It’s a really exciting time at FirstRain. We’ve been growing very fast recently—and that means we need more space! We’re only moving a few steps away, but we can’t wait to settle into our new offices. It’s still a work in progress, but coming soon!
More space for us also means space to add more people. We have a bunch of open positions, so if you see one that interests you, don’t hesitate to send us your resume. Check them out here!
http://www.firstrain.com/opportunities/Changes in technology are radically altering the customer buying cycle. Customers can easily inform themselves of the options they have, and more often than not they find more than a few options that intrigue them. Because of these advances, sales reps are finding that their traditional sales strategy isn’t getting them as far as it used to.
Tiffani Bova, a VP Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, pointed out in a recent webinar that sales organizations will continue to see falling effectiveness unless they become more agile and responsive to what these new, informed buyers really want. It’s important for a rep to really think about whom their buyer is—what are they really looking to achieve with this purchase? What are the typical buying behaviors at that company? Will you need to convince other people to buy from you?
It all comes down to understanding the buyer’s specific market and needs so each seller can have a conversation with the buyer about the outcome of the deal, not just the deal itself. There is no doubt that each company’s challenges will be different, and within those companies different roles might also have challenges.
Think about your own sales teams:
Are they still stuck on their traditional sales strategy, of extolling the benefits of your solution without really thinking about whether or not their buyer even cares about those particular “benefits?” Are they too busy talking about the deal instead of the outcome that the customer will get?
The answer is not simple, and often requires a well thought-out sales process management program, but there are some things that you can start affecting today:
Your new buyers value different things, so make sure you equip your sales teams to sell differently to each of these buyers. For example:
Based on observations by Gartner and others who are closely looking at today’s selling environment, it’s a no brainer that sales reps have to move away from the traditional sales strategy based around products specs. They must embrace approaches about how their solutions can help their customers achieve their growth goals. Sales reps who understand that it is now necessary to change their approach and become much more focused on the customer’s specific business needs—by doing their research and knowledge-gathering—will win.
FirstRain Introduces Personal Business Analytics™ for Salesforce1
FirstRain’s Personal Business Analytics for Salesforce1 to be available this summer; It’s personal, it’s about your business and it drives revenue growth.
June 18, 2014 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
SAN MATEO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–FirstRain, the leader in Personal Business Analytics™ that give every professional their own personal and persistent x-ray into their customers, markets, strategy and competition, today introduced Personal Business Analytics for Salesforce1. FirstRain’s Personal Business Analytics already provide executives with uniquely useful insights based on the company and business unit they work for, the role they have, the territory they are responsible for and the critical business drivers that accelerate growth. Now all this will be delivered in an intimate information experience within Salesforce1. Executives now have analytics that tell them what just happened in their customer’s business that they have to act on and what action to take next – right in the palm of their hand.
“The future of information is personal. We are now making Personal Business Analytics available to Salesforce1 users in this increasingly mobile-first world”
Millions of business professionals already use FirstRain to get their own personal, role-based analytics that provide unmatched and highly relevant details into the changing characteristics of their customers and markets, down to the line of business, product, vertical market and dynamic trends. FirstRain’s business analytics engine dynamically responds to developments detected in the global web and social media, combined with user’s changing business interests, to deliver the most relevant personal business information experience available.
FirstRain Personal Business Analytics will be available to customers via the FirstRain beta program. Within Salesforce1, professionals will now have the precise insights relevant to them and their business, so they can engage their key customers and immediately share key information with their team on Chatter – easily bringing the brightest minds together to work on their opportunity. And executives will quickly see in real time the opportunities and risks occurring in their territory alongside other critical CRM data.
“The future of information is personal. We are now making Personal Business Analytics available to Salesforce1 users in this increasingly mobile-first world,” said Penny Herscher, CEO of FirstRain. “Offering our products on Salesforce1 helps our customers be more deeply informed on the changes that directly impact their job, and their business, so they can make better decisions, develop smarter strategic plans, get closer to their customers, achieve greater sales and outwit their competition.”
FirstRain will be demoing the beta Personal Business Analytics App at the Salesforce1 World Tour in Dallas, Texas today, June 18th, 2014 as a Gold Partner, at booth #116.
FirstRain is a pioneer and leader in Personal Business Analytics solutions for the enterprise. FirstRain’s mobile, cross-platform solutions provide sales, marketing and finance professionals analytics tuned to their specific company strategy and allow them to deeply understand their customer’s business and their markets. FirstRain’s patented, advanced analytics technology finds business-focused Web and social media and then integrates it seamlessly into the world’s premier CRM and social enterprise platforms, including Salesforce.com, Chatter, Microsoft SharePoint and Dynamics, Jive and Yammer. This intelligence is similarly incorporated into leading research platforms such as Fidelity.com, Dun & Bradstreet, Interactive Data and Mergent. Based in San Mateo, California, FirstRain also has offices in New York and Gurgaon, India.
Watch the promo video: http://firstrain.it/BETAS1
Follow FirstRain on Twitter: @FirstRain
Merrill Freund, 415-512-0770
The FirstRain team had a very successful and productive day at the Salesforce1 Tour’s Dallas Stop. Besides announcing Personal Business Analytics for Salesforce1, the expo floor was lively and the FirstRain staff was busy all day giving demos and talking to attendees—not to mention that we got lots of compliments on our booth! Even SaaSy stopped by.
It wasn’t all work for our team, though. They were able to get a real taste of Texas at a pit-style BBQ joint, complete with live country music. Then, after the Salesforce1 event, they had great appetizers, drinks and conversation at the FirstRain happy hour. All in all, it was a great trip for FirstRain. We loved mingling with other ISV partners & looks forward to seeing them at other events… and at Dreamforce in October.
Yesterday, CEO Penny Herscher took the stage on the Women of the Channel West’s Power Panel with other female leaders in the tech industry: VMWare’s Laurie Evans, Symantec’s Jana Valenti and Google’s Francine Geller, to help women understand what the next big trends are in tech, and what they need to know so they can best position themselves for success.
While each woman had a different take on what the most important skill would be going forward—financial fluency, coding, or something else—they all agreed that it was important to be as well-rounded as possible. Each one of the panelists stated that their companies don’t want someone who is specific to one skill—they want a generalist. Lay a good foundation and it’s easier to climb farther.
They strongly emphasized having a plan, but being flexible enough to roll with the punches. Laurie Evans put it beautifully when she said, “Have a plan. But if life zigzags, that’s OK—just hang on for the ride.” All of the zigs and zags will give you the experience you need to both decide what it is that you want to do, and prepare you for anything that may come your way. Find strong mentors and form partnerships that will endure no matter the twists and turns.
Their advice boiled down to a few powerful statements: Articulate your vision. Enlist allies. Remain fully present. Be joyful. Be authentic.
Guest post by: Jan Willis, Calibra.
Customer success stories are an important and necessary sales tool. Just like having references for any job interview, they aren’t going to make the sale but without good ones, it may cause a delay in the sales process. Yet, customer success stories are often cookie cutter in style and not engaging. Even worse, you may struggle to get your customers to approve them.
I’ve been working with companies on success stories across industries – from semiconductors to software development tools to software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. I have experienced the frustration of writing a customer story only to have the customer not approve it, or worse, approve it and then pull it after its been published. There will be many customers who won’t share their brand value with you for fear of diluting it. There will be others that you simply don’t have the relationship with to “override” the policy of not doing them. But there will be customers where you do have the product and people relationships that gain you the necessary approvals. Make the most of these customers and seize the moment as your champion might move on. Most of all, tell a great story for your company and their customer.
Here are three tips from my recent experiences that I hope will help you tell a great customer story. Let the story begin!
Tell the story in your customer’s own words
Don’t fall into the trap of marketing speak! It’s easier to just write the problem, solution and benefits using all the company’s great messaging, but it’s dry and boring. Tell the story as if it were unfolding as you read it. And to do that you need to interview the key people and collect as many usable quotes as possible. Don’t forget to ask for their picture to make it even more engaging and realistic. I like what I see for pulling all three of these elements together in the customer case studies by RelateIQ, a Palo Alto, California-based start-up that is quickly becoming the go-to relationship intelligence solution for professionals seeking to build better relationships and make smarter decisions.
Use surveys to help gather facts and interesting user commentary
Not another survey! I know we’re asked to respond to surveys almost daily now. But companies who are SaaS providers are one of the best examples of where knowing if customers are successful is not just nice to have – it’s crucial to achieving very high renewal rates, a key metric for a SaaS company. These surveys are usually quite effective as they are often run internally by the customer to validate the ROI. Provided there are open ended questions, this can be a rich source of additional commentary from the users by incorporating direct quotes that can help bring authenticity to the success story and have it sound less like marketing speak. I have seen this work for myself while working on case studies such as Nuance Communications for FirstRain, a pioneer and leader in personal business analytics solutions for the enterprise.
If you hit the wall on permission, try new approaches
Beware of the marketing police! I always find it a bit awkward to coach people on how to get through the marketing controls on the use of their brand since I used to enforce them myself. The truth is every decision is a business decision and with the right case made by the right person, there are exceptions. There are many companies who have business reasons to want to work with their suppliers on telling their story. The keys are having senior relationships between the companies and finding the win-win scenario. Should you still hit the wall on permission, there’s a new approach that I really like if you have 50-100 customers to work with. Founded in 2007 and based in Emeryville, California, TechValidate solves the problem of extracting quantifiable operational and financial metrics from your customer base, and then instantly turning that data into usable, third party verified marketing materials.
Jan Willis founded Calibra in 2007 after holding senior marketing positions at Cadence Design Systems, Simplex Solutions, Synopsys, and HP and completing an MBA at Stanford University. Calibra is a B2B business consulting firm specializing in helping high-tech companies enhance their brand and accelerate the market adoption of their products. Its consulting practice includes whole product strategy, company and technology branding, strategic options analysis, industry alliances, and interim leadership.
Developing a strong brand is an essential part of building value. Your brand is the most outward-facing, recognizable element of your company, and in the end, that is what people respond to. Of course, a good product is the building block of a good brand, but the brand itself is what conveys trustworthiness and quality.
However, according to an article in The Economist, research shows that decision-makers feel that brand is a central element of the seller’s value proposition. B2B products, do not elicit the same kind of emotional connection that consumer product do—but a strong brand can nonetheless facilitate access to prospects and speed up the sales cycle by clarifying benefits and reducing perceived risks.
Needless to say, brand strategy is something to take seriously. Chief Outsiders offers a look into how to make your brand as strong as possible:
The goal for a brand strategy is to have your brand reflect quality, which in turn will help convince more customers to buy from you. But that’s no easy task—your message needs to deeply resonate with your target buyers. By truly understanding the markets you wish to enter or lead, you will be able to clearly articulate the value your product provides in a context to which your targets can personally relate—winning you more loyalty and more deals.
Are you attending Salesforce1 Dallas?
Join us for drinks and live music after the conference! FirstRain is hosting a happy hour at Sambuca Restaurant immediately following the event.
Enjoy cocktails and appetizers as you network with your peers and continue the conversations from the conference.
The event will go from 6-9 pm. Sambuca is located a 1/2 mile North of the Fairmont, across from the Ritz Carlton.
We hope to see you there! Register here to reserve your spot.
Having to build consensus among your buyers is one of the most challenging parts of the sales process. It is likely that many of the stakeholders (and maybe even all of them) are driving their own personal agenda—and many times, they won’t match up, neither amongst themselves nor with you.
The Corporate Executive Board mentioned in a recent webinar that having to build consensus can be frustrating for the salesperson, because it creates price-driven conversations, lengthens sales cycles, increases the need for specialist resources—all of which can result in more stalled deals.
Though the great benefit to companies of having diverse teams has been proven time and again, the diversity of opinions and points-of-view can frustrate the salesperson by increasing tension and slowing the buying cycle even more. So what can the salesperson do to avoid falling into that trap? Make sure you truly understand your customer’s business before you even start talking.
Help all stakeholders understand the problems they face. Getting every decision-maker on the same page is the very task that seems insurmountable in the first place. But if you demonstrate a deep understanding of the customer’s business and present their business challenges to them, you can focus the conversation around those particular points—and eliminate side agendas that can distract from what you’re trying to do. Using personal business analytics, you can see critical events and trends within their market, helping you make sure that your message really resonates with them when you walk into the meeting.
Demonstrate that your solution truly meets their need. Once you’ve centered your discussion around a specific handful of business problems, it’s time to work your magic. If you avoid selling your product itself and, rather, position it as a solution to their particular problems, your executive buyers are more likely to see the value that you create. Since you’ve already gotten them on the same page as to what their business issues are, you are more likely to be seen as a trusted partner—and explaining how you can help them tackle those challenges will help you get ahead.
Though it may seem like an intimidating task, there are things that you as a salesperson can do to shepherd your buyers in the right direction. By truly understanding their business, you can clearly define what their needs are and how you can help them.