Our headquarters has an open floor layout with no executive offices, so you will often see our CEO Penny Herscher sitting at a different desk depending on who and what she is working on. However this weekend the New York Times ‘Corner Office’ was reserved for her!
Each week, New York Times journalist Adam Bryant talks with top executives about the challenges of leading and managing in his Sunday column “The Corner Office”. This week his column highlighted some of Penny’s core leadership principles. The interview covers the reality of being a first time CEO, what good mentors bring to the table, how to hire, and even how parenting skills are transferrable to being a CEO. And yes, in case you were wondering, Penny’s drive is an unmatched source of energy for all of us at FirstRain!
Click to read the full New York Time Corner Office column Penny Herscher of FirstRain: What Parents Can Teach a CEO.
If you are going to Dreamforce this year, you may already know, the Dreamforce Agenda builder will be going live tomorrow, so it’s time to start getting ready to make your session selections!
Learn More about FirstRain Dreamforce 2014 Activities here Still not registered? Use our promo code EC14FRSTRN for a $100 discount!
Tips: Getting Into the Sessions I Want
Plan. Plan. Plan.
This year registering for sessions at Dreamforce will be a bit different, as only 50% of the available seats will be open for pre-registration. The others will be on a first come first serve basis. So if there are sessions that you must get into:
1. Make a list of the sessions you are interested in so you can quickly find them when the agenda builder opens up.
2. Create a calendar with all your personal travel, scheduled meetings and networking events. Have an overview of this and all other main events and conference timelines available for when you start selecting your sessions. Use this handy guide that we have put together to get started!
3. Do not stress out if a session fills up! Check back every day or so- attendees switch sessions all the time. Push comes to shove, you can go wait in line right before the session starts!
Schedule Time for Expo Hall
The Cloud Expos are the best way to get the most out of Salesforce products and solutions. Make sure you schedule some time to make your way to the Salesforce Campground to get your hands on all the Salesforce products and solutions.
FirstRain is a Silver Partner again this year and we look forward to meeting you. We will be in Moscone North Booth 2128 and have a lot of fun activities planned, so come on by to get a demo, visit our Drink Serving Robot and meet the FirstRain Team!
Attend our FirstRain Sessions!
There are over 1,100 sessions currently available to pick from! Join our sessions and learn why FirstRain salesforce.com solutions are used by some of the world’s largest Salesforce customers.
GE Capital: Driving More Sales Opportunities with Personal Business Analytics
Date & Location: Monday October 13th 12:00pm-12:40pm, Club Room, Marriott Marquis
JDSU: Drive Salesforce Adoption and Custom Engagement with Just In Time Analytics
Date & Location: Wednesday October 15th – 3-3:40pm, Yerba Buena, Salon 10-11-12
Flextronics: Increasing Customer Value and Sales Productivity
Date & Location: Wednesday October 15th 4:30pm-5:10pm, Century Theater 7
Want to learn more about FirstRain? Meet with us at Dreamforce!
Time is money, and salespeople often find themselves with too little of both. They are constantly trying to figure out how to become more efficient and shorten their sales cycle, in order to win more deals and meet (or exceed) their quota faster. It is a huge task, but there are a few ways you can, at least, make the most of your time.
1. Target the right people
Though salespeople wish that everyone would buy from them, that’s unfortunately not the case. So don’t waste time targeting the wrong people. Understand who and what teams in the organization would most benefit from your solution, given their particular business needs and challenges. And keep a pulse on critical changes affecting them: did they miss their revenue goals? Are they getting eaten alive by their competition? Find the person or people who oversee these goals, and increase your own sales productivity by not wasting time with someone who really won’t be interested in what you provide.
2. Aim high
According to Mark Suster for Inc., instead of pitching your product to a lower-level employee, you can increase your sales productivity by cutting out the time you’d have to spend giving demos and repeating yourself to many different levels of the organization by going as high up as possible. People higher up in the organization have buying authority, or direct access to the person who does. If you’re pitching to a senior executive, they may even send you down to the person who actually does the purchasing—and you’ll have executive endorsement.
Having a champion is invaluable, but if you’re pitching to an executive, you must make sure that you’ve done your research so you don’t waste their time. Executives are busy people, and if you don’t wow them on your first shot, the odds are that you won’t get another. Prepare by using a personal business analytics solution that will help you align your value proposition to exactly how it will solve their specific business challenges.
3. Create value
A salesperson’s job is to sometimes lead the customer to the correct conclusion. In order to do that, you need to truly understand their business. If you point out challenges and opportunities that they may not have even realized and then suggest a solution to address them, they will see you as a trusted advisor. Because there is so much information out there about your customer and their markets, only with access to personal business analytics can you truly understand how your solutions can benefit them, based on their particular customers, competitors and market.
Dreamforce is over, so it’s time to make good on our promised donation to Soles4Souls!
We had a wonderful time meeting so many people this year. The booth team was constantly busy—and we loved it. The numbers show just how busy we were: in addition to countless conversations, we gave 582 product demos! At $2 donation per demo, that’s… a rounded-up total of $1,200 going to delivering shoes to people in need.
Soles4Souls is focusing efforts on the typhoon victims in the Philippines, and have committed to donate 200,000 new pairs of shoes to the cause. They need help getting the shoes there, though, and we’re extremely happy that we can do our part to get the people affected back on their feet.
If you’d like to donate, Soles4Souls is accepting donations through their Southeast Asia Disaster Fund website.
Imagine it’s 2025, downtown San Francisco is pulsating with large inflatable structures that seem to grow from the ground. Customers have had their ‘revolution’ and the Internet of things is no longer an idea–there is now a platform for “listening and acting on information from connected devices by creating a workflow around not only identifying the anomaly within a device, but also figuring out what to do with the anomaly.” Developers can now deploy to a range of social, mobile, and connected devices. Platform services include 10X more API functionality then one ever thought possible. Developers can build customer apps, wearable apps, product apps, whatever apps they want in a scalable flexible platform. It is now the era of the “Internet of Customers.”
But proliferation of global and social business web information has made accurate insight into the business an intractable problem because companies and markets change every day. Robots, that were supposed to assist humans in everyday tasks, are still not a reality.
But wait, it is not 2025 but 2013, and Dreamforce is happening, and while salesforce.com has managed to crack many of the items listed above, all but for the last two- and that is where their partner, FirstRain comes into play…
So after you see the amazing inflatable structure and listen to the Salesforce 1 annoucement, come by booth #N1924 to see how FirstRain delivers into the salesforce platform real-time analytics for true business insights. All while visiting with Chassis the Drinking Serving Robot- because everyday tasks like pouring a drink should by now be fully controlled by a robot, no?
Stop by, get a picture with Chassis, and have a drink on FirstRain.
Moscone North Booth #N1924, Expo Hours:
Monday 12pm-8pm (Possible Dance-off with @TooSaasy during opening reception 6-8pm?? No Twerking allowed!)
Thursday 9am – 2pm
FirstRain is revving up for Dreamforce 2013, and to make sure we’ve got all the latest information, we’ve been watching The Road to Dreamforce on Salesforce Live. It’s been really informative and has helped get our creative juices flowing—except they stillwon’t tell us who the band is! Come on, guys!
The best part is that anyone can participate. If you have a question, you can easily ask in real-time: just go on Twitter and use #salesforceLIVE during the session. You might even get an on-air shout out and be famous like Justine!
If you missed yesterday’s episode, don’t worry. You can watch it here.
By Nora Weintraub
It's hard to be productive when there are so many things eating up your time. A disorganized inbox, a cluttered schedule and distractions during times when you're motivated can result in lower sales numbers and revenue productivity. Optimizing your sales strategy relies on streamlining your desk and schedule. Even eliminating just a few things can make a big difference in your performance. You may even see a reduction in stress, which can lead to better client relationships. Here are just a few tips you can use to improve your sales productivity:
1. Spring Clean Your Inbox
You probably forgot to clean out your emails and to-do list in the spring, so do it now. Organizing your inbox and updating what you need to get done are often overlooked when things get busy and workloads increase simply because there isn't enough time. While it may take an hour or so to go through email, it can make a massive difference down the road when, instead of scrolling through hundreds of emails, you come across a desired message with no problem. An easy action to take is to make individual folders for each client's emails and then maintain the organization as you accumulate more messages.
In fact, many of those emails are often internal and may no longer be necessary to keep, especially those on which you were just CC'ed. Inc. suggested helping yourself by minimizing the length of your internal emails to keep clutter down.
2. Organize Your Desk and Computer
Your physical workspace is an essential aspect of your productivity, as a disorganized desk and computer may not only result in lost files, but even unnecessary stress. In an interview with Entrepreneur, professional organizer Jennifer Hofmann recommended professionals think of their desk as part of their workflow.
"Your desk says who you are, what you value, where you're going and what your dreams are," Hofmann said. "It's a litmus test for your life. If it doesn't portray an accurate picture, you need to change that."
3. Identify Your Most Productive Times
Do you work better at 7 a.m. than the early afternoon? Or do you need to eat lunch to really get your brain working? In sales you have a little flexibility with your schedule, but between all of the client communication and sales meetings, you have to get in other tasks when you can. Yet, if you know you perform better in the morning, organize your schedule so that you can actually get things done at that time. If a meeting time doesn't work for you, speak up and find an alternate time. Rearranging certain duties to other times of the day can help you stay productive.
4. Prioritize Your Responses
You don't have to drop everything to answer an email from a co-worker right away, no matter how much you feel like you must. Inc. suggested you think of your own time as valuable and realize that immediately responding gives others permission to continually interrupt you with unimportant things, even if they know you are busy. There are times when you need to focus on your own tasks—especially if it's during your most productive time of day—so others can wait awhile. So prioritize when you respond to a message or create a separate email account or alert where only the most important messages are received. Doing so can help others understand when you can talk and when you need to be productive.
By Nora Weintraub
With so many professionals turning to social media, it made fiscal sense for tech giant Microsoft to acquire enterprise networking tool Yammer last year. And since Microsoft has started to invest in cloud computing software and placing social tools into some of its product upgrades—yes, Office 365 and SharePoint, I'm talking about you—obtaining a social media platform for professionals was a logical next step.
Financial Jabber About Yammer
After investing a cool $1.2 billion, Microsoft saw the enterprise social networking tool experience unprecedented growth. According to the updated calculations, the number of registered Yammer users grew more than 55 percent in 12 months, topping out at nearly 8 million. In fact, activity has doubled since the acquisition, with users messaging each other more than ever before.
TechCrunch reported that just last year only 20 percent of Yammer subscribers paid for services—that's still about 800,000 people. A few months shy of Microsoft's one-year anniversary with Yammer, nearly 7 million users were paid subscribers, which is a growth of 165% in less than 12 months.
Sales reps and teams that collaborate on Yammer may continue to see the enterprise networking tool keep up its significant growth. And with Microsoft's history of frequent enhancements, Yammer is also set to get a few. TechCrunch reported the social platform will become integrated with email, users may be able to access documents stored on the company's cloud, and Yammer could receive an external communication improvement.
Whether the email feature will be Outlook-exclusive or the external messaging implementation will just be with Skype, TechCrunch does not say. Whether you use Yammer or not, utilizing a social media platform can help you stay engaged with colleagues.
While social media is just one tool to connect with your fellow sales reps and marketers, it is important to note that everything you do in the digital realm should lead you to boost sales. In fact, networking sites allow professionals to share market research and customer insights quickly and easily. So as platforms like Yammer take off, you should remember that social sites help you to connect with your colleagues and get insight into how to close the sale.
Happy One Year from us and our enterprise customers happily Yammering away.
By Ryan Warren, Vice President of Marketing
Your customer relationship management system is important to not only your sales workflow, but also enhancing customer intelligence. Maybe you have already seen significant CRM ROI or are just on the verge of a CRM investment. Either way, CRM software has exploded in use across the globe. According to recent research, the business community is estimated to not only continue moving toward CRM systems, but the technology may overtake other types of software solutions. The market value of CRM could more than double by 2017.
CRM Will See Market Boosts
Gartner's latest forecast, "Enterprise Software Markets, Worldwide, 2012-2017, 2Q13 Update," found CRM systems, business intelligence (BI) and analytics applications had a total market revenue of $13.1 billion in 2012. The number is a 6.8 percent increase when compared to 2011's revenue of $12.3 billion. Gartner estimated that this total growth will not only continue in the next five years, but CRM will lead the way with the most segmented gains of all enterprise software categories.
According to Forbes, the study highlighted how CRM will continue to surpass previous expectations, as it accelerates in value faster from quarter to quarter. Experts seem to be constantly changing their estimates as the CRM market seems to perpetually expand. By 2017, CRM is projected to hold approximately $36.5 billion in revenue. With 2013 at about $20.7 billion, in five years CRM will almost double in revenue. In 2016, Gartner estimated CRM will eclipse even enterprise resource planning in value. Dan Sommer, principal research analyst at Gartner, said numerous enterprise software systems, such as BI, will continue to make strides well into the future.
The value of CRM and BI software in the global marketplace is set to remain solid in the long term. As more corporations begin to understand the essential need of building and managing client relationships, enterprise software will provide ROI into the future.
ROI? It Might Be Subjective
But seeing ROI of your CRM investment relies not on simply having the software, but knowing how to use it. According to News Factor, an IT resource, the power of CRM tools lies in how you implement the knowledge you gained from the software. While sales reps need to be able to glean market insights quickly and easily through customer analytics, they also should be able to employ and manage that intelligence in the real world.
According to the Corporate Executive Board, monitoring your CRM system's ROI is a complex process that involves more than just looking at the finances – it incorporates informal aspects as well. So how do you do this? CEB suggested that CRM ROI only happens through high levels of adoption. That means everyone needs to get on board with using your CRM. It may get easier to track your customer insights and get a better picture of your CRM investment as the market expands – it just might be a subjective view.
Seeing a return for implementing CRM into your sales team can be difficult, but as the technology advances and more enterprises get on board, it may get a bit easier. Driving ROI relies on building customer relationships and really understanding what they need to be successful. CRM helps you to manage that – just make sure you completely adopt the system.
By Ryan Warren, Vice President of Marketing
Let's face it, I am no different then most sales and business development people, we all need to optimize our schedules to get everything done that needs to be done. But let's be honest, meetings tend to take up a large bulk of our work day. While meetings are crucial for professionals to collaborate with each other, just because you cut out a chunk of time for a certain meeting does not necessarily mean you have to ensure every minute is dedicated to that meeting. But we have other options, social collaboration tools both internal like Chatter and Yammer and external like Linkedin and Twitter. Yes, sales reps often feel in their element in person, but your schedule is already jam-packed with things to do. Use technology. Get on networking sites to connect with colleagues. Employ customer intelligence analytics that do a lot of client research for you.
Question if There is a Better Way
In a recent LinkedIn article, entrepreneur Shane Snow advised professionals to say goodbye to long meetings and invest in networking. While abandoning meetings altogether may not be viable for many sales reps, Snow recommended professionals take a page out of the entrepreneurial playbook and always question whether they need to be in a meeting or if there is a better solution out there. If you need to connect with a colleague about a project, Snow suggested going digital with either email or social media.
Only schedule time for a meeting when you need absolutely need to – entrepreneurs understand their time is valuable and refuse to sit in a 30-minute meeting with people who may not even have need to be there when a seven-minute one in front of the water cooler does just fine.
In her Entrepreneur blog, Carol Tice, CEO of TiceWrites Inc., reminded professionals unnecessary meetings can cost nearly $37 billion every year for the U.S. economy. We may be recovering from the recession, but we still can't afford to lose that much money on an annual basis for something irrelevant. So Tice recommended sales reps go online to connect with each other. Networking sites – and even networking meetings – can produce stronger results than more traditional methods of communication.
You may still need to go to a meeting every once and a while because it's still standard procedure for most companies, and it is easier to close a sale face to face rather than on the phone or through an email. However, using all the tools at your disposal can significantly reduce how much time you spend in meetings every day.