Smart Entrepreneur Takes Start-up from 0 to 200

When my good friend and collaborator Jonny Goldstein of Envizualize introduced me to Mina Mansour in January 2010, I thought that Mina had a brilliant concept for a product family of software plug-ins that add ecommerce capabilities to Salesforce.com, the popular sales force automation system. Mina is the founder and president of IdaApps, a software company she started after 2 years of building custom apps for Salesforce.com customers.

Mina saw that many of Salesforce.com’s 65,000 customers needed inexpensive online product catalogs and shopping carts so they could easily add ecommerce to their Salesforce.com operations, instead of spending $100,000 and up for custom-built ecommerce sites. Mina explained to me that she had:

  • built and tested two easy-to-setup ecommerce apps for Salesforce.com’s Force.com cloud computing platform
  • submitted the apps to Salesforce.com’s app certification process
  • identified several consulting and software services firms who could resell and customize her apps for their Salesforce.com customers
  • started building a pipeline of leads by networking with people at Salesforce.com meetings.

When I talked with Mina, I realized that she had two more assets that would be very valuable:

  • she had 1,000 followers on Twitter (from connecting with people in the Salesforce.com ecosystem)
  • she had the “can do” attitude required to overcome the obstacles that all start-ups face.

Over the next 6 months, I worked with Mina to help her negotiate a contract with and close her first customer, sign her first channel partner, build her marketing and sales process, fine tune her marketing messages, fill her pipeline and close more deals. With over 200 customers worldwide today, Mina has proven her concept many times and over, and taken her start-up to the big leagues.

Please click on the image below (opens a YouTube page in a new browser tab) to see a terrific video about the eCatalog and eStore apps from IdaApps, and then check out the IdaApps website for testimonials from her customers and more info.

IdaApps video

 

Still Cold Calling? There is a Better Way

I thought only office supply companies were still using old and worn cold calling tactics but turns out I was wrong. Recently, a friend who is a Regional VP of Sales of an enterprise software company complained that her boss had mandated a weekly “cold calling day” for all sales people. Growing the pipeline is their most pressing sales challenge but cold calling is no longer a productive way to do that.

This type of reaction and the exponential waste it creates makes me cringe. Sure, there is a small percentage of sales professionals with silver tongues who manage to have some cold calling success, but for the vast majority cold calling is ineffective and inefficient.

Old habits die hard and this must be the case for cold calling as a tactic. Most sales leaders today learned a sales methodology in which cold calling was a given. It’s time to replace “cold calling” with “permission marketing.” Permission marketing is not new. Seth Godin, the father of permission marketing, made the concept famous. His classic line, “How do we get people to raise their hand?”, is the question that progressive sales leaders should ask today.

Before you say, “that’s marketing’s job, that’s not my area of responsibility”, let me say, “think again.” To borrow from fellow blogger, Kristin Zhivago, “the traditional division between marketing and selling no longer matches the customer’s buying process.”

Why is this so, you ask? The neatly organized idea that marketing captures inquiries, nurtures them into viable leads, and then, when qualified, passes them to sales, just doesn’t jive with the buyer’s reality. With Google power, a prospective buyer can go from acknowledging they have a problem through the various stages of the buyer’s journey in an afternoon. Buyers’ questions that BG (Before Google) required a conversation with a salesperson are now answered through online searches that pull from blogs, websites, discussion forums and other social network communities. In short, the line separating marketing and sales functions is blurred.

This is good news for sales organizations who choose to adapt. By looking at the sales challenge differently and by using Modern Marketing, you can create a relationship with prospects in which they warmly welcome a call from your sales team because they’re ready to talk to a salesperson. Obviously, this kind of call is much more productive for both the customer and the salesperson.

Old habits and outmoded techniques die hard but the world has changed. Sales teams that adapt to the evolution of the customer’s buying behavior will find the click they hear is a prospect clicking to buy rather than a prospect hanging up on an unwanted cold call.

Modern Marketing Matters to Sales

Takeaway

Modern Marketing helps sales leaders make their numbers by getting them in sync with their marketing counterparts. Modern Marketing is the combination of things that a vendor does to build relationships with prospective customers via traditional and new forms of marketing communications such as blogging and social networking.

The Revenue Cycle

In the world of Modern Marketing, sales and marketing are linked in the revenue cycle. Before implementing Modern Marketing (MM for short), sales leaders might say that they have no influence over marketing and that marketing contributes little towards helping them make their number. In contrast, modern marketers care about engagement and lead conversion, which is what builds the sales pipeline.

In a B2B world, sales leaders who closely sync with their marketing counterparts have a much easier time making their number than those who don’t. Laura Mashina at Marketo supports this point in her blog post The Marketing and Sales Handshake. She wrote that, with MM, “the traditional hand off from marketing to sales has become a solid handshake.” As a result, MM can serve as a bridge for sales leaders to get a conversation going with their marketing counterparts. This conversation is essential to ensure that the marketing spend produces strong leads that build the pipeline (or funnel, if you are of that persuasion).

Modern Marketing Savvy

Modern Marketing is how companies communicate and nurture relationships with prospective customers during the early stages of the customers’ buying process. These communication touches have a significant influence on whether or not strong leads result.

Modern Marketing might be a new term to you but its effect is something you are already quite familiar if you have ever been offered a live chat session, registered to attend an online or live seminar, downloaded a paper to learn more, commented on a blog, participated in an online community, or googled to research something you wanted to buy.

You are Modern Marketing savvy if you:

  1. Align your marketing messages to your prospects’ interests and point of view.
  2. Establish trust and relationship with your prospects throughout their buying experience.
  3. Ensure your content and service helps your prospects solve their problems.
  4. Use a mix of technology to programmatically touch your prospects.

Use Sales Insights to Develop Prospects’ Trust

A sales orientation is absolutely essential to the success of Modern Marketing. Because the sales team is closest to the customer, they often have the best input for what the customer will respond to. MM programs infused with effective answers to a prospect’s real concerns will create trust with the prospect. When trust is developed at each stage of the buying process then MM generates engagement and drives pipeline growth. This is why Modern Marketing matters to sales.

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