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The Common Sense Approach to Service

Ben-Vollmer

Welcome to the show Ben Vollmer!  

Ben Vollmer has over 25 years of experience in consulting, sales, and product management at General Electric, ePartners (acquired by DXC) and most recently, Microsoft. At Microsoft, he was responsible for the development and execution of a commercialization strategy for Dynamics 365 Field Service, advancing global go-to-market efforts, as well as focus on strategic customer engagement. At ePartners, Ben worked to establish new offerings and geographic coverage models globally. ePartners was the first Business Application focused partner with a national footprint focused on Sage and Microsoft with over 1,200 team members and 8,000 customers.

Ben joined IFS with the primary objective to enable customers to maximize the three areas that define moments of service: customers, people, and assets. Regardless of complexity, he takes a customer-centric approach in understanding an organization’s business goals and their processes and helps aligns them with IFS’s capabilities to create exceptional customer experiences. As SVP of Product Management, he owns the IFS’s strategic roadmap for the product, industries and IFS Labs.

 

 

Where it all Started

When Ben was 6 years old, his dad gifted him a Franklin Ace 1200 PC and a book on the basics of computers and said “Go learn this, it’ll get you somewhere in life”, and he was right. From there, Ben learned how to program basic though there was not much use for it at that time.

 

Fast forward to 1994, Windows 95 was just launching and Ben was working for a company that needed to track people registering for their classes. So, he deployed GoldMine to enable them to do this. When he called the reseller (or the VAR if you can think that far back) to ask for some help with setup, the reseller was shocked to see how far Ben had gotten in the deployment process and offered him a job on the spot. From there, he started doing CRM applications full time.

 

As his career progressed, he moved into the ERP where his main focus was field service and later became employee #6 at Microsoft for CRM.

 

 

The Future of Customer Expectations

We say there are only two audiences online today; humans and machines. This is something a lot of companies in this field have struggled with because they are either brilliant technologists who don’t fully understand the buyer journey (humans/customer experience) or they’re building a fantastic front end-user experience but don’t have the software to back it up.

Over the last few years, customer experience expectations have skyrocketed, but our user interfaces are still hard-coded. Take a tool like Outlook for example; Outlook does not have the context of what you are doing. Aside from visual appearance, the tool functions as it did years and years ago. Ben believes the future of customer experience lies in emersion of the machine blending with the conversion of the human.

“Natural language user interface, the ability to have the UI learn… those are areas I think our hard computer science problems haven’t solved yet, and that’s where we’re heading to next!”

 

Bringing Context to Customer Experiences

Traditionally, there is no context at work, just forms. Think about when you jump into your car and plug in your phone, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto automatically pops up. Maybe it’ll show you a list of frequent destinations you can navigate too, or allow you to resume a song you were listening too. These are applications that understand the user and help to provide a clear path for success. Ben touches on why he thinks the context is further along than we think and why trust is such an integral piece in the future of customer experience.

 

 

 

 

Fast Five Favourites

At Common Sense Professional, we like to ask our guests a rapid-fire round of five questions to get to know their favourite things in the tech space right now. 

  1. Favourite tech or business tool you are using today? evercontact
  2. Who is a company/person that does marketing fantastically? HubSpot
  3. Favourite recent read? The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni and anything Bob Herbold
  4. Favourite podcast? Plant Money
  5. Most important business result you measure your success by? The impact I have on other people and the success of others around me. 

 

 

Keep Up With Ben on LinkedIn

Listen on Spotify

How to Achieve Prospect Mastery on LinkedIn: It’s Just Common Sense!

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Welcome to the show Candyce Edelen!  

Candyce Edelen is a seasoned entrepreneur with plenty of road rash earned by co-founding two FinTech companies, one of which made the Deloitte Fast 50 list in 2004. In 2007, she launched PropelGrowth and enjoyed 10 years of growth from inbound and referrals. But in 2018, she and her partner decided to pivot to a new target market where they didn’t have an existing network. She didn’t have a big travel or conference budget and hates cold calling, but she had to generate new sales quickly. So, she researched LinkedIn lead generation techniques in order to achieve prospect mastery on LinkedIn. After a bit of trial and error, she landed on a strategy that worked really well. Within 6 months, she made 500 new connections and booked 125 sales calls, using only LinkedIn and Google. It worked so well, she started teaching other sales teams how to use the same methods. This approach allows her clients to develop a consistent and predictable strategy for bringing in qualified sales opportunities.
 

 

Getting Past 1st Base

Connecting with prospects on LinkedIn requires a systematic, personalized, human-to-human approach. Getting people to accept your initial connection request is the most important conversion point when trying to achieve prospect mastery on LinkedIn. Candyce has been able to improve her connection rate from 35% to 70% by taking the time to get to know who she is connecting with and finding a nugget of information that she can use to spark a conversation about their interests.

“You gotta slow down in order to speed up. People don’t do business with people who pitch slap them on LinkedIn. People do business with people they know, like, and trust.”

Once you have sent a personalized message to a prospect, the first thing they are going to do is look at your profile. In order to avoid immediate dismissal, it is important that your headline is clear on who you are and what you are offering. Additionally, using your about section to talk about how you solve problems for your customers gives them the opportunity to get to know you before they decide to connect.

Staying organized and keeping track of your numbers is also an important step in prospecting on LinkedIn. Candyce uses excel to create a prospecting scorecard where she has a clear view of what is working and what is not. It is important to take your time, look at the numbers, and do the research.

 

 

Why We Shouldn’t Use Automation on LinkedIn

Let’s flash back to 2005: before marketing automation, everyone you sent emails to replied. It wasn’t until marketing automation hopped on the scene and started spamming people that we stopped answering emails.

Fast forward to today, we’re lucky to see a 20% open rate let alone a response. Marketing automation effectively broke email.

“If we spam on LinkedIn and we have more and more bots, we’re going to train people to ignore messenger. Let’s not break LinkedIn like we did email”

Sadly, we’re already experiencing more and more automated requests on LinkedIn. Businesses are so focused on achieving speed and efficiency that they are losing sight of what social was meant for in the first place – to be social, to share human to human connections. It’s that fear that drives Candyce on her mission to educate business professionals on how to properly and effectively use LinkedIn before it’s too late.

 

Let’s Talk Pitch Slapping

So, what is pitch slapping? Pitch slapping is when someone sends you a direct message or connection request where they pitch you immediately.

“A pitch is a pitch in the eyes of the beholder, not the sender. It’s easy to pitch slap, it’s hard not to pitch slap.”

Candyce runs a 90-day prospecting accelerator for people who really want to achieve prospect mastery on LinkedIn. The program is run in small cohorts of 10-20 people who work on LinkedIn together for 10-12 weeks. The people that attend this program are 100% on board with no bots, no pitch slapping, just genuine 1-1 human connection. However, by week 4 of this program attendees have started to send messages and generally find they are not getting good results. Candyce has found that after reviewing the messages, every single one has been a pitch slap.

Traditionally, the sales approach is to make assumptions about what a prospects pain points might be, to talk about those pain points, and how your company solves them. That approach just simply does not work on LinkedIn or even anywhere else for that matter.

The best way to avoid pitch slapping is to treat LinkedIn like a proper networking event by asking questions and sparking conversations about their interests without assuming their pain points or reason for being there in the first place.

 

 

 

 

How To Achieve Prospect Mastery 

The three do’s of LinkedIn act as a framework to achieve prospect mastery, and it really just common sense!

  1. Show respect 
  2. Do your homework 
  3. Be human

 

 

Fast Five Favourites

At Common Sense Professional, we like to ask our guests a rapid-fire round of five questions to get to know their favourite things in the tech space right now. 

  1. Favourite tech or business tool you are using today? Obviously LinkedIn, but I’d also like to shout out VideoAsk owned by TypeForm.
  2. Who is a company/person that does marketing fantastically? Chris Walker with Refine Labs talking about dark social and the need to get over the idea that everything in marketing is attributable.
  3. Favourite recent read? They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
  4. Favourite sales strategy: PropelGrowth Prospecting Mastery
  5. Most important business result you measure your success by? Revenue!

 

 

Keep Up With Candyce on LinkedIn

Listen on Spotify

The Common Sense Approach to Maximizing Growth and Exit Value for Your Firm

maximizing-growth-and-eit-value

Welcome to the show Jim Barnish!  

Jim Barnish has spent the last two decades growing tech companies as an entrepreneur, operator and consultant. Jim now runs Orchid Black, a growth services firm complete with growth experts just like Jim that share an incredible track record maximizing growth and exit value for founder-led tech companies with at least $3M ARR that are “in the black” (profitable). If you’re wondering how to make your business worth SO MUCH MORE on the path towards acquisition, Jim & the Orchid Black team are a must.
 

The Necessity of a Re-Brand

In 2020, at the beginning of quarantine, Jim was well underway with his firm and began the process of re-branding his business to Orchid Black. Jim took the time throughout the lockdown to get in touch with his ideal customer profile (ICP). He found that he was gaining momentum in working with founder-led innovator companies, however, the current branding of his business at the time was not matching up with this buyer persona. 

“It was hard at first. We had built this brand that had a great reputation in Tampa and other areas and markets. But it became a necessary evil to work through and do a strategic rebrand that would align us with our ICP. […] After getting some customer feedback and some feedback from the market on how the new brand was resonating compared to the old story brand, it was a no brainer.” 

 

Finding Your Buyer Persona

Throughout the process of this re-brand, one of the first things Jim did – and the essential first step in understanding your business performance – was hone in on an ideal client and figure out how to speak to them.

Jim’s top three recommendations to get closer to understanding who your ideal buyer persona is:

  1. Talk to your customers – the ones that love you – and figure out why they love you!
  2. Next, figure out not just why they love you, but also why they are willing to pay you so much? Figure out what is happening in that particular customer journey to make it work so well and then double down on it.
  3. Ask for feedback from people who are not customers, as well. Customers know a lot about you and they see a lot of how you work, but there is value in getting a more objective opinion as well.

Scaling with a Growth Mentality

For Jim, finding people for your business who think differently than you and amplifying their strengths and ideas, while painful at times, is how you effectively execute a growth mentality for your company in order to scale.

“When you bring different minds to the table you can build on ideas. It doesn’t mean they are going to have a better idea than you, it means that they will have a different take on your idea and you will have a different take on their ideas and this will lead to evolution. This is what high-performing teams are; actually being a team.”

 

It’s Just Common Sense!

For Jim, so much of these growth and business sustainability pursuits can be boiled down to common sense. So why do so many people get it wrong?

“Because it’s simple. All the things that are simple in this world are the things that people complicate which makes everyone get it wrong […] It really boils down to common sense at the end of the day.”

 

Fast Five Favourites

At Common Sense Professional, we like to ask our guests a rapid-fire round of five questions to get to know their favourite things in the tech space right now. 

  1. Favourite tech or business tool you are using today? A CRM tool like HubSpot or Project Management tool like Monday, because they’re built for scale and built for growing companies. 
  2. Who is a company/person that does marketing fantastically? Hubspot 
  3. Favourite recent read? Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, and anything by Strategyzer 
  4. Favourite sales strategy: BDR (business development representative) or SDR (sales development representative), as well as leveraging channel partners 
  5. Most important business result you measure your success by? Two things: happy customers and happy employees (these go hand in hand), as well as the value of the data that his business is getting. 

 

Keep Up With Jim on LinkedIn

Listen on Spotify

3 Common Sense Ways to Unlock Better Business Relationships

unlock-better-business-relationships

How do we unlock better business relationships in a digital world?  

This week’s guest JC Quintana is an internationally recognized business relationship psychology researcher, speaker, and author, who is on a mission to help companies unlock better business relationships through strategy and technology. He lectures as an adjunct professor of Customer Experience (CX) and Design Thinking at 14 major U.S. universities with a focus on the importance of aligning customer advocacy, employee engagement, and operational business success. His illustrious career includes senior executive roles over a client, employee, and alliance partnership initiatives at DXC, HP, Sage, DHL and ADP. JC is the best-selling author of two books on customer relationship management (CRM) and business relationship psychology. He lives in Kennesaw, GA.
 

Relationship Building in a Remote World 

While we know that many things have changed in the 24 months, JC tells us that the psychology of relationship-building has not. The bottom line is that, amid the madness of the world we live in, we have not stopped being humans. Empathy, equity, and value continue to drive forward our relationships. Every time we are assessing our relationships – pandemic or no pandemic, remote or not remote – we calculate the value using the equation: Rewards – Cost = Outcome.
 

What has changed is the delivery methods for these relationships. Methods and social norms that we have grown so used to have changed in recent years. These are factors we then bring back to the cost-benefit analyses we all run when assessing our relationships. 

 

“Over the years we’ve told companies ‘it costs too much money to make a phone call’, so as much as you can, divert any incoming calls to chat or to email. As people got locked in place and needed a more human connection, that model fell apart, because we were then renegotiating relationships in the midst of changing needs, characteristics, circumstances, and capacity.”
 

The Common Sense Approach to Unlock Better Business Relationships 

Working in the tech space, we often see people eager and excited about the next new thing. A hot-button tool that will save them time and money. A shortcut or a gold ticket solution. The reality is that, at its core, relationship building has never changed, but when we start taking these short-cut solutions and applying them to our relationships, that is when it comes back to harm our business. 

 

To unlock better business relationships, we need to bring them back to the basics and treat them as what they are: relationships. Amid drastic change and increased expectations that are largely driven by new and emerging technology, it is important to remember the human and relational side of the business. JC tells us that relationships are the same in an interpersonal sense as in a business context. We can’t separate it, because we are human. Just as our health and wellness need to pick the right relationships to pursue, it is important to the health of your business to nurture the right business relationships. 

 

Back to the Basics of CRM 

JC has written two books about CRM: Speaking Frankly About Customer Relationship Management and Serious Relationships: The 7 Elements of Successful Business Relationships. JC tells us that we in the business world have completely changed what CRM means: we have made it about the technology, about the platform. 

 

“We cannot be all things, to all people, all the time. And we think that’s what technology is for. To make it so we can be all things, to all people, all the time. And this is not true.”
 

We need to go back to the basics of creating a psychologically safe relationship for your customers and your employees to trust you. According to JC, the world needs more of 3 things right now: 

  1. Real focus on the right customers 
  2. A genuine focus on relationship equity with those customers 
  3. The ability to manage the right activities to lead to a quality relationship with them 

 

Fast Five Favourites 

At Common Sense Professional, we like to ask our guests a rapid-fire round of five questions to get to know their favourite things in the tech space right now. 

  1. Favourite tech or business tool you are using today? Business Model Canvas 
  2. Who is a company/person that does marketing fantastically? Brene Brown 
  3. Favourite recent read? Would You Do That to Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers By Jeanna Bliss 
  4. Favourite sales strategy: Solutions Selling. 
  5. What Most important business results do you measure your success by? Relationship quality. 

 

Keep Up With JC on LinkedIn

Listen now on Spotify

How to Get Management on Board with Marketing

Turning reluctance into results

As marketers, a story we are frequently told by business leaders is that they know something about marketing. Oftentimes business professionals are thrown into marketing roles for short periods of time to work on lead generating initiatives or website management without being marketers by trade.

An alternative story we so often hear in the business world, is that of a company hiring outside marketing products or services and seeing very little return on their investments. We see large sums of money being spent on advertising, website development, and short-term email initiatives, only for results to erode over time.

Regardless of the story, the result is the same: management is frustrated by marketing and they do not know who to trust.

So, how do we build that trust? How do we get management on board with marketing? At the BBC Event hosted by the Channel Marketing Academy, Marie Wiese moderated a discussion with Jennifer Harris, Amy Spencer, and Liz Anderson which set out to answer these questions.

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Women Talk Tech Episode 62: Closing the Access Gap – Helping Female Founders Scale

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Helping Female Founders Scale

Welcome to the show, Jennifer Jordan.

On this week’s episode of Women Talk Tech, we are joined by Jennifer Jordan. Jennifer is the Managing Director for the Female Founders First program with Barclays  and Techstar, a program designed to allow trail-blazing female-led companies with resources to grow, scale, and advance their businesses.

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Women Talk Tech Episode 61: Ensuring a Humane Future – Empathy and Ethics in Innovation

 

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Empathy and Ethics in Innovation

Welcome to the show, Lisa Woodley.

On this week’s episode of Women Talk Tech we are joined by Lisa Woodley. Lisa is the Vice President of Customer Experience at NTT DATA, where she utilizes her background in philosophy and psychology to bring empathy, ethics, and the human perspective to technology innovation. In doing so, Lisa strives  to create digital experiences that elevate brands and drive business value. Lisa was a Computerworld Top 100 Technology leader in 2017 and is a Women in IT Digital Leader of the Year finalist for 2020. In addition to her role at NTT DATA, she is an adjunct at Rutgers University where she teaches User Experience Design as part of their Masters of Business and Science program.

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Women Talk Tech Episode 60: How Determination Drives Results

 

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How Determination Drives Results

Welcome to the show, Tanya Tygesen.

On this week’s episode of Women Talk Tech, we are joined by Tanya Tygesen. Tanya is the Director of Client Service and Relationship Management at SS&C Salentica, a division of SS&C Technologies – a multinational financial technology company with offices around the globe. Tanya is also a single mom (by design) to 3 year old twin boys, is a former competitive athlete (who was Olympics-bound) and is passionate about continual learning on a variety of topics including leadership, technology, art, fashion, cooking and parenting.

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