Tag: Sales


Does The Ben Franklin Close Still Work in 2021?

Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents — an accomplished inventor, a brazen revolutionary, and a Class of 1968 International Swimming Hall of Fame inductee. And I’m not kidding about that last one.

All those achievements are a credit to certain aspects of his personality — his patience, his rationality, his boldness, his bravery, and his fondness for pros-and-cons lists. And, again, I’m not kidding about that last one. He really did love those, so it’s only fitting that there’s a pros-and-cons-oriented sales closing strategy that bears his name.

Here, we’ll take a more thorough look at The Ben Franklin Close, go over the steps you need to take to nail it, and review the pros and cons of closing based on pros and cons.

This particular technique is generally employed when negotiations are taking a turn for the worse. It works most effectively when a buyer is obviously reluctant to take you up on your offer and seems poised to cut and run.

You need to be able to recognize when your prospect is on the edge of bailing on the deal. That could be them saying something like, “I need to sleep on it,” or raising a particularly tricky objection.

All told, it’s an excellent strategy to have in the back pocket when deals appear to be going south — here are the key steps you need to hit if you want to do it right.

1. Present the idea of making a pros-and-cons list.

This step takes some touch and finesse. Once you can see that your prospect’s interest is waning, you can float the idea of creating a pros-and-cons list with a combination of tact and assertiveness.

Don’t just whip out a piece of paper and say, “Here, we’re going to make a pros-and-cons list.” Instead, acknowledge their hesitance, present the idea of weighing the deal’s benefits and drawbacks, and stress that you’re going to make the list together.

Say something to the effect of, “[Name], I understand you might be reluctant and want to give this some more thought, and given how important this decision is, I understand where you’re coming from. Still, you’re going to need to understand whether the benefits of this [offering] outweigh the cons. Can we put together a comparison of those together before you head out?”

2. Offer guidance, but let them come up with the list themselves — for the most part.

Here’s where you play some mind games. At this point in the strategy, you’re best off not taking the list and writing out every perk you can think of yourself. This is a collaborative process — your prospect needs a meaningful stake in it.

You might have to ask some questions and make some points to set things in motion, but once they’re rolling, start to listen before you interject. Let them do the talking, but walk them through the points you’d like to commit to the list.

Try to guide them into answering questions about their needs, priorities, and preferences — then, subtly frame your product or service as a fitting solution for those issues when you write your pros and cons down.

3. Raise other valuable pros they might not have considered.

Once you think you’ve gotten as much mileage out of your prospect’s self-guided efforts as possible, start raising some points they might not have considered. Your ability to nail this step rests on how well you listened in the previous one.

If you paid close attention during step two, you should have a solid understanding of your prospects’ values. With those in mind, present some relevant points. For instance, say your prospect repeatedly stressed their interest in the hard, monetary value of adopting your solution but didn’t touch on how it might improve customer retention.

You might want to interject with some information on how your solution has historically improved your current customers’ retention figures. Then, briefly touch on the financial impact of that trend, and see if they’d be willing to add that point to the list.

4. Ask thoughtful closing questions.

Finally, once your list is set, you’ll need to ask some thoughtful closing questions that might spring more points or make them realize your meeting has been thorough in identifying their concerns. For instance, you might ask a prospect, “Are there any major obstacles we haven’t considered yet?” or, “Is there any reason not to proceed with this deal?”

Once you’ve asked these questions, try to keep quiet. Silence is one of the most powerful tools salespeople have at their disposal, and embracing it here is in your best interest. Let them think of any other issues or see that you’ve already addressed every point there is to address.

You might not close the deal right then and there, but if you nail all the steps, you’ll keep the ball rolling — at the very least.

Pros and Cons of The Ben Franklin Close

Pro: It lets you understand your prospect’s values.

The pros and cons your prospect comes up with can be very telling into their priorities and principles. For instance, if a buyer consistently references monetary value throughout their list — with points discussing aspects of your offering like your price relative to your competitors and the money they can save long term — you’ll see that you should stress that side of your product or service’s value proposition if the deal progresses.

Pro: It allows you to address obstacles and reservations you might not have considered.

Sometimes, buyers internalize objections — holding onto roadblocks either subconsciously or, in some cases, deliberately. The Ben Franklin Close can help bring those to light.

Working on a “cons” list with a prospect can reveal obstacles and reservations prospects might have been struggling with but not expressing. That kind of insight can help you more thoughtfully tailor your approach to account for any hesitance your buyer might be having.

Cons: It can shine a light on some particularly overwhelming cons.

Sometimes, having your prospect put their reservations and obstacles on paper can make them realize the gravity of some of those drawbacks. Expressing and facing negative thoughts instead of internalizing them can be overwhelming for some buyers — and your attempts to allay those concerns might not be enough.

Cons: Some pros you present might read as cons.

This point underscores the importance of trying to let your prospects come up with their pros and cons themselves. You’re trying to gauge how you can sell to them based on their feelings, perceptions, preferences, and understanding of your offering.

You can’t get overzealous about pushing every last positive you can think of. Sometimes, a point that feels like a “pro” might not come across as one. For instance, you might tout what you believe to be your product’s low price — only for your prospect to point out that a competitor’s price is actually lower.

By no means is The Ben Franklin Close a guaranteed slam dunk. Like any other closing method, it won’t resonate with every prospect — and in some cases, it might be tough to come up with a compelling list of pros.

Still, if you can leverage it well enough to make Ben Franklin proud, you’ll add another reliably effective strategy to your closing repertoire.

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Building the Dream Team: How to Create High-Performing Sellers…

Join us on March 9, 2021 and learn how to optimize your approach to sales enablement, move the needle where it matters, and drive sales teams to peak performance.

The post Building the Dream Team: How to Create High-Performing Sellers and Accelerate Growth appeared first on Sales Hacker.


Sales Close Rate Industry Benchmarks: How Does Your Close…

Of all the deals in your pipeline, what percentage do you actually close?

Sales close ratios let you know how effective you are as a sales rep. And it’s a good way for sales managers to measure performance. The higher the close ratio, the better your team is at converting opportunities in the pipeline into revenue. While it’s great to have internal metrics, it’s also good to know how you and your team compare to other sales organizations in your industry.

Calculating a close ratio is simple, but there are a few factors that can affect this number before you even begin selling. Lead qualification, overcoming objections, and buyer personas are all areas that a great salesperson should master to increase their close ratio.

Let’s calculate an example close ratio.

Alex sells candles for a living. This month, she gave 30 presentations selling the benefits of her candles to customers. Of the 30 presentations Alex gave, 10 resulted in a customer making a purchase. Alex’s close ratio in this example is 33%.

(30 presentations ÷ 10 purchases = 33.3% repeating close ratio)

Simple enough, right? Calculating close ratios usually is. However, things can go awry when other variables appear.

Here’s another scenario featuring our friend Alex from earlier:

Alex has decided to grow her candle business. She’s brought on a friend, Michelle, to jumpstart the marketing effort and help her set more appointments to sell her candles.

Michelle does an amazing job sourcing leads who book presentation appointments on Alex’s website. Michelle’s inbound marketing tactics are working so well that Alex has 50 appointments this month – a 40% increase over last month!

Alex jumps right into her presentations and sells the benefits of her candles as she always does. At the end of the month, she realizes she’s sold only 10 candles – the same amount as last month. Her close rate is 20%. That’s quite a plunge from 33%.

What happened here?

As it turns out, Michelle’s inbound marketing tactics targeted customers who were interested in candles, aromatherapy, and wax melts. Alex only sells candles. The lead opportunities Michelle’s campaign brought in were not the best fit for the product Alex offers even though they were interested in items similar to candles. When Alex gave her presentations, some of the people were looking for wax melts, not candles, and didn’t make a purchase.

This anecdote illustrates an alignment problem qualifying leads between sales and marketing, but this isn’t the only reason that your close ratio might be affected.

Factors that Affect Close Ratio

Close ratios are sensitive to internal and external factors. Something as simple as having an off day or a misalignment among teams can negatively impact your close ratio. Read on to learn more about factors that affect close ratio and what you can do to get ahead of these issues before they arise.

Lead Qualification

Alex and Michelle’s scenario showed us how marketing and sales teams can be misaligned on qualifying leads. Michelle achieved her KPI. She increased Alex’s lead opportunities by 40%. However, Alex’s close ratio plummeted because not all of those leads were interested in purchasing a candle.

Before you sell anything, take a look at your lead opportunities and see how they’ve been qualified. Are they marketing qualified leads (MQL) or sales qualified leads (SQL)? Perhaps your team has developed a hybrid model for qualifying leads. Regardless of how you make the distinction, the goal is to sell to prospects who are ready to make a decision to buy the product you sell. This requires a partnership between sales and marketing to determine who is ready to speak with a salesperson and who needs a bit more nurturing from the marketing team.

Overcoming Objections

As a salesperson, you’re on the frontline of your company, often acting as the face of the brand and the expert of the product. When customers speak with you, they’re looking for your expertise (even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes).

Prospects usually have questions before they make a purchase and it’s your job to answer them in a way that shows them the benefits of choosing you over the competition. Leaving an objection unresolved is risky. Prospects may consider an unresolved objection as a reason to choose another product, therefore turning down your proposal. That’s bad news for your close ratio.

It’s imperative that you understand the product you sell and have counterpoints ready for objections. Overcoming objections builds credibility and trust with your prospect, thus earning their business. This is good news for your close ratio!

Buyer Personas

Researching your prospects is critical to understanding where they are in the buying process. Does your prospect need a solution right away or are they transitioning from one product to another? This distinction will guide your conversation down a path that will solve for the customer and, if they choose your product, increase your close ratio.

If your business doesn’t have buyer personas already, develop a few based on the most common types of prospects you talk to. A good buyer persona will include demographics, motivations, and real customer quotes. Using a buyer persona during your sales conversations gives you a better understanding of the type of product your prospect is looking for. They’re giving you the blueprint on how to earn their business.

Sales Close Ratio by Industry

To help you figure out where you stand, we analyzed the close ratios of over 8,900 companies’ sales organizations across 28 industries and multiple sizes to put together a set of sales close ratio benchmarks.

Here are a few sales close ratios by industry:

1. Biotechnology Industry Close ratio: 15%

2. Business & Industrial Industry Close ratio: 27%

3. Computer Software Industry Close ratio: 22%

4. Computers & Electronics Industry Close ratio: 23%

5. Finance Industry Close ratio: 19%

You can see how you compare using our form-free Sales Close Ratio Industry Benchmark tool.

Check out our Sales Metrics Calculator below, too.

Increase Your Close Ratio

When it comes to sales, closing is the name of the game. How you close matters just as much as your close ratio. Calculating your close ratio is simple, but there might be obstacles that make achieving your goal a bit tougher. Align with your marketing team to get an understanding of how the leads you’re working on are qualified. Brush up on your product knowledge to overcome objections. Finally, get a thorough grasp of your prospects with buyer personas to meet them where they are in the buying process. With these tips, you’ll be calculating a high close ratio month after month.

calculator and template to close sales deals

Choosing a CRM

The 3 Types of CRM Software (and Which Is…

Today, many businesses rely on CRM platforms to help their sales, marketing, customer service, and ops teams, manage their day-to-day tasks and provide remarkable customer experiences.  That’s exactly why having a clear picture of the different types of CRMs are and what they do is a must. This will help you identify the right solution for your team, whether you’re in the market for a CRM for the first time or you’re looking for a different system. 

Businesses use customer relationship management software (CRM)  to manage their relationships and interactions with prospects and customers (as well as the data that results from those relationships and interactions). A CRM can help any business improve its customer experience and the buyer’s journey.

CRMs are used to attract leads, convert those leads into customers, and sustain customer relationships. While there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a CRM, all of these systems generally fall into one (or more) of the following three buckets: Operational, analytical, or collaborative CRMs.

Pro Tip: Get HubSpot’s all-in-one CRM platform to help you remove friction, scale your business, and grow better. 

Here, we’re going to explore the differences between the three types of CRMs on the market and why you might choose one over another. Let’s get started. 

Operational CRMs achieve these goals through three main features:

1. Marketing Automation

Operational CRMs simplify and streamline time-consuming and manual tasks for marketers with the help of marketing automation. They automate tedious responsibilities like coordinating email campaigns, distributing content offers, and reaching out to contacts at scale.

Some CRMs can also deliver marketing analytics, track the ROI of online ads, and offer companies personal insight into individual leads. Some can even help businesses with more challenging, specialized marketing practices like SEO and blogging.

2. Sales Automation

Sales automation is meant to streamline a company’s sales process, enabling reps to spend more time interacting with prospects and bringing customers on-board.

Sales automation generally includes processes like email scheduling for leads, tools that enable prospects to schedule meetings with reps, and features to track sales calls.

Many operational CRMs also make life easier for sales reps by enabling workflows that allow them to easily and automatically rotate leads, delegate contacts, and create deals and tasks. Additionally, operational CRMs often offer features like sales record creation, better sales record visibility, and simpler lead prioritization.

3. Service Automation

Service automation is the final piece of the operational CRM puzzle. Its purpose is to help a company create an extraordinary experience for customers, keep them loyal, and encourage them to promote the company brand.

Service automation almost always sets a framework for one-on-one correspondence between service reps and customers. This may include things like setting up inboxes that aggregate customer emails or coordinating live chats and setting up chatbots.

Service automation also provides ways to delegate service tasks to reps via ticketing systems. Additional features such as a knowledge base or FAQ pages are also commonly associated with service automation.

Who should use an operational CRM?

Businesses with more linear sales processes will usually get the most out of operational CRMs. SMBs can get a lot out of these platforms, but that’s not to say that operational CRMs are specific to their needs. Even larger enterprise companies can benefit from using this kind of software.

Ultimately, if your company is trying to automate its workflow and take the human element out of the more monotonous, administrative side of your business, an operational CRM is the way to go.

Operational CRM Example: Hubspot

  • Price: Free forever; $45/ mo, Starter; $450/ mo Professional; $1,200/ mo, Enterprise
  • Best for: Any scaling businesses, from SMB to enterprise, and any team, including marketing, sales, customer service, operations, or C-suite.  

HubSpot is an all-in-one CRM platform meant to align internal teams, pull meaningful insights, and report on growth opportunities — it does this by combining Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and CMS, along with hundreds of available integrations, to facilitate marketing, sales, and service processes. 

HubSpot automates manual tasks (data entry, data sync, and contact data updates) and helps you create an experience and buyer’s journey that your customers will love by centering your entire business around your customers.

HubSpot is easy to use and syncs all interactions your team has with leads and customers to that individual’s timeline to maintain organized and accurate contact records for all of your internal team members to access and reference.

Companies can then leverage the data they’ve collected for better sales efforts, targeted marketing campaigns, and personalized customer support. Generally speaking, the most crucial components of an analytical CRM are data warehousing, data mining, and OLAP tools.

1. Data Warehousing

A data warehouse is a type of database incorporated into many analytical CRMs. It provides one of the most effective systems analysts can use to collect, integrate, and prepare customer data for analysis.

A data warehouse stores current and historical data in a single place and makes processes like data extraction and conducting data analysis easier than in more conventional databases.

2. Data Mining

The next component of an analytical CRM is data mining — a catch-all term for the process of discovering patterns in large data sets.

Analytical CRMs use data mining techniques to track information and data trends relevant to customer interests. This allows them to offer a better picture of a company’s customer lifecycle: a process that encompasses customer identification, attraction, retention, and development.

3. OLAP Tools

The third component of your typical analytical CRM is Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tools. It’s a category of tools used to analyze data stored in databases. These tools are used to evaluate multidimensional data from multiple perspectives.

For example, a business may want to analyze how customers are interacting with its website. It has access to data about the online features customers are using, customers’ locations, and when they’re logging on. Having a comprehensive picture of this data could give salespeople insight into how, where, and when they should be reaching out to prospects.

Instead of analyzing each of those dimensions individually, OLAP tools enable that business to conduct an analysis on all of them simultaneously. Additionally, with OLAP tools, that business could see how customers in specific regions are interacting with their website over specific time frames.

Ultimately, OLAP tools are what an analytical CRM uses to validate hypotheses that may have been derived from information accrued by its other components.

In the example provided above, the other parts of the CRM would have gathered the data on how, when, and where customers are interacting with the site. Its OLAP tools would have clarified and applied that information, giving that business a better idea of how to conduct its sales, marketing, and service efforts.

Who should use an analytical CRM?

Analytical CRMs are best for businesses looking to leverage data to get a picture of how their customers operate.

If you’re interested, it also wouldn’t hurt to have an employee — or a few — at your company who’s willing to make a conscious effort to learn some pretty technical software. Analytical CRMs aren’t necessarily difficult to use, but they’ll take a bit more work on your company’s end to figure out.

Analytical CRM Example: Zoho Analytics

  • Price: $22/ mo, Basic; $45/ mo, Standard; $112/ mo, Premium; $445/ mo Enterprise
  • Best for: Businesses looking to improve their data analysis and reporting capabilities.

Zoho Analytics gives you real-time analytics to help inform smarter business decisions. The software allows your data to transform huge amounts of raw data into actionable reports and dashboards. These capabilities can enable you to better track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as current trends and future predictions.

A collaborative CRM has two definitive components — interaction management and channel management. 

1. Interaction Management

Interaction management is a process that tracks every interaction between a business and its customers — whether through email, social media, face-to-face interactions, phone calls, or other communication channels.

Interaction management allows a company to keep a log of these kinds of correspondence, as well as team notes about them. Different business units can then share this information across the organization.

2. Channel Management

Channel management takes interaction management a step further. It’s the process of using the information gathered and analyzed during interaction management to identify and, ultimately, pursue the communication channels that best suit customer preferences.

Should your company’s customer service unit communicate primarily via email or chat? Should your sales team make a point of pursuing one-on-one meetings or phone calls with prospects? These are the kinds of questions that channel management is designed to answer.

Who should use a collaborative CRM?

Businesses that are spread across multiple physical locations or have many teams, stand to gain a lot from collaborative CRMs’ emphasis on business unit synchronicity.

The same goes for companies that rely heavily on cross-department communication. It goes without saying, but a collaborative CRM won’t be a good fit for any company not comfortable with customer information being shared liberally throughout the organization.

Collaborative CRM Example: Copper

  • Price: $25/ mo, Basic; $59/ mo, Professional; $119/ mo, Business
  • Best for: Small businesses that place an emphasis on collaboration and are interested in a CRM with a user-friendly interface.

With Copper, all your customer data is stored in one place, allowing everyone across your organization to be in the loop about any customer interaction or deal. The platform’s user-friendly interface also features custom pipelines and dashboards. Copper is a good choice for small businesses looking for a simple, straightforward CRM that integrates seamlessly with G Suite.

Operational, Analytical, or Collaborative CRM?

Each kind of CRM has its own benefits, and any business stands to gain a lot from what they all have to offer.

Fortunately, most of the more prominent CRM platforms incorporate elements of all three types. Still, it’s important to recognize which kind of CRM best suits your needs and make your decision with that in mind.

If you’re looking to streamline your sales, marketing, and customer service, you should err on the side of operational. Alternatively, if you’re looking to use hard data to better understand your customers, prioritizing analytical may be the way to go. Lastly, if you want to make business synchronicity and collaboration main priorities, you should explore collaborative CRMs.

Different systems suit different situations. Regardless of which way you may be leaning, you need to take the time to understand your company’s needs, resources, and culture before making the decision.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

crm software free

Choosing a CRM

13 Salesforce CRM Alternatives That Will Enhance Your Sales…

Note: This article is authored by HubSpot.

Every weekend my husband and I face a difficult decision: What movie should we watch and what should we order for dinner?

As a sales leader, deciding which CRM to use can be just as challenging a decision.

To select the right CRM for your needs, you’ll probably compare features such as customizability, ease of use, and price.

Ultimately, you want to enhance your sales process without being burdened with overly complicated software.

If you’re looking for Salesforce CRM alternatives, review our list below to find an option that will supercharge your sales process and eliminate friction.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot CRM example of salesforce alternative


Price: Free, $45/ mo (Starter), $450/ mo (Professional), $1,200/ mo (Enterprise)

HubSpot is a CRM platform that helps you align your internal teams, pull meaningful insights, and report on growth opportunities by combining Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Service Hub, and CMS, along with hundreds of available integrations, to facilitate marketing, sales, and service processes. It’s ideal for all scaling businesses (SMB and enterprise alike) and any team (including marketing, sales, customer service, operations, or C-suite).

The CRM is exceptionally easy to use, automates manual tasks (data entry, data sync, and data updates) and it centers everything you do around your customers so you’re able to create remarkable customer experiences and improve the buyer’s journey. HubSpot syncs all interactions between you and any contact to that specific contact’s timeline. This creates a single source of truth for every member of your team, from sales to marketing to service to ops.

2. ActiveCampaign

activecampaign crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: $9/ mo (Lite), $49/ mo (Plus), $129/ mo (Professional), $229/ mo (Enterprise)

ActiveCampaign is a sales CRM that’s ideal for businesses looking to automate time-consuming tasks such as lead prioritization, email marketing, and contact management. Contact data will be automatically updated and you can view your entire interaction and conversation history with any of your contacts in the CRM’s records.

The CRM also helps you determine which leads to focus most on with automated lead scoring — it uses win probability and segmentation to more easily identify those leads for you. There are also over 350 tools you can integrate with to seamlessly combine your current sales tools and data with your ActiveCampaign CRM.

Get the ActiveCampaign integration to keep your CRM data in two-way sync with HubSpot.

3. Zoho

zoho crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: Free, $12/ mo (Standard), $20/ mo (Professional). $35/ mo (Enterprise), $45/ mo (Ultimate)

Zoho CRM comes with an AI-powered assistant, lead management tools, and reporting dashboards that provide insight into the sales metrics you care most about via desktop or mobile app. If your team conducts online sales meetings, Zoho has a feature that allows you to video conference as well as conduct webinars and other virtual meetings and conversations directly from the CRM.

The CRM’s Common Feeds feature makes it easy to collaborate with your team within the software — ask and answer questions, share reports and dashboards, and send deal-related updates so everyone stays in the loop. You can also select to receive notifications whenever your target audience members interact with your business so you can reach out when leads are already engaged.

Get the Zoho integration to sync your CRM, books, invoices, recruiting, and inventory data with HubSpot.

4. Freshworks

freshworks crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: $15/ mo (Growth), $69/ mo (Pro), $125/ mo (Enterprise)

Freshworks CRM helps manage pipelines, tasks, and quotes. It has contract management tools as well as collaboration features that make teamwork, marketing and sales alignment, and internal communication simple. Streamline and automate tasks with the CRM’s AI-powered features including activity capture, lead scoring, and email.

Built-in phone and email allow you to conduct conversations with leads without ever having to leave the CRM. There are also lead insights that help you determine the engagement level of specific contacts and get context about their interest so you can more effectively tailor your sales pitches and conversations to their needs.

Get the Freshworks integration to keep Freshworks in two-way sync with HubSpot.

5. Pipedrive

pipedrive crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: $12.50/ mo (Essential), $24.90/ mo (Advanced), $49.90/ mo (Professional), $99/ mo (Enterprise)

Pipedrive’s CRM makes it easy to visualize and manage your sales pipeline. Organize your deals in pipelines and then customize those pipelines so they’re tailored to your unique sales cycle. There are also deal pipeline collaboration features such as easy-to-make, shareable pipeline goals and reports.

Sync your email (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) with Pipedrive to handle email communication and keep records of those conversations in a single location with all of your other contact data. There are also over 200 integrations you can pair with your CRM to improve its functionality.

Get the Pipedrive integration to keep your CRM data in two-way sync across your apps.

6. Zendesk Sell

zendesk sell crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: $19/ mo (Sell Team), $49/mo (Sell Professional), $99/ mo (Sell Enterprise)

While Zendesk is known for its customer support software, they also offer a sales-focused CRM meant to enhance productivity and automate day-to-day sales tasks. Gain visibility into your sales process by creating pipelines that are tailored to your specific business.

Zendesk Sell is also an ideal software for businesses looking to align sales and customer service teams. For example, if a service rep is speaking with a customer who has an issue, and that conversation then turns into more questions about a new product you sell, that rep can hand the conversation off to a sales rep from within Zendesk. This makes collaboration easy for your team but also offers a seamless experience for your customers.

Get HubSpot’s Zendesk Sell integration to sync your leads with Zendesk Sell platform.

7. Less Annoying CRM

less annoying crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: $15/ user/ mo

Perhaps it can be intuited from the name, but Less Annoying CRM’s goal is to provide an easy-to-use CRM for small businesses to manage contacts and track leads. All of your contact information is kept on a single dashboard where you can also add notes, files, events, tasks, and more.

The CRM includes a calendar — which integrates with Google Calendar — with tasks that you can set to stay organized and keep track of your conversations and follow-ups with leads. To ensure you stay on top of your conversations and interactions with leads, the CRM’s pipeline will provide the priority of each lead, their contact details, and any information from previous interactions you had with that lead.

8. Thryv

thryv crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: Pricing available on request.

Thryv is a CRM that’s ideal for small businesses. It combines sales automation, marketing automation, and reputation management. All of your contacts are centrally located with easy-to-use filtering, tagging, searching, and tracking features to help you manage those contacts.

The CRM shows you which channels leads came to you from so you can then engage them wherever they are. There’s also a dedicated customer portal through which your clients can complete payments, send your team messages, and share files. Your team can then respond through the portal to streamline all interactions and use one tool versus multiple.

9. Salesflare

salesflare crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: $29/ mo (Growth), $49/ mo (Pro), $99/ mo 99

Salesflare is an easy-to-use CRM meant for small businesses selling B2B products and services. With a visual pipeline feature, it reminds sales reps about upcoming tasks so prospects don’t fall through the cracks.

The CRM pulls all contact information it can — from email signatures, social media profiles, emails, and past conversations — and automatically adds it into your records so you have all of the details about each of your contacts at your fingertips. It also connects with your calendar and mobile phone to help you manage and log your meetings and calls with leads and customers.

10. NetHunt CRM

nethunt crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: $30/ mo (Professional), $34/ mo (Professional Plus), $60/ mo (Enterprise)

NetHunt CRM is unique because it completely integrates with your Gmail account. Meaning, all of your CRM data and functionality is paired with your Google email account so you can view and manage customer information, deal opportunities, email tracking, and email campaigns all from your CRM.

The CRM also easily integrates with your other Google Workspace apps. Additionally, NetHunt comes with a variety of common CRM functionality such as task and follow-up automation, reporting and analytics, and forecasting.

11. Microsoft Dynamics

microsoft dynamics example of salesforce alternative


Price: $65/ user/ mo (Sales Professional), $95/ user/ mo (Sales Enterprise), $135/ user/ mo (Sales Premium), $162/ user/ mo (Microsoft Relationship Sales)

Microsoft Dynamics is a CRM and ERP software with social insights, cloud-based campaign management, and business intelligence (BI). The CRM can be delivered by cloud, it can be hosted, or it can be on-premises.

Microsoft Dynamics has a variety of apps that you can integrate to help you manage relationships with customers via a mobile device and sync data from social media and other business tools with your CRM. Real-time, AI-powered insights help you acquire qualified leads and understand your audience on a deep level. Dynamics bases these insights on behavioral, demographic, transactional, feedback, and engagement data to ensure they’re accurate and actionable.

Get the Dynamics integration to connect HubSpot to your Dynamic CRM for sales and marketing data alignment.

12. Keap

keap crm example of salesforce alternative


Price: $79/ mo (Lite), $149/ mo (Pro), $140/ mo (Max)

Keap is a CRM with a number of sales and marketing tools to help you personalize all interactions, make appointments, track lead and contact data, and manage quotes. Personalize your outreach and customize and automate follow-up reminders and communication to ensure you’re reaching out (via email, phone, or SMS) when you need to.

The CRM’s Activity Stream is automatically updated whenever you interact with a contact so all interactions are up-to-date, accurate, and centrally located.

Get the Infusionsoft by Keap integration to keep your business and your contacts in two-way sync with HubSpot.

13. Bitrix24 CRM

bitrix24 example of salesforce alternative


Price: Free, $19/ mo (Start +), $55/ mo (CRM+), $55/ mo (Project+), $79/ mo (Standard), $159/ mo (Professional)

Bitrix24 CRM tracks all of your interactions with leads, contacts, customers, partners, and more — all of this data is updated and kept in the tool’s contact database for you. Easily create and share reports and contacts, and segment your target audience with ease.

Choose to spread out all incoming contacts among your sales reps so there’s a steady workflow. Use the Activity Stream feature to take notes, send emails, place phone calls, create tasks, make meetings, and more, all without ever leaving the CRM. Lastly, choose whether to host your CRM on your server or by cloud.

Get the Bitrix24 integration to keep keep your CRM contacts & companies in two-way sync with HubSpot.

Choose Your CRM

Choosing a CRM can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. The best thing to do is make a list of your must-haves and compare the possible tools to select the right software for your team. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Will Sales Teams Move Back Into the Office?

The world is a very different place than it was two years ago. Many of the changes we’re seeing now will stick around long after the pandemic has ended, including remote work and hybrid office environments.

Before COVID-19, remote work was commonly used as a benefit to attract employees. People who work from home report higher job satisfaction, higher salaries than on-site workers, and less stress.

A remote work model also benefits employers with reduced overhead costs and higher rates of employee productivity. Yet, 32% of companies across the globe still didn’t allow remote work prior to COVID-19.

As the global health crisis continues to ebb and flow, many businesses are wondering if an office is necessary at all.

Are offices still necessary?

The pandemic has forced many companies to embrace remote work and, for some, the transition may stick. As we wait to find out what the workplace will be like post-COVID-19, we anticipate a shift in how organizations view the office.

Before the pandemic, offices focused on having an environment where the main goal was getting to know and collaborate with as many people as possible. Companies were finding new ways to make their offices more unique and innovative, and employees were welcomed to the office with perks such as ping pong tables, free snacks, and more.

Within the last few months, companies have started to rethink the office space. Rather than a single fixed location, we expect to see companies embrace a broader definition of “workplace” to include both in-person offices and remote work locations.

This shift will lead to many businesses putting less money into the development of the office and more money into resources and technologies to ensure teams can be successful wherever they choose to work.

Whether you’re someone who spends most of your day on calls that you can easily take from home or a developer that needs access to better bandwidth than home internet companies can provide, it’s clear that the need for offices will always be circumstantial. What is unclear, however, is what future offices will look like, how often they will be used and by whom.

How are sales teams impacted by remote work?

Recently, sales teams have been leveraging virtual meeting tools like Zoom to conduct calls and face-to-face meetings to help build relationships with prospects or interact with colleagues. But the question still remains, without an office, what will happen to sales teams?

The global health crisis caused many sales organizations to quickly provide sellers with the resources needed to dive into remote selling and operate effectively and efficiently from home. Now every seller is an inside sales rep.

However, one thing has remained constant. No matter what the situation, buyers are still economically driven. Now, facing an economic downturn, we see this even more. Buyers are wondering how much a solution will cost, especially after dealing with reprioritizing projects and realigning budgets due to spending cuts.

Research from Gartner indicates that companies are cutting back on their technology spending while balancing conservatism with the need to drive digital transformation. Frugalnomics is in full effect, with many organizations seeking ways to reduce spending and do more with less in order to accelerate and capture growth post-COVID.

A sales enablement platform can help you quickly onboard and train a remote sales force. Like the rest of the world, you’re likely trying to figure out how to bounce back from the aftermath of COVID-19 and do it fast.

Selecting a technology that allows you to get up and running and easily see immediate improvements in sales efficiency and effectiveness is critical to achieving your business objectives.

How can sales teams continue to be effective?

Companies need to have confidence that their sellers are as effective working from home as they were interacting with customers, prospects, and colleagues face-to-face. Here are a few ways to shift your sales approach and smooth the transition to remote selling.

1. Implement interactive presentations.

When transitioning to remote sales meetings, many would argue that video conferencing is the best option. But is it enough? Video conferencing platforms like Zoom are intended to make conversations more organic, but only 12% of people feel as comfortable on video calls as they do phone calls, resulting in lower levels of engagement.

To avoid this, taking advantage of interactive and engaging presentations can amplify your prospective buyers interest and participation. Rather than putting your buyers to sleep with static presentations, an animated approach will make your product or service stand out against competitors.

2. Enhance sales through value selling.

Before a buying decision is made, prospects look to sellers to share information they don’t already know, especially in times of economic downturn or hardship.

Quantifying your product or service’s return on investment (ROI) will provide your buyer the information they need to sell your solution internally, to help prioritize and justify the allocation of budget to your proposal versus all others being considered.

Interactive value selling tools such as ROI and TCO calculators have been proven to increase win rates with 74% of customers buying from the first seller that can demonstrate a path to value.

3. Lean on remote learning.

Tools such as Learning Management Systems (LMS) make it easier to onboard and train remote sellers. An LMS like Lessonly, MindTickle™ or SAP Litmos can help you bring sales trainings online, allowing you to record and store training videos and distribute them to your sales teams no matter where they’re learning from. The “sales readiness” that a learning management system provides is proven to better prepare reps to sell and meet quotas.

It’s focused on giving them the knowledge they need to be effective in front of customers versus dropping a bunch of information they may or may not need to know all at once. Relying on modern LMS systems allows your sales organization to go beyond one-time training and onboarding.

Not only will organizations receive sales knowledge quicker, but your sellers will feel better prepared for sales interactions, especially while working from home.

There are still many unknowns about what the future of work looks like. Whether we’re remote or in the office, it’s best to make sure your sales reps are prepared to lead engaging sales conversations (no matter the location), can financially justify proposals to ever more frugal and risk averse buyers, and are trained and ready despite not being able to do in-person on-boarding and training.

In the meantime, ask your employees if a remote office works for them and think about how to build a company culture and encourage communication with or without an office. Ultimately, organizations that figure out how to do so will come out on top.

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Social Entrepreneurship: What It Is and Why Everyone’s Talking…

Entrepreneurs used to be those who had an idea, started a company, and made money. They wrote a business plan , circulated the document to a bank for capital, and worked tirelessly to scale their company and drive profits for themselves and their investors. But, now, we’re a startup nation. Actually, we’re a startup world. Entrepreneurs have different motivations for starting a business, just as consumers have different motivations to buy.

I’ve noticed a significant uptick and interest in companies that have a basic alignment in social responsibility, meaning the mission is not just to grow and make money, but to do good in the universe. Enter, social entrepreneurship. 

In this post, we’ll discuss social entrepreneurship, outline how it’s different from entrepreneurship, and give examples of businesses, organizations, and people that exemplify social entrepreneurship.

While socialpreneurs still practice the core entrepreneurial principle of starting a business, there are key differences between the two groups. 

Socialpreneur vs. Entrepreneur

The most significant difference between a socialpreneur and an entrepreneur is the end goal. The former is less interested in defining their successes through high profit margins, but instead by how their operations benefit communities of interest.

In addition, some social enterprises may not follow the typical organizational structure — they can be run entirely by volunteers who do not receive a paycheck or individual contributors that participate on their own accord. For example, mutual aid funds are community organized. These funds exist to meet a social need and began from an entrepreneurial idea, but are run by community members that participate as they please. 

While social entrepreneurship is typically a standalone venture, entrepreneurs can start for-profit businesses that fund programs to support social issues. Let’s go over some real-life examples of small business social entrepreneurship, as well as larger enterprise businesses that engage in social ventures. 

Small Business Socialpreneurship

Some businesses are founded for and dedicated to contributing to social good, and we’ll discuss some of them below. 

1. TranSanta

TranSanta is a unique social entrepreneurship venture that is community-led. It runs an Instagram account that features and highlights stories from transgender youth in need. These individuals create Target wish-lists of items that they need, and interested community members can anonymously purchase and send them what they need. 

2. Books to Prisoners  

Books to Prisoners is a traditional non-profit organization in Seattle, Washington, that aims to end the cycle of recidivism in the prison system. They accept book donations from community members and established bookstores that are then re-packaged and sent to incarcerated individuals. Monetary donations are used to support operational costs, like renting office space, and purchasing supplies necessary to mail books. 

3. Cracked It

This business is a smartphone repair service in London that is staffed by ‘at risk’ and formerly incarcerated youth. They teach life skills and provide employment and income opportunities to community members that are generally looked down upon and dismissed by greater society. 

4. 734 Coffee  

734 Coffee is a social venture dedicated to supporting Sudanese refugees. The business works with local co-op farms in Gambella to grow and harvest coffee, sells products to U.S. retailers, and uses a portion of profits to fund scholarships for Sudanese refugees. 

5. Belu

Based in the U.K., Belu sources and provides water with the lowest possible carbon footprint to hotels, restaurants, and catering businesses. 100% of net profits are donated to WaterAid , a business that provides clean water solutions to underserved communities. 

6. Tranquiliti  

Since 2018, Tranquiliti has worked with teachers, students, and mental health professionals to provide mental health services in schools. They aim to support mental wellbeing and improve educational performance by creating a positive, supportive learning environment. 

7. Surfrider Foundation

Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to environmental stewardship and is led by a community of volunteers and activists that launch campaigns to raise awareness for pollution, marine life protection, clean water, and coastal preservation. They currently have chapters in communities across the U.S.

8. SOIL  

Sustainable, Organic, Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is a nonprofit research and development organization that works to implement sustainable, low-cost solutions to the sanitation crisis in Haiti. They employ locally, and 92% of every dollar donated is used to support and enact their environmental programs.

Large Business Socialpreneurship

Below we’ll go over some examples of large for-profit enterprises that commit to using funds to support social causes. 


TOMS arguably put social entrepreneurship on the map. It started as a one-for-one model; Buy a pair of shoes, and TOMS would give a pair to a child in need. Today, buying a pair of TOMS shoes or sunglasses provides shoes, sight, water, safe birth, and bullying prevention services to people across the globe.

10. Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s, a business primarily known for its ice cream, is also dedicated to using profits to contribute to social good. Their stated mission is “to create linked prosperity for everyone that’s connected to our business: suppliers, employees, farmers, franchises, customers, and neighbors alike,” and they’ve certainly committed to the cause. 

The business supports positive change in environmentally friendly farming and manufacturing processes, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ issues, to name a few, and they really put their money where their mouth is. For example, their ice cream is priced significantly higher than other brands, but they do so in order to pay their workers a livable wage of $18.13 an hour.

11. Warby Parker

In 2019, this eyewear company had donated over 5 million pairs of glasses to those in need through their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program. They’ve also disrupted the eyewear industry and spawned countless copycat organizations.

12. Good Eggs

Good Eggs is an online grocery and meal kit delivery service that sets itself apart with fresh, local produce and meal kits for a variety of occasions. Their mission: over 70% of their food, wine, and spirits are locally sourced, and every item must meet a strict list of sourcing standards.

All employees also have a stake in the business, promoting transparent business practices and reinforcing their commitment to the health and safety of the businesses and communities they work with.

13. Lush

This cosmetics company cites environmental awareness and ethical consumerism as its bedrocks. All Lush cosmetics are free of packaging, and the company gives millions to environmental causes each year.

14. Uncommon Goods

Independent makers are the backbone of this company. They offer a marketplace for creatives to sell their goods with the aim of having a positive impact on people and the planet. They work to minimize their environmental impact and work with artists to use sustainable or recycled materials when possible.

15. GoldieBlox

GoldieBlox is a multimedia company committed to disrupting the “pink aisle in toy stores” by using storytelling to make the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field fun and engaging for young women, a demographic that is systematically underrepresented and underserved in the industry. They create toys, books, apps, videos, animations, and other merchandise to empower girls to build confident, empowered futures.

16. Pipeline Angels

In 2017, only 30% of U.S. angel investors were women and only 12% were minorities. Pipeline Angels aims to disrupt that statistic and commits to creating capital and investment opportunities for trans women, cis women, nonbinary, two-spirit, agender, and gender-nonconforming founders. 

They run a signature boot camp that educates investors, offer mentoring opportunities, and even host a pitch-summit for entrepreneurs seeking funding.

17. United By Blue

This is not your ordinary outdoor apparel store, as United By Blue commits to removing one pound of trash from the world’s oceans and waterways per every product purchased. At the time of publication, they’ve removed over three million pounds of trash . 

18. Shea Radiance

Co-founder Funlayo Alabi and her husband started making soap to solve their family’s dry skin problems. What started as an experiment to heal their sons’ eczema prone skin morphed into a clean and effective product line for hair, skin, and body. Alabi sources all Shea Butter directly from women-run cooperatives in West Africa, which ensures revenue ends up “in the hands of the women who have earned it.”

19. Werk

Werk believes the future of work is not unchangeable, it’s adaptive to each employee’s skills, motivations, and needs. By helping people find their Flextype, Werk believes they can make work flexible for everyone.

20. Oliberté

This shoe manufacturer is a sustainable brand supporting workers’ rights in sub-Saharan Africa. They launched their own factory in 2012 and make every pair of Oliberté shoes from this factory in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2013, they also became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory.

21. LSTN Sound Co.

Proceeds from the sales of LSTN speakers and headphones go towards giving hearing aids to people in need through their partner, Starkey Hearing Foundation.

22. FIGS

FIGS creates super-comfortable, ethically responsible scrubs. They create a high-quality product and donate hundreds of thousands of scrubs to healthcare providers in over 35 countries.

23. Love Your Melon

This apparel brand supports and donates to nonprofit organizations dedicated to battling pediatric cancer. 50% of net profits from all products help to create therapeutic experiences and create charitable programming initiatives for families affected by childhood cancer. 

Social Entrepreneurship Ideas

So, you want to do some good, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Here are a few social entrepreneurship ideas and some guidelines for how to develop an idea that’s all your own:

  1. Crowdfunding
  2. Baking for a cause
  3. Electricity or technology projects for the developing world
  4. Conflict-free or fair-trade goods
  5. Educational travel
  6. Employment services
  7. Crafting for a cause
  8. Micro-lending
  9. Facilitating exercise among disadvantaged communities
  10. Sustainability housing and development
  11. Mentorship or funding for entrepreneurs in developing countries
  12. Diversity and inclusion initiatives in the classroom
  13. A cooperative marketplace

How to Pick a Social Entrepreneurship Idea

Define your passions and areas of interest.

Do you firmly believe every child in America should have a pillow? Do you volunteer at a food pantry on the weekends? Are you an activist for certain local charities? Define what you’re passionate about and proceed to step two…

Identify existing market the gaps.

Once you know what you’re passionate about, it’s time to decide what the gaps are in existing products/services and determine how you can fill those gaps. If the food pantry you volunteer at can’t disseminate fresh, donated produce before it spoils, think about how you could provide a service that makes it faster and easier to get fresh produce to the underserved communities in your area.

Identify your key strengths and skills.

Are you an excellent writer or a salesperson extraordinaire? List your strengths and skills, and define how they can serve your mission. This is also an excellent time to identify your weaknesses, so you know who to call upon for help.

Decide on a business model.

Being a social entrepreneur is not always the same as starting a nonprofit. Determine whether you’ll monetize your idea, how you’ll monetize your idea, and decide on a business model. Whether you’re interested in a cross-compensation model like TOMS and Warby Parker or complete stewardship like Books to Prisoners, it’s important to understand how your business will be structured. 

If you’re still feeling stumped, don’t worry. Starting a business is a tedious, involved process, but there are various, successful social entrepreneurs that you can refer to as inspiration. 

Social Entrepreneurs

1. Jazzmine Raine

Raine is the founder of Hara House, the first zero waste guest house in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India. The area is a tourist destination with a vibrant environmental scene. Of the house’s profits, 20% go to helping local youth get involved in economic opportunities, social justice, and environmental education. The youth help run the guest house, tours, and a community center.

2. Muhammad Yunus

Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank. This Bangladesh-based institution provides small loans to those living in poverty. 97% of their borrowers are women — and these women pay their loans back at a rate of 97%. The bank has managed a net income of $10 million, has 2,568 branches, and covers 93% of total villages in Bangladesh. His work has also earned Yunus a Nobel Prize. See his Talks at Google session on “The New Economics of Zero Poverty” below.

3. Scott Harrison

Charity: water CEO and INBOUND speaker Scott Harrison founded his nonprofit to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. They track every dollar raised to the project it funds, and private donors cover their operating costs to 100% of the money they raise can fund their water projects. To date they’ve funded 38,113 water projects, helped almost 10 million people get clean water, and partnered with 37 local partners in 27 countries. Check out Harrison’s INBOUND 2018 keynote below.

4. Vava Angwenyi

Kenyan coffee entrepreneur Vava Angwenyi started with one small coffee bar in her town, but she was soon helping farmers improve the quality of their coffee, their brand, and their sales. Soon, Vava Coffee was born. Angwenyi’s company now serves as an exporter, roaster, and consultative partner working with more than 30,000 smallholder farmers who earn 18% more by working with Vava. Angwenyi’s first company has been so successful, it inspired her to start Gente Del Futuro, a cross-cultural coffee training program in Tanzania, Kenya, and Columbia. Hear more about Vava’s work in her recent presentation at the Re:co Symposium.

5. Durell Coleman

Coleman is the founder and CEO of DC Design, a social impact design firm putting design thinking to use solving some of the world’s biggest problems. His firm has addressed challenges in the criminal justice and foster care systems in the United States. They’ve also designed solutions for refugee camps, and they’ve worked with executives at global enterprise organizations like Sony, Oracle, and Santander.

6. Emily Kirsch

Kirsch started Powerhouse after working with solar startup Mosaic to put solar panels on houses in Oakland, California. Today, Powerhouse supports clean energy entrepreneurship through a network of energy-focused co-working spaces. It also offers venture backing for early-stage energy startups. Powerhouse also facilitates a series of signature events, from the Suncode hackathon to Powerhouse Circle and even a monthly podcast called “Watt it Takes.”

7. Tony Weaver Jr.

Weaver is founder and CEO of Weird Enough Productions, a media company focused on creating stories that inspire positive media images of black men and other minority groups. With every piece of content they create, they also produce a lesson plan for teachers to introduce media literacy to their students. Check out Weaver’s recent TEDx Talk below.

Social Entrepreneurship Is Here To Stay

When we were researching our book, Inbound Organization: How to Build and Strengthen Your Company’s Future Using Inbound Principles , my co-author Todd Hockenberry and I called out several examples of how social responsibility is an important component of having a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.

In the age of heightened competition, social responsibility is a differentiating factor that allows many companies to appeal to specific buyer demographics. The idea of “Conscious Capitalism” gained mainstream attention when Whole Foods founder John Mackey published a book by the same name.

In addition, consumers, now more than ever, put their trust in brands that they believe are committed to taking action. For example, consumers are 80% more likely to trust a business that they believe is committed to solving societal issues, especially when it comes to racial justice. 

So, if you’re still interested in becoming a social entrepreneur — you couldn’t pick a better time. Formulate your plan today and make the world a better place.


Business Plan Template


The 7 Key Qualities That Define the Entrepreneur Mindset

Some salespeople are just built differently. They demonstrate exemplary tendencies and particularly productive tactics — reps that put another degree of effort and strategic thought into their day-to-day responsibilities.

These model reps’ approach to their work is shaped by something known as the entrepreneur mindset — a special frame of mind that separates certain salespeople from their peers.

Here, we’ll explore the concept a bit further and review some of the key traits that define it.

It’s worth noting that the entrepreneur mindset isn’t necessarily specific to entrepreneurs. Virtually anyone can demonstrate it in a professional context — not just ambitious budding-business owners.

Individuals with an entrepreneur mindset take initiative and make a point of elevating their colleagues. They embrace leadership opportunities and learn what they can at every possible turn. Those qualities — among others — set the entrepreneurially-minded apart from the employee-minded.

Here are some of the other key differences between the two thought processes.

1. Entrepreneurs zero in on individual tasks more than


Believe it or not, “multitasking” isn’t actually a thing. It’s just a buzzword that means rapidly jumping from individual task to individual task, sacrificing quality and thoughtfulness along the way. It’s a behavior that stunts focus and undermines productivity — a tendency that entrepreneurs avoid and employees fall into.

Entrepreneurs know how to focus. They understand that they’ll get more out of their work by locking in on individual tasks and moving on once they’re completed. Employees struggle with that concept. They put too many balls in the air and wind up dropping some in the process.

2. Entrepreneurs have an ‘on to the next one’ mentality

with failure and frustration.

Employees often get fixated on the mistakes they’ve made. They tend to ruminate on failure, letting it take a toll on their confidence. Frustration eats at them, and they catastrophize hiccups and hitches.

Entrepreneurs see the good in failure. They understand that every mistake is a learning experience. They understand that the world isn’t over with every screw-up. They give the situation some thought, determine how they can apply what they’ve learned as a result of it, and move “on to the next one.”

3. Entrepreneurs work smarter.

Employees generally apply themselves — which isn’t a problem in itself. Their issue comes from how they apply their time and energy. They often tear through all their work as it comes to them with consistently exhaustive, borderline-indiscriminate effort.

Their first instinct is to work as hard as possible, and while that’s admirable and sensible in its own right, it’s not always as effective as the road their entrepreneurially minded counterparts take — they make a point of working smarter.

They partition and prioritize their work more thoughtfully than employees, tiering their responsibilities by urgency and taking on their work accordingly. They know that time is the most important professional commodity, so they handle it with more tact and careful intention.

4. Entrepreneurs are smart about risks but don’t avoid them entirely.

Employees are risk-averse — reluctant to embrace failure, so they avoid any possible exposure to it. They value stability, sometimes to a fault. And while a steady paycheck and job security are valuable, they’re not an entrepreneur’s first priority.

Entrepreneurs understand that risk is an often-unfortunate reality that comes with ambition. They know that you can’t hack it in business without boldness, but that doesn’t mean they blindly embrace every last risky decision they’re faced with.

They take calculated risks, thoughtfully considering whether a leap of faith’s reward is worth its potential consequences. The key difference here is a matter of initiative. Entrepreneurs take it upon themselves to blaze the trail — employees generally follow behind.

5. Entrepreneurs emphasize and build on their strengths as opposed to their weaknesses.

Entrepreneurs spend more time building on what they do well than they do remedying their weaknesses. Employees spend more time putting a robust, jack-of-all-trades-esque body of skills together.

That’s not the worst thing in the world, but it lends itself to goodness as opposed to greatness. Entrepreneurs understand they need to stand out — and they know they can probably surround themselves with the right people to compensate for their shortcomings, down the line. That kind of faith in their strengths and future sets entrepreneurs apart from employees.

6. Entrepreneurs aren’t threatened by people smarter than them.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, leave that room.” That’s a tough concept for employee-minded individuals to reckon with. They resent people that might upstage them, so they avoid surrounding themselves with people smart enough to consistently challenge them.

Entrepreneurs value learning opportunities more than protecting their egos. They’re the ones that leave a room when they’re the smartest in it. That’s why they’re quick to tap and hire particularly bright people without getting too competitive. That good sense and humility help the entrepreneurially-minded realize their ambitions and bolster their professional skill sets.

7. Entrepreneurs own all their decisions — good and bad.

Entrepreneurs hold themselves accountable for poor decisions as much as they tout their accomplishments. They consider and analyze their mistakes without dwelling on them too much. They also don’t try to skirt blame or distance themselves from the less-than-ideal calls they make.

Employees often try to deflect responsibility for the consequences of their actions, or they get too caught up in justifying their blunders. As I mentioned, entrepreneurs view screw-ups as learning experiences that don’t define them or dictate their professional value. They take their shortcomings on the chin and keep moving forward — taking ownership of their mistakes is a big part of that process.

As I said, you don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur to exhibit the entrepreneur mindset. It might take extra thought, effort, and persistence, but any rep can embrace the patterns of behavior that define the frame of mind. And while going above and beyond like that can take a lot out of you, it might be the best way to reach that next level professionally.

Business Plan Template

Revenue Operations

How A ‘One Team’ Mindset Fuels Revenue Growth in…

Join Stephen Pacinelli, Chief Marketing Officer at BombBomb and Brogan Taylor, Head of Enterprise Sales at Freshworks as they discuss the findings and share tactical ways to align the two in order to drive revenue and collaboration.

The post How A ‘One Team’ Mindset Fuels Revenue Growth in 2021 appeared first on Sales Hacker.


16 Technology Trends Shaping eCommerce in 2021

If the first few months of 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that uncertain times call for quick pivots to sales and marketing plans.

Businesses have had to evolve quickly. Trade shows, events, and in-person sales meetings have been cancelled, throwing a wrench in many sales and marketing strategies.

But even as we navigate a new normal, there is one place that is experiencing an incredible boom in traffic: eCommerce websites. Consumers are turning to online shopping to gather the essentials as well as other items they can’t get from temporarily closed stores.

In other words, if you don’t have an eCommerce store, now is the perfect time to make the investment. And if you do have an eCommerce presence, you need to make sure you’re equipped to keep up with the influx of shoppers and increased competition.

Let’s review the latest eCommerce technology trends to focus on as we move through the year.

1. Mobile dominates online sales.

Worldwide mobile retail revenue is expected to reach $3.57 trillion in 2021, up from $2.91 trillion in 2020. This comes as no surprise considering that 125 million Americans own and use smartphones. It’s interesting to note that consumers use mobile to research products they are considering buying and not just to make purchases.

However, just because websites are accessible from mobile devices doesn’t mean businesses are prepared to succeed at mobile commerce. For example, only 12% of consumers find mobile commerce convenient, which means there is significant room for improvement.

2. eWallet technology is a must.

Enabling your customers to use eWallet functionality, commonly known as mobile wallet, is no longer optional. While digital payments accounted for $3.04 trillion USD in payments in 2017, they’re projected to reach a whopping 6.6 trillion USD in 2021, more than doubling in only four years. 

In addition to boosting sales and conversion rates for merchants, eWallet usage provides customers with ease of use and increased security. They no longer need to enter credit card information on websites or give their credit cards to cashiers; plus, many eWallets offer or require dual authentication prior to use.

3. eCommerce subscription services gain traction.

Subscriptions are an increasingly common way to buy products and services online. The eCommerce subscription market is forecasted to grow by 68%, reaching $478.2 billion USD in revenue by 2025, and the Subscription Economy Index reports a 403% growth in subscription services in the past eight years. 

There are three types of eCommerce subscription services: replenishment (automates purchases), curation (provides personalized experiences), and access (provides lower prices or members-only perks). Place your subscription model in one of these three buckets for optimal success. 

4. Customization makes products highly personal.

Consumers increasingly expect customized products and, thanks to advances in digital and manufacturing technology, brands can enable them to personalize or customize products they want online. By empowering customers to become partners in the product creation process, brands strengthen the user experience, which increases customer satisfaction and loyalty and leads to higher profits.

5. Upselling and cross-selling fueled by personalized product recommendations.

By personalizing product recommendations to the tastes and interests of customers already on your site, you increase the likelihood of them making a purchase.

Marketers recognize the importance of personalization to buyers, with 92% reporting that their customers and prospects expect personalized experiences. And they’ve seen quantifiable business results from personalization efforts. 97% of marketers report seeing a positive impact on their brand after personalizing the buying experience for prospects.

In order to make personalized product recommendations, you must leverage the details of users’ previous purchases and on-site searches to recommend relevant products.

6. Augmented and virtual reality are making online shopping interactive.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are helping eCommerce retailers overcome one of their biggest challenges — the fact that their customers cannot try on or experience products before buying them. With AR and VR, customers can virtually try on products, place furniture within rooms of their homes, and more.

This personalized and interactive online shopping experience has led to greater adoption of this technology. The augmented reality market is projected to have 2.4 billion users by 2023.

7. Customer experiences improve thanks to better CRM integration.

Online retailers connect with customers through a variety of channels, including online marketplaces, eCommerce websites, chatbots, email, and social media, all of which must be carefully managed to ensure the best customer experience.

To keep up, online retailers are implementing integrated eCommerce CRM (customer relationship management) systems. In addition to resulting in a better customer experience, CRM eCommerce integration provides a central location for customer data that can be used to make marketing more effective. Sales data can also be used for improved inventory planning and forecasting. Automated, synchronized data increases overall business efficiency by improving order fulfillment and timely communication.

Next to built-in integrations and integrated eCommerce CRM systems, online retailers often use third-party integrations to connect their eCommerce tool not only to CRMs, but to all the channels and systems that gather customer data. That way, they ensure a smooth customer experience across platforms and channels.

8. Magento emerges as the top global eCommerce platform.

The reliability and scalability of Magento has made it the most popular eCommerce platform in the world, powering over 250,000 businesses. Its customers are typically enterprise-level online stores with a high volume of products and the budget to invest in certified third-party design, development, and programming services.

Magento’s main competitors include Shopify, Yo!Kart, BigCommerce, VTEX, WooCommerce, and Tictail, some of which better meet the needs of smaller eCommerce retailers.

9. Actionable content is driving business.

Relevant and helpful content helps drive business by attracting potential shoppers, guiding them to purchasing opportunities, and boosting conversions. There are several forms of content that can be effectively mixed and matched. They include interactive, lifestyle storytelling, stance-taking, and email.

Typically the most effective content involves storytelling and creating memorable experiences. It’s also crucial whenever possible to ensure that any offers, ads, and promotions are tailored and unique to each customer’s interests. Justin Ablett, global lead of Adobe at IBM iX, asserts that “[customers] have no tolerance for poor digital experiences anymore.” A general digital experience is a poor digital experience, emphasizing the importance of personalization. 

10. PWAs help shoppers quickly complete tasks.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are websites accessed directly in a browser that provide the high-converting features of a native app. These apps are not downloaded from an app store platform.

While websites are optimized for users to get informational content, PWAs are designed to help shoppers accomplish tasks quickly. They have fast and reliable features and functionalities that create a highly engaging shopping experience.

11. Social media is a driving force behind mobile sales.

Platforms enabling eCommerce stores to sell directly through their social pages are increasingly driving sales. With a simple click on a product link within a social post, consumers are immediately taken to a product page where they can make a purchase. 

As a result of this shift, social commerce sales are expected to reach upwards of 80 billion USD in revenue by 2024. 

12. Cognitive supply chain management gains momentum.

eCommerce companies are increasingly seeking distribution and inventory management systems that are self-learning, predictive, adaptive, and intelligent, which are known as cognitive supply chains. They result in improved, personalized customer service and decreased inventory. These systems can also mitigate risk, improve insight and performance, and increase transparency.

13. Video continues capturing consumer attention.

Using product videos on eCommerce sites can increase sales and product understanding. 94% of video marketers agree that video helps buyers understand their brand’s offerings, with 78% of marketers saying that video directly increases sales. 

This is because customers have more confidence in products when they see a video about them. When done right, product videos can educate and encourage consumers to make a purchase. Another plus is that they’re highly shareable via social media.

14. Gamification is making online shopping more fun.

For some, shopping online can lack the interactive experience of shopping at brick-and-mortar locations. Gamification injects fun into online shopping by motivating customers to behave in a certain manner in exchange for additional benefits. Three common gamification methods include promotional contests, spin-to-win opportunities, and tiered VIP loyalty programs.

15. Chatbots are personalizing eCommerce.

A chatbot is a computer program that simulates a human conversation. It instantly communicates with customers and can resolve their challenges among multiple platforms 24/7. 

Chatbots use artificial intelligence to infer customers’ preferences and create a personalized online shopping experience. It’s no wonder that this medium has grown in popularity — and will continue to grow. Business Insider reports that by 2024, consumer retail spend via chatbots will increase to $142 billion USD. 

16. Voice search is growing in popularity.

Mobile users and owners of devices such as the Amazon Echo or similar technology are increasingly comfortable with speaking their queries. Nearly one-third of Internet users have used voice search to either shop or look up information about a product, while voice shopping is predicted to grow to $40 billion in 2022.

Successful voice search strategies for eCommerce retailers include implementing a solid SEO strategy, building brand affinity with informational skills and actions, including product-feature and review videos, and staying focused on delivering a superior customer experience.

Your toughest competitors are inevitably planning to implement some of these eCommerce trends to gain an advantage this year and beyond. Which ones do you intend to act upon to become a dominant eCommerce brand?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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