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BELLWETHER

Increased Productivity

Volume 3 | Issue 4 | Fourth Quarter 2012


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INCREASEPRODUCTIVITY “Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning.” ~Benjamin Franklin

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Leadership

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s e c t i o n s

Letter from the Editor Sales and Marketing

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Cover Story

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The Cloud

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Customer Relationships

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Customer Profile

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Social Media

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Tech Toys

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Industry News

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Book Report

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Marketing

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bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012


LETTERFROMTHEEDITOR

BELLWETHER

A Blytheco Magazine Volume 3 Fourth Quarter, 2012 www.blytheco.com www.bellwethermagazine.com

STAFF

EDITOR Apryl Hanson CREATIVE DIRECTOR Greg Went

OPEN FOR AD

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alicia Anderson Dave Barret Joanne Black Christine Crandell Apryl Hanson Ginger Kittinger Cortez NaPue Shawn P. Pynes Genie Whitehouse Bill Wiersma ADVERTISING SALES Ginger Kittinger SUBSCRIPTIONS www.bellwethermagazine.com Or contact Dori Fitch (800) 425-9843, Extension 1168 dorif@blytheco.com Bellwether Magazine is published by Blytheco with principal offices at: 23161 Mill Creek Road Suite 200 Laguna Hills, CA 92653 If you wish to be removed from the mailing list or to add names to the mailing list, send your request, including name, business name, and mailing address to the above address or to dorif@blytheco.com This is a copyrighted publication and all articles herein are covered by this copyright. Any use of the content for commercial reasons or other form or reproduction of material herein is strictly prohibited without prior, written approval of Bellwether Magazine.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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by Apryl Hanson

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have had the pleasure of a long-standing relationship with a mentor. Howard Hansen and I met because of Blytheco. When I was working at Sage, I was Blytheco’s representative for several years for one of the product lines that they sell. I always felt that my relationship with partners was more of a business coach than a salesperson, and when Stephen Blythe asked for help developing his Mission, Vision and Core values he turned to me. Sage brought in a facilitator along with myself to assist in this process and so began my relationship with Howard as well as a more intimate understanding of the driving force of Blytheco. Fast forward - I now have the pleasure of working at Blytheco to uphold that mission I was in the room to create, and I still have this connection to Howard. Howard has been working with Steven Geske, and the two of them together have advanced thoughts on the need for leadership that brings healing to an organization instead of anxiety and chaos. In an interview with the two on the topics in their book Healing Leadership, we gathered thoughts to share with you, our readers, that will be inspirational and hopefully encourage you, if interested in this subject, to read more in their book.

In the book you talk a lot about chronic anxiety, why should a leader pay attention to that? You should be paying attention to chronic anxiety because it is the root of our more reptilian or primitive behavior. As a leader and in business we need to stay creative. Instead of being uncomfortable with being uncomfortable, if we address chronic anxiety head-on we become comfortable with being uncomfortable. What happens in our society is that there is a cycle, once a generation or every 30 years, where chronic anxiety takes hold of leadership, people and society. When this happens, people lose their ability to be creative and nurture and instead we revert to our reactive, primitive, reptilian brain. Out of that period comes a rebirth that gives us the ability to become adventuresome and grow. This happens in society and it can happen in a business.

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012

Lately, we haven’t seemed to come out of the chronic anxiety phase, and because of that we need more leadership that understands how to be resourceful from within. It is a normal cycling of culture and relationships, but it is a problem today because we believe the cycle is stuck – and we have permanent turmoil in which we aren’t recovering from nor are we learning to develop and grow. In this cycle, one’s capacity for maturity becomes increasingly important especially if the anxious cycle isn’t breaking and we think that the best way to outsmart chronic anxiety is emotional maturity. We are getting increasingly toxic messages from our culture, influencing us to be afraid, defensive, and capable of only limited black-andwhite thinking. Only those that are the most emotionally mature can manage through this.


LEADERSHIP In your book you talk about the energy management model, why is this important to leaders? Self-care is a layer we have identified as one dimension of the energy management model. Within this dimension, it is all about managing our energy. We need to be able to assess when we have work to do on ourselves and what work we need to do. The model can also be used as a measurement for after we have done work to see if it was effective or not in lowering our chronic anxiety and altering our outcomes.

How do you know if you are using self-care effectively? If you are properly using self-care, you have resources that adequately address toxicity and identify the toxicity. To get there you must raise resources and lower toxicity. Sometimes toxicity is out of your control and sometimes when it is so chronic it looks like normal – so it can be hard to identify. We call this the boiling frog syndrome because if the temperature slowly rises, you are not conscious that your anxiety level is slowly creeping up and becoming toxic. We sometimes no longer know what low toxicity feels like and high toxicity becomes our new norm. You have to work with others on this. It is not a lone endeavor. Only others can see this process in us, because we can be fooled. We have this tremendous capacity to be deceived because we can be connected so closely to the source. We need to be a part of an intentional group that is working with the same framework, speaking the same language and can help us with clarity when we ourselves cannot. Community is critical here.

Talk to us more about the power of one’s own presence Having presence everyday is about knowing “who I am” and knowing “where am I’m going”. It is about the process of continuing on the journey of following the answers to those two questions. A leader must have the presence to stay in these toxic situations, not trying to change people in them, not being tied to any one solution but remaining on his or her path and not getting derailed.

What is being in gridlock? Being in gridlock is being reactive only. You can see gridlock when people are unable to finish their sentences when they are in dialogue when ideas are met with obvious disagreement, overreaction to crisis, and an obvious increase in blaming others instead of taking responsibility. People feel like they are on an unending treadmill of trying harder. You feel like you are working harder and nothing seems to change. Gridlock is a symptom of lack of leadership. The moral of the story here is that we can be human, think, and laugh and have fun within crisis, which will keep your creativity strong and will keep you out of anxious behavior.

Get your copy of Healing Leadership at Amazon.com - http://amzn.to/RZetL0

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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by Bill Wiersma

Sound familiar? When the boss is away, employees tend to play.

Two departments (each highly dependent on the other) can’t get along. Senior leadership is unwilling or unable to establish a set of priorities and stick to them. The theme for this issue of Bellwether is productivity. These examples scream ‘unproductive’. They likely represent instances in which less useful work was produced than was otherwise hoped for. To be productive is to maximize the amount of useful work (output) with the least amount of resources (input). A factory producing 15% more widgets than last month (with the same amount of resources) has made a wonderful productivity gain. Likewise the investment firm that can run its back office with six people instead of the customary seven also has made strides in improving productivity. To be sure, the principle of productivity can be applied to equipment, processes, systems—you name it. My emphasis in this article is on the people side of the equation---as that’s where my expertise lies. Managers are (or should be) enamored with productivity, but sometimes employees are less so. Why? Because productivity is often viewed as extracting more work from employees that may already be taxed. Employees (even ones who consistently act in an accountable way) don’t like being played for patsies or have their good intentions taken advantage of (think: padding manager’s incentive bonuses on the backs of employees). So it’s not surprising that some employees are dubious when they hear managers ‘talking up’ productivity. It’s important to say this at the outset: getting people to be more productive will likely prove to be an uphill battle... ...if leadership isn’t credible. ...if people aren’t proud of their organization. ...if people don’t view their organization as ‘professional’. Low levels of trust, poor morale, and anemic performance are three indicators that the fore-mentioned conditions may exist. Yet, there are many stellar examples of companies whose employees willingly embrace productivity improvements with zeal. For instance, seasonal, entry-level employees at the Morning Star Company—a California based agricultural concern---have been shown to have engagement levels as high as senior executives in white-collar industries. Additional examples—each inspiring in their scope and scale—could be cited. What can be learned from organizations that are productivity champions? Here are three important factors:

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012

Leadership Credibility Leadership models the way. Productivity becomes a strategic priority. Everyone knows it—it’s top-of-mind. There’s no waffling about it. There’s little doubt that leadership believes wholeheartedly in the importance of enhancing productivity. How leaders spend their time, how they allocate resources, what gets rewarded is all reflective of that commitment. In asking others to ‘up their productivity game’ they’re not doing so to inflate their ego or get off on a power trip. Leadership’s credibility is enhanced as they educate why productivity is so important. In other words, they’ve made the business case for productivity---which is largely about advancing the health of the business. Let’s face it; productivity is a means to an end. And sometimes increasing your widget production by 8% isn’t terribly motivating in-and-of-itself. To give it meaning, to make it real; leaders paint the big picture. Leaders give their people a reason to care. For instance, WalMart’s incessant emphasis on cost-cutting (think: productivity) ultimately results in their customers ‘saving money, living better’. In Wal-Mart’s case a distinct and compelling human need is being met—‘living better’. Employees relate to that. Thoughtful leaders also know making productivity fun can have great appeal. Gamification is one method to do so as it takes advantage of humans’ psychological desire to play games. This is particularly helpful for work that tends to be repetitive. Consider this simple example---keeping score on key performance indicators (like production levels) between day and night shifts. Done properly, this can be a healthy, positive experience for employees and the business alike. Today gamification is used widely across industries (including those with sophisticated technology applications) with an eye towards driving desired behaviors. Properly applied, it has shown to be a powerful vehicle for driving greater levels of engagement--largely through higher levels of individual mastery and autonomy. The applications for gamification are endless. Thus, it’s essential to do research for applications specific to your needs—whether you’re attempting to answer more customer service calls or increase inventory turns.

Leaders Instill a Desire In Their People To Become An Even Better Professional As a leader are you the center of the universe in your organization? When you sneeze does the rest of the organization catch a cold? Are you the one that largely settles organizational disputes? Are


LEADERSHIP you the one that people feel obligated to check in with before taking independent action? When you’re away, do things slow down? If you answered yes to many of these questions you may be acting as the throttle of productivity instead of its champion. Instilling a desire in your people to be an even better professional, and whole-heartedly supporting that aspiration, can prove to be a revelation to those accustomed to leading from a more hierarchical approach. The byproducts of centering an organization’s culture on professional ideals are both numerous and significant. Productivity is just one of the major benefits—stemming largely from the application of self-management principles. Professional organizations just operate better. They’re more satisfying and fun to be a part of. Thus people are always talking them up---which is why recruitment naturally takes care of itself. In the end, being a professional becomes very personal—which is a big reason why it’s so impactful. My latest book The Power of Professionalism covers this topic in much greater detail.

Thin the Herd--Management Tools, Not People It was Harvard professor Theodore Levitt who noted “Nothing is more wasteful than doing with great efficiency that which should not be done at all.” Managers would be well served to stop (or highly modify) things that have ceased adding value. As organizations grow and scale increases, it’s natural to add processes that aid with the consistency and efficiency of how work gets done. Simply put, processes are tools. They’re put in place to serve the organization---largely to improve productivity. Yet consider the representative from the telecommunications giant whose field call takes 20 minutes---about the same amount of time it takes the representative to fill out the report summarizing the service call itself. The report takes as much time as the work did! Examples like these abound. Talk to many field personnel and they’ll tell you that they feel like they’re slaves to the so-called tools (e.g. reports) that were supposed to aid productivity. Their tools have ceased being a tool, becoming instead a drag on productivity! Managers--stop being a slave to tools (e.g. processes, reports, policies) that no longer serve you! Organizations that have shown to be productivity champions have done so largely because they’re maniacal about it. Every professional is involved. Each has come to realize that productivity isn’t about extracting more work from employees. Rather, it’s about doing one’s very best work and taking pride in being a part of a first-class organization. Leadership reveals productivity champions--always has, always will.

About the Author Bill Wiersma is the principal of Wiersma and Associates, LLC, a consultancy that helps leaders create cultures based on professional ideals. Bill is the author of two critically acclaimed books. His expertise has been featured in numerous media outlets--including the New York Times. The Power of Professionalism, Bill’s latest book, was a finalist for Soundview Executive Book Summaries 2011 Book of the Year. Follow his weekly blog posts at: www.wiersmaandassociates.com/blog/

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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SALES&MARKETING

Increasing Productivity by Focusing on Your Big Winners

by Apryl Hanson

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n sales we sometimes get distracted by those that need us most on our teams. The low producer that is having a hard time meeting their quota, and our need to coach that person to find a big win and help them succeed gets the best of us. What we don’t realize is happening during this process is that we are being more emotional than rational, and if we took time to look at the real numbers behind creating a successful team that is hitting or overachieving their quota, we would see that there are some successful strategies you can put in place to make this happen. Measurements Without measurements in place it makes it almost impossible to understand specifically what is happening with your teams. You need to set minimums in terms of productivity – which are those elements where you know your team will be successful. Don’t know what those elements are? Look to your high achievers for what they are doing everyday to reach their targets. Items like number of phone calls, number of meetings, proposals etc. will help you set the guidelines that should make every member of your team minimally successful.

Develop Structure Once you have measurements in place, develop structure around those elements, like a sales process to guide your less qualified salesperson through the process of developing a lead to a potential customer. Without this structure in place, it will take more management time to share successes between salespeople, and everyone will develop their own individual process which may or may not work for the company.

Spend Time with Those Who Spend Time A lot of sales managers unwittingly ignore those that are the top producers. I’ve always done the opposite. I consider my time very valuable, and I chose to spend it with those who are willing to put in the work and do what is necessary to develop. These are usually your top producers and often times

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012

they get the least amount of time with us if we are running around fighting fires. Give your top producers as much time as possible because they are the ones that will help you come up with new ideas and approaches to selling. They will help mold others in leading by example, and you will keep them longer as they will feel tied to you because they see you are as interested in developing them as you are in them producing great sales numbers. Top salespeople often switch roles because they feel “what have you done for me lately,” but unless they better themselves their earning potential will stay the same.

It’s all in the numbers If the best you can do as a manager is help a person increase their productivity by 20%, you have to be very careful who you spend that time with. If you have two sales people who are selling $50K a year, and two stars who are selling $250K per year – where would you get the most return on your investment? You get an instant increase in the bottom line that you can see by spending time on the top, and also additional learning from these top producers about the minimums and structure you need to develop. Those improvements may end up improving your lower producers’ results by a 5%-10% without having to spend much physical time with them.


Making Workplace Wellness Work for You by Shawn P. Pynes 1. What kind of wellness programs and solutions should small and mid-size companies implement? What kind of results can they expect? Regardless of the size of the organization, we encourage our clients to set the ground work for their wellness initiatives. Begin by setting goals, outlining what you are willing to invest and determining the types of results you are looking for from the wellness program. Small and mid-size employers should develop a “results-oriented” approach versus an “activity-centered” approach and leverage the resources available from their insurance carriers. It is also important to understand that return on investment for wellness programs does not only mean dollar savings. Most often, wellness programs for organizations with fewer than 100 employees will see results tied to improved employee morale, decreased absenteeism and increased organizational loyalty rather than through financial return on investment or reduced claims costs. These results can have a great impact on a company’s employee productivity and ability to gain and retain talent. 2. Outside of incentivizing good health decisions, what else should employers be doing to support a healthy workplace? Complete employee health is a multi-faceted concept which encompasses more than just traditional wellness factors, such as weight loss and stress management, by incorporating an effective loss prevention program to mitigate traditional workers’ compensation risk factors. By creating an integrated approach that addresses health factors as well as workplace risks, employers can create a culture of safety that protects their employees and supports a healthy work environment. 3. How can employers proactively address chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke? By building awareness amongst your employee population and identifying future claimants through biometric screenings, employers will be better positioned to address the most serious chronic conditions leading to heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Biometric screenings test for risk factors associated with Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) including extra weight around the middle or upper parts of the body, as well as triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Programs exist that have proven to reverse symptoms of MetS and experience has shown that 77% of program participants have either sustained weight loss or continued to lose more weight. This leads to a healthier employee population and improved bottom line for the employer. 4. For employers that are just beginning to implement a program, what are some tips for getting and keeping employees engaged in the program?

target audiences within your company. Quick tips for engaging your target audience include: • Creating a customized program – Understand your population and make it relevant to their needs. Employees are more likely to buy-in to a program that addresses issues they feel are relevant to them. Utilizing biometric testing and employee surveys, employers can tailor wellness programs to their population. • Communicate effectively – By determining the various audiences within your employees, you can create communication campaigns which leverage a myriad of tools to reach all segments. For example, engaging Generation Y employees through the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr for wellness initiatives can increase program usage. • Outside-the-box incentives – Incentives do not always need to be monetary. Develop unique incentives for your organization that can reward your employees creatively. Outside-the-box incentives can include an extra day off for top performing wellness employees or special recognition each month as a “Wellness Leader.” 5. What effect, if any, will Federal Health Care Reform have with respect to Wellness programs and incentives? Ultimately, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has changed the dynamics of health care to support preventive care, which is the basis of wellness. More preventive care, including routine physicals, well-women exams, immunizations, and screenings, is now covered at 100% and will support employees’ education of their personal well-being and baseline health. For employers, Federal Health Care Reform encourages wellness and created a $200 billion fund to grant certain smaller employers who are looking to implement or further develop their comprehensive workplace wellness programs. When you consider these factors in developing your wellness program, you will be able to engage your employees and drive real results for your program. And more importantly, you will be able to help your employees lead healthier lives. About Shawn Barney & Barney welcomed Shawn as a Principal in April 2002. With more than 24 years of insurance experience, Shawn provides superior employee benefits consulting service to a wide variety of clients. Shawn manages the Employee Benefits division of Barney & Barney, and in that capacity, he is responsible for the overall leadership and growth of that division. Shawn serves on the Health Care Committee of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and is a Board member of the Council of Employee Benefits Executives. He also currently serves on several regional and national carrier broker advisory boards and is a member of two national study groups through Assurex Global and Reagan Consulting Group.

To implement an effective wellness program, it is important to design it with your employee population in mind. There may be a number of

About Barney and Barney Founded over 100 years ago, Barney & Barney LLC is a risk management and insurance brokerage providing solutions, services and products in commercial property and casualty insurance, employee benefits, workers’ compensation, compensation consulting, executive liability, personal lines and surety. Barney & Barney is headquartered in San Diego, with offices in San Francisco, Oakland and Orange County. For more information, visit www.barneyandbarney.com, or call 800.321.4696.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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SALES&MARKETING

Watch Your Aging Sheet, and Take Action as Needed by Dave Barrett

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n previous articles, I have covered considerations for extending credit, how much to give, and how to monitor those clients. In the most recent article, I shared ideas on how to follow up on slow pay customers methodically internally, with your staff, or with outsourcing to follow up services. I also covered what kind of information to have on your billing statements. Today I am going to share ideas regarding when to use a third-party collection agency or attorney, as well as the importance of watching your aging sheet and having predetermined steps of action. Many businesses, or well-meaning people on their staff, have let accounts age beyond the point of ever being collected because they “felt” that customers would pay eventually. While there certainly are isolated situations, the truth is that if your business isn’t being paid, someone else probably is. So stick to your predetermined plan of follow up and take action when needed. Soon it will be apparent who intends to really pay and who doesn’t. Appropriate action can and should be taken early to insure the highest chance of recovery. They are not like fine wine that gets better over time. The exact opposite is true. Keep on the look out for clients who you know need your services on a regular basis, and who have ordered from you recently. Are they getting service or product from one of your competitors? Are they possibly paying your competitor cash for it? Be aware some clients do go and get credit from many of your competitors, as well as you. If this is true, then monitoring their purchasing habits can be insightful. Getting their balance down to zero will actually get you MORE of their business. They know that with an older unpaid balance, you will probably not ship them more product until the other invoices are paid. So old accounts on your aging sheet, left unresolved will actually encourage your clients to go to a competitor, where they can sometimes get immediate credit. It is in your company’s best interest to get their balance to zero as soon as possible to ENSURE more business will be obtained from them, instead of going to a competitor. In this situation, getting accounts paid, even if with a polite third-party collection service, can actually increase your chance of getting more future business from them. They will be thinking about coming

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back for more business if they know they are paid up. However, an unpaid balance, unresolved, ensures that they go elsewhere to get what they need. If your business has systematically pursued a past due account for 60 to 90 days past the due date, and is still not being paid, the customer is sending you a message. If no decent size payments have been made, then they are not sincere in their efforts to resolve their situation with you. More than likely your staff has requested payment five, six, or more times, in the form of phone calls, letters, and statements. The time and financial resources budgeted for internal collection efforts should be focused on the first 90 days, when the bulk of accounts can and should be collected. After 90 days, a third party can motivate a customer to pay in ways that your business cannot. If you think about it, if the request for payment is coming from a collection agency, they will become concerned about the consequences, like legal action or a bad credit rating. Usually you will get paid quickly, instead of the other creditors that they may be juggling. Our recommendation would be to consider other options than paying a contingency agency or attorney, as they may charge 25% or more of the account balance. If you have profit margins of 10%, your company is already losing money as soon as you are placing accounts with these services.


Instead, consider finding a service that charges a low flat rate, $5 to $15 per account, for example. The agency will contact the past due account as a “collection agency”, for these low fees, motivating payments. These results will be consistently more successful than what your staff get done, on those over 90 days past due accounts. Because of a low flat rate averaging $10 per account, your firm can feel more comfortable referring accounts earlier to a flat fee collection agency, as it is less expensive than paying percentages. Also, they can even offer an optional choice of professional contact. With a diplomatic approach they can actually help you maintain a client relationship for future business, if you wish. Understand that successful recovery of unpaid accounts receivable is more likely when you go earlier to “collections.” Even with balances as low as $110, collected for only a $10 flat fee, on a 10% profit margin, you can actually still get outside collection assistance and not give up all your profits. With typical contingency agencies

this is not possible, as you will always be surrendering your profit margin as a fee to that collection agency or attorney. See the chart below to further understand how important it is to get your money recovered quickly. This data comes from the U. S. Department of Commerce and the Commercial Law League. It shows the likelihood of recovering your accounts, as the accounts age. If not paid by 90 days, you or your agencies chance of getting paid falls in half over the next 3 months. Your firm can get twice the results on the same accounts by simply getting help consistently by the 90 day time frame, (or earlier, with a flat fee agency). Do not withhold accounts from your collection agency or attorney that are beyond 90 days. The difference in getting earlier assistance on past due accounts with a third party can be measured in real profits earned (or rather, not lost!). The light green bars on this chart are commercial accounts as they age, and the dark green bars on this chart are the consumer accounts, which depreciate more rapidly in value. The moral of the story is to recognize when you have a problem account, and to bite the bullet and get help early. Finally, consider a flat fee agency as a better third party option. If you know it is better to go early to collections, find an agency that does not charge a percentage. Look for a flat fee agency that charges around $10 per account so you keep your profits that you have earned, not the agency. Please see my contact information below, and let me know if I can assist with any questions that you may have about any of the topics addressed here, or about any of my other articles.

To your improved profits, Dave Barrett TSI Greenflag Profit Recovery, District Manager, 818-458-4663.

Woodland

Hills,

Calif

dave.barrett@TransworldSystems.com

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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SALES&MARKETING

A Social Journey Guided by a Sellers’ Compass B

uyers have long resisted, and often resented, being sold to. Their rapid embrace of the Internet and social media enabled them to buy on their own terms, circumventing the effort of B2B marketers to push marketing at them. Buying is now not only social; it is also transparent. The successes, missteps and follies of companies and their leaders are observable, in detail, to anyone who is interested. The brilliance of innovative solutions as well as the unfortunate consequences of poor product quality is equally plain as day. With buyers in control, a new requirement that sales teams do not fully understand is that buying today is also based on earned trust.

Trust, transparency, social media and buyer control have fundamentally changed sales. Push marketing has been replaced by buyer enablement and outcome, proof, value and experience. To be relevant, sales must stop focusing on “The Transaction” and start acting as an internal advocate for prospects, enabling them and earning their trust. That only comes from intimately understanding the buyer’s journey and defining a “Seller’s Compass” aligned to that journey. For sales to be effective it must redefine how it mediates buyer value with the vendor’s value promise. The way to engage buyers is by delivering the value they are looking for at key points along their buyer’s journey. Buyers expect value long before they actually make a purchase as well as long after they’ve bought. A Forrester study found that only six percent of customers felt that B2B sales actually tried to align with their needs. Buyer expectation is that suppliers intimately understand their business, how they define value, and deliver on those expectations throughout the solution’s lifetime. Any change in that experience impacts trust, vendor credibility and, ultimately, the buyer’s confidence. The bottom line is that sales’ new charter is to gain the trust of buyers by enabling them; only then can they influence the buyers’ journey.

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012

by Christine Crandell

There are five major pre-purchase - enablement - stages in the Sellers’ Compass: Define, Search, Evaluate, Validate and Purchase. Understanding how the problem is defined and manifests itself in organizations and the process buyers go through to recognize, acknowledge, accept, and gain organizational commitment to solving the business challenge is the first step. The origins of some challenges are clear but many are not and it’s the latter that often trips up sales. Search includes investigating industry best practices, understanding root causes of the problem, and collaborating with peers and colleagues. It is not until the end of this stage that the buyer defines how they plan to solve their problem and begins to investigate potential solution providers. While marketing claims to understand the actions and motivations of buyers in each stage, in reality marketers and their tools like lead management and marketing automation focus only on the Evaluate and Validate stages. Only through market research, in-depth interviews across a broad spectrum of buyers can Sales understand how the buyer’s thinking evolves, what happens during each stage of the buyers’ journey; and how to effectively enable the buyer. Sales and Marketing must discover where buyers go, when, and for what information to achieve which objective for each stage.


Don’t assume that buyers are always interested in purchasing a solution. Their interest is as much about how their peers have addressed the challenge (or not) as it is in the range of solutions they might consider. If sales knows where buyers go for what type of information then it can be at the right place (channels) with the right assets (information) for each buyer role and offer calls-to-action that are, for the buyer, the logical next step. Only by aligning to the buyer across all the enablement stages can sales begin to build trust and, if achieved, influence the buyer to engage with sales earlier. For the buyer, the customer lifetime experience is more important than the point of purchase. Continually receiving meaningful value is a key trust building activity. Regardless of the form the value comes in - whether it is content, tools, connections, and/or free products - the level of value realized during the enablement stages sets the buyer’s expectation of the value they can expect as a customer. This is a critical time for Sales; it needs to lead with an inspired vision, gutsy and decisive leadership, fact-based decision making and a laser focus on how to build trust through buyer enablement and social selling. Done correctly and consistently, buyer enablement will translate into engagement and drive revenue growth. The real opportunity is for sales to guide the company in how to continually create and deliver meaningful value; however the market and its buyers define ‘value’.

About Christine Crandell With more than 25 years of marketing and leadership experience, Christine Crandell, President at New Business Strategies, is a recognized thought leader, practitioner, and author regarding social business, marketing and corporate strategy. Christine’s Forbes blog, “Outside the Box” focuses on the issues and best practices that CEOs and CMOs use to drive faster revenue growth in the social economy. As President of New Business Strategies, an international B2B market strategy consultancy, she leads client services team serving clients including Good Technology, Oracle, DotNetNuke and McKesson. Christine sits on several advisory boards including Coupa Software and Social Dynamx. She is a frequent speaker and writer with articles published in BusinessWeek, Forbes, B2B Marketing, Investor Business Daily, CMO.com, and Sandhill.com, and a blogger for Forbes.com.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

15


The Secrets to Increasing Productivity

by Joanne Black

Headline: What Do Productivity and S&P Have In Common? Nothing, if, you mean the stock market. But if you mean prospecting and sales, it’s about suspects and prospects. Suspects & Prospects The Web 2.0 world promises to increase our prospecting productivity by delivering qualified leads to our inbox at the prospect’s time of need. But are they really qualified, or are they merely S & Ps—suspects and prospects?

How It Used to Be Let’s take a look back. Prospecting was a random world of activities that marketing led: Website leads, special offers, email campaigns, direct mail, trade shows, advertising, cold calling, conferences, and referrals. It used to be, “throw a lot of things against the wall and see what sticks.”

How It Is Now Now marketing automation promises and delivers (for the most part) predictable results and increases productivity for salespeople. That may be true. However, it’s our job as sales executives and sales people to attract our own clients by building trusted relationships and leveraging our connections to attract even more business.

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One of my clients had four categories of people in his database: suspects, prospects, clients, and dead. I asked him the difference between suspects and prospects. Suspects were names from a purchased list. He was frustrated with this list, because he made call after call, and he failed to reach people after six to ten calls. He resisted picking up the phone. Prospects were completely different. Prospects were people who had been referred, and when he called them my client was able to get an appointment immediately. I asked him why he spent so much time attempting to connect with suspects, when he didn’t even know if a need existed for his product. Silence. It never occurred to my client that he didn’t need suspects at all.

Define “Qualified” Many Web 2.0’ers promise to deliver qualified leads (prospects) to your inbox. Just because someone visits your website and downloads an article or whitepaper, doesn’t mean he is qualified. He could be curious, expanding and when you call, you customize your message.


SALES&MARKETING You know about the person’s activity, but please don’t tell me that he’s a qualified lead and a prospect. He’s still a suspect. If you want to sell cold, then go ahead. If you sell a commodity, you could choose to work that way. Make your own decision.

When you work with your Ideal Client, your sales time collapses, productivity soars, deals are larger, and these clients refer us to others just like themselves. Plenty of these people exist, and it’s not difficult to find them. We get what we ask for, so ask for exactly what you want.

Referrals Make the Difference

Define Your Success

But if you sell a service in a complex sale, make certain that every person you talk to and meet is a qualified lead—a prospect. The fastest and least expensive way to meet the people you want to meet and who want to meet you is to get a referral and a personal introduction. Talk about increases in productivity! What if your list had only qualified prospects? What difference would that make in your business?

It’s not about the number of proposals we write or the number of clients we attract. Your goal is to get and keep only the right clients—the clients who produce the revenue and profits you bank on, and who readily refer you to others just like themselves. You will talk to exactly the people you want to meet and who want to meet you, and you will see that fewer, qualified leads actually produce more business.

How do you find qualified leads? You clearly identify and communicate your Ideal Client: Ideal Clients value what you offer, communicate well, are forward-thinking, reasonable, have a good sense of humor, and give the time, money, and resources to make any project successful.

Define Your Ideal Client

What a productivity boost! Your biggest challenge will be following up on all your great sales leads. Wouldn’t that be a productive and exciting way to spend our sales time?

About Joanne Black

Create a crisp profile of your Ideal Client so you recognize perfect opportunities when they arise. Make your description spot-on, so that anyone you meet immediately recognizes your sweet spot. We often think that if we don’t mention everything we do we’ll miss a sale. The opposite is true.

Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling. A captivating speaker and innovative seminar leader, Joanne is changing the business of sales. She is the author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust (Warner Business Books). Hit your numbers without hitting the phones, with less sweat and with results you can bank on.

The more specific your description, the easier it becomes for someone to refer you. A long list of the things you do blurs your image. You want to be recognized as the expert. Clients buy expertise, not one-size-fits-all.

Visit Joanne at www.NoMoreColdCalling.com or email joanne@nomorecoldcalling.com or 415-461-8763.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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COVERSTORY

The CEOs Journey to the

C

loud computing is on the minds of many corporate executives these days because it is changing the face of business. No matter where you turn, you are likely to hear something about cloud computing. Executives involved in managing and optimizing corporate ERP systems increasingly need to evaluate the implications and impact of cloud computing. While some of the economics behind cloud-based computing are by Stephen Blythe appealing, it is important to understand the advantages and challenges before opting to implement a cloud business application. Cloud-based ERP systems are still in their infancy and must be fully evaluated to ensure they fit your business model and requirements. They hold promise, especially as they continue to mature. The most important consideration must continue to be whether or not an on premise or cloud-based ERP solution makes good business sense now and in the future. Asking the right questions is the best place to start. The cloud is here, but what exactly is it? Cloud computing is the use of Internet-based services to support a business process. Cloud services typically have the following characteristics: • They can be rapidly deployed, so they are quick to realize value. • They offer minimal start-up costs and capital investment. • Costs for services are usage based; some have no fixed commitment. • Services can be quickly and easily scaled up or down, some with no penalty. • Services are multi-tenant (many customers leverage the same platform). • The ability to customize or integrate a service is limited or restricted.

The cloud lets users contract for services at three levels: • Infrastructure-as-a-service: In this most basic cloud service model, cloud providers offer computers, as physical or virtual machines, storage and other resources.

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• Platform-as-a-service: In the PaaS model, cloud providers deliver a computing platform typically including operating system, programming language execution environment, database, and web server. Application developers can develop and run their software solutions on a cloud platform without the cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software layers. The underlying computer and storage resources scale automatically to match application demand such that the cloud user does not have to allocate resources manually. Ex: Microsoft’s Azure. • Software-as-a-service: Cloud providers install and operate application software in the cloud and cloud users access the software from cloud clients. The cloud users do not manage the cloud infrastructure and platform on which the application is running. This eliminates the need to install and run the application on the cloud user’s own computers simplifying maintenance and support. Applications with a Web-based interface accessed via Web Services and Web 2.0 include NetSuite, SugarCRM, Google Apps, SalesForce and social network applications like Facebook.

Top reasons why customers choose SaaS: • Speed: Speed to deliver, ease of use and access via any device, anywhere. • Cost reduction: Pay for access pricing, reduced demand on in-house


IT staff, upgrades included in service, always on the latest version, reduction in hardware costs. • Flexibility: Flexible software, end user configurable, flexibility to try with low upfront investment.

Top reasons why customers choose hosted managed service solutions: • SaaS-like pricing: Upfront costs deferred. • Managed service: Lower IT resource demand, support outsourced as part of managed service. • Credentials/functional coverage: Same code as on-premise so often same credentials and functional coverage apply.

Top reasons why customers choose on-premise: • Functional coverage: Functional coverage fits best for particular industry/client needs. • Credentials: Ability to obtain detailed experience/credentials, comfort with familiar architectures and pricing. •

Integration and customization: Ability to integrate and customize application to company requirements. • Control: Company has control regarding upgrades, feature additions and uptime. • Prior investments: Desire to leverage owned hardware/software as well as in-house staff skilled in onpremise.

There is a notable advantage to cloud computing. Instead of using local computers to run applications, a network of computers comprising “the cloud” takes care of it. Any computer needs on the user’s end are supported by a thirdparty data center and the system’s interface software can be run from a web browser. On-premise ERP systems can also provide browser interfaces such as bly:Mobile for Sage 100 (formerly MAS 90).

A New World Cloud services are the complete antithesis of the brick-andmortar technology solutions of the past. An organization can essentially pool its demand for IT resources — such as servers, storage or other computing needs — with other companies to take advantage of economies of scale. Cloud services are elastic, multi-tenant, on-demand and usage-based. They promise to shift the burden of software development, maintenance and delivery from the consumer to the producer, freeing up internal staff to focus on higher-value activities. When you add the cost and scale benefits of the cloud with the strategic benefits of an ERP system, it provides an even more enticing prospect. Together, they promise to accelerate time to benefit, reduce costs and improve agility. Cloud ERP is new and exciting ... it’s not your father’s ERP.

Emerging Players The cloud ERP space is still in its infancy stages. The number of proven ERP-in-the-cloud vendors is growing. Unlike popular CRM systems and other SaaS applications, the ERP SaaS market is not yet mature enough for all companies to consider. There are only a few true cloud ERP providers (e.g., NetSuite, SAP Business by Design, Infor24 and Workday). We expect the solution offerings to be refined over time and for more innovation and competition to drive the future of this market. As in the case of on-premise ERP vendors, the usual suspects (SAP, Oracle, Sage and Microsoft) will have a major role to play in defining the emerging landscape but, just as importantly, a robust middle market is emerging that will compete based on industry and solution.

Rent vs. Buy There are several parallels that can be drawn between housing options (apartment, condo, home and rent or purchase) and cloud vs. on-premise ERP Solutions. There are times in a person’s life that rental property is better than purchasing a home and vice versa. When a person is starting out, they are subject to multiple career moves, they are short on resources and they are flexible and willing to mold to what is available. As one matures and marries and has children their needs change and become more defined. They require security and stability and want to customize their environment to their tastes and desires. Later after the kids have moved on and they are retired, home ownership becomes more of a burden and they return to rentals or managed properties. Rental costs rise every year while fixed mortgage payments (software leases) are consistent. With the purchase model – you own something at the end. The rental model requires increased payment though out the use period. Very rarely is there a one delivery and payment method for ERP that fits all businesses. If your business ERP plans will change in 3 years because it is just starting out, is changing rapidly (size or function), you are planning on selling or shutting down, you do not want to invest in systems infrastructure, or you prefer to pay for usage (rent) vs. buy, then SaaS or subscription plans may be a good choice for you. Most have monthly or annual plans and can expand or contract as your business changes. Maintenance and support are included in the monthly costs and all upgrades are automatically applied. If you have a stable business, well-defined processes, have already invested in your infrastructure and staff; or require customized or fully integrated business solutions, and want control over when you upgrade, then purchased on-premise or hosted systems may be best for you. The cost of purchase is usually amortized over 3-5 years. Even with maintenance and support plans, the cost of ownership breakeven is 5-7 years. Today the average use of an ERP system is over 10 years.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

Continued on page 20

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COVERSTORY (Continued from page 19)

Total Cost of Ownership At first glance, a cloud computing applications may appear to be a lot cheaper than on-premise solutions, but you need to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Does the cloud application have all the features of the on-premise software or are the missing features important to you? You also need to be sure you are doing a total cost comparison. While many cloud computer vendors present themselves as utility-based providers, claiming that you’re only charged for what you use, this isn’t true; in most cases, a company must commit to a predetermined contract independent of actual use. To be sure you’re saving money, you have to look closely at the pricing plans and details for each application. The cost savings of cloud computing primarily occur when a business first starts using it. SaaS applications will have lower total cost of ownership for the first two years because SaaS applications do not require large capital investment for licenses or support infrastructure. After that, the on-premises option can become the cost-savings winner from an accounting perspective as the capital assets involved depreciate. As the ERP application becomes “end of life” on-premise users discontinue maintenance and support plans - thus may have no costs for the last 3-5 years of use. Cloud users are required to pay through the last day you want access to your data. As with any service, with the cloud you should always make sure that you know what you are paying for and what measurements exist to show you are actually receiving the service. You should pay careful attention to: •

Service levels - Cloud providers may be hesitant to commit to consistency of performance for an application or transaction. Understand the service levels you can expect for transaction response times, data protection and speed of data recovery.

Privacy - Someone else hosting and serving your data could be approached by the U.S. government to access and search that data without your knowledge or approval. Current indications are that they would be obligated to comply.

Compliance - You are probably already aware of the regulations that apply to your business. In theory, cloud service providers can meet the same level of compliance for data stored in the cloud but, because most of these services are young, you’ll need to take extra care.

Data ownership - Do you still own your data once it goes into the cloud? You may think the answer to this question is obvious, but it is not. Ask Facebook users.

Data Mobility - Can you share data between cloud services? If you terminate a cloud relationship can you get your data back? What format will it be in? How can you be sure all other copies are destroyed?

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For a service that’s going to be critical to your company, the best advice is to ask a lot of questions and get all commitments in writing.

Is ERP cloud computing right for your business? There are some key questions an organization must consider before choosing a cloud-based ERP solution. Ask yourself:

How well does ERP complement my other applications? ERP vendors acknowledge that the desire for a single, master system to replace a tangled-web of legacy systems is more of a fantasy than reality. We live in a world of “apps” where multiple systems are linked together and must be able to talk to one another. As such, it is vital to determine how the cloud or on premise ERP system will integrate with your application portfolio. If your primary goal is to create standardized, efficient business processes that are technology agnostic, then ERP should enable, not hinder this effort.

Will a focus on service levels lead to a “one-sizefits-all” solution? Once your ERP is dependent on a cloud service provider, you will gain a new appreciation for terms such as “availability” and “reliability.” Associated service level agreements (SLA) are not mature and may not meet your company’s data recovery or uptime standards. Furthermore, the remedies these agreements offer may not cover the losses to your enterprise in the event of an outage. Service providers may not be interested in lengthy contracting processes, particularly since the “one-size-fits-all” solution offered gives them very little leverage. Your company’s ability to adapt to a new standard may also be challenged by the solution-limiting configuration changes to meet your “unique” requirements.

Do you want to be the driver or a passenger? A real concern for most corporate executives is the risk of poor performance with the inability to influence outcomes by “throwing more resources” at the problem. The overall nature of the cloud-based ERP service is to be dependent on the network and on the service provider. The service provider must walk you through monitoring, escalation, troubleshooting and resolution processes.

What is your backup for possible downtime? Cloud computing makes your small business dependent on the reliability of your Internet connection. When it’s offline, you’re offline. And even the most reliable cloud computing service providers suffer server outages now and again. (Google Cloud Computing Service Outages in 2011 )


Security needs or requirements? For those who engaged in the service bureaus of the 1980s and the outsourcing debates of the early 2000s, you will find a similar discussion in the existing concerns about data security when it comes to ERP. How does the shared network impact your data privacy requirements? To alleviate some of these concerns, the service provider must be able to explain the physical location of your data, its security policies and any other partners who have touch points with this data. The service provider should also clarify if your infrastructure resources will be shared and how they segment this usage. Your organization must be able to monitor access and obtain additional capabilities to achieve the desired level of comfort. In today’s regulatory environment of SOX, HIPAA, PCI and other industry-specific requirements, ERP cloud workers will have to provide detailed evidence of compliance and data governance policies.

a platform for process transformation that will, ultimately, improve operational performance. A successful ERP initiative requires strong executive support, corporate focus, superior process redesign, the right technology partner and a trusted adviser to help you navigate the process. Stephen Blythe is Founder and CEO of Blytheco.

Finally, the fact that you are using a hosted ERP solution should not give the service provider any added leverage to inhibit your ability to change service providers, if necessary. Many companies face similar issues with outsourced hosting providers. The difference lies in the inability to switch from a true cloud ERP provider, since they are typically the only providers for cloud-based ERP offerings. The main allure of cloud-based ERP solutions is cost savings and a predictable level of cost on a monthly basis. It is, therefore, imperative that such an effort actually leads to cost savings. Special consideration should be given to upgrades and customizations. If costs go up over time, it can lead to some uncomfortable moments. What if your SaaS providers future cost increases?

Conclusion - An Attractive Option for Some Despite the emerging nature of the market, ERP-in-the-cloud can make sense for some businesses. Smaller companies can realize significant benefits from bypassing a large ERP implementation for a nimbler version provided by a SaaS solution. For companies facing expensive upgrades to heavily customized systems, they might consider a cloud-based ERP solution, if there is a fit for the business. As long as you can get comfortable with security, data privacy and governance issues, ERP-in-the-cloud can be enticing. What made an ERP an attractive solution for a company in the past still holds true today — with or without the cloud. It is a strategic investment that can provide your company with

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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THECLOUD

A CFO’s Journey Into the Cloud

T

he CFO has it rough. As the steward of a company’s finances, his or her responsibilities are only growing during a challenging business environment, and by Alicia Anderson the stakes are ever higher. In a survey of CFOs in the US, Italy, and France, recently conducted by Financial Executives International (FEI) and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, CFOs are pessimistic. The CFO Optimism Index dropped eight points from the previous quarter, the lowest since Q2 2009. They also don’t look for things to improve anytime soon, predicting less growth than the previous quarter in several key business areas over the next year. The challenge to today’s CFO is to get strategic, using their expertise and tools to influence the business positively. CFOs can play a hugely important role in enhancing a company’s business performance and facilitating growth, but must also keep a sharp eye on managing risk. Several of the key issues that plague CFOs today can be managed with effective technology, including “cloud” or internet-based business solutions.

CFOs in Crisis Mode CFOs have understandably been in crisis mode lately, due to economic volatility, unemployment, uncertainty about taxes and inflation, regulatory changes, and so many more issues confronting them.

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Information security is always a concern for company finance leaders. Recent IT breaches in large companies like EMC, TJX, and Sony have increased concerns, and the growing influence of Software-as-a-Service, or “Cloud” solutions cannot be denied, though it presents its own set of security concerns. Security is not just a problem to toss over the fence to the IT department anymore. Productivity optimization is a continuing challenge for the CFO, who is tasked with keeping an eye on operations costs to maximize the bottom line, reducing the paperwork of dayto-day management, and streamlining the close process, as well as maintaining compliance. Cash flow optimization is a continuing challenge for the CFO, in these days of little available credit for the small to midsized business. Customers are strapped, so adjustments in Receivables expectations are needed. Dealing with increasing capital costs, particularly energy, is a major concern particularly for the distribution business. CFOs must also work with the sales team on strategies to get accurate sales forecasts and drive revenues.

Automate to Succeed A June, 2010 report from IBM called “The New Value Integrator, Insights from the Global Chief Financial Officer Study” defines the best practices of leading CFOs who outperform the competition across several measurements, including bottom line, income statement, cash flow, and efficiency metrics. These leading CFOs recognize the value of technology in helping them manage risk: “According to the report, value integrators express a heightened interest in using technology to further increase data accuracy, streamline information delivery and develop a richer base of information for deeper insights into managing risk.” Today’s cloud ERP systems provide the CFO with the tools he or she needs to lead and succeed. The availability of advanced systems to the middle market has brought formerly enterpriselevel features to smaller businesses, and integration across the enterprise with sales, marketing, production, shipping, and HR means more and better information for making business more efficient. What are some ways that cloud-based business management technology empowers the CFO? Internet-based applications bring major benefits for business, including greater scalability, speed, and flexibility, not to mention cost savings. In a survey commissioned by Google of over 800 CFOs worldwide, over 80% of US respondents said they believed implementing cloud technology could improve employee productivity. Business benefits specifically cited included:

• Latest versions of applications automatically available • Reduced costs for IT infrastructure (servers, software, staff) • More reliable IT • Mobile-friendly solutions • Improved collaboration Cloud-based solutions offer an opportunity for the CFO to reduce the capital costs of IT, moving the costs of technology to primarily an operating expense. The cloud becomes more cost-effective and scalable in this way. What about the risks inherent in the cloud? Security and reliability are foremost among the risks. Cloud providers have made risk management part of their business model, and reputable providers have industry certifications that demonstrate their adherence to best practices. These providers know their business depends on security, so they devote massive headcount and resources to their commitment to security, something a business could not do. Uptime is another concern about the cloud, but the reality is that solid providers provide availability over 99.5% of the time, and are willing to share uptime statistics with customers. In reality, uptime for the cloud is generally better overall than for on-premise. The move to the Cloud can be strategic and incremental, thanks to “connected services” that work with on-premise applications. Online collections management and sales tax automation sites, for example, can help keep overhead low while effecting vital controls. Web-based systems that connect to software may provide the best of both worlds for companies in transition, offering the cost benefits of the cloud and the security and checkpoints offered by on-premise systems. Today’s CFO should get involved in IT decisions, since they bring a valuable perspective to the evaluation and implementation process. Finance can be a strategic partner to IT, helping them focus on projects that improve business processes and result in greater business insights. CFOs also need to be involved in order to keep an eye on risk: IT projects and system changes present their own set of inherent risks. Do the research and work with a partner who understands and helps you manage the risk. Risk is inherent in the CFO office, but finance leaders can and should identify risks and put procedures in place to manage them. Use automation to help create structure and discipline in your company to eliminate as many potential risks as possible, and to provide you the information you need to deal with risk as it occurs.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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THECLOUD

The Sales Manager’s Journey to the Cloud by Apryl Hanson

I

f you are that busy sales manager that is always running from phone call to phone call, whose e-mail box is overflowing and calendar is constantly overbooked, then the cloud may have answers to your burning questions of how to make your life and your team’s life easier, and how to make achieving your quota as painless as possible. by Alicia Anderson Access to what your teams are working on anywhere Wouldn’t you rather be at ease when you are getting on a plane knowing that all the information you need is accessible at your fingertips? Anytime, anywhere access is what the cloud is known for, this can be critical when going to meet a client or opportunity and can be just as critical when your sales team needs advice on a deal that they are working to closing this month. It is impossible with the speed of business these days to have conversations with everyone on your team to stay updated on the most important opportunities. With the CRM packages available today in the cloud, you can have access to all of the information you need as if you were in the office. Not to mention, have automatic reports and alerts sent to you so that you can keep on top of situations that need your immediate attention.

Connection to your marketing team Your marketing team may be producing leads for you, but they may not be the right

ones or the right contact. How can you make the most of the leads your team is receiving? With tools like InsideView, you can make the most of those leads by finding out what the hierarchy is in an organization and who the buyers are. Connect to those people socially and read about what is happening in their organization before you make the call. Your teams will even have access to call prep questions for the industry they are in. This makes your job as sales manager even easier because your teams will have the information they need at their fingertips, and you will spend less time getting them up to speed.

Information for your CEO When you have anywhere access, it is much easier to send that much needed status update to your CEO and share information with him online as well. Not everyone wants or needs to physically be in the office in order to have access to the key performance indicators that will help make business decisions. When you both share in the access anywhere then you can spend your time talking about the latest strategies, not the information itself.

Communicate better with your suppliers When you are out at meetings with your suppliers, information at your fingertips could make the difference in your negotiation power. If you’ve been selling more and more of a vendor’s products or purchasing services, why not negotiate better pricing? Instead of waiting until you get back to the office, have information and data that you can share with those that are with you to help you get the pricing you need and want.

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THECLOUD

The Proformative 2012 Cloud Computing Survey Debunked

by Apryl Hanson

T

he purpose of the Proformative Cloud Computing/SaaS Survey was to evaluate the magnitude and direction of the adoption of this new technology in comparison to other technology currently present in the marketplace. What I’ve done is take a look at the survey, assemble the thoughts on why people are or aren’t using this technology and try to break it down into a few simple ideas or areas you would want to look at if you were considering using the Cloud for your business. The responses were mostly from those that were a manager level or higher and company sizes of $10M in annual revenues and under.

get your teams trained on using the solution properly. These factors don’t go away because the system is in the cloud.

High Concerns –

Companies that have already moved to the cloud report in the survey that the highest return on the investment that they see is anytime, anywhere access, easier and faster deployment than an on premise solution and easier and more frequent upgrades and enhancements.

Among the top concerns among organizations is that your company or customer data will be put at a higher risk than if you didn’t operate in the cloud. This is still a major concern for individuals running companies. Coming in second to data as a concern is IT being at risk. This stems from a concern that you don’t have control over the system and management of that system. While some of these concerns are understandable because your data isn’t physically sitting on site with you, cloud computing can actually be safer than having your data onsite. Since there are a number of servers, there is no single location where your information is stored. This increases the amount of security. Additionally, there are the same safeguards and roadblocks that apply to your enterprise business applications as to any website you visit. This means that security packets, passwords and authentication are required before you can access information that may be sensitive or enterprisespecific. Your IT department will spend less time installing and troubleshooting programs and will be able to spend more time developing advanced computing architectures. This is a net positive for the business overall.

Low Concerns – Things that people aren’t too worried about include an increase in the cost of doing business and an increase in company downtime. This comes from the perception that cloud based solutions are less expensive and require little time to get up and running. The interesting fact here is that sometimes the opposite is true. While the low cost of entry into cloud computing programs is attractive, sometimes the long terms costs are much more than what you would spend on other solutions that aren’t in the cloud. The misconception about how long it will take to get up and running usually doesn’t factor in the fact that while you aren’t going through the installation process (which is the easy part) you will still need to have the software configured to your needs and you will need to

Of the cloud based and software as a service solutions being used out there, Client Relationship Management (CRM) is the number one system being used by company’s while content, communications and collaboration tools are second and financials and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are third. Of applications that the companies surveyed are planning to move to the cloud in the next twelve months are Human Resource Management systems, giving employees access anywhere to their information along with learning management systems (LMS).

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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THECLOUD

Marketing M

arketing departments lend themselves to utilizing tools that are in a cloud environment by the sheer nature of the role. Online advertising and social media are everyday elements that we encounter and along with them come a plethora of online tools, apps and gadgets to help us do our jobs. Our favorites that we use range from free to paid. Monitoring your brand The team at Blytheco is a huge fan of HootSuite, a free tool that gives you the ability to monitor your social media accounts in many ways. As a marketer it is important to make sure that you have steps as well as tools in place to monitor your brand. When you put tools in place, like HootSuite - a free online solution - you can have help monitoring those online conversations you need to pay attention to without getting distracted by all of the other social noise that may be out there.

Keeping in touch with your customers In this day and age if you aren’t keeping in touch with your customers, someone else is. Untargeted forms of communication don’t work anymore. Communications need to be timely, specific, and of interest to your audience. How do you do that with large lists of customers, and how do you make sure you are offering the right message at the right time? To do this you will want to set up drip marketing campaigns based on the interests of your audience, as well as the products and or services that the customer has purchased from you. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are the best way to do this and when that is available to you at your fingertips in the cloud, you can create and monitor targeted campaigns from virtually anywhere. Imagine not having to be in the office to fire off a campaign. We have options for you if you are looking for CRM in the cloud so that you can have access anywhere, to work through campaigns, see your statistics and make sure you are keeping in touch with your customers.

Find the right prospects at the right time Finding the right people at the right time can be tricky. One would say your best option is to be available for them to find you. For inbound marketing and analytics a great cloud solution is Hubspot, which we speak more about below. But what if you want to find them? Searching the web or through social media can be time consuming and still doesn’t give you the understanding of if the time is right. With a cloud solution like InsideView you can set up watch lists to track key events in the business cycle of your prospects that might signal when it is the right time to connect. These triggers include leadership

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changes, new offerings, acquisitions, partnerships, expanding operations, cost cutting, outperforming, underperforming, company presentation, litigation, compliance, research and development, data security, funding developments, bankruptcy and restructuring, real estate deals, real estate construction and corporate challenges. All of these can be used as an indicator that movement is happening and it may be the appropriate time given your offerings to connect.

Engage with prospects early and often If you are being measured by the number and quality of prospects you produce, it would make sense to spend as much time as possible developing relationships with those names you have already gathered to move them through the sales cycle as quickly as possible so you can lower your cost per lead and increase the number of quality prospects you are delivering to the business. Nurture campaigns can do this for you. Nurture campaigns can be time-intensive unless you have a program that can handle them for you. Hubspot interacts with your website to track those prospects that are coming in through the web filling out forms, and puts them into a nurture campaign that you have set up based on their form fill behavior. After that prospect fills out a form on your website, you will see every time they return and what pages they are visiting. This gives you information you can act on, and it is all in the cloud.

Don’t make people think to hard I mention this because there is a great book that our web designer recommends called Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. The point being that web-site development should be done with the thought of how the visitor needs the information laid out and often times we instead think about how our business is structured, not how it is consumed by those that don’t know us. Another great web-based cloud solution to help you know if your website is hitting the mark is SeeVolution – with heat maps added to your website with the click of the button you can see where visitors are clicking and viewing on your site. You can see what is showing up “below the fold” on a website page that people may not be seeing. These tools can really assist you with getting the most from your website.


bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

27


CUSTOMERRELATIONSHIPS

Asking Three Ways: Customer Survey Data That Gives You a Big Win

W

henever I have worked with organizations surveying their customers, it seems that there is a lack of knowledge about the science of asking survey questions. If you have read any of my articles in the past about surveys, you know I’m a huge fan of Net Promoter Score (NPS) and asking the question “Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague” on a scale from 0-10. While this information is helpful in determining the future potential revenue of your organization, it doesn’t give you actionable data to move forward with and improve your score. To do this, I recommend first doing what I call a “Touch Point Analysis” in which you look at your business through the eyes of your customers and examine those areas in which you feel improvement will make an impact on customer loyalty. Most of the time you already know where these areas are, but laying it out and soliciting feedback from your teams will help you quantify specific areas. Once you’ve identified these specific areas of improvement, you will want to ask questions in a specific way that will help you determine if this area is one that will gain significant improvement in a customer’s loyalty. Let’s say that an area you’ve determined that needs improvement is your referral program. Here is how you would ask three ways to get data that is usable to improving this area of your business.

1

On a scale from 0-10, with 10 being the highest, please rank our current referral program?

On a scale from 0-10, with 10 being the highest, please rank how our referral program compares to other referral programs out there?

3 28

2

On a scale from 0-10, with 10 being the highest, please rank how important referral programs are related to your overall loyalty to doing business with us?

Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012

What you now have is data that allows you to do some analysis. Let me tell you how.

by Apryl Hanson

With answers to question number 1 you have the score related to where your current program ranks. If this score is in the 9-10 range, your current program is fairly successful. If it is in the 7-8 range, it is considered neutral and may or may not need any work depending on the comparison data. If it is a 0-6 range, you may need some work, again comparing it to other data. If you only asked this question – this is all you would know. But if you then subtract your score for question number 1 from question number 2 responses you now have a gap analysis. If your overall response to number 1 was a 6 – and the responses to number 2 were an 8 the gap would be a -2. Things with a gap of 1.5 or more should be looked at. Now if you only asked questions number 1 and 2 this is all the data you would have. If you then look at the responses to number 3, you will now understand that if you have a gap, that you may want to look at this area for improvement, but only if the responses to number three are ranked at an overall score of 7 or higher. WHY? It has been determined by Satmetrix, a company whose mission is measuring loyalty and improving scores of companies, is that scores of 7 or higher will help in improving your overall Net Promoter Score. This means that focus on this area will improve that number, helping you achieve better financial results. The opposite is true as well. If you start focusing on an area that is unproductive or doesn’t relate to long term loyalty of your customers it can derail your organization, waste time, and produce mediocre results.


CUSTOMERPROFILE

Cloud CRM Success at Consultwebs.com

by Alicia Anderson

LeAnna Easterday wears a lot of hats. As the Marketing Communications Specialist for Consultwebs.com, a boutique online marketing firm for law firms, she’s responsible not only for managing her company’s external communications, but also for creating and managing a CRM system that meets their growing company’s needs.

W

hen the time came to move to automated CRM, she knew the cloud was going to be important. With employees in Colorado, North Carolina, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Iceland (!!), Consultwebs.com required access to the system from different places 24 hours a day. Enabling student interns to log in and be productive from campus was also key. Scalability was also considered – they are growing fast, and need flexibility of a system that could grow and adapt with them. The team reviewed many CRM packages – “I had a two-page list of systems to check out,” she says. SugarCRM stood out as the perfect marriage of simplicity and flexibility. “So many of the other systems overwhelmed us with features we don’t need – Sugar hit us right in our sweet spot, meeting our needs and giving us the ability to grow without overpowering us with unnecessary extras.” SugarCRM was also cost-effective, because their team of inhouse web developers can manipulate the open source code to make changes to the system as needed. “Open source means we have the confidence that we can personalize and expand the system as we grow,” she said. Configuration of the system is an ongoing process. LeAnna is taking things step by step as she has time and as the company changes. “We’ve got the basics down now,” she says – the sales team is managing contacts and opportunities in Sugar. “Now it’s time to start looking at more automation, getting workflows set up, and increasing efficiency.” Sugar has allowed Consultwebs.com to consolidate five older systems to one, so things are happening gradually. The company is now considering expanding the use of SugarCRM to manage support tickets, which are currently being maintained in a separate system. “We are currently considering the long term value and benefits of managing clients post-sale in SugarCRM so we have full visibility into our clients’ complete lifecycles – it’s just a matter of finding the time to get our team trained.” Consultwebs.com takes a very customized approach to its client relationships. They look at a lawyer’s or law firm’s current presence online, make custom recommendations, and offer an individualized pricing plan based on their goals and needs. They don’t use templates to create client

websites – they carefully create each site based on the firm’s geographic area and market, what types of cases they work on, and other unique factors. Their services span the online marketing scope and include website design, SEO, paid online search ads, and content development. The fact that they have lawyers that work on their team helps them better serve their customers and be aware of compliance, ethics, and other profession-specific concerns. They were referred to Blytheco by the folks at SugarCRM, and LeAnna says the customer service provided was all they needed to make the decision to work with Blytheco’s Sugar team. The Consultwebs.com team is no stranger to cloud technology – they also use Google Drive and Calendars, Basecamp, and Mailchimp for email automation. LeAnna says that integration is the key to making the most of a cloud investment: “When you deal with the cloud and have everything online, it’s more important to have an integrated solution, because if you’re dealing with multiple platforms you’re not at maximum efficiency. We have to be sure we are taking advantage of all the opportunities.” She also admits drawbacks to the cloud: “It’s scary when everything depends on the internet – I know connection problems aren’t supposed to happen but they do.” Uptime has been impacted by connectivity outages in her area at times. But she feels they made a sound investment in SugarCRM and agrees the challenges are few when compared with the benefits.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

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SOCIALMEDIA

Getting Found on by Cortez NaPue

W

ith over 2 billion tweets a week, 350 million tweets a day, and 200 million active users, it can be easier than not to get lost in the twittersphere. Alas, don’t fret! There are several ways to attract others’ attention and to stand out in the crowd. Sure, there are MANY more people using Twitter today than just a few years ago – that means we now need to be EXTRA creative!

SEO Twitter Tips Even though Google recently ended it’s Realtime Search deal with Twitter, which means Twitter’s fire hose is no longer catalogued and used in real-time search results, there’s still a good deal of SEO benefit to be gleaned from Twitter.

1. Use Your Real Name Wisely It’s important to note that your Twitter “Real Name” doesn’t have to be your actual name, unlike with Facebook. Instead, it can be virtually anything as long as it comes in under the 20-character limit Twitter imposes. As such, your Twitter “Real Name” is perhaps the most important thing you can set on your Twitter profile. It appears in the title tag for both your Twitter profile and your individual tweet pages. It’s highly searchable, and it’s something that will appear in Google’s link to your profile.

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012

This means you need to make sure your real name is both relevant to you, a keyword people are likely to search for, and something that will make people want to click.

2. Make Your Username Count Like your real name, your Twitter username is crucial content that will be displayed in the title of your Twitter profile page and, in some cases, your individual tweet pages. Also like your real name, it can be anything you want as long as it comes in under the 15-character limit Twitter places on usernames. It is best to use this space wisely with an easily remembered, keyword-rich Twitter username that will get the attention of anyone searching for related keywords.


It may seem like an impossible task. Fifteen characters certainly isn’t a lot to work with, but a few quick Google searches for keywords related to your site can reveal what kinds of Twitter handles are ranking well, giving you a template for success.

3. Focus on Your Bio Next After your real name and username, your bio is the next most important thing you can edit. At 160 characters, it’s longer than a tweet, and it can be crucial to your SEO as it is both highly indexable content, and the first few words of it also appear in your Twitter page’s description. It is important to make your bio count. Make the first few words an interesting teaser that draws searchers to click and ensure that the entire bio has at least one or two of the keywords you’re targeting.

4. Link, Link and Link Some More To be strong in search engines, your Twitter profile needs the same thing any other site needs: lots and lots of links. Link to your profile everywhere you can, and do so with strong keywords in the anchor text. This works well because, even though your Twitter profile is closely related to your site, it is hosted on a different domain, meaning you

can pass along a great deal of trust to it from your site. This makes your links to it much more valuable. You can further this benefit by encouraging others to link to your Twitter profile as well, such as including it in an author byline when you do guest blogging, which will improve the amount of authority it receives from search engines.

5. Get Followers, Build Recognition Every follower you get is more than just a person reading your tweets. It’s a link to your Twitter profile on their “Following” page and possibly retweets and mentions of your profile, which also include a link to you. Although these links are “internal” in nature (meaning they are all links from within Twitter.com), they can help you compete with other Twitter profiles that might be on the same or a similar topic, giving you an additional edge. Since many searchers who land on Twitter profiles were doing Twitter-specific searches, this could be a very powerful advantage to have.

6. Stay Focused With Your Tweets While it’s certainly fine and maybe even a good thing to have some fun with your Twitter account and go off-topic from time to time, you need to stay focused and regularly publish tweets that are on-topic and keyword-rich. It’s important to remember that your main Twitter profile, in Google’s eyes, is very much like any other page with a headline, body copy, and links. As with any other page, if that content is keyword-rich, it’s more likely to be ranked well. Keeping your tweets focused lets you keep that copy keyword-dense, giving Google exactly what it wants to see and encouraging it to rank your Twitter page higher than other, less-focused accounts.

7. Don’t Forget Your URL While it’s true that your URL doesn’t actually pass on any SEO authority due to

Continued on page 32

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SOCIALMEDIA Getting Found on Twitter

(Continued from page 31)

Twitter’s use of the “nofollow” tag, it’s still an important tool for directing the traffic your Twitter profile gets back to your site. Since the eventual goal of any Twitter presence is to turn that traffic back to your site and your business, forgetting to use your URL is a misstep you can’t afford to make. In the end, what separates Twitter most from your runof-the-mill sites is that it exists in an almost-completely enclosed ecosystem. Therefore, much of your link building has to be done from within, and nearly all of your content building is done in the form of tweets. While this might limit what you can do with Twitter in terms of SEO, it doesn’t make Twitter any less powerful as an SEO tool. It just makes it one that you have to work a little bit harder at to succeed.

Appropriate Keyword/Hashtag Use Hashtags are also a wonderful way for communities and social audiences to categorize and easily reference information. It’s also a fantastic way to easily get found on Twitter. Even if you don’t use hashtags, it’s important to have the accurate language in your tweets so they can be searched for more easily. As hashtags are essentially keywords, Twitter allows you to search for them using their search engine and even shows you recently trending hashtags If there are a bunch of tweets you are interested in posting that are related to one topic, you may want to categorize them using a sole hashtag. This will make it easier for the public to reference and search for that info. Hashtags.org is a great site for searching for the

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012

most popular hashtags and also provides graphs for keyword analysis. • Keep them short. #IlovetheweekendandcantwaituntilIamoffofwork will be much less effective than #weekendlove • Search for and use hashtags that are popularly trending or commonly used when trying to reach a large unspecified audience • When promoting a campaign or event, try to use a catchy phrase or term as a hashtag.#itgetsbetter resonates a bit more than #bestrongfortomorrow • It’s an unspoken rule in the Twitterverse to not use more than 3 hashtags per tweet. While many do not follow this suggestion, the thing to take away is your message should not be distracting. ”The #Green #Lantern like most #superhero #movies looks like a #good #time at the #theater” is a no-no. • Be sure to only use hashtags that are relevant to your tweet. Placing #ladygaga in a tweet about the latest ERP software is not effective marketing and will probably anger your audience and others searching the Twitterverse. • Do not add spaces or punctuation to your Twitter hashtag. If you want to discuss world famous actor Will Smith, using hashtag ‘#Will Smith’ will only index your tweet as referencing “will”, similarly to how using hashtag ‘#gov‘t’, will index that tweet as referencing “gov”. #willsmith and #govt should be used respectively.


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bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

33


TECHTOYS

by Alicia Anderson

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e know it’s tough to keep up with all the new products and services that can help you run your business and your personal life more efficiently, so we’re cutting through the info overload to bring you this issue’s recommended toys and tools. They’re all in the cloud, and most of them are FREE!

Evernote After hearing everyone and their mother talking about how much they love Evernote, I finally broke down and installed it. It’s turned me into a highlyorganized machine! You can set up “Notebooks” for various topics or areas of your life or work, and then you can create more specific “Notes” within the Notebooks for tracking all kinds of information. Drag and drop email and attachments, keep webpages with the browser web clipper, tag notes to index for easy

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012

search – it’s all there. Share your notebooks with others if you need to…it can function as a project management tool very easily with this capability. The best feature of Evernote is its mobility. Install the app on your phone, tablet, and PC (or Mac), and it “syncs” your information seamlessly, so you can keep adding or tracking info wherever you are. And the “Trunk” is a collection of add-on apps to help you optimize Evernote, with offerings to improve productivity, help with travel planning, collect your recipes, etc.


Live in Basecamp. That’s our motto here at the Marketing Team, and we live by Basecamp to get our projects done. Set up projects quickly and easily, invite others to join in, create calendar items and to-dos, keep attachments and emails in the project, and have discussions. We’ve tried other project management systems, but this one seems to stick. It’s not free but the best things in life never are, contrary to popular opinion. Now that’s it’s optimized for mobile (no app needed), our love affair has blossomed into a full-on committed relationship.

As a longtime Google Docs user, I have received notification that my Docs have all been ported over to Google Drive. Alrighty, then. Google Drive is basically cloud file storage, and includes the productivity tools formerly known as Docs – word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. If you download the version for PC, you can sync all your PC’s files over to the cloud – giving backup services like Carbonite and Dropbox a run for their money. Of course there’s a mobile app, too, so you’re never away from your files, and everything syncs automatically, of course. It’s free up to 5GB, and cheap after that.

You may have 99 problems, but logo design is NOT one. If you follow me on LinkedIn, you know I’ve been recommending 99Designs to anyone who even mentions the word “logo.” This genius site, recommended by one of our gurus and co-founder of HubSpot, Dharmesh Shah, uses crowdsourcing and contests to provide amazing logos. You can pay as little as $299 to get dozens of designers competing to “win” your contest.

Again, a huge benefit is the opportunity for collaboration with Drive. Share files and put your email out of business. Downside? No iOS apps. Shocking.

I used 99Designs and got an amazing logo for $299, but the best part was the process of the contest. 99Designs is intuitive and simple to use – it makes the process of working with designers FUN. Watching the amazing designers who worked on my logo welcome and respond to my feedback was impressive. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

bell•weth•er -noun: one who takes initiative or leadership

35


INDUSTRYNEWS

A Tale of Two Conferences by Apryl Hanson and Alica Anderson and notes that I literally thought my brain couldn’t hold any more. We would love to encourage you to attend Inbound 2013 which will again be in Boston next August. I learned that when we are planning in marketing, although we are doing our best to set up strategies that will be fresh, new and relevant, by the time we get to execution on that strategy it may already be outdated. We need to focus on things that are relevant and “right now” to impact our business but do that in a way that still allows us to plan. We need to make time for these “right-now” pieces, and turn our marketing into “here is what we are saying” and “here is how it relates to this really relevant NOW topic” – this is how we get seen and heard at a larger capacity.

Sage Summit 2012 #sagesummit Why might you want to consider attending Sage Summit next year? It will be back in Washington DC next year. This year’s show – in Nashville - really took social to a whole new level both on-line and in person. One of the big events added this year was Sage City, a place where people met in person to discuss topics most important to them. Small round tables of people got together to brainstorm. Sound interesting?

We remembered that “gobbledygook” (follow marketing guru David Meerman Scott on Twitter at @dmscott) are words we should stop using. These are meaningless words like “innovate” that are overwhelmingly present in business language and websites. Get more specific when you talk about your business and use the language your customers use to help you connect with them more fully.

We threw a wonderful party for friends and customers of Blytheco. Yes, that is right, and if you weren’t there you missed it. We had a 3-hour boat tour (shades of “Gilligan’s Island” mixed with “The Love Boat”) filled with appreciation, awards, and of course cocktails. It was a great time to get away from the conference and mingle with other business owners in a gorgeous setting on the Cumberland River with downtown skyline views. We plan on hosting a party 000 6 3 2oun learning d inb days again next year and can’t wait for you to join tracks marketing s professional us in this exclusive, invitation-only event. Summit also offered lot of great sessions that weren’t just about software. We know that you don’t run your business just on software. It takes strategy, skills and development of your people and talent. That is why Sage went out of its way to have classes on strategy, hiring and marketing so that you could not only spend time learning about software capabilities and uses but you could see how that might relate to other business issues you are facing.

Inbound Marketing 2012 #inbound12 If you are a marketer I can’t think of a better conference for you to attend. After just the first day and a half, I had so many strategies

NBWA Convention

We also learned that the way users search on Google has changed. For years, businesses were in a competitive “race to the top” to get the top listing for the front page of search 0 6 0 6 results. Users are savvier reasons ng piri ins breakout es not!to now, and have learned to GO sessions keynot distrust the top listing, because too often those choices were packed with meaningless keywords instead of valuable content. Now users will often select a site that appears further down the page because they believe those have more credibility. Interesting! We took a look at how musicians are marketing music and creating relationships with fans and how that could relate to how you are marketing your product and service. Cyndi Lauper, who performed at Inbound to a thrilled audience, emphasized to us how she threw aside conventional AY! and advice from her record company R TODwisdom EGISTE / Rinstead and listened tocom the voice of the customer – her fans – in 12.eventbrite. 20 http://inbound creating her very successful blues-centered album.

onference.com

www.InboundC

Next up is the National Beer Wholesaler’s Convention, held in San Diego, CA October 14-17. We will be exhibiting at our booth with our great partners Altec, and hosting an educational session titled “Social Media 102: The Next Step” about getting strategic with social media. If you are attending, please watch for us there!

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012


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37


BOOKREPORT by Geni Whitehouse

T

his month’s authors share three different perspectives on how to have a successful business: be awesome, build a great culture, or create your own luck.

The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business Unawesome | Scott Stratten This book is actually two books in one. Start from either side then flip the book over to get the opposite perspective. (I have no idea how this is going to work on the Kindle.) On the awesome side, Stratten shares stories from organizations succeeding by providing an exceptional customer experience, or by applying innovation, or by telling great stories. He ties in social media, networking and the value of online relationships for business and personal success. On the unawesome side, he shares examples of bad business practices including failed QR code initiatives, spamming, and the dangers of pre-mature tweeting without fact checking. Both sides of your brain will appreciate the information shared in these books.

The Advantage: Why organizational health trumps everything else in business | Patrick Lencioni Prolific business fable writer and consultant Patrick Lencioni changes his approach in his latest book The Advantage. This time, he omits the fable and goes right to the concepts. Based on his success in leading The Table Group’s successful Bay Area consulting practice, his stories and examples help create a roadmap for building a healthy organization. He outlines a set of four core disciplines, starting with a cohesive leadership team. His assertion that conflict must be fostered, not avoided, in a healthy organization might make you rethink your approach to company meetings. Following his checklist and visiting the included website links could be just what the doctor ordered for your business.

Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to work for you and your business | Thor Muller and Lane Becker If you think successful organizations are just luckier than others, you are partially right. In this book, Muller and Becker share little known facts about the opportunistic environments that helped these organizations create their luck – by applying 8 key skills. He uses examples drawn from well-known successes like the Post It note and Pixar and adds lesser-known tales of floppy eared bunnies, geek brains, and Hollywood. It all comes together to make it seem possible that with this book’s help, anyone can make their own luck. About Geni Whitehouse A self-proclaimed nerd, former technology executive and CPA firm partner, Geni Whitehouse has made it her mission to eliminate boring from the world of presentations. The author of “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 Ways Even a Nerd Can Be Heard,” Geni believes her mission as a presenter is to understand a subject well enough to approach it from an angle that will not only educate her audiences—but will resonate with them. Learn more at www.evenanerd.com.

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Bellwether Magazine | Fourth Quarter 2012


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