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The Intelligent Customer Engagement Blog

Heading to the Salesforce World Tour in New York City on Tuesday, May 2? If so, be sure to grab your ringside seat for the highlight of the day-long event at the Javits Center: The Rumble in the Urban Jungle—also known as the AppExchange Demo Jam!

Salesforce invited TimeTrade Scheduler to demolish compete against five other AppExchange app victims providers in an intense, hardcore free-for-all, where audience members will choose the survivor winner.

TimeTrade Scheduler, if you haven’t already heard, is the powerful new app that makes it easy for sales, marketing and service teams to engage with prospects and customers by accessing the power of TimeTrade appointment scheduling—right from within Salesforce!

Scheduler will flex its muscles in the Demo Jam spotlight with the able assistance of  TimeTrade heavyweights Steve “Smackdown” Connolly and Chris “Crusher” Gilmore!

The Big Show takes place at 4:30 p.m. in the Zone Theater. Each team has just one three-minute round to show its moves and avoid being KO’d by what’s sure to be a frenzied crowd of raucous Salesforce experts.

Why should the audience vote for TimeTrade Scheduler for Salesforce? Well, let me spell it out for you, brother.

To put it simply, Scheduler redefines how marketing, sales and service professionals use Salesforce by making it easy for prospects to schedule meetings with them—right from within Salesforce. Built on the Salesforce App Cloud and Lightning ready, Scheduler is available now on the AppExchange.

Users access Scheduler directly within their existing Salesforce pages and workflows. It enables them to leverage the power and experience of Salesforce—the undisputed champion CRM vendor of choice for millions of enterprises—in a whole new way. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out this cool video to learn more about Scheduler.

Scheduler business benefits include:

  • Generate a stronger pipeline—Achieve better prospecting and marketing results by eliminating endless phone and email messages. Allow qualified prospects to schedule time with your team at their convenience.
  • Close more deals, faster—Reduce the time salespeople spend on non-revenue-generating activities and increase time spent driving conversations, sending proposals and conducting calls and meetings.
  • Build and expand trusted relationships—Customers value personal connections with experienced sales and service professionals. Scheduler improves the customer experience by putting them in the driver’s seat for scheduling meetings.

Can’t make it to the Big Apple? You can also smell what TimeTrade is cooking at Salesforce World Tour Events in Boston on May 31 and Chicago on June 15.

And, we’ll be at the Wrestlemania of Salesforce events, Dreamforce, in November in San Francisco, of course.

Managing B2B sales teams is one of the most challenging professional roles for leaders. The most successful sales managers aren’t just managers—they’re impactful, transformational leaders with the skills, experience and charisma to transform ordinary sales reps into highly effective, results-oriented, enthusiastic sales pros. From hiring the right team members to complement your existing team’s strengths and weaknesses to fostering a culture of enthusiasm and success, managing sales performance, and more, the job of a B2B sales leader is never done.

We’ve put together this comprehensive playbook jam-packed with useful tools, guides and resources to help you manage every aspect of B2B sales management and accelerate sales. From recruiting and hiring to training, motivation, gamification, sales metrics, choosing the right tools to foster sales acceleration, and facilitating better marketing-sales alignment to improve lead quality and results, we’ve covered it all to provide you with a complete resource to hone your leadership skills and cultivate winning teams.

Here’s what you’ll find in this guide:

Enhancing Your Sales Leadership Skills

Leadership Flow Chart Red Marker

The world’s greatest sales leaders are committed to lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Continuing to improve on your sales and management skills will help you become a better leader, keep pace with the rapid changes in markets and consumer demands, and stay on top of your sales game so you can be a better coach and mentor to your reps.

What traits and characteristics are essential for today’s top sales leaders? From solid values and ethics to leading by example, these 10 resources break down the most important skills and characteristics for B2B sales management success:

Check out these seven resources for more insight on the importance of continued professional development for sales managers and how to hone your leadership skills:

If you’re ready to start honing your leadership skills, check out this selection of 10 sales management and leadership training resources for B2B sales managers:

Talent Management: How to Recruit and Hire the Best

Effective sales managers know that it’s not just about finding top talent, but finding the right talent to enhance your existing team and equipping your new hires with the skills and know-how to get results.

Check out these 13 resources for insights and information on how to improve your recruiting and hiring tactics to attract and retain today’s top sales talent:

Quotas and Territory Management

One important facet of sales performance management is configuring territories, assigning quotas, and even scheduling in some cases. Empowering your sales reps to manage their own schedules is one of the best ways to demonstrate trust in your reps and ease your management workload, but your sales reps’ efficiency hinges, at least in part, on strategic territory alignment. That said, there are several considerations for smart territory management, such as determining whether to divide territories strictly based on geography, by product line, or another variable, or opting to assign top-performing reps to high-value accounts even when it means inconvenient geographical alignment.

Check out these 17 resources for tips for managing quotas and utilizing strategic territory alignment:

Sales Skills Training: Coaching, Mentoring and Continuing Education

One of the many facets of sales management is being an effective sales coach. Arming your reps with the guidance they need to continue to improve their skills will benefit their performance, and your team’s overall effectiveness.

Check out these 13 resources for more information on the importance of sales skills training and tips on effective sales coaching and mentorship:

Not sure where to look for top-quality training resources? Here are 10 useful sales training resources, training portals and consultants, and courses to help your reps keep developing their sales skills:

Sales Performance Management: Motivating Your Sales Team with Engagement, Gamification and Morale

Effective sales management starts with exceptional leadership skills. Enthusiasm is contagious. Motivating your reps to hit their goals, fostering enthusiasm about your products and services, company goals, and your reps’ individual and team targets cultivates a positive company culture and boosts results. How do you go about keeping your sales team engaged and boosting morale?

Check out these 10 informative resources for insights on motivational leaderhip to help your sales team hit its goals:

What about incentive programs? These eight resources will help you get your sales incentive programs right:

Here are eight informative resources on how to use gamification to ramp up enthusiasm and boost results:

Sales Acceleration: Harnessing Sales Technology

Managing today’s fast-paced sales environments requires savvy use of technology. Fortunately, there are an abundance of tools at your disposal to help you manage and oversee virtually every aspect of the sales process. From sales enablement tools to pipeline management, forecasting, sales analytics, and more, the myriad tools on the market mean configuring your sales technology stack is nothing short of overwhelming. Do it right, though, and you’ll amplify your team’s results by harnessing powerful analytics and automation for sales acceleration.

Check out the following 10 resources for insights on how to configure your sales technology stack, how to choose the right technology tools to accelerate sales, and more:

Improving Lead Generation through Better Marketing-Sales Alignment

Is your team selling to leads that just don’t seem to convert? Identifying the root cause of a growing number of non-converting leads is crucial for boosting your sales conversion rate. Maybe you need to realign your sales territories. Perhaps your sales reps need some additional training. Maybe you’re targeting the wrong markets. Or, perhaps the quality of your leads is declining. It’s not about assigning blame but improving the process. If you’re discovering that sales leads aren’t ready to buy, there are several tactics you can employ to boost lead generation and increase the number of sales-ready leads, but it all starts with great marketing-sales alignment.

Check out these 10 resources for valuable insights you can put to use to enhance marketing-sales alignment and improve the quantity and quality of your sales leads:

Sales Metrics that Matter

Most sales management and leadership efforts will fall short without clear goals that are aligned with strategic business objectives, clearly defined KPIs, and ongoing measurement to monitor results. But what metrics matter most to you, as a sales leader, and to your sales reps to help them track and measure their own success and adjust their behaviors in order to meet goals?

Check out these 11 resources for insights on the sales metrics that matter:

Put these strategies, tactics, and resources to use to become an effective, collaborative and inspiring leader, improve sales performance management, and accelerate sales to catapult your team to success.

Calling. Chasing. Waiting. If you’ve spent any time at all working in B2B sales, you know how frustrating it can be trying to track down potential customers.

This infographic describes the costs—in terms of both time and lost business—that sales teams experience as they try to connect with prospects via an increasingly annoying exchange of voicemail and email messages.

One of the most depressing statistics is that sales teams only spend about one-third of their time actually selling! They spent the rest of their work day trying to reach prospects, performing administrative tasks and responding to mundane emails. As the cliché goes, “there’s got to be a better way!”

Well, there is. TimeTrade appointment-driven personalization lets sales pros put their prospects into the driver’s seat when it comes to scheduling real, live, productive meetings.

When a hot lead comes in via your company’s website, from an event or other source, the assigned rep usually jumps on that opportunity and sends an email to the prospect proposing a call or meeting. The idea is the two will connect quickly so the rep can delve into how the company’s solution can solve the prospect’s challenges. And that’s when the email/voicemail game starts.

But what if that email to the hot prospect contains a link directly to the sales rep’s calendar, showing times the rep is available for a call or meeting? The prospect could—whenever it’s convenient for them—pick a mutually available time to talk with the sales rep.

It’s that simple.

Making it easy for prospects to engage with sales reps might put an end to the wonderful game of calling, chasing and waiting, but something tells me most sales professionals would be willing to forgo that tradition in favor of faster engagement with the prospects who will help them meet—or exceed—quota. Call it a hunch.

Everyone loves a good list, right? I’m going to assume you said “yes,” and dive right in.

This is a list for sales professionals of 10 proven ways to shorten the distance from lead to sale by using online appointment scheduling.

Since you’re reading this on the TimeTrade website, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that we have a lot of ideas about how businesses can deliver We’ve been expecting you service to their customers by taking advantage of appointment-driven personalization.

[Spoiler alert: The key to eliminating the calling, chasing and waiting that inevitably occurs when sales people try to reach prospects by phone is to use email—featuring a Click-to-Schedule link—to connect with them.]

  1. When they’re cold, warm them up with your content first.

We’re all eager to shorten the distance to the customer’s calendar. But asking for a date before you have properly introduced yourself could be a turnoff. If you’re trying to engage top-of-funnel leads who are not familiar with your company, warm them up with introductory content before asking for a one-on-one conversation. Give them a reason to want to talk to you first.

For example, thought-leadership pieces that position your company as an expert in your field make for great introductory content, as do customer case studies.

  1. Don’t let the hot leads go cold.

Once you’ve generated that initial interest, strike while the iron is hot. Following up within 24 hours dramatically increases the probability of getting the prospect to respond.

Adding a Click-to-Schedule link to your follow-up email will help you quickly identify the hottest leads and convert them into immediate sales conversations.

  1. Make it easy for them to say “Yes.”

A Click-to-Schedule link in your email makes it easy for your prospect to take the next step, knowing they can bypass the annoying and time-consuming ritual of back-and-forth email and phone messages just to find a mutually convenient time slot.

It’s all about making it as easy possible for the prospect to say yes to a meeting, so be mindful of how busy they are. You may want to experiment with different meeting durations, but a 15-minute introductory call seems to be the magic formula that many companies find yields the best response.

  1. Show them it’s about their time, not yours.

The language you use when asking for your prospect’s time can have a profound impact on how they perceive it.

Writing “Click here to find an open slot on my calendar” makes it all about you. Writing “Click here to find a time that works best for your schedule” says you care about their time. It’s a subtle change, yet one that increases the probability of response.

  1. Word your call to action clearly and simply.

A clear call to action will increase the number of meetings you get from your email. Use plain and simple words that make it easy for the customer to act. It’s possible the people you are emailing may not be familiar with online scheduling, so be sure to briefly explain what they should expect when they click on your link.

  1. Make your offer stand out.

Don’t bury your Click-to-Schedule call to action in the middle of a busy email. Here are four proven placement ideas that will make your offer more visible.

 In marketing emails:

  • When using Click-to-Schedule as the primary call to action in a marketing email, position it in a callout box that draws the reader’s attention.
  • When using it as a secondary call to action, carve out a clear section with the Click-to-Schedule link at the end of the email.

In sales emails:

  • Grab the recipient’s attention by keeping your intro brief and positioning the request near the top of the email.
  • Another strategy that works very well for sales emails is placing the Click-to-Schedule link in a P.S. line.
  1. Make it personal.

People buy from people they like. They want to have a conversation with a person, not an organization. It’s no surprise that emails with a friendly, personal tone get better response rates.

Including a personal introduction page in your Click-to-Schedule offer is a way to infuse your email with an added personal touch. It could be the difference that makes the customer want to take the next step.

Feel free to get creative with your personal introduction page. You can show your picture, describe your background, or even include a link to your own video message.

  1. Go for the email + voicemail one-two punch.

Most salespeople find voicemail ineffective. Many avoid leaving voice mail messages altogether, knowing that most prospects will not return these calls.

However, when combined with a Click-to-Schedule email, voicemail can be very effective. TimeTrade customers find that leaving a voicemail message that alerts the prospect to expect an email with a link to book a meeting dramatically increases open, click-through and schedule rates.

  1. Use it to say “I’m here for you.”

Online appointment booking also provides salespeople with an opportunity to strengthen and personalize their relationships with prospects and customers.

As a salesperson, including a Click-to-Schedule link in your email signature communicates that you are there to help and readily accessible.

  1. Get sales meetings booked while you sleep.

Online scheduling software can even work for you while you’re out of the office.

Simply add the Click-to-Schedule link to your default out-of-office message, and turn it on before the end of the workday (or when you go on vacation). This gives anyone who sends you a message, at any time of the day or night, an easy way to access your calendar immediately.

Seeing new meetings already on your calendar first thing in the morning or when you get back from a relaxing vacation will wake you up quicker than a double espresso.

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And there you have it, 10 ways sales pros can use email and online appointment scheduling to turn prospects into customers by capturing their interest at its peak.

Customer loyalty programs and memberships have been around for decades. Consumers love the idea of saving money, receiving exclusive offers, and getting priority service from their favorite retailers, banks and service providers. But are these programs causing businesses to actually miss out on key opportunities that truly build customer loyalty?

There is a misalignment between what businesses expect from loyalty programs vs. what consumers want. Below are two studies from eMarketer that look at customer loyalty programs from the perspectives of retailers1 (on the left) and consumers2 (on the right):

Loyalty Programs Generate Price Loyalty, not Brand Loyalty

While retailers’ primary loyalty-program goals are to drive engagement, increase transactions, and increase the amount customers spend, consumers are mainly interested in product discounts and getting cash back on their purchases.

The problem is that consumers achieve their money-saving goals, but retailers aren’t earning the brand loyalty they crave.

“For far too long, ‘loyalty programs’ have really just been a mechanism for distributing price discounts, which really has virtually nothing to do with loyalty.  It frankly can create precisely the opposite behavior of loyalty. It can create loyalty to the lowest price, wherever that lowest price can be found.” – Katie Casavant, CEO, Kantar Shopcom3

Customer Loyalty Program Engagement is Declining

Of consumers who do participate in loyalty programs, only 45 percent remain loyal to a given retailer. The other 55 percent either reduce their brand loyalty or purchase from a competitor. This is what happens when customer loyalty programs are price-driven. They simply don’t create brand loyalty at all.

Furthermore, consumers, on average, belong to 13 different loyalty programs, which means your business is not the only one offering a discount-driven program. What’s even worse is consumers only actively engage in half of those programs they’re currently enrolled in.

On the left are figures about “loyal” customer retention4. On the right are statistics from eMarketer about actual customer participation in loyalty programs to which they belong5:

Customer Loyalty Programs Offer the Façade of Personalization—Not the Real Thing

Just because you’re sending an email addressing your customers by their first name and offering a price break on a few related products or services doesn’t mean you’re offering personalized service. We live in a consumer-driven economy where access to products and services is virtually limitless, leaving the power in buyers’ hands, not yours. Consumers want service that’s tailored to their needs and delivered on their schedule.

“Loyalty is an emotional state. The way to drive real loyalty is to create engagement through experiences.” – Mark Taylor, SVP , digital customer experience, Capgemini6

When customers engage with your loyalty program and visit your locations, your only attributable capture point is when they use their membership number on checkout—and that’s only if they decide to make a purchase!

Your loyalty customers could be walking in and out of your stores without you even knowing they were ever there. That’s money walking right out your front door.

Scheduling in-store appointments using online appointment scheduler or checking walk-in customers into a queue management tool gives your associates the ability to learn who is coming in, see what they’re interested in, and view their transaction history. It also prepares your team to deliver a highly personalized customer experience, including pulling desired and related products for your customers ahead of time.

Leading retailers, including Best Buy, Sprint, Nordstrom, Sephora, and many more have already implemented customer engagement solutions that deliver the personalization consumers are looking for and the attribution retailers need.

To learn more about increasing customer engagement solutions and delivering unrivaled personalization:

Footnotes:

All images and quotes are from eMarketer.

  1. Customer Loyalty Program Goals (211265), May 24, 2016
  2. Most Valuable Loyalty Program Benefits (214668), July 29, 2016
  3. Kate Casavant: “Loyalty Program Memberships Climb, but Participation Wanes,” Feb. 10, 2016
  4. Loyalty Program Retention (197989), Sept. 30, 2015
  5. Loyalty Program Participation (212688), June 7, 2016
  6. Mark Taylor: “Loyalty Is an Emotion, Not a Transaction,” Feb. 3, 2016

In the state of Massachusetts, residents are required by law to have car insurance coverage (and it is also suggested to have a local agent) – so, why is it so difficult to get in touch with agencies?

Now, this may not be a new frustration for many, as connecting with a variety of services is extremely tedious and time consuming. However, if it is mandatory to have coverage, shouldn’t it be easy for the consumer to get in touch with an agent?

My recent experience finding new car insurance—was a long process. Yes, of course it’s important to compare quotes, but I want to share some insight on my attempt with one agency.

  1. Find insurance agency website.
  2. Fill out form requesting a quote for car insurance.
  3. The person who received the request form was sick, and was out of office for about a week.
    • When the agent returned, I finally heard back and we began to go back and forth via email so they could acquire all the necessary information to complete the quote.
    • During this time, I was able to connect with a few other agencies that were more responsive.

In the end, I just did not have the time or patience to continue with a company that was nonresponsive.

Now, let’s turn the table, and see how this headache could have been reduced.

  1. Find insurance agency website.
  2. Notice a “Schedule a Call with an Agent Today!” call to action button on the homepage (and various other pages of the website).
  3. Complete the necessary information, choose a day and time that works for me, and bam! I know that I have a scheduled day and time to speak with an agent about my car insurance policy.

Now that sounds like some great service, and a great way to avoid losing a potential customer!

To learn more about how your company can deliver a first-class customer experience, check out TimeTrade.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are constantly looking for new ways to get a leg up on the competition. With holiday shopping in full swing, it’s as crucial as ever that retailers go the extra mile to convert shoppers into sales.

With consumers planning to spend more than they have in the past eight years this holiday season, there is sure to be opportunity. But retailers must make sure they can rise above the many competitors and their multitude of holiday promotions.

Here are a few ways retailers can encourage shoppers to come into their stores and gain return on investment this holiday season:

Scheduling Visits: As we are in the midst of the holiday season, schedules are sure to fill up with trips, family visits, and other obligations. With gift shopping added into the mix, things can get pretty hectic. Merchants can capitalize on tight schedules by allowing customers to schedule visits with retail scheduling software. Scheduling a shopping or appointment window lets the shopper fully engage in their in-store experience without feeling rushed or squeezing it in between other obligations. Retailers can also manage resources more effectively and prepare their stores for the holiday grind, ensuring a seamless experience for employees and shoppers alike. These set-aside slots bring out what is best about shopping in store and benefit both the retailer and its customer base.

Bringing the Knowledge: Hire and train employees to be friendly, accessible and knowledgeable. The last thing any shopper wants when searching for the perfect gift is a poor experience with a retail associate. Who you interact with in-store can make or break your shopping experience and may end up stopping your path to purchase in its tracks. Staff should be cross trained to assist with all store departments so they can quickly assist any shopper in the location. Shoppers often feel helpless and misguided in unfamiliar territory and the pressure of finding good gifts certainly doesn’t help things. Having an intelligent guide lend a hand can make a world of difference when it comes to a shopper’s path to purchase and a successful holiday haul.

Personalization: Personalized experiences are a great way to set a store apart while amplifying the effectiveness of your in-store technology. Tailoring the in-store visit to each individual customer and making them feel like one of a kind is a simple way to make sure you’re providing your customers with an in-store shopping experience that’s unlike any online retailer or generic department store full of frustrated holiday shoppers. Research indicates that consumers are more than willing to part with data about themselves – given that it leads to better experiences. Buying history can help take some of the guess work out of buying presents and is sure to deliver that type of experience. So take advantage of data, use it to better understand and serve your customers during the holiday season and make sure your customers are greeted with prompt, knowledgeable service.

5 key tech trends for Retail
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2014 is promising to be a good year for retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales will rise 4.1 percent in 2014, a marked improvement over the average growth for the last decade.

But not every retailer will see that much growth. As always, there will be winners and losers. What are the five key technology trends that will drive retail sales and separate the winners from the losers?

Fewer consumers are citing convenience as the principal driver for online shopping, and 91% of those surveyed reported they think it’s easier to complete a purchase in-store rather than online or on a mobile device. At the same time, the Accenture survey revealed that while more may be shopping in-store, buyers want more from their in-store experience.

Read the 5 Key Technologies for Increasing Retail Sales Industry Brief