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Tools For Startup Founders: Email Hunter

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Email Hunter - MyStartupLand

Summary:

Email Hunter lets you find email addresses of prospects in seconds and allows you to connect with people that matter for your business.

What Is It? 

Email Hunter can be either a Chrome extension or a stand-alone tool. Your sales reps simply need to add a domain name and the tool will get you examples of email address structure. Super add-on: there’s a confidence score.

It has different functionalities:

  • Type Filter – List specific type of results
  • Email Pattern – Understand most used email formats
  • Lead Gen – Save leads your team finds

Is It Free? 

Yes! Up to 100 searches per month. This should be more than enough for your sales team.

SparkLabs & Argon Group Partner Up To Launch First Startup Accelerator Security Token Offering

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sparklabs - mystartupland

SparkLabs, probably the largest startup accelerator in Asia, operating a global venture capital fund, has partnered with Argon Group, a digital finance advisory firm, to launch the first startup accelerator security token.

This token is not a utility token but simply a smart contract. This represents an investor’s equity into its fund vehicle that will have equal holdings in start-up companies that are associated with SparkLabs IoT & Smart City Accelerator in Songdo, South Korea and SparkLabs Cultiv8 Accelerator in Orange, Australia.

This comes as a surprise, considering SparkLabs has been very conservative in its approach towards cryptocurrencies.

SparkLabs accelerators’ alumni companies have raised on average over $3.5 million with 80% of the startups receiving funding after the program.  SparkLabs’ startups also average over $500,000 in funds raised prior to entering the accelerator programs.

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Rebirth Of Email Marketing – 119 Stats You Didn’t Know

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Email Marketing - MyStartupLand

Despite the fact that there is now lots of new and innovative ways to market a business, email marketing is by no means taking a back seat. This is especially thanks to rise in mobile phone use over recent years.

People have now instant access to emails wherever they are. They often have email notifications activated on mobile devices. Some marketers would even go as far as to say that email marketing is currently undergoing something of a “rebirth”. Thanks to this, brands are exploring new ways to drive ROI and reach potential customers.

The Rebirth Of Email Marketing

Like with most things, email marketing services are constantly evolving, implementing innovative ways to grab the audience attention. New technologies allow for all sorts of new features to be included in a marketing email. For example, more and more emails include a video to grab people’s attention, or use analytics for personalization.

Using names in an email can also be effective, but not as much as thought. What recipients seem to prefer is personalisation. Product suggestion based on their previous purchasing or browsing history is what triggers the audience attention. This is an interesting point to consider, as marketers should send emails with a specific need, as opposed to just sending an email without a defined name. By sending product suggestions, the email is automatically given an aim.

Another great way to grab someone’s attention is to give them something. People love getting free things, and as soon as they see that word in the subject line, it is likely to draw them in. You could also offer them discounts or promotions, all of which are likely to encourage them to click through to your website.

With the rise in social media use, many people thought that the death of email marketing was near, but with companies being creative in their email marketing approach, their demise is by no means imminent.

Email Marketing - MyStartupLand

5 Effective Ways Your Startups Can Get Existing Clients Referrals

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Existing Clients Referrals - MyStartupLand

Regardless of the industry your startup operates in, existing clients referrals are a critical component of your success. When an existing client refers your products or services to her network, she is making a strong statement about your startup. 

Your satisfied client found true value in working with you and is actively assisting you in helping you to generate new business.

One of the biggest challenges startup founders face is how to get more clients. Asking for referrals is a cost-effective solution that many might not be thinking about. Understanding how to get existing clients referrals can help you to get the leads you desire.

Build Trust and Respect With Your Clients

Before asking for referrals, it is important to build brand awareness and ensure that clients are fully satisfied with your startup. Building trust and respect with clients is a critical step in this process.

Although critical, it is not as complicated as it might seem. Building trust is based on delivering on what you have promised you would do. This includes everything from arriving on time as scheduled to perform services to ensuring customer satisfaction before leaving.

TIP: Create customer satisfaction surveys to get instant feedback.

Select Specific Clients for Referrals

When thinking about getting existing clients referrals, it is crucial to carefully select who you want to ask for referrals from.

Each of your clients may have had a unique experience with your startup. Some may have been thrilled with their experience, and others may have only been somewhat pleased. Thrilled clients can generally be expected to gush and rave to others about what they have experienced. These are the clients that will refer your products and services to their network. These are the clients you want to ask for leads from.

TIP: Carefully think about who to ask referral from

Ask for Referrals Directly

There are a few different ways to ask for referrals. One of these methods is to directly ask for leads.

Explain to your clients that you are pleased they had a great experience with your startup and stress out how word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients are trivial for your growth. Chances are that you have helped them in some way through your products and services. Pleased clients will be more than happy to help your business in return. 

TIP: Ask existing clients for referrals, don’t shy away from this practice.

Create a Rewards System for Existing Clients Referrals

Another great way to get existing clients referrals is to create a rewards system.

For example, you may offer a cash credit on the next service you provide to the customer in exchange for the referral. You may also offer a free month of service, a gift card or another type of reward. This goes without saying, but ensure that your rewards system is affordable before you move forward with it.

TIP: Explore rewards opportunities for clients referrals

Extend Thanks for Referrals

Regardless of whether you have a rewards system or not, it is important to extend thanks when your existing clients refer you to others. They have gone out of their way to help you generate more business.

More than that, they have said kind, thoughtful and helpful words on your behalf. Ensure that you reach out to each client who referred you in a personal way to thank them for their efforts.

TIP: Be grateful for each referral you receive

Final Thoughts On Existing Clients Referrals

Referrals are one of the top ways to generate new leads on a dime.

You may have spent a considerable amount of time and effort making sure that your existing clients love the work you did for them. You can easily take advantage of that time and effort through referrals.

Most clients, however, will not refer a business without specifically being invited to do so. Whether you ask for referrals directly or you set up a referral system, be sure to take full advantage of referrals.

 

Do you currently make use of referrals? What are the best strategies that you have implemented so far? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Drawbacks and Benefits of Mobile Payment in Startups

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Mobile Payments - MyStartupLand

With technology on the rise, it is no surprise people are becoming accustomed to paying for items with their phones. With applications such as Apple Pay, PayPal, and Google Wallet making it easy for customers to pay online, companies of all sizes started to accept mobile payments as well.

While the convenience of paying for everything with a smartphone brings plenty of benefits, it certainly brings a few drawbacks with it. It is important to take these risks into consideration before switching your startup over to accepting mobile payments.

Mobile Payments Benefits

The trend is quickly catching up with customers. Should you jump right into it? Here are the many advantages of mobile payments for startups. Let’s take a look.

1. Convenience

One of the benefits of mobile wallet payments is the convenience. When it’s easy to make a mobile payment the customer will spend more money on your services or products.

A customer is more likely to have their phone on them when they see an item they would like to have rather than their credit card, right? Many companies have already adopted this practice with dozens of examples to vouch for it. Even laundromats are jumping on board and allowing customers to make mobile payments with their e-CleanPay service, instead of using coins to operate their washing machines.

Another benefit of mobile payments comes to the ease of interacting with mobile customers to encourage them to shop in your store. For example, those who bring their phone out to check for item prices, coupons, or product descriptions are more likely to pay with their mobile phone than those who aren’t engaged with your company online.

2. Access To Valuable Information

Encouraging your customers to pay with their mobile device will also provide you access to powerful data that can easily improve your business.

Some of these mobile apps often provide information about the customer that your sales team can implement in their processes. This will improve your sales and survey ratings, all while keeping your customers happy. Using these apps can also help you keep track of your businesses personal information such as your inventory and when you should order more.

3. Cost Reduction

Converting your smartphone into a POS (point of sale) device is much more simple and cost-efficient than purchasing a traditional POS system. Using an app or card reader on your mobile device will also cut the costs of receipt paper and ink since you can email the receipt straight to the customer’s device.

Mobile Payments Drawbacks

After highlighting the advantages of setting up mobile payments in your startup, it is important next to check on the drawbacks.

1. Security Risks

One of the most widely known risks of accepting payments with a mobile phone is the possibility of data breaches. When customers decide to pay with their mobile devices, they are trusting you with their information. If for some reason this information should be compromised, it could cause tense relationships between your customer and your business, harming your brand

2. Inconvenience For Some Customers

Many people are set in their ways and would rather pay for items with a debit or credit card. For businesses having to choose between solely accepting mobile payments or regular payments, this may be an important point to think over.

3. Too Many Alternatives To Choose From

Everyone’s devices are different, and not all mobile payment application treat devices in the same way. For example, a user with PayPal may be good to pay using mobile phone credit at your business, but a Google Wallet user may not be able to. It is important to read the fine print before choosing a platform and to inform your customers of what mobile payments you can accept before starting the transaction.

Speaking of fine print, it’s also very important to note the fees your application may charge you for using their software. Some applications charge a swipe fee for transactions while others charge for manual payments, so beware before signing up.

4. Constant Update Needed

While some see the fact that turning your device into a POS system to accept mobile payments is much cheaper than buying a traditional system, it may actually cost you in the long run.

Whatever device you’re using, you will need to keep up with the updating POS software and eventually will become outdated. For example, many users are currently switching to phones that can support NFC (Near Field Communication). If you keep your device running long enough that it becomes unable to update to keep up with the requirements to run mobile payments, you will have to upgrade your device.

 

Also, on top of having to have at least semi-recent technology, you are also required to keep a strong internet connection to make it possible for your startup to process mobile payments. This may be an added cost that your startup is not ready for yet.

 

Have you implemented mobile payments in your startup? Do you see an increase in usage of mobile payments within your user base? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Biggest Global Cybersecurity Trends in 2018

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As many cybersecurity experts say, no company– regardless of its nature or size – is safe from cyber attacks. In this age where businesses rely so heavily on data and information, it is not surprising why even startups are being targeted by cybercriminals.

It is also well-known fact that hackers have equal – if not better – skills and resources than most startup businesses. With cybersecurity threats on the rise, it is imperative for business owners to take it more seriously and make it a core part of their business operations.

Is Cybersecurity Affecting Only Big Corporations?

Many startups and small business owners think that hackers only target high-profile organizations. However, a study from Ponemon Institute revealed that 55% of SMEs experienced some form of cyber attack.

As long as your business uses an Internet-connected computing device or has an online presence such as website, social media, or cloud storage accounts, you are at risk of getting hacked. Adding more to the risk is that most SMEs have no dedicated IT department to deal with this kind of issues. This is why it is important for startups to make data security a shared responsibility across all members.

Cybersecurity Trends For 2018

This year, we can expect that cybersecurity will continue to be an important topic in the startup scene. To give you a glimpse of what might take place in the cybersecurity landscape in 2018, here are the key takeaways by TeleMessage.

  1. Increased Data Breach Accidents from Unsecured IoT Devices
  2. Cyber Extortion and Data Breaches to Increase in Frequency
  3. More IT Security Professionals Doubt Their Organization’s Cybersecurity Capabilities
  4. Cyber Warfare and Breaches Will Have the Greatest Negative Impact on Organizations
  5. Cybersecurity as Strategic Priority
  6. More Focus on Regulatory Compliance

Global Cybersecurity Trends 2018 - MyStartupLand

 

What security measures does your startup have in place? Have hackers ever attacked your company? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

6 Sales And Marketing Strategies To Grow Your Startup

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sales and marketing - MyStartupLand

The key to growing a startup these days is based on understanding why traditional sales and marketing strategies are failing and why new activities are taking over.

Sales And Marketing To Fuel Growth

A good combination of sales and marketing is needed for successful startups’ growth. Sales relate to those one-on-one direct interactions that add revenues to the organization bottom line. Cold calls, email, networking events, and meetings are all part of the direct sales process.

Marketing, on the other side, involves those activities that a startup takes to reach and recruit prospects. Some examples are direct email campaigns, online advertising, PR and more traditional advertising, such as TV or Radio.

Direct sales marketing embodies all these strategies. Research has shown that there’s a need of 3 to 12 touch points to convert a lead into a client. More important than quantity of contacts though, is following and maximizing each contact point so that the time, cost, and effort put into each sale decrease.

What’s Not Working? 

There are some marketing techniques that have been proved over the years that are still relevant. People still love video advertising. As a matter of fact, video accounts for 69% of all consumer traffic, according to Cisco Visual Networking. Aside from this, however, many other activities are failing. Sirius Decision has reported that on average the sales cycle has increased by 22% over the past 5 years.

  • According to the 2016 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail is expected to experience a 19% decline over the next 12 months;
  • A mere 13% of people who read print publications report ever looking at the ads;
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened;
  • 70% to 80% of online users don’t look at online ads, preferring to focus only on organic search results;
  • 86% of people ignore television commercials.

 

Effective Sales And Marketing Strategies

Buyers have become more and more complicated to reach due to their ad-blindness. For this reason, it becomes very important for startup founders and marketers to find new and innovative ways to target their audience.

Without doubts, it is the role of a startup founder to ensure that information is delivered to the prospects at the right time, in the right format and platform. This is where inbound marketing strategy becomes crucial.

1. Research

This refers to the time spent understanding company goals and strategy, as well as the industry and consumers. This step is where startup founders focus on attracting customers rather than seeking new leads.

The important points here are:

  1. Clarify what the business is and ask yourself:
  • What does it mean to “grow the business?”
  • How will you know if you are being successful?
  • What are the long and short-term goals?
  • What is the sales process?
  1. Keep checking on the industry

Regardless of the experience, someone might have in an industry, things will keep changing. Innovation is a constant nowadays and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. This is where industry research comes in.

  • How do other startups fare against meeting (or exceeding) their goals?
  • What marketing strategies are other organizations implementing to attract clients?
  • What current events and news are impacting your industry?
  • Is there a B2B marketplace a startup founder can access?
  • Are there any leaders that a startup founder can speak to within the industry?
  1. Understand your customer base

Another important point is to talk with people on the ground. Your salespeople, but also everyone else involved in consumers relationship, should be doing this. Use those people to gather as many insights as possible to understand what potential customers want.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Which marketing tactics work best?
  • Are customers complaining about any current strategies?
  • What are the customer demographics?
  • What questions are the sales teams answering most?
  • What pain points does the product or service help alleviate?

2. Create Effective Content

Startup founders cannot expect users to discover their website magically. There’s a need to update the content constantly. Over 70 percent of marketers say relevant content is the most effective SEO tactic. Startups that blog 16 times or more per month enjoy four times more leads than those who publish blog content less than five times a month.

The most effective content focuses on helping customers reach their goals or solve problems. Although old content might still be relevant and create value for prospects, it’s best to make sure new content is created constantly.

3. Pay Attention to SEO

In the word of content marketing, SEO is a very important activity to keep in mind. SEO consists of all the factors that influence search engine ranking. This is what makes your customers know where to find your startup. Once you have a good understanding of what your target customer base is looking for, it’s important to spread those keywords on your website.

To optimize a website for SEO, Entrepreneur magazine suggests that startup founders:

  • Create a priority list of keywords that pertain to the customer base and market segment
  • Review industry sources and competitive lists to determine which keywords should be used
  • If there are frequent misspelled words, include those in the web pages as well
  • Track the site’s rankings every 30 to 45 days to ensure the keywords remain effective
  • Determine goals ahead of time and make sure they are measurable to review them regularly
  • Create page titles
  • Develop new sitemaps for Google and Bing
  • Place strategic words throughout your content pages
  • Continually test and measure the business’s success

4. Podcasts Really Work

People love to receive something for nothing. In the world of marketing, the most valuable asset is knowledge. Offer this to potential customers through an effective use of Podcasts.

Podcast listening, as shown by Hubspot, increased by 23 percent between 2015 and 2016.

5. Become Social Media Savvy

The effectiveness of social media marketing is controversial. Some people say it’s a complete waste of time, however, the numbers suggest otherwise. After all, the breadth of audience participation is unparalleled.

  • 72 percent of adult Internet users utilize Facebook;
  • During the past two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57 percent;
  • Instagram has 500 million active monthly users;
  • LinkedIn has 450 million members, with a reported 25 percent active on a monthly basis
  • 30% of U.S. millennial use Snapchat regularly

6. Stay In Contact

Depending on the product or service your startup offers, it might be that it is crossing your target audience mind on a daily basis (such as a food-related product) or less frequently (such as expensive beauty treatments). Once you have an understanding of this, it’s important to structure your sales and marketing activities with that in mind and be there when they are ready to buy.

The best way to do so is to maintain a constant and consistent communication with your target audience.

  1. Collect the customer’s information at every opportunity, but be aware of new regulations, such as the GDPR
  2. Craft email campaigns to stay in contact with prospects and previous customers
  3. Be sure the business is listed in local directories and search engines.

 

Having an effective sales and marketing strategy means more than relying on direct mail campaigns or traditional advertising activities. It involves a multi-dimensional aspect, that develops in a  multi-sensor process. It’s crucial for startup founders to keep up with industry trends, as well as understanding new technologies available in the market to assist your sales and marketing efforts.

What activities are you currently implementing in your startups to leverage both sales and marketing? Do you see any direct result thanks to the strategy you have implemented? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Founders Interview: Eduardo Festa – Edo Agenda Founder

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Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

Eduardo Festa started his professional career back in 2008 in Italy. In 2011, however, when he joined Sisal, as a Social Media Strategist, he started to see things differently. In this experience, he managed to get some key understandings of social channels and customer acquisition.

After this role, he made the jump to the startup life. He co-founded his first startup: Meeting Life. This was a social platform that allowed people to get together and experience new activities. The startup received €60K seed investment thanks to a viral video campaign, which gained attention on Italian and American web-magazines, such as Repubblica and Mashable.

Although things looked promising, they didn’t work out as expected. However, Eduardo, now with the startup virus in his body, decided to go ahead, find 3 brand new co-founders and start a new company: Edo.io srl, from which 2 innovative projects have originated from; the latest and current being Edo Agenda.

In this exclusive interview with MyStartupLand, we walk through his experience as a startup founder, as well as understanding some key learnings for himself as well as other fellow entrepreneurs around the globe.

1. Eduardo, let’s start with an easy one. What’s the elevator pitch for Edo Agenda? 

Edo Agenda is a comprehensive and highly intuitive digital agenda that helps users manage their time, priorities and life by bringing together events, notes, tasks, and reminders.

Its minimalist yet smart design leads users to 3 main accomplishments that are summed up in our catchphrase: “Organize your day, free up your creativity and reach your goals”.

2.     How did you come up with the idea for Edo Agenda?

Edo Agenda is the second product that we have developed as a company. Our company name is Edo.io and we initially had a vision for a digital platform where people could organize, share and manage files and communication in one single place that took the name of Edo Team.

The idea came to me while working at Sisal and most of my colleagues, as well as myself, were experiencing confusion in doing our work mostly because documents were scattered across various platforms and communication channels were disjointed from the documents.

Developing, pitching, marketing and bringing to market Edo Team has been an immense learning experience for us. Some of the mistakes we did, led us to have some delays in bringing Edo Team to maturity. In the meantime, Slack gained significant traction and popularity across the globe and we realized that we had lost our opportunity considering the strong similarities between Edo Team and Slack.

Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

At that point, we assessed the market for solution gaps, considered Edo Team users’ feedback who craved for a more distraction-free and personal tool to organize their life and looked at the technological achievements that we could carry over to a new project. This is how Edo Agenda was born.

3.     What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

I believe the answer to this question has 2 elements to it. On one side, I have always had a strong sense of curiosity combined with a healthy dose of risk-taking. I think for example of my experiences abroad in the UK and in USA where I went not only to improve my English but also to explore and improve my digital marketing and startup skills.

In addition, what truly gave me the motivation to found a new company was a vision I had. I could sense and touch my colleagues’ and my own frustration in handling too many tools to get work done and I thought to myself: “There must be a better way to do it”. So I left a promising career and a decent salary to dive into a new adventure that was both a big question mark but that was also in my own hands to steer.

4.     The startup journey isn’t an easy one. What keeps you going every morning and how you keep that motivation going among your team members?

You are absolutely right, working for a startup isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Determination is key to keep going and I find renewed strength in seeing how our users appreciate the work we do. Knowing that we add real value to our users’ life is highly motivating to the 5 of us to continue improving the platform.

Of course, some days are tougher than others and a grand vision or a higher purpose can not suffice at times. That’s when our relentless sense of humor kicks in. In the office, it’s a constant teasing and throwing jokes at each other. It’s like going for a 30km hike or an 80km bike ride. It’s only natural to feel exhausted at some point with a desire to give up. In those moments it’s enough to tell a story or a joke and not only you get distracted and so you no longer feel the pain in your legs, but also you feel your heart warming up, you are happy, you are not walking or cycling alone.

This is exactly what we do, not only when we are struggling but also as a preventive measure. We would hardly find a happier working environment. Play hard, work hard. This is our secret sauce.

5.     For any startup founder, mentors and advisors play an important role. However, we can all agree that the startup world has also a lot of “noise”, with mentors or advisor of dubious experience. How did you manage to find the right support for you and your startup? What are the key qualities in an advisor or mentor you looked into?

When I first decided I wanted to give way to my desire to found my startup, I immediately realized I needed some experience to make sure I would be successful.

In a time (2011) where in Italy the word “startup” was not even being used nor was it known, it was harder than now to find a source of knowledge and guidance. I happened to be lucky to be befriended to Ernesto since our university times, a guy who was as entrepreneurial as myself. He had started this path before me so I decided to spend some time learning the ropes from him in his project “Meeting life” which offered tourists local experiences, extremely similar to “Experiences”, the latest Airbnb revenue stream.

I think Ernesto has been a good mentor as it gets mostly because of 3 key qualities:

  1. Openness, which is generosity in sharing his knowledge. He isn’t jealous of other people’s achievements and believes that 1 + 1 = 3 meaning that by being open about his ideas, he received more ideas back through brainstorming and open collaboration.
  2. Discipline, which I interpret as a serious approach to startup best practices (such as launching the product fast and adapt it to users’ feedback) and an intention to learn startup tools (such as social media) in depth. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and it is crucial to master the tools to make you successful.
  3. Creativity, in the startup and technology world, you shape your own reality, you set your own path. I believe that imagination is as powerful as knowledge. Most people know how growth hacking is key to any company now, not only to startups.

In my opinion, an ideal mentor should be creative and should arouse creativity: it is with new ideas that one can conquer the world.

6.     What is the best advice you have received since you started this journey (regardless who you got it from)?

Never take anything for granted; especially relationships with people.

7.     As a startup founder, stress and uncertainty play a big component in your daily life… What is the number 1 thing that worries you the most? If you were to suggest the “best practice” to deal with stress to other founders, what would that be?

Stress has become a steady companion of most workers, unfortunately, and startup founders are not immune to it. At times, stress can be unbearable and after a number of years doing this activity we decided to face it and found our own solution: while you cannot switch off feelings of uncertainty, fear of failure or pressure to succeed fast, you can tune it down by turning up the volume of productivity.

It may sound cliché but it does work for us; we have learned that by putting all our efforts on what we do best, which is conceptualized, envision and develop an application, we are relieved of some of the stress as we know we are doing the best we can to achieve our goals. Repeating it to each other aloud helps us channel our energy in the right way.

We also found that meditation can be extremely helpful! It forces you to slow down, to breath deeply and to help you detach from your worries: 3 key factors to slow you down. I am personally passionate about Asian ancient cultures and this translates into putting a touch of zen on Edo Agenda to aim at spreading an aura of calm and peace in the world: I hope this does transpire during its usage.

8.     How did the startup life change you? (compared to the time before your startup journey)

It’s very simple: I dedicate more hours to work and fewer hours to sleep 🙂

9.     When running a startup, there are several components that become priorities: product, team, culture, funding, and so on… what’s your top priority when running Edo.io and why?

It is true when running a startup you feel like being a Firefighters team with one truck and 5 bush fires happening at once!

Where do you rush first?

In our specific case, I have always known that “team” is the key element that would make or break my startup. I was lucky enough to surround myself with 3 highly skilled co-founders. Paolo is a brilliant mobile developer with successful mobile apps launched on Google Store. Marco is a killer CTO with Space Engineering background. Angelo is a naturally gifted web developer with extended design and marketing expertise.

We have also welcomed a recent “Australian” addition: with 10 years sales experience in Tech corporates worldwide, Luca. He is helping us manage the entire Marketing strategy and execution.

Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

In addition to the individual knowledge they bring to the Edo table, we are all complementary to each other and together we make a complete team able to be creative, to conceptualize, to develop, to market and to raise funds. We are also a sort of stereotyped Italian startup as we all have either familiar or long-term friendship ties. By having solid, healthy, respectful relationships we operate at high levels of productivity and as I said before, we have a lot of fun in our day to day leading to high levels of satisfaction. We are a happy tech family!

In conclusion, my answer is how “team” has been my priority at the beginning of our adventure and by laying the right foundations we are able to trust each other as well as divide & conquer any difficulty that we face along the way.

10.  Did you raise venture capital? If yes, what would you suggest to other startup founders that are getting into VC funding? If not, are you going to look for funding and how would you go about it?

We did raise venture capital in 2 different rounds and we have received one grant. I recommend to all startup founders out there who are keen to achieve the same to aim at validating your product and assumptions at the earliest opportunity. It is also important to stay motivated, determined and patient as it can be a process as long as 12 months.

11. Your startup is based in Italy. Why did you choose Italy as a starting point? Are you considering moving somewhere else?

We are all Italians and Rome was the largest city closest to us that could offer the ideal conditions to create a headquarters. There we found the first two of our VC investors and one of them, TIM Ventures, offered us an office for free so that is convenient. We are not necessarily bound by geography; with 70% of international users we have huge growth potential and the world is our oyster.

12. Would you consider Italy to be a “startup-friendly” country? 

While Italy is not the easiest market to create or nurture your startup, it has changed a lot in recent years. When we started, no one knew nor used the term “startup”; now there are several incubators, so things have developed, luckily.

13. What’s the startup ecosystem in Italy?

To be honest the startup ecosystem is rather limited.  We work side by side with another promising startup, Pedius, and we exchange ideas and news on a regular basis. Apart from that, we find that more investments could be done in this sector.

14. In your opinion, is there something that is missing in the current Italian startup ecosystem that you would like to see more? 

We would love to see this change of mindset from the Italian banks, politics, investors, and entrepreneurs continue towards understanding how startups are a way for the Italian economy to rise and compete on a global level and how they are best equipped to deliver innovation.

15.  What strategies should startup founders embrace to build a great product?

For us, it’s been about going back to the basics of startup best practices. What has worked particularly well for us is listening to the users.

Of course we have a vision and of course, we remain in control of the evolution of our solution but we listen to every single person who writes us with a question, feedback, tip, request. We reply to every single one of them and whenever possible we aim at meeting their requests or applying their ideas and not because we are nice people but because they represent the market and they may be tomorrow’s paying customers.

Our strategy is to stay humble, listen to the users and not believing we know better than anyone else.

16.  Tell us about how Edo Agenda has been perceived and welcomed in the market and how your revenue streams look like.

So far I have only mentioned our digital agenda, Edo Agenda. But we do have a paper agenda as well, as we believe that paper is here to stay and the 2 tools offer different advantages.

Edo Agenda has attracted so far 81,000 registered users globally in just 11 months of activity, 40% of which reside in the USA and 70% outside Italy.

A meaningful event that brought light on Edo Agenda has been being mentioned as best productivity app of the week on Apple App Store in the US last October 2017. We are in the process of releasing our premium features at 2 euro per month or 20 euro per year if paid in advance. We have decided to offer free unrestricted navigation for the first 2 months of usage to everyone (without the need to enter credit card details) and the vast majority of users are still in the midst of this free trial.

Very soon we will have clearer stats on the conversion rate from free users to paying customers. It is important to highlight though that Edo Agenda will remain free to use for anyone without any time limitations: paying for premium features is just an option.

Regarding our Edo Agenda Paper, we have received lots of interest from about 400 people from all over the world who have been willing to pay expensive shipping costs (as high as 100% of the cost of the item which is 30 euro) in order to own it. This has been a great testament to our choice of design and the worldwide sale continues to occur.

17.  What advices would you give to first-time startup founders?

Read books on startups, digital marketing, growth hacking. Anyone who reads 3 books on a topic knows more about that topic than 90% of the global population.

Stay humble, stimulate your creativity, find a good mentor, work for some companies before, either corporate, SMB or startups: you can learn in each of them.

You can follow their stories on the following Social Media channels:

Facebook

YouTube

Instagram

Twitter

Tools For Startup Founders: Edo Agenda

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Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

Summary:

Edo Agenda is a comprehensive and highly intuitive digital agenda that helps users manage their time, their priorities and overall their life by bringing together events, notes, tasks, and reminders.
Organize your day, free up your creativity and reach your goals. 

Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

What is it?

Edo Agenda combines all elements of the paper tool most used by mankind for personal productivity – the agenda – with the digital plus.
Calendar, note taking, tasks, and reminders meet on a single digital platform available across any device. Edo Agenda helps users to be creative and productive in their daily life.
These are the 3 main reasons to use Edo Agenda:
1) One place to plan – It removes frustration and confusion when planning by being a single repository instead of the multiple apps that users currently need to use for Calendar, Notes, Tasks etc.
2) Cross-device experience – It allows users to organize their life on any device – smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop –  with instantaneous synchronization
3) Fast and intuitive – Its minimalist approach offers an easy navigation with a minimal number of clicks required to perform actions

Is it Free?

Edo Agenda is free, with no time limits. Premium features can be purchased in-app.

Two months of the Premium capabilities are offered at no cost to any users at the moment of download without entering credit card details. A paid plan is available at 2 euro per month to increase automation and unlock additional tools to boost your productivity and creativity.

Tools For Startup Founders: BuiltWith

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BuiltWith - MyStartupLand

Summary:

BuiltWith is a free database, similar to Crunchbase, but it has some limits due to a specific pricing plan in place.

What Is It? 

BuiltWith allows your sales team to get an understanding of what technology has been used to build your prospects’ website.

The major features of the tools are:

  • Lead Generation: To find specific prospects based on the technology they use to build their website
  • Sales Intelligence: To get your sales team ready before contacting prospects.
  • Marketing Share: To understand how the market share based on technology used

Is It Free? 

Yes, it is free to use for individual sites lookup. However, when your company or team requires a more in-depth analysis of different technologies and companies, there’s a pricing plan.

Choose, Claim and Protect Your Business Name

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Business Name - MyStartupLand

If you think that coming up with a business name is an easy part of setting up a business, think again. If you care to build a reputation around your business activities, you need a cornerstone, which is the business name. This will also be a foundation for building your brand identity which is probably the most serious aspect of doing business.

Regardless of what many businesses end up doing once they start operating, the message you send across is the reason why your customers come to you. If you want to do this difficult task right, you should follow these steps.

Do The Research

If you want to start a business on a fair basis, you will do your research first. Taking a business name which already exists and could be associated with another business could extend some of their good reputations to your business. However, doing so would not be ethical, and in certain instances, it could also raise some legal issues. The best would be to check the local government registers and do online research to see whether you can find something under that business name.

Choosing A Name

People often go for a business name which is, in fact, their personal name. This is a name you can connect to and in a way, your reputation depends on your business’s reputation. In certain countries and states, if you choose to operate under your own name, you do not have to register it. On the other hand, if you want to protect it, you should. If you want to operate under a DBA (Doing business as) which is a fictional name, you should choose something that inspires and motivates you. Often, business owners choose a name related to their line of business, or something which can depict their intended brand image. Yes, you should start thinking about the brand image even before you start the business.

Brand Features In The Name

Speaking of the brand, there are several things you should keep in mind. First of all, what it is that you do and what type of mood and lifestyle do you promote. The mood is often set by the type of business you run. To give an example, if you sell funeral equipment you should be gentle and sympathetic, if you want to run an accounting business you should be serious and friendly, if you are selling toys, you should be cheerful and playful. Now, look again into your audience and look for things they find meaningful. Whether the name should be straightforward, metaphoric, or simply quirky, it is up to you and your audience.

Choosing A Domain Name

We live in a digital society and the power of your online existence should never be underestimated. While you do not have to have a domain name which matches your business name, it is definitely preferred. Before you officially register your business, you should check whether there is a domain name available which is the same as the business name you have selected. If it is not, perhaps you want to search a bit further. Having a domain which is an exact match will help your digital marketing strategies down the track.

Source: Secure Now Your Domain Name

Protecting Your Name

We have already touched upon the subject of protecting a business name. If you choose to operate as a limited liability company or a corporation, from the moment you register, the government authority in charge will not allow anyone else to use your business name. This way you will be claiming the right to the name, and even some deceptively similar names. As mentioned above, you can register your DBA to prove that you claimed the name first and you can always sue does who try to use. If you can prove you were the first one to get the name and you have built a business around it, you could get others that came after you to change their name.

Trademark Your Name

If you are looking to protect your name as the intellectual property, you should look into protecting it under the corresponding trademark law. Business names are not a subject to copyright, so trademark registration is your only answer. If you want to do this, you should have an original and distinctive business name which can in no way be confused with other trademarks. This will protect you from those who wish to use your hard work to their advantage. When registering a trademark, you can do it on a local level (within your state) on a federal level (nationwide), or on an international level.

Fighting For Your Business Name

Same business names can legally exist in different jurisdictions and there is nothing you can do about that. You can keep a close eye on your competition and pay attention whether there is a case of abuse of your business name. That is the only case when you should act and when you are required to act.

This could be literally by streamlining what would otherwise be your profits into their bank accounts by operating under false pretense, or by potentially damaging your reputation. You never know what another business could do to your brand by association and with their poor business decisions.

In such instances, you should hire legal assistance and sue the other business. You will be required to prove that you were the first one, that your business is active, and that it is at risk.

 

Choose a business name which will draw sales to you. You need something others will like hearing, something catchy and something people will want to associate with. To help you do your business, find a name you can stand behind. Take all the necessary steps to protect your good name. Do not wait for someone to expose it to risk, to only then start thinking about your claim to the name. Do it as soon as possible, from the very first moment you start planning your business.

Social Selling In Enterprises – A Guide On How To Do It

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Social Selling - MyStartupLand

Be where your market is

This is a basic sales learning everyone should be aware of, enterprise companies as well. Customers right now are online, regardless of the industry. Big corporations cannot longer ignore this communication channel.

Of the 7.3 billion global population as of July 2015, more than 3 billion use the Internet. Of these, more than 60% are on Social Media. Facebook has more than 1.7 billion users; LinkedIn has 450 million.  Moreover, about 90 percent of brands are on at least two social media platforms.

The fact that consumers are on social media is not the only reason why companies should adopt social selling. According to a May 2017 Forrester Consulting survey (done for Hootsuite), managers are in general unhappy with the typical sales process.

The majority of the survey respondents believe most salespeople come to the meeting with a strict agenda, regardless of whether it applies to the prospect or not. The Internet, and social media with it empower buyers to something about it. Prospects, today, are doing their own research and sometimes make up their mind even before speaking with a sales rep.

Traditional sales strategies have become less effective in recent years due to this drastic change. Callback rates are down, dipping to below 1 percent; while only 24 percent of sales emails are opened.

Social selling has become a fundamental part of every sales strategy. It is a crucial component of every sales team toolbox and no one can escape, including big enterprises.

What Is Social Selling?

Social selling expert Koka Sexton describes social selling as: “Leveraging your professional brand to fill your pipeline with the right people, insights, and relationships…. But at a very base level, it’s how a salesperson uses social media to listen and engage with decision makers that are on these networks, asking questions and looking for help.”

It’s important to understand that social selling has nothing or very little to do with social media marketing. Social selling is about your messaging and how you build brand awareness on social media. The idea behind social selling is very much the same as traditional selling – engage and build relationships!

The difference here is on how you engage and build those relationships. You do it online through focused content and active participation in social media conversation.

B2B Enterprises & Social Selling

It has been observed that there are tangible benefits for B2B enterprises to adopt social selling. A “Social Centered Selling” and “A Sales Guy” research claim that 72% of sales reps who implement social selling, perform better than their colleagues who don’t.

Social Sales Reps are more likely to hit their quota by 23%.

In an exclusive interview on TenFold with Neal Schaffer, one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer, he confirms this clear trend: “What elements of social media can we add to make our sales process more effective? To generate more leads, to shorten the sales cycle, to close more leads and to generate more revenue… The distinguishing fact in B2B is that you are selling to a large organization and social media helps you map out those organizations. It also gives you advice on how to engage… and, allows you to engage with a broad number of people…. B2C does not need that one-to-many approach, so I would argue that social selling is more appropriate to B2B for that reason.”

Enterprises cannot ignore this trend. Competition is fierce and smaller companies have adopted social selling for some time already. Those who fail at engaging will lose the battle.

Social Selling Adoption In Enterprises

The same Forrester study shows that there is a decreasing resistance to social selling. Most of the companies surveyed see both a long- and short-term value in such type of sales approach. Almost half of these have a social selling program in place, with an additional 28% developing one. Interestingly enough, 36% believe the future of sales is in social selling.

Despite the apparent resistance, enterprise companies are getting in social media. The main obstacle moving forward will be only the implementation of this strategy against traditional ways.

Why Social Selling?

Digital innovation has empowered the buyers to go on a “self-guided journey” to the purchase. SiriusDecisions points out that 67% of the buyer’s journey is nowadays digital. A buyer’s mind is 57% made up before they even meet a salesperson.

Needless to say that this situation leaves your sales and marketing team with an immense challenge. How do you reach out to the digitally empowered buyer?

Social Media

An IDC study done in 2014 shows that the majority of B2B buyers, across all age groups, rely on social media. More specifically, 75% of B2B buyers and 80% of executive buyers use social media when making purchase decisions. The study also points out that these people are more frequent and influential buyers who have larger budgets.

Aligning Content Engagement with Sales and Marketing

Your content strategy plays an important role in reaching out to the digital buyer. This is how you can educate and influence their behaviors before they even meet your sales team. In another Forrester study in 2017, it was shown that 82% of B2B buyers found their top vendors to offer helpful content. This is also supported by a LinkedIn study, which claims that buyers are 5 times more engaged when you offer educated insights on the industry.

Word of Mouth

It has become common practice to go online and seek recommendations and referrals. 84% of surveyed companies said that their start their buyer journey with referrals. By not having a social media presence your company is missing out on potential referral business that comes to you through brand advocates.

It’s Really Easy To Start

It’s not that hard to kick off things on social selling. Your sales team needs to start devoting at least 5-10% of their time to social media activities that support their current sales strategy. It can be as simple as checking professional connections on LinkedIn, before making a call or just researching your target company’s current pain points.

It’s important to keep in mind that there will not be an immediate result. It is an investment in social engagement, and as such, it will take some time.

Social Selling 101

A strategy should be at the basis of social selling in enterprises. “Many sales executives who would never go without a common sales methodology or CRM system have yet to establish a common social selling methodology and set of tools. The result is a wide variety of individual skills and processes that cannot be managed effectively.” – Kurt Shaver, Founder of The Sales Foundry

Remember that being online as part of social networks and using social channels for sales are two different things. Here you can find a simple template to follow. Measure what works and what doesn’t. Tweak as you need to fit your business.

Get Management Buy-in

A social selling strategy should have the full buy-in of the top management. If your sales team spends time online, engaging with potential prospects, time for measurable sales effort will decrease. Social selling is an investment, not a waste of time.

It might take longer than expected, but once results arrive, also the top management will see its value. And no, you don’t need to be a millennial to do this right.

Your Professional Brand Is The Focus

Your brand is something that is part of you since you start working with a specific company. However, as seen with other companies, sometimes things can get a bit out of control when it comes to social media and real-time conversation. Remember to keep personal opinions on your personal social media accounts (or even better, offline).

For organizations, it’s important to consider that even though a salesperson can be highly trained in identifying and engaging with prospects on social media if her professional brand is off, then she will have troubles establishing herself as an authority.

Stay Visible

Visibility creates opportunities. Staying visible can be challenging when it comes to social selling. How do you become the “voice of the industry”? How will you make those buyers listen to you?

It all starts with content. Offering relevant content to your connections will elevate you among your peers. Be available to discuss with your audience. Get involved in business groups. On top of just participating, make sure to offer value and help others. It’s not about endorsing your brand, it’s about creating your professional brand.

Do The Background Work

Social media will help your sales team gathering a lot of information about your target market. This new channel allows your reps to connect with them and start conversations. It might also give you insights on what type of person your target decision maker is.

It’s important, however, to remember that although the amount of information available is enormous, you will still need to do some work. Social media won’t just give you a lead out of the blue. It won’t guide you on how to engage them effectively. You are still in the driver seat.

Listen To The Market Sentiments

In a Forrester survey, we saw that more than 50% of B2B companies use social media to generate leads. However, very few of them use social media to listen to the market. You are missing a big opportunity.

The same survey showed how sales teams are not taking advantage of these tools.

Keep Learning and Learning

75% of surveyed B2B sales reps said that they were trained on how to use social media for selling. The training was around basic guidelines in online engagement. This is not enough though, considering how many times big corporates have failed in social media communication. Continuously asses your social media engagements. Provide further training to your sales team. The internet provides quite a few resources for those willing to learn, take advantage of them.

 

What steps are you currently taking to keep your sales team up to date with social selling activities? Do you have ongoing training and processes for your sales reps? How do you use social channels to leverage your position against your competition? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Is Your Sales Team GDPR-Ready?

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Sales team GDPR-ready - MyStartupLand

The clock is ticking. The time has almost come. The 25th of May 2018 is the date when most businesses around the globe will need to start paying close attention to how they deal with user data. This is the date when the GDPR will become effective.

Some startups have already given up and decided it was easier (and cheaper) to shut down, rather than try to comply with this new regulation. But what is the GDPR?

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) aim is to:

harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy“.

(Source: EUGDPR.org)

Most of the businesses are prepping for these changes by getting squads of lawyers to understand what are the implications for the company and its employees.

Let’s start with the basics.

Is GDPR Relevant To My Organization? 

The first important thing to understand is whether the GDPR has a direct impact on your business or not. This regulation is limited to Europe and not all businesses around the globe are dealing with the region. However, if your organization has any business contact with European users then it is safe to say this regulation is going to affect your company.

The GDPR is very strict and can be harmful to businesses of any size, from big corporations to startups. Fines can be either €20 million or 4% of the global annual turnover, whichever is greater. This is no joke. If you are in doubt, it’s better you get everything ready.

Key Points Of The GDPR

The GDPR is made of a complex set of rules. However, there are few key changes to keep in mind when trying to understand the implications of GDPR for your organization.

1. Increased Territorial Scope

The biggest change that this regulation brings to the table is that every company (regardless of their physical location) dealing with “personal data of data subjects residing in the Union” will be affected by it.

2. Consent

The GDPR puts a great pressure on making user consent its focus. Companies need to ask for consent in an “intelligible and easily accessible form“. No more long forms, no more complex legalese. Consent must be clear and the users must opt-in.

3. Breach Notification

Starting 25th of May 2018, breach notification will become mandatory. This means that whenever a data breach happens and it can “result in a risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals” communication to affected users must happen within 72 hours.

4. Right To Access

This is an important step towards data transparency. Any user has now the right to ask for confirmation about whether or not his or her data has been processed and for what reasons. On top of that, the business must provide this data in an “electronic format, free of charge“, if requested to do so.

5. Right To Be Forgotten

Users can now also request that their data gets erased from the database and stop being shared with 3rd parties at any time.

 

As a startup founder, you might be thinking that aligning IT and Marketing to these procedures will be enough. However, you might be facing (a not so pleasant) surprise if you keep thinking that way. Making sure every single department and activity in your company follow this new regulation will become crucial for your survival.

One of the teams that deal the most with user data is your sales team. Here below we take a look at the implications of the GDPR on sales teams.

Is Your Sales Team GDRP-Ready? 

Most likely the answer is no.

Sales professionals might not be thinking that data privacy has something to do with sales activities. There are, however, few key questions you might want to start asking yourself to re-evaluate this conclusion:

  1. How is your sales team currently getting leads?
  2. Are you purchasing lead lists for your sales team?
  3. Is your marketing team using leads generated by your sales team for marketing campaigns?
  4. Is your sales team sending out cold emails?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions then your organization will need to consider how to comply with the GDPR.

How To Get Your Sales Team GDPR-Ready

Personal data is at the heart of sales prospecting. GDPR will have a direct impact on how sales teams think about personal data. This means name, emails, phone numbers and anything else that relate to individuals. Once all this data is collected, it then gets stored into CRM tools for both the sales and marketing teams.

By looking at the most common sales activities, it is possible to understand the DO’s and DON’Ts to get your sales team GDPR-ready.

Cold Calling & GDPR

Cold calling is the most common practice sales professionals go through on a daily basis. At this stage, the GDPR has nothing to control cold calling. It is important, however, to remember that consent plays an important role in this new regulation. This means that in case you want to add the prospect to your sales CRM or want to call them again, you will need to make sure to ask the prospect for their consent. Asking over the phone won’t be enough tough. The consent must be in writing. We suggest a short and clear cold call follow-up email where you repeat few important things:

  1. The purpose of the call
  2. What you agreed during the call
  3. Why you are following up via email

Your sales team will need to mention that this is a process to comply with the GDPR. On top of that, if your marketing team is planning to add that lead on to the email marketing list, there will be a need for further consent by the prospect. Remember, if a prospect asks to delete his or her data from the database, you will need to comply.

Action Item: Follow up via email to make sure your prospect is OK to receive new communications from your company.

Cold Email & GDPR

In case your sales reps are sending out personalized emails to specific prospects then you should not have issues. However, it is important you consider how those email addresses are collected.

Did you buy a list of email addresses? In this case, you should not use this data, as the users did not consent to receive emails from your business specifically.

Once again, it is extremely important to think about how your sales team collected those email addresses. It is crucial because email outreach needs to be personalized and relevant to that specific person.

The best way to proceed here is to make sure that your sales team include in their email a comment about why they think this email is relevant to the prospect and he or she would benefit from this communication. Your sales reps need also to keep asking for consent to the prospect to add their data to internal tools (meaning collecting name, email address and add them to the company CRM). Consent is crucial and it’s important to keep those replies into an accessible database for proof.

The GDPR translates into stopping a “spread & pray” approach and having more a “laser focus” approach.

Action Item: Your sales team will need to become more focused in their approach. As a manager or CEO, two things will be very important for pure cold emailing, “how” the email address was collected, and “why” that email was sent. Create an internal process to handle user data to comply with the GDPR.

Email Tracking & GDPR

We need to address also email tracking, a tool many sales reps use daily. The Article 29 Working Party has called out on this practice because the recipient has no idea he or she has been tracked.

The GDPR directly addresses “monitoring” users for the purpose of making a decision.

Website usage tracking is an example of user monitoring, a common practice among marketers to decide what’s relevant for users. However, monitoring per se refers also to tracking email openings. It is still unclear how this section of the regulation will be actually applied, but we go back to the main idea behind the GDPR, consent. Your sales team should be honest about tracking emails to avoid issues. However, being transparent will also limit the power of such tools.

Action Item: Although still unclear on how this will be applied and controlled, it is safe to start asking for consent, if your sales team wants to keep using email tracking tools.

Social Selling & GDPR

Social selling has gained more and more traction in recent years because if used correctly it is more relevant for prospects. Companies that implement social selling practices consistently are 40% more likely to hit their goals than organizations using traditional methods.

The good news here is that the GDPR doesn’t prevent your sales team to use social media to connect, approach and talk with potential prospects. Once the prospect accepts the invite to connect, he or she has given consent.

If the conversation moves out of social media, it is a good practice to request their consent again. This is an extra step that will just make your sales team (and your company) complaint with the GDPR. Remember, however, that having a new connection on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you can add their email address for mass marketing email.

Action Item: Make use of social media platforms more often to get in contact with prospects. Social selling is still on the “safe” side and if used correctly can give better results than traditional methods.

Networking & GDPR

Business events, conferences, and meetups are great occasions to meet potential new clients. The GDPR has nothing against your sales team meeting other people (obviously). However, your organization will need to start paying attention to how the marketing team will use that data.

Sales reps will still be able to use those business cards for follow-up emails and cold calls, they just need to make sure to follow the above-mentioned tips. However, what companies will need to stop doing is to get that data into the marketing database for email marketing without users’ permission.

Action Item: Get consent from users to be part of your marketing database and make sure they have opted-in to receive those emails.

Referrals & GDPR

Referrals are another great “warm” way to get introduced to potential customers. Considering this practice is very common in some industries, it is good news to know that the GDPR has nothing against it.

The best (and safest) way is to ask the client/person who is willing to do the introduction to do so via email, in a clear and simple way. By doing so, your team will have a recorded communication to prove how the contact was received.

Action Item: Ask for a formal introduction by the contacts who are willing to give a referral.

Final Thoughts on GDPR & Sales

The GDPR will have an enormous impact on how your sales team and your company deal with prospects. Some might think these changes will have an overall negative impact on businesses. However, I don’t think so.

First of all, the GDPR gives more rights to users and how businesses can track and use their data. Who among us is not somewhat fed up with the number of non-personalised marketing emails we receive daily? Don’t you wonder sometimes how your data ended up in someone’s database?

On the other hand, the GDPR will also benefit organizations that put great attention to sales and marketing processes. Sales professionals who follow the right procedures and leverage their networks, combined with companies who have strong processes in place will keep being profitable also under the GDPR. The focus moving forward will be on building strong relationships with prospects and stop treating them just like numbers.

Your sales team funnel will be without any doubts slimmer, but it will have only relevant prospects. The GDPR ultimate aim is to protect users data, however, by applying the regulation in the right way, your sales team and company should end up focusing mainly on qualified prospects.

How is your current company dealing with the upcoming GDPR? Have you implemented specific processes within your sales team to comply with the new regulation? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

DISCLAIMER: This is a blog post and should be considered as such. This is not a legal advice but rather a source of information to get your sales team and company started.

7 Psychological Ways to Improve Productivity in the Workplace

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Improve Productivity In The Workplace - MyStartupLand

As a general rule, increased productivity tends to mean increased revenues and profits for a company. However, business owners and managers cannot expect their workers to do more out of mere loyalty for their company. Instead, they have to develop ways to improve productivity in the workplace by getting to know their people and what they use as motivation to go beyond their expectations.

1. Make Time for Team Shout-Outs

According to this post from Psychology Today, employees would rather have their boss say something nice to them as opposed to earning a cash bonus. What this means for employers is that they don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy awards or a large bonus for those who do a good job. Instead, it could suffice to simply say thank you to those who make the business one of the best in its industry.

2. Help Employees Take Ownership of Their Work

A study published in 2016 found that workers were more productive when they felt like either they or their work mattered. Therefore, one of the ways to improve productivity in the workplace is to find out what is important to the employee and find ways to create an environment where those priorities can be met.

For instance, a newspaper could allow its writers to come up with stories that matter to them personally. A sales manager could reward his or her employees with a donation in their name to their favorite charity if they meet or exceed the quarterly new customer acquisition goals.

3. Engage With Employees Whenever Possible

One of the best ways to improve productivity in the workplace is to ensure that employees are engaged. This means being there to answer their questions or to hear their concerns. Employees who feel like their words matter are more likely to take their jobs seriously.

In most cases, job satisfaction was tied to the relationship an employee had with his or her direct manager. Therefore, reviewing management performance at every level can help to get employees excited about their work.

4. Reward the Employee Personally

If you take the results of a Gallup poll seriously, you will make sure to recognize employees directly for their contributions to the company. Among the ways to improve productivity in the workplace is to ensure that workers are noticed when they go above and beyond what you asked of them. When a worker knows that his or her hard work is being seen, it only makes that person want to work even harder to get that next reward.

5. Let Your Employees Take a Break

Employees who are mentally fatigued are less likely to work at their peak capability. According to a study done at Hiroshima University, a worker should have roughly 15 minutes to relax for every hour worked. To help an employee recharge his or her mind, you can create a game room.

Set out a yoga mat for stretching, a ping pong table or some brain booster games that co-workers can play together as a pair or a group. For example, A tic tac toe board is a simple yet effective board game that can be played repeatedly during short breaks. A wooden high rise condo is great for a group play.

There are many other mindless activities that focus on having fun, socializing with others and getting their minds away from work. In addition to helping workers recharge mentally, they can also get to know their colleagues in a relaxed environment.

6. Let Your Employees Work from Home

Those who work from home can actually be more productive than those who work at the office according to research into the topic. There are fewer distractions compared to working in the office, and a person who works from home may feel more comfortable in a familiar environment. Not having to pick out clothes or deal with a long commute can also reduce a person’s stress level, which can help them focus more on the task at hand.

Related Post: What Are The Top Cities For Working Remotely In 2018?

7. Give Them the Freedom to Perform

Employers should be ready for the challenge of managing a workforce that is diverse in thought, values, and culture. Furthermore, they should be ready to cater to the desires of multiple age ranges as younger workers are changing the way it means to be part of an organization. Instead of a traditional office setup, those in their 20s and 30s may be more inclined to work on a couch from their phones or tablets.

They may also be more comfortable working in a car or on a plane as opposed to being stuck in the office all day. However, employers should be able to cater to older workers who may prefer the older office setup that they have worked in for the past several decades. Ideally, an employer is going to be able to do whatever it takes to get the most out of an employee no matter who that person is.

There are many different ways that companies can get the most from their workers. By remaining flexible and developing a culture that rewards people for their efforts, an employer can increase productivity without having to sacrifice profits or employee morale to do so.

 

How do you make sure to improve productivity in the workplace at your startup? Do you have any specific recommendation for your fellow entrepreneurs? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

[INFOGRAPHIC] How To Engage Millennials With These Money Saving Work Perks

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Engaging Millennials - MyStartupLand

Millennials in the workplace? They’re part of the new reality that every employer is going to have to deal with. That’s not only because labor shortages are rampant across many industries and in many communities. And there’s the reality of millennials getting older: They’re simply just entering the workplace in greater and greater numbers every year. In fact, by 2020, they’re going to be the largest generation in America. Despite everyone being aware of this new generation in the workplace, most of the employers are still struggling with finding ways to engage millennials.

Much of what many people think they know about millennials isn’t necessarily true. For example, millennials don’t necessarily just want to freelance or consult; they actually prefer working full time. So if they do, then how do you persuade them to work for you? Well, it might not just be about salary—it might be about other benefits, too. What combination works and what should you appeal to them with?

This graphic helps explain what to consider.

Appeal to Millennials With These Money-Saving Work Perks

Tools For Startup Founders: Siftery

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Siftery - Tools For Startups

Summary:

Siftery is an online database that helps business owners, sales teams and startup founders understanding what technologies are used in specific companies.

What Is It? 

This database can be used for competitive analysis, as it will help you create business intelligence around your target clients as well as your competition.

It can be used for:

  • Business Intelligence: Build information around what software and tech is used by your target prospects
  • Competitive analysis: Understand where your competitors are and which companies they are working with

Is It Free? 

Yes, it is free to use.

Tools For Startup Founders: CrunchBase

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Crunchbase - Tools For Startups

Summary:

CrunchBase is the largest online database available to discover industry trends, investments, and news from startups to the Fortune 1000 companies. Startup founders can use CrunchBase mainly as a business intelligence and database tool.

What Is It? 

It’s the largest online database available for startup founders. Information on startup fundings is available as well as VCs involvement in investments.

It can be used for:

  • Business Intelligence: To find out investment rounds, VCs, employees and so on
  • Competitive analysis: To gather as much information as possible from your competitors

Is It Free? 

Yes, it is free to use. There is a paid version which gives you access to advance research and analytics tools, which can be implemented in your day-to-day activities

Tools For Startup Founders: LinkedIn

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LinkedIn - Tools For Startups

Summary:

LinkedIn is the largest professional networking website available globally. It allows startup founders not only to connect with other like-minded people but also to perform extensive research useful for lead generation, business intelligence, sales, among other activities. Startup founders can also use it to improve their professional image.

What Is It? 

It’s a networking website. A little bit like Facebook, but focused on business. Startup founders can use LinkedIn to improve company activities and business. Some example of its use are:

  • Lead Generation: Most of the decision makers are on Linkedin regardless of the industry you are in
  • Business Intelligence: Most of the companies active globally have a LinkedIn profile, which allows you to gather a broader understanding of the company activity
  • Sales: Startup founders can connect or message directly sales leads
  • Personal Branding: LinkedIn offers the possibility to submit blog posts as well as being part of several groups where you can share your opinion and build on your personal branding
  • Hiring: Similar to lead generation, LinkedIn can also be used to look for talents

Is It Free? 

Yes, it is free to use. However, to make the most out of it, especially if startup founders want to use it for lead generation, hiring or sales, the premium offering is a better fit.

 

 

What Can The Facebook Data Hacking Crisis Teach Businesses

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Facebook Data Hacking - MyStartupLand

In mid-March the news of the major Facebook data hacking broke, sending shock waves across the world’s media as new revelations about the extent of the crisis seemed to arise almost daily. Yet when the world learned that in 2015, the data of over 50 million Facebook users had been sold on to a political analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, and been used in targeted adverts to designed to influence both the 2016 US Presidential Election and the UK EU Referendum, Facebook remained silent.

Here’s a look at how Facebook handled the crisis which leveled charges at them of undermining British and American democracy.

How Has Facebook Handled It?

The answer to that, in short, is poorly. Since the Facebook data hacking scandal story broke on 16th March 2018 the Facebook PR team seem to have gone from bad to worse. From the moment it was announced, the news was bound to be both damaging and explosive, yet the PR team including CEO Mark Zuckerberg chose to remain silent. This allowed the media’s interpretation of what happened to take shape without any defense from Facebook themselves, so when they finally did speak out, it was too late and public condemnation was rife.

In the time they remained silent, Facebook saw the #deletefacebook start to trend. The Guardian published claims that Facebook tried to stop them publishing the Cambridge Analytica story by threatening to sue the UK government summoning Zuckerberg to testify. As a consequence Facebook stock value drop by almost $50 billion.

A bad week by all accounts, yet five days were allowed to pass before Zuckerberg finally broke his silence.

On 21st March, Zuckerberg spoke out to apologize to Facebook’s user base. He outlined the steps the company would take to ensure this would never happen again. Though the pacifying effect of this speech was somewhat undermined by the Facebook’s Head of News Partnerships, Campbell Brown, acknowledging the alleged threats to sue The Guardian by denouncing them as not the company’s “wisest move”. Brown then dropped another PR bombshell by stating that Facebook should have dealt with this issue when they were first made aware of it in 2015. Though she is not incorrect on this point, stating that to the press now only served to highlight Facebook ineptitudes further.

By 25th March, further allegations had been leveled at Facebook by Ars Technica who claimed that Facebook had been collecting call data including numbers, recipients, and length for years. Facebook rebutted this stating that it was part of an opt-in feature. They said that the data was never passed to third parties. Though this may indeed have been the case, with public trust as low as it was at this point, it was another huge blow to the company’s credibility.

So the PR response to date consisted of a Facebook statement and several interviews from Zuckerberg (five days after the news broke) and a statement from the Head of News Partnerships which only served to inflame the situation.

By 25th March, the department finally seemed to swing into action and took out full-page adverts across several US and UK newspapers apologizing for the breach. Yet, for a multi-billion dollar company, this was clearly too little too late, as on the 26th March the Federal Trade Commision announced they were officially investigating Facebook. The following day Zuckerberg was called to testify in front of Congress.

What Could Facebook Have Done Differently?

From a business perspective, it’s the silence that really seems to have condemned Facebook’s public image. After all, they could have spanned a much more positive story had they been quicker off the mark.

Firstly, they could have highlighted that the data breach was performed not by them, but by the UK-based academic, Aleksandr Kogan, in conjunction with Cambridge Analytica (CA).

Yes, they gave permission for Kogan to access their users’data but they did not give permission for it to be sold on to CA. True, their API allowed this to happen, but in 2014/15 they made changes to prevent this kind of harvesting and, on hearing of the breach, they wrote to CA to demand they delete all the data they had collected. On discovering in 2018 that they had not been the case, they officially broke off their connections with the company.

This by no means would have protected them entirely from the media onslaught and government investigation but it certainly would have given them a semblance of credibility and perhaps averted the broadside of the attack.

What Should Businesses Take Away From This?

Aside from a much keener awareness of the vulnerability of their online data (the obvious lesson from this event), businesses should take heed from this saga as a lesson in PR.

Clearly, even billion-dollar businesses, with user bases larger than any one country, are not invulnerable to the effect of public opinion. What Facebook has demonstrated is, that if a crisis strikes, a timely response and full confession are likely to allow your company to weather the storm far better than silence and denial.

After all, in this age of extensive media coverage, obscuring or denying a problem is ultimately futile. The likelihood is that it will be uncovered in the end anyway, and you will be in a far weaker position when it is. Thus, though we all hope all never to experience a month like Zuckerberg’s last, we should take heed from his example and make sure we do not make the same mistakes, this at least would be a positive legacy of the saga.

 

Image Credit to Thought Catalogue

The Ultimate List Of (FREE) Sales Prospecting Tools

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Sales Prospecting Tools - MyStartupLand

Sales prospecting is probably the most crucial steps in the sales funnel for any organization. Filling pipelines with leads is the focus of all sales teams from big organizations to startups. Any sales manager will tell you that “sales is a number game”, if you don’t have enough leads in your pipeline, you won’t be able to hit your targets. Although so important, many companies still fail at having a structured approach to sales prospecting.

What Exactly Is Sales Prospecting? 

Sales prospecting is the act of recruiting or seeking out new customers for a business.

Prospecting is a common role of a salesperson. It is associated with a goal of increasing the customer base of the company and generating new revenue streams. (Reference.com)

Prospecting per se is not the most exciting thing to do as a sales rep. It translates into sitting hours in front of potential leads lists and research contacts. It’s a little bit like a puzzle at the beginning. You start with a piece and no other information. By the time you have finished, you should have a clear image in front of you.

Thanks to the latest technological advancement, some of the manual work has been automated. Today, sales reps have a wide variety of sales prospecting tools available to improve their performance.

How Effective Can Technology Be In Sales Prospecting? 

Businesses using automation in this process have seen a 451% increase in qualified leads. Automation, in any field, has seen a steady rise over the past few years. Identifying high-quality leads is a pain point for most businesses. Increasing efficiency in the first step of the sales funnel will consequently increase the capabilities of bringing in more qualified prospects.

Companies that succeed in prospecting will generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% less cost than the competition (Forrester Research). So, if you are getting a lot of no’s, there might be something wrong in your prospecting activity.

Are you willing to take a chance and lose sales opportunities? As a CEO or sales manager, one of your main responsibilities is to provide your team with the best tools to achieve success.

When talking about sales prospecting tools, you can find a lot of options in the market. Here below are the best FREE options for your sales reps to start with and achieve scale at the prospecting game.

Sales Prospecting Tools For Finding Leads

Research Leads - MyStartupLand

The first step in sales prospecting is to identify the company prospect and gather as much information as you can. Anything related to those companies will help your reps do a better job of reaching out. The below tools will give your team more ways to gather the details needed and create a clearer picture.

LinkedIn

Yes, LinkedIn! This is still the first place for any sales rep to look for qualified leads. In case you have the resources, having access to the premium service might actually help your team better. LinkedIn Sales Navigator has interesting features, such as in-depth research and the possibility to save “leads” without adding them to your network – nothing worse to add to your network someone you don’t know with no message attached! Having said this, the free version offers enough for basic sales prospecting activities.

CrunchBase

This is an online database of companies in different industries. Important information can be extracted, such as funding, date of establishment, category, and organizational structure. After you have added all the filters you need, you can also export the list to work on it offline. Crunchbase can be used as a further tool to enhance information gathered on LinkedIn, for example, to get a better picture of the company you are about to approach.

Siftery 

Another free database that allows sales reps to find out which technologies prospects are using. Very useful if your company is looking to sell specific tech solutions. What’s best than knowing what software your ideal customer is using? Are they using a competitor’s solution? Your reps will have the advantage of getting insider information on your prospect before the call.

BuiltWith

A free database with limited usage. This tool allows your team to get an understanding of what technology has been used to build your prospects’ website (slightly different from Siftery). BuiltWith gives your organization sales intelligence that can be used immediately to shape your sales pitch. NOTE: If you want access to more features, there’s a price planning in place.

 

Sales Prospecting Tools For Finding Email Addresses

Find Email Addresses - MyStartupLand

The next step in the prospecting activity is to find the right email address. In some industries, sending cold emails might not be the best approach, but in today busy world, emails tend to be the preferred first point of contact with a prospect. Finding email addresses though is part of the sales prospecting activity your team has to go through.

Email Hunter

This tool helps you identify a prospect email address. All you need is a company domain. It used to have a great integration with LinkedIn, unfortunately, that’s not anymore available. Your sales team will get 100 free searches per month. To help build up the confidence of sales reps there’s also a “confidence score” that shows how likely that email address is correct.

ClearBit

This is by far the most accurate tool my team has been using in the past couple of years.  The paid version can be integrated with your sales CRM making the data entry part much simpler. There is, however, a free integration with Gmail or Outlook and you can use it, with some limits, before you (if ever) decide to go for the premium service.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite (Rapportive) 

Rapportive has been one of the first tools that would track social media accounts to verify someone’s email. In 2012 it was acquired by LinkedIn. The plugin stayed alive for few more years, until last year when it was rebranded as LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite. The functionalities are the same as before the rebrand.

FindThatEmail

It’s another email research tool. It gives you access to 50 searches per month for free. It also has a chrome extension to be seamlessly integrated into your working environment. The basic version offers you the possibility to save prospects to a list, to keep everything under control.

Datanize Insider

Like most of other email finding tools, there is a paid version with more functionalities and a free plugin for your chrome browser that address basic needs. The way Datanize Insider works is pretty straightforward, highlight the prospect name, and boom, you get the email address. Of course, you can also export the information you find for your sales CRM.

ContactOut

This chrome extension helps you find both email addresses and phone numbers with a 97% accuracy! Although the website is particularly targeted for recruiters, your sales team can take advantage of the tools for sales prospecting activities as well.

Discoverly

This tool aggregates a person’s social media account information and shows them in the sidebar of your browser. It allows you to get more context while preparing for outreach activities. Although interesting, the tool is less friendly than others, asking you to input few email addresses options and then giving you back which one is the most likely to be the correct one.

Sales Prospecting Tools For Email Cadence & Tracking

Email Cadence & Tracking - MyStartupLand

Once email addresses are found, your team needs to start planning when to send emails. Timing is everything in sales. The best time to send emails is morning and evening, and interestingly enough, there’s no best day.

Credit: Yesware Blog

Boomerang 

In case your team operates globally there might be a need for sending emails at different times of the day, perhaps when they are not in the office becomes crucial to reach to prospects. Boomerang has a very limited free account (10 emails per month), but it is widely used and its integration with Gmail makes it extremely easy to use.

Gmelius

This is a good alternative to Boomerang. Gmelius is a complete email management solution for your sales team which adds many new functionalities to your inbox. It is compatible with both Gmail and GSuite. Like many other tools for email cadence, it also tracks emails and has reminders for follow-ups.

Replyup

ReplyUp sends follow-up emails as regularly as requested. You can send emails directly from inside Gmail or upload lists into ReplyUp and send in bulk. It also has a “tracking email” feature. With the free account, you can send up to 10 emails per month.

MixMax

MixMax is trying to replacing your company legacy tools by providing one tool for everything you need, analytics, automation and calendaring. It has integration with Gmail, GSuite, Salesforce and soon to Outlook. Your team can schedule meeting directly in the tool, offering options to prospects within the email.

Streak

Streak statement is “CRM, inside Gmail”. The tool has a lot of functionalities, some to be used as a CRM, some as an email enhancement for automation, tracking, and mail merging. It also has an iOS app to use it on the go. The free version allows tracking 200 emails per month.

BananaTag

This is yet another tool with a free option (5 emails per day) that allows your team to track and schedule emails as well as creating email templates to minimize efforts and optimize activities. It is integrated with Gmail and Outlook and tracks also any emails your team sense via iOS and Android.

Sales Prospecting Tools For Meetings Setup

Meeting - MyStartupLand

The next natural step in your prospecting journey is to get you and the prospect ready for that meeting. Having the right tools to support you in this is crucial, as the pain associated with booking sales meetings is a reality for everyone. That back and forth to find the best time, place or phone number, and finally having the calendar invite sent to the prospect is a long and excruciating way.

Rally

When dealing with more than one person, finding the best time for everyone can be very complicated. Rally allows you to create a quick poll for the invitees and let them “vote” for the best date/time.

Calendly

This tool integrates directly with your calendar. In this way, you can send your availability to prospects via email through a link or embed it on your website (in case that’s part of your strategy). The best thing is that it is integrated with Salesforce, GoToMeeting, Zapier and many more.

Assistant.io

This tool also integrates directly in Gmail and Google Calendar, allowing to work from your email with no pain. You can share with your prospects few options and they simply need to select the most suitable for them. Thanks to its integration, once the prospect chooses the date and time, the tool adds it to your calendar.

Doodle

Who hasn’t used Doodle to schedule a meeting or check availability, especially for a big group? This is a classic! Pretty much everyone I know has used it at least once in their life, which makes it easy and effective. It has integration with your calendar to facilitate even further the usage.

 

I believe a good combination of the above-mentioned tools will allow your sales team to achieve greater success in sales prospecting. In case you are a salesperson, I suggest to try them all, or as many as you can, until you find the one you like the most. There is no BEST tool (although I have few preferences). The only best tool is the one that helps you achieve success.

Do you have any other suggestions on top of the ones mentioned? What is your preferred tool for sales prospecting? Tell us more in the comment section below.

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