3 Tips for Implementing a Digital Badge Program at Your Organization

This is a great post from Credly, the reason for guest posting here on my blog is that it references two majorly successful programs I created and built.

Here you go:

Today, more than 73 percent of American adults consider themselves “lifelong learners,” according to the Pew Research Center. Increasingly, responsibility for delivering that learning falls upon employers; 89 percent of millennials think it’s important to be “constantly learning” at their job. If they don’t learn, they’ll leave. Faced with the reality that training is a necessity but trainees are highly mobile, companies are struggling to act on Virgin founder Richard Branson’s classic admonition to “train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

As organizations pursue innovative approaches to treating employees “well,” they seek to create thriving cultures of achievement and recognition. Many are discovering that investments in recognition technology pay dividends, with O.C. Tanner reporting that such investments can yield significant improvements in key business outcomes, including a 20 percent increase in revenue, a 26 percent increase in employee retention and a 36 percent increase in customer satisfaction.

To achieve those returns, employers are seeking new ways to memorialize, validate, make use of and share the skills of their employees. They are using digital badges to honor existing employee skills and to publicly recognize new abilities.

Digital badges are portable, data-rich representations of demonstrated skills and certifications. They offer organizations and individuals alike the potential to convert workforce-relevant knowledge and skills into an interoperable currency for the labor market. The best badges offer transparency into the relevant achievement, offering meaningful performance insights that are fully integrated into day-to-day enterprise decisions and activities. Here are three tips to keep in mind when implementing a digital badging initiative at your organization.

Make it Meaningful.

Before getting into the “how” of digital credentials, it’s important to also focus on the “what”: For what skills or competencies will you offer badges? How will you determine when someone meets the criteria to receive a badge? And how can third parties add even more weight to badges through endorsements and standards alignment?

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) engaged regional employers to identify and define the most in-demand skills and competencies in the advanced manufacturing industry. To further solidify the value of the credentials, some are aligned to industry standards, such as the National Institute for Metalworking Standards. In taking this strategic approach, CCCS worked with the people who would ultimately review the badges to ensure they would carry the most value possible in the markets for which they were intended.

Make it Measurable.

Management guru Peter Drucker famously said that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Where a typical resume might list sales responsibilities and even the size of the budget managed, innovative companies like IBM are measuring precise levels of performance and then recognizing that performance with portable, digital and verified evidence in the form of digital badges. At IBM, sales teams review a personal dashboard of over 60 different metrics that track progress toward pre-identified goals and allow individuals to distinguish themselves in the context of a large organization.

PwC has gone one step further with its own “success tracking” program, which makes various employee metrics publicly visible. Team members from both IBM and PwC can be spotted on Twitter on a regular basis sharing their achievements, generating actionable data and marketing value back to both companies.

Make it Interoperable.

Early railways in the U.S. and Canada used six different track widths called gauges. This structure meant tracks were often unusable by other railway operators. As a result, trains – and therefore the flow of people and goods – were limited to certain geographic areas. The standardization of gauges after the Civil War made everything simpler. Trains could travel further, tracks could be shared, and commerce and travel became more efficient.

Standardization in digital credentials provides many of the same benefits, enabling the use of credentials across a wide variety of environments, including social and professional media, learning and talent management systems, and everyday communication media like email and blogs. The IMS Global Learning Consortium today leads the technical specifications for the Open Badges Standard and helps ensure that the emerging labor market currency is accepted wherever opportunity awaits. Make sure the badges you offer your students, employees and members align with these standards, and they will be easily transferrable, providing a plug-and-play experience across a broad digital ecosystem.

Read the original article from Training Industry here

 

Why Most Salespeople Are Order Takers And Not Sellers by @keenan

Quick, what do you consider to be the number one job of sales people?   Quick, answer it in your head.

Are you thinking about it?

I will give you a hint. It’s NOT selling stuff or driving revenue or some results oriented thing.

What do you think?  What have you come up with?

Did you say:

  1. Building relationships
  2. Knowing how to close
  3. Negotiating well
  4. Knowing the product
  5. Setting goals
  6. Over coming objections
  7. Being strategic
  8. Giving killer pitches and demos
  9. or did you say something else?

All of these are relevant to some degree or another, but they are not the most important element of a sales person’s job.

The most important aspect of a sales person’s job is to influence or put differently, to get the prospect to let you help them.

Influence: a person or thing with the capacity or power to affect someone or something.

The core of a salesperson’s job is to influence a sale and the people engaged in the sale. Without influence, a sales person is not selling.

Selling is about change, and it’s salespeople’s job to influence that change. Salespeople who can’t influence change are simply order-takers.

Not enough sales leaders and sales people understand this, and it’s affecting their ability to drive revenue.

Not enough sales people understand this critical distinction between selling (influencing the sale) and order taking.

The best salespeople do, and they possess the ability to wield deep influence with their prospects and customers.  They move deals right to left, up and down, north and south, east and west based on what’s happening in the account, and the goals the buyer is looking to attain. They influence the people, issues, objections, and challenges their buyer’s face through out the sales process. Great sales people aren’t victimized by them, they are reacting to them in a fashion that increases their probability of winning the sale.

Great sales people understand their worth as a sales person is derived from how well they can influence the sales process and their buyers.

Unfortunately, most sales people are victims of the sale, wielding little influence and simply reacting to the demands and requests of the buyer, ultimately hoping they win the deal.

Get the Buyer to Let You Help Them

Influence is given. It can not be taken without permission.  You can not influence someone who has not consciously given you permission. Until a buyer lets a salesperson help them, nothing is going to happen. It doesn’t matter if the buyer allows the salesperson to do a demo or meet other people in the organization.  It doesn’t matter if the buyer says they like the product or takes the sales reps call, if they buyer will not let the sale person help them solve a real problem or set of problems, the rep is not selling. They’re just taking orders.

However, once a buyer agrees they need help and are willing to let the sales person help them, they have given permission, and the sale has begun.

Too few sales people understand this vital difference in their job, and because of it, they are unable to position themselves as influencers. They pitch and push, taking orders and barking out the value of their product to all that will listen and who are willing to go on the ride. But they aren’t selling. When a deal goes south, they are powerless to stop it. When a new buyer enters the situation, they are neutralized, assuming they even see it coming. If a blocker starts making progress, they have no way to combat the threat.

Sales people who are unable to influence the sale or don’t realize it’s their job to influence the sale are victims of the sale, not drivers of it.

The value of your sales team can be easily measured by the amount of influence they are able to wield with their prospects and customers.

Evaluating for Influence

To many, it’s difficult to test for influence. How do you know if your reps are influencing the sale or reacting to it? How do you know if your reps are executing to an effective deal strategy designed to ensure they win the deal?

Deal reviews, that’s how.

The key to a solid deal review is to dig deep into HOW the rep is managing a deal (an opportunity.) You want to understand how they are influencing the opportunity, what elements the salesperson understands, what they are targeting and why.

Here are some questions to ask in deal reviews to ascertain if your sales people are influencing the deal or if they are just going along for the ride:

  1. Why do they (the prospect) need to buy (or why do they need a new solution), what’s their motivation to change?
  2. What happens if they don’t do anything?
  3. How are they doing it today?
  4. What is it about how they are doing things today that is causing problems?
  5. How is the problem affecting their business (competition, cash flow, product development, sales, marketing, productivity, etc.)?
  6. Why did they choose the approach?
  7. What’s the next customer “yes?”
  8. What other solutions are they considering?
  9. Which key stakeholders are helping vs. combating the solution and why?
  10. What are the prospects decision criteria
  11. What’s the reps deal strategy and how does it take into consideration the answers to the above?
  12. And more

A rep who can answer all these questions and more is likely influencing the deal, not being victimized by it. Data and knowledge are at the core to influence and therefore the more data a rep has, the higher the probability they are influencers.

Sales people can not be influencers without a massive amount of opportunity awareness and data. They have to have deep, relevant, business knowledge of their prospects and their prospect’s business challenges.

Sales people’s job is to influence the sale. It’s not to be an order taker. It’s not to react to whatever the prospect says or demands. That’s order taking.

It’s time we start taking more stock of the influence we have in the sale. Salespeople are not paid to be order takers. We’re paid to influence the sale, to provide information, insight, support, guidance, and advice that increases the opportunity the buyer chooses our solution over the competition or the status quo.

Let’s put an end to order taking and earn our keep by being powerful, knowledge driven influencers. It’s what we’re paid for.

Setting up a “Success Tracking Practice” by @tobyberesford

Many organisations need a success tracking practice, they just don’t realise it yet.

As any Team Sky cyclist will tell you – it’s great to be able to rely on the Team Sky staff team and the array of coaches on everything from telemetrics to nutrition.

Think about having your own team of performance coaches at work – wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Well some organisations are already well on their way – PwC, the United Nations and others – have set up success tracking programs, initially targeted at social media success. Employees can sign up to the program and they get personalised tracking scores combined with peer networking and coaching advice to help them succeed at social media.

The success tracking approach is one that you can introduce into your own organisation, or as a consultant, you can provide as a service to your clients. All it needs is a blend of coaching and attention to numerical feedback.

Learn more in this slide deck:

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The Secret to Crafting an Awesome Sales Pitch

The glory days of blind pitching are over—paving the way for a new way of doing things in sales and marketing departments everywhere. Much of the shift can be seen in how people are using online technologies to find information about brands, buy products and services, keep up with trends, and connect with people or communities. Customers are moving away from traditional sellers and are choosing to engage with companies that reach out to them in ways that are delightful and educational at the same time.

The 2015 State of Sales report, put together by Salesforce, offers useful insights in identifying key areas of concentration among global leaders when trying to close sales. The report found that sales companies are focusing on analytics, mobile platforms, customer interaction, team selling, and technology adoption. In brief, hard selling is out while incorporating technology into the sales process to enhance the customer experience is taking over far and wide.

The Nature of the Sales Interaction Matters

Indeed, the nature and level of interaction you establish with customers can very well define the kind of response you will receive from them. The difference between these modes of communication will determine the tactics and strategies you should use when pitching:

  • Email is a versatile communication tool that you can use to send a quick update, reply to customer correspondence, or sort out confusion or disputes with clients. Since sending emails is something that can be scheduled, it gives you room to edit your sales pitch and enhance your message for clarity, as well as give it a formal but still friendly tone.

    With emails, your voice or physical appearance doesn’t matter, so you have fewer things to worry about, and you can focus on communicating your message clearly. Plus, it’s the least obtrusive method of communication with your clients, which eliminates any nod to a hard sell.

  • Phone Calls are a quicker way to get customers’ attention and have an on-the-spot conversation charm. The response you get is immediate, and you can ask specific questions to help you find out the customer’s pain points.

    However, cold calls are a much more abrupt style of interaction, and since your prospect can’t actually see you, you’ll need to get past some barriers that are typical with clients receiving cold calls. Upon moving past this stage, however, cold calls can turn into warm leads that are far more receptive to your communications.

  • Face-to-Face meetings can both be a bane and a boon for salespeople. Your customer is sizing you up through your pitch, tone of voice, or physical appearance. Indeed, building a good first impression is crucial here, as it can make or break the sale.

    On the positive side of face-to-face meetings, friendly conversations help you get more up close and personal with your client. At the same time, you’re able to present yourself as a likable person through the use of tactics like positive body language.

Tips for Your Next Sales Pitch

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Social Sellers VS. Non-Social Sellers [Infographic] – New Research

Original Post – Sales For Life 

We asked over 500 sales, marketing and sales enablement professionals: who gets the better ROI when it comes to volume of new customers and hitting revenue goals—social sellers or non-social sellers?

The results from our State of Digital Sales Survey 2017 gave some unique insight into some of the priorities and challenges of sales leaders today, as well as some of the benefits of implementing a long-term social strategy.

Here are what sales executives in small and large companies are saying:

  • The majority of sales leaders (71%) said their top priority in the next 12 months was converting contacts/leads into customers.
  • The top challenge for sales leaders today was a close tie between lead generation (55%), and conversion rates/speed (54%).
  • Companies that consistently do social selling see 65% faster volume of leads, compared to 47% of those companies that do random, or inconsistent, acts of social.

It starts with a Referral – Not a Salesperson

Harvard Business Review posted a recent article, with some interesting statistics. The headliner being :

84% of B2B Sales Start with a Referral — Not a Salesperson

Here is the article for you reading pleasure

 

Outbound B2B sales are becoming less and less effective. In fact, a recent survey found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened. Meanwhile, 84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.

Why are more and more buyers avoiding salespeople during the buying process? Sales reps, according to Forrester, tend to prioritize a sales agenda over solving a customer’s problem. If organizations don’t change their outdated thinking and create effective sales models for today’s digital era, Forrester warns that 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020.

The answer to the shift away from reliance on outbound sales could reside in social selling, the strategy of adding social media to the sales professional’s toolbox. With social selling, salespeople use social media platforms to research, prospect, and network by sharing educational content and answering questions. As a result, they’re able to build relationships until prospects are ready to buy.

This is different than social media marketing, where a brand engages many, aiming to increase overall brand awareness or promote a specific product or service by producing content that users will share with their network. Social selling concentrates on producing focused content and providing one-to-one communication between the salesperson and the buyer. Both strategies create valuable content from the consumer’s perspective and use similar social networks and social software tools. But with social selling, the goal is for the rep to form a relationship with each prospect, providing suggestions and answering questions rather than building an affinity for the organization’s brand.

Social selling makes sense for achieving quota and revenue objectives for multiple reasons. First, three out of four B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions. In a recent B2B buyers survey, 53% of the respondents reported that social media plays a role in assessing tools and technologies, and when making a final selection.

In addition, more than three-quarters (82%) of the B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s social content had a significant impact on their buying decision. A LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales rep who provides new insights about their business or industry. Another survey showed that 72% of the B2B salespeople who use social media report that they outperformed their sales peers, and more than half of them indicated they closed deals as a direct result of social media.

Social sales content also gets salespeople involved earlier in the sales cycle, which means they’re more likely to define the criteria for an ideal solution or the “buying vision,” and thus, more likely to win the sale.

It doesn’t take a significant amount of time to get started in social selling. B2B salespeople only need to invest 5% to 10% of their time to be successful with social. Salespeople should begin carving out a small percentage of their daily time for social media. Regular interaction with a prospect may not lead to a direct sale this week or quarter, but could result in a significant win within the year.

Salespeople should also collaborate with their social marketing counterparts to make the most of their social efforts. Marketing can train salespeople in social media systems, processes, and best practices. According to a survey, 75% of B2B salespeople indicated they were trained in the effective use of social media. This training can encompass everything from working in specific social media channels to using corporate social media software, understanding the business’s social media guidelines, and orienting social media content around customer interests and needs, rather than on brand features, benefits, and prices.

What’s more, sales and marketing can collaborate on information to ensure that their efforts are aligned and to identify common goals and metrics that both teams can support. Since sales pride themselves on their one-on-one relationships with customers, they can discuss with marketing customer successes and concerns, changing customer needs, customer questions, and industry updates.

Integrating systems and encouraging transparency will also go a long way. Salesforce, for example, emphasizes the importance of improved communication between sales and marketing citing an App Data Room and Marketo study that found sales and marketing alignment can improve sales efforts at closing deals by 67% and help marketing generate 209% more value from their efforts.

 

Social media is too important to be left to marketing. In fact, a recent study found skilled social media sales professionals are six times more likely to exceed quota over peers with basic or no social media skills. It is time to get started with social selling and meet your prospects where they’re spending their time. Your organization could be halfway there if marketing has already made the shift to integrating social media into their strategies. When marketing combines their long-game with sales short game in social selling, it can be a win-win for both teams — and for your overall business.



This article is was originally published Here

How to make #SocialSelling work for your organisation

I recently had the opportunity to work with Network Sunday and spent some time talking with Tim Bond, the companies CEO, resulting in a white paper that will guide organisations to the benefits of social selling.

Here are some highlights, followed by the white paper in full, hosted on slideshare.

In 2015 the questions being raised were:

What is social selling? Why aren’t more sales people selling this way? How do we implement it?

Today (October 2016) there is a general consensus that the buyer / seller dynamic has changed and sales people who practice social selling outperform their peers. Clearly organisations now face a new hurdle: ADOPTION

Social selling for Organisations from Ben Martin Social_Ben

 

Learning, Adopting, Improving, Performing – The metric model to use; by Toby Beresford

The Learning Adopting Improving Performing (LAIP) model provides a new tool for categorising personal analytics metrics according to the maturity of the behaviour. This allows program managers to channel behaviour adoption appropriate to business priorities and the current status of the individual and cohort.

The model stems from a collaboration between  Ben Martin and myself when looking at metrics to encourage effective social selling practices.

Anyone creating a personal analytics program may find it a helpful tool when evaluating which metrics to include, when to include them and how to weight them.

The LAIP Model

In our LAIP model, maturity of a behaviour is evaluated along two axes:

  • how established is the behaviour?  has it become a habit?
  • how much value does the behaviour drive? is it worthwhile?

Based on these two axes we can create a boston matrix and into each quadrant we can categorise our metrics.

laip-model-1

Learning

The player is learning the new behaviour and associated tools / processes.

Adoption

The player is seeking to create a regular habit around the new behaviour.

Improving

The player already has a habit but seeks to derive more value from the existing behaviour.

Performance

The player is seeking to achieve higher performance in the adopted behaviour.

Worked Example

Let’s apply this model in the context of an inside sales team looking to drive telephone calls off the back of cold (unsolicited) emails.

Say for example I have the following metrics which I am tracking for each of my sales reps:

  • Total emails sent  (Learning)
  • 20  emails sent per day (Adopting)
  • Responses per email ratio  (Improving)
  • Number of telephone calls arranged (Performing)

laip-model-worked-example-1

Number of cold emails sent is a  Learning metric because it is relatively simple. Sending out emails is a new behaviour and for now I just want to track the total number I’ve sent. This helps me as I get going with sending out those cold emails.

Once I’ve got the hang of sending emails I might want to tighten up the metric so I can be sure I adopt the behaviour I want which is to send 20 each day. So a ratio formula – number of cold emails / day with a goal (20) is a real Adopting metric. This helps me adopt the behaviour I want to achieve.

My Performing metric, in this case, has nothing to do with the underlying behaviour but all to do with the value I am hoping to achieve with my cold emailing behaviour – which is telephone calls with a real lead. So here my metric is number of telephone calls I’ve arranged.  Over time I can make this more sophisticated, perhaps calls per month, per week and so on.

Finally there is a chance that I develop my cold emailing behaviour but it isn’t driving the value that I want. In this case I need to consider anImproving metric – a ratio of email responses to those sent out. This looks at the quality of the emails in terms of who I sent them to and their content. An improving metric assumes that the behaviour is established but is not driving value.

Handling misfit metrics

Like any model, the LAIP model can only offer an approximate view on reality – inevitably there will be some metrics that seem to fit into more than one category or no category at all. The expectation in this case is that the manager will provide a “best fit” assessment when plotting metrics on the matrix.

Conclusion

Overall this model offers gamification gurus a way of categorising metrics, particularly useful in multi-metric scoring systems where scores from multiple behaviours are composited into a single score.

By categorising the metrics,  the program manager can ensure that the personal analytics dashboard is aligned to the current business goals for the individual or current cohort. The program manager does this by weighting and prioritising metrics within the overall score algorithm.

The tunnel vision of Marketing is destroying Social Selling via @AmarSheth

I must admit that I really do like Amar’s posts of late. In this one, I really resonated with some of his statements. For instance:

Social isn’t the miracle medium. It doesn’t reward sloppy sales behavior.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is a powerful beast when used correctly. But when it isn’t, it can become an enemy”

Take the time to read and please add your comments below. Take care.

SALES & MARKETING TUNNEL VISION IS DESTROYING SOCIAL SELLING by Amar Sheth

Social selling is a term that is still entering the sales vernacular, but the definition of what defines a social seller is hasn’t been fully yet determined.

From our perspective, which may seem selfish to our non-sales friends, social selling is the ability to use social networking strategies to build relationships that drive pipeline and revenue. All other activities in the organization that roll up and drive to these fundamental principles are supportive functions.

However, this is not how many in organizations are looking at social selling. Their view is largely shaped by their departmental function. Let’s review some examples below.

THE MARKETING VIEWPOINT

When the marketing team leads the charge on social selling, it’s interesting to see how brand pervasiveness and amplification seem to the central focus. Updating LinkedIn Profiles, deploying employee advocacy platforms, focusing on content creation, etc. are heavily focused on this.

Additionally, when marketing is involved, an organization’s social media marketing team very well may be as well.

These are, programmatically, all necessary steps but very limited to the view that salespeople are simply distribution points of the company’s brand, image, messaging, campaigns and products.

But is that all salespeople are good for? The answer is obvious.

THE SALES VIEWPOINT

What’s more frightening is when sales executes own social selling with limited understanding. Yes, social selling is about building pipeline and revenue, but not at the cost of amplifying dated ideas on a new medium.

What am I referring to?

I’m talking about using the same old way of prospecting on social media. I’ve seen many sales professionals become frustrated after sending dozens of InMails on LinkedIn never to get a response. When analyzing further, it’s evident that their InMails read like cold, cookie-cutter prospecting emails.

Social isn’t the miracle medium. It doesn’t reward sloppy sales behavior.

This happens often when companies invest into products without proper training in changing mindset. I see this often when companies only invest in products like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is a powerful beast when used correctly. But when it isn’t, it can become an enemy.

The investment into tools must be harmonized with sales training on social. The two can’t live without each other. Without this, there is a significant risk of low product usage. When sales professionals don’t know how to effectively drive results, it can be challenging to show a proper ROI on investing in tools.

Sales departments should not expect deep levels of social selling knowhow from tool providers.  It’s just not possible. Their focus is on building world-class products, not how to use the tools to positively impact sales.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The challenge with viewing social selling from these two separate and distinct perspectives is how social is ultimately being affected. Without a unified and programmatic approach to social, impact can be very limited.

Aberdeen Research found that best-in-class companies that aligned sales and marketing experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue, compared to a 4% decline in laggard ones.

Secondly, ask yourself this question: can we really wait to battle the inadequacies of existing corporate culture? Can we wait for people to “get comfortable” on social? Or, acknowledge that research should be done online (where else can it be done, the library?)?

Operating something that is so critical as social selling from two silos will limit progress, at best, or destroy the initiative altogether.

If you’ve read this far and are still wondering why social selling is so critically important, ask yourself if customer acquisition and nurturing matter to your business. The buck stops there.

You can reach Amar on Twitter  @AmarSheth or connect on LinkedIn

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