is what Unruly refers to when measuring videos:
Some of the other research findings shared by Unruly COO Sarah Wood were:
- Make videos emotional - 65% of viral videos using exhilaration have brand recollection, followed by hilarity at 51%.
- Be positive, and your video is 30% more likely to be shared.
- Think beyond babies and cats - this is really just a callback to number 1.
- Be true to your brand.
- Take the time you need to tell the story - They actually found no correlation between shareability and runtime. Another reminder that good content is everything!
- Don’t over invest in content and under invest in distribution - A video that’s seen by few cannot be shared by many.
- Reach light buyers outside owned channels to increase market share.
Whew, and that was just a few of the things I learned in NYC! For more on Social Media Week, check out the hashtag #SMW14 for tweets from all over the world.
By Guillaume Delloue, Director of Marketing at Vsnap
As the “front page of the internet” Reddit draws millions of visitors each day thanks to the unique content shared by its many passionate users. It’s a bustling community with opinions on just about every topic. So I plucked my courage and plumbed its depths to see what redditors had to say about customer service. I’m not going to lie, a lot of it wasn’t appropriate, but there were some genuine insights too.
Get to Know Your Customers’ Habits
After calling to report a lost credit card, a Discover customer was advised by the phone rep to first check the space between his car’s seat and the center console. Skeptical, he put the phone down and headed into his garage, only to find his card between the seat and the center console. Wizardry? Hardly — that’s a just case of really understanding your customers and using that knowledge to help them in very practical ways.
Takeaway: Create data-supported reports about your customers’ background, lifestyle and habits and share them with your team members.
Encourage Employees to WOW Customers
Here’s an awesome idea that every company should consider: give trusted employees the ability to spend an allowance on delighting customers. In this particular case the owner of Mail Boxes Etc. would permit his workers to spend $20, every day, to make customers happy. He felt that the benefits of making customers feel special far outweighed the costs. Although this specific example may not be appropriate for your company, it’s a system every organization could benefit from.
Takeaway: Come up with a simple way to empower your employees to make a difference in the lives of customers. For inspiration, check out our recent interview with Ruby Receptionists — they have an amazing system in place.
Don’t Underestimate The Value of Support
After two bank tellers and a manager couldn’t help a customer in need, the bad experience led him to immediately switch to an online bank. If customers feel neglected because no one’s taking the time to speak with them, they’ll take their business elsewhere, even if they like the product. That’s how vital support is to your business. Brand loyalty, once a reliable way to keep customers coming back, isn’t as powerful as it used to be. And with services like 24/7 support and online chat, digital platforms can now offer just as good support as physical locations.
Key Takeaway: In a crowded marketplace where great products abound, support has become a key differentiator. So offer the best support you can afford—it will pay off in the long run.