Posts tagged Dave blogs

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Next Gen Customer Communication Tools From IT Expo

By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap

I went to Las Vegas last week for ITExpo – “The Business Technology Event” – and learned about some really valuable communication tools that keep upping the functionality and ease of use for customer-focused business users. I enjoyed the conversations with these guys, and thought I’d share some quick details.

Zoom

Zoom is better video conferencing and online screensharing. Here’s a detailed list of features that will appeal to different users, from people that have satellite teams to those who run online meetings. My favorite aspect of Zoom is the ability to share your screen from your mobile device, even in-app. Screensharing is getting more important all the time, and making it easier and richer and more device-agnostic feels really smart. Zoom should definitely be featured in our free “Tools & Tactics to Close More SQLs” eBook – we’ll add them to future resource lists on this topic. Also, they have an awesome freemium plan.

RingDNA

They’ve organized the briar patch of inbound and outbound calling for sales teams with incredible value-adds in how calls get routed and queued up based on specific rules that sales leaders can define. For example, if you have a rep that is awesome at closing opportunities around a certain line of business, you can make sure those calls go to her.

I love the way RingDNA lets you play to the strengths of your team. It really rewards introspective leaders, letting you transform that self-analysis into productive actions that build your bottom line.

UberConference

They’re making conference calls better. That means no PINs to join the call, and no ambiguity about who’s on the call or who’s speaking. Social data gets pulled up on the fly, so you can sneak a peek at the LinkedIn profile of that new guy Harold in Minneapolis that you never heard of before the call. UberConference also lets you share screens and documents, so you don’t need to pair it with another tool like WebEx.

Business Texter

This product lets consumers text businesses and receive automated responses based on rules that the business sets up. Makes sense to me that consumers want to text businesses to gather information, and that some information can be automated for really easy access. Haven’t played with this but it’s always a good idea to let consumers access information in their preferred format.

Vsnap

For people reading this post who don’t know Vsnap, we make video messaging easy for sales people who don’t have face time with their buyer. An individual video message is the most efficient way to establish trust with the buyer, and our clients are increasing their close rate by as much as 34%.

I represented Vsnap on a panel called “Killer Tools for Customer Acquisition”, along with the RingDNA CEO Howard Brown and Business Texter CEO Aaron Rollins, which was moderated by telecom guru and business strategy savant Larry Lisser.

The big takeaway for me is that there is more specificity to communication tools than ever before. Business users should look to bolt together different products to get the full functionality their specific challenges demand.

Because today’s customer is more empowered than at any time in the history of commerce, and you simply cannot expect to win by doing the same old stuff in terms of engagement, collaboration and sales.

For more IT Expo coverage, check out Peter Radizeski’s blog On Rad’s Radar.

Filed under dave blogs ITExpo ITExpo2014 business apps video tools communication tools

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Revised Release Date For Vsnap 2.0

By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap

We’ve decided to delay releasing our new product until October, to give ourselves extra time for testing and refinements on some of the key features. This is a completely rebuilt platform, both front and back ends. We’re really excited about how this product simplifies the process of creating vsnaps, making it easier for sales reps to send short video messages that build trust with their buyers. We’re also super excited about how the new product puts us on a path to iterate more rapidly than ever before. The coming year is going to be super exciting! 

Current users will be moved into free trials (no credit card info will be taken), as outlined in earlier communications. That will just happen in October rather than on September 1. If you have any questions, please let us know. 

Finally, this is a reminder that we are doing away with free Vsnap accounts. If you already know that you do not want a free trial or will not be moving into a paid account, we want to remind you to log in now to download the vsnaps you’ve created if you want to keep them. 

Filed under dave blogs vsnap

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Thank You, Trish Fontanilla

by Dave McLaughlin, CEO of Vsnap

This post is a thank you to Trish Fontanilla, our Vice President of Community and Customer Experience. She will be moving on from Vsnap next month, and we’re really going to miss her energy and passion, which are truly extraordinary. 

Trish has not decided yet what is next for her, but my guess is she will be creating and nurturing online and offline communities at some awesome, values-based company, helping them nurture conversations and inspire amazing customer evangelism. 

But then again she might just decide to solve global warming or some other big, gnarly problem instead. Whatever she does, she’s going to be outstanding, and if anyone needs a reference, please get in touch with me at dave at vsnap.com. Set aside some time for that call though, because the list of Trish’s Awesomeness is longer than you can imagine. 

At Vsnap, we’ve refined our focus through a series of iterations, as most startups do, and now we are about to launch a new product that is very targeted to people in sales. Given that focus, we have less of a call to invest in the kind of broader community efforts that we’ve been engaged in, and that Trish has been so great at leading. 

An example of this is the Customer Love series, which we started three years ago to bring together a cross-section of businesspeople who believe that making customers feel loved is the fastest and most enduring path to growth. We’ve held an annual Customer Love Summit on Valentine’s Day each year, and we’ve put together semi-regular meetups on this theme both in Boston and New York. It’s been fun and valuable, but given our refined business focus, the Customer Love movement is a little too broad for us to really invest in growing. 

I bring up Customer Love as an example, but it also brings me back to Trish. In our conversations, she talked about how important that community is to her — and we agreed that she should own the Customer Love brand after she leaves Vsnap. So I’m happy to share that she will continue to convene that conversation, and I hope that Vsnap can continue to be involved as a participant. 

I know people will be curious about our immediate hiring plans at Vsnap. The truth is I haven’t decided on that quite yet. I want to be very specific in terms of who we’re looking for, and I need to take a little time to do that. 

Trish was the first person I hired at Vsnap. She started as our Community Manager, and she just kept taking on more and more responsibility. Honestly, I never could’ve anticipated how influential she would be in our company. She’s just so good, and her voice has so much power, and her name carries so much cred. I’m deeply grateful to her. 

If you know Trish, I hope you’ll reach out and congratulate her on her many, many accomplishments here at Vsnap. And if you don’t know Trish, I encourage you tweet at her and say hello. She’ll change your life. 

Filed under dave blogs trish fontanilla vsnap

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Thrive in Q4: Event Recap & Invitation

By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap

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Yesterday, Mike Sadeghpour (LinkedIn, Twitter) led a discussion at Vsnap about understanding the role of emotion in sales, both for buyers and for sellers. The participants were from sales teams at a range of companies, from startups on the rise to a multi-billion dollar business with a thousand-plus reps.

A bit of background on Mike. He began exploring the mental and emotional aspects of high performance in the context of competitive sports. He won the NCAA hockey championship at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, then stayed at RPI as a member of the coaching staff. At the same time, he earned his Masters in Performance Psychology.

After school, Mike entered the sales realm, and over the years he has sold everything, from class rings to competitive research. And he’s held every role, from individual contributor to VP, SVP and EVP. Today, Mike is a sought-after speaker, mentor and coach through his consulting practice, edgeThink (www.whatisyouredge.com).

Yesterday’s conversation was called “Thrive in Q4” and it was framed around what sales leaders can do right now to impact 2014 revenues. We covered too much to recap, so here are just two big ideas I think are worth highlighting.

Q4 Pressure Vectors
Mike deconstructed that pressure that creeps up in Q4, breaking it down along four key vectors where pressure builds — the pipeline, the forecast, the quota, and the W2. All of that bubbles up to the overarching pressure around job security.

What is the effect of rising pressure? Well, think of it as a pipe that is constricting. Your brain actually begins to behave differently, explained Mike. In high-pressure contexts, people have a tendency to rely on intellectual shortcuts, or what Mike calls “thinking traps”. He spelled out eight of them for us, things like Tunnel Vision, where reps start to see only the negative aspects of a situation. Or Mind Reading, where the rep unwittingly begins to invent the details of what the buyer is thinking, creating a false basis for their next actions.

The takeaway here is two-fold. First, you need to recognize how real the pressure is for your reps, and where it’s coming from. Why? Because that helps you watch for the patterns that will probably start to play out. And understanding those patterns gives you the ability to help your reps rise above their thinking traps and all the misleading, counter-productive emotions that go with them.

Fixed Mindset or Growth Mindset?
This is less of a Q4 comment and more of a framework for thinking about the connection between emotion and achievement more broadly. Mike referenced a concept from the work of Stanford professor Dr. Carol Dweck, author of the book Mindset (video). In short, the idea is that we are either Failure Avoiders or Success Seekers, and the distinction comes down to mindset. Failure Avoiders have a rigid or fixed mindset. They believe they know what they need to know, full stop. Success Seekers have a growth mindset. They have high self-confidence, but they also believe they can become better at what they do — and they actively look for learnings to help them do that.

For sales leaders, this idea offers another lens for looking at your team and identifying how to help them succeed. The mindset lens helps you identify what’s going on internally in those situations, and it connects you with a resource — Dr. Dweck’s book — that you can explore more deeply.

Also, since my company advocates a new behavior — one-to-one video messaging — for our clients, I see this mindset lens as valuable relative to identifying our most likely buyers. After all, fixed mindset “failure avoiders” are very unlikely to take on the risk that comes with being an internal champion for a new tool, even one as powerful and impactful as Vsnap.

Let’s Do It Again!
The people who sat at our table yesterday are Success Seekers. They are growth mindset people. They want to learn and they want lead their teams, whether by authority or by example, to bigger and better outcomes. Personally, I love to be around people like that. As Mike said at the start of his talk, emotions are contagious!

So we’re going to do this again — we’ll host another conversation on the same topic, right after Labor Day. Because we’re going to keep it small, we will ask you to fill out this form if you’d like to participate. We just want to be sure we’re involving people who are committed to participating with that all-important spirit of learning and enthusiasm, and the desire to put new ideas into action and capture the benefits.

Filed under dave blogs edgeThink vsnap sales Mike Sadeghpour

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Try In July: 6 Top Execs Tell Us Why They Test in the Summertime

By Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap

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For many businesses that sell enterprise software, July can be a slow month. That makes it a perfect time to be experimenting with new technologies and processes. I reached out to a few contacts to ask them if they think of July in this way. Here’s what they had to say.

Mike Troiano is CMO at fast-growing copy data virtualization company Actifio.

“July is halftime on our year. We use it to regroup, check what’s working and what’s not, and to be sure we’re doing more of the former and less of the latter in the back half of the year. It’s a good discipline, given how different the world usually looks in July than it did in December.”

Michael Nugent is CEO of BISON, which provides data to help fund managers and Limited Partners find the right match in both directions.

July and August are great months to test stuff with hardcore users — those that will use your product despite the natural tendency to go off the productivity grid for the summer.”

This July, Nugent is testing a new connection capability in their product, and a new approach to gathering data directly from GPs.

Matt Bertuzzi, of The Bridge Group, is an inside sales leader and a Salesforce.com MVP.

“July is a great time to try things.  More off-time, fewer coworkers around, less overall grind — it just gives you more space to explore. In essence, a refreshed mind and less cluttered calendar is a requirement for developing and trying new ideas.”

Bertuzzi is currently testing a new Salesforce.com app he has built. Also, as a result of some new strategic thinking, his team has accelerated a major technology purchase that  had been tabled for several quarters.

Joe Moriarty is VP Global Sales & Marketing at Content Raven, which provides security and deep analytics on documents you share.

“People are in the office,” Moriarty says, “but they’re doing less since the decision-makers are less available to give them approvals. That can actually be an opportunity to really capture attention.” Moriarty’s team is using this as an opportunity to test edgier collateral to more aggressively capture attention. That ranges from trying different messages in reps’ talk tracks to actual A/B/C testing of messaging on their site.

I did get some push-back on my premise that July is the time to try and test new tactics.

Emily Green, CEO and Chief Lunch Lady at Smart Lunches, reminded me that many businesses have seasonality, and so the summer months aren’t always the slow time of year. Also, she pushed the perspective that companies should be allocating resources for testing at all times.

“Vibrant learning businesses are always trying things,” Green says. “Fail Fast is the startup mantra — but why isn’t that the motto for every business that wants to grow?”

Andrew Burton, CEO at Logentries, echoed this perspective.  “I’d argue that every month is a great month to do experiments, and often we’re running multiple experiments at one time.”

Burton says it’s easy to empathize with sales leaders who are under pressure and feel they don’t have time for testing. They effectively say, “Our approach may be imperfect but it’s predictable.”

But, says Burton, every organization is resource-constrained — that’s no excuse for sticking with approaches that can be improved on.

“Depending on stage of the company or the area of the business that’s being developed,” says Burton, “I put a percentage of time and effort on execution/scale, and a percentage of time and effort on experiment/build. Striking the right balance is key, but too much of one without the other, and you’re doing an incredible disservice to individuals, the team and the company.”

Conclusion

Test and learn, whether you’re slow or busy. That’s what these leaders say is the recipe for growth. If you can do it year-round, that’s great. But at a minimum, you should be trying new products during your downtimes to help you capture maximum growth during the busier months.

Filed under Dave McLaughlin dave blogs vsnap influencers july sales testing sales tips