Monthly Archives: November 2016

Simple Ways to Avoid Data Disasters

Whether you are a full-time freelancer or entrepreneur on the go, your hard work — all the files and data you complete for your client / own business — is at risk. It could be one spilled coffee on your laptop or one client who saves over the only copy of a file you sent them. Anything could destroy your hours of hard work in an heartbeat.

Here are five tips on how to ensure your work is protected and how to make sure you’re never opening yourself up to a tech disaster.

1. When you’re on the road, your data is vulnerable.

Anytime you take your work on the go, you’re opening yourself up to a number of security risks. For example, using a Wi-Fi network that’s not secure can mean risking the confidential data your client has entrusted to you. If someone else is able to gain access to this sensitive information, then you’re left responsible for the loss!

  • What do to: Invest in a personal hotspot that you can password-protect no matter where you are. Check in with your wireless provider and see if you can add this feature to your phone’s existing plan. This way, you know that the Wi-Fi connection you’re using is safe and secure.

2. Your laptop is your lifeline, not your lockbox.

If you’re working anywhere outside your home — local coffee shop, airport lounge — then your laptop or tablet, etc. can easily be swiped in seconds, meaning that any confidential information on there is now in the hands of the thief. Also, any projects or work saved only on your laptop could be lost forever. That’s irreplaceable hours of work — i.e., money! — that you’re potentially at risk to lose.

  • What to do: Whenever you take your laptop outside of the house, ensure all the files on it are protected by an external hard drive. In the event of theft, you’ll also want to ensure your passwords aren’t crackable. An easily crackable password contains real words or proper names, has keyboard sequences and has a limited variety of characters.

3. Sharing is not always caring.

If you work with multiple clients, then you’ll undoubtedly need to share your work. But what happens if a collaborator accidentally deletes a file from your cloud storage repository? The work could be gone for good.

  • What to do: Don’t assume file sharing means file security. Always make sure that you have a copy and multiple versions of any file you send to a client / colleague, in the event that something happens as that asset is passed back-and-forth.

4. Be an entrepreneur with enterprise-level security.

While large enterprises often provide employees with secure file-sharing systems, remote workers / freelancers may not have access to these — meaning you could accidentally forward a link to a private or client-sensitive file to someone who shouldn’t have access it, violating your client’s privacy.

  • What to do: The files that you share or transfer should be protected by a password and sent through a private links opposed to a public link. Never send a link that anyone could click on and use to access a file. Just think — if you accidentally forward the wrong link to the wrong client, you could be jeopardizing their privacy and your own reputation as a responsible partner.

5. Storage does not equal safety.

This is a conversation in need of happening, as a recent survey highlights as a point of confusion for most. If you’re using cloud storage as a substitute for backup, you can easily lose data through accidental deletion, overwriting or by simply forgetting to manually upload files before disaster — or a security incident — arises.

  • What to do: Create a storage safety net with a cloud backup solution. Install software that will continuously and automatically backing up all user files and data and scanning for changes along the way — no manual dragging and dropping is necessary. An investment will create peace of mind that no piece of work will disappear forever, no matter what happens!

Web Based Technology

There are many types of businesses and many ways to grow them. Smart staffing, aggressive business development, strategic partnerships, investor relations and many other functions all contribute. But to grow from a small to a large company, you have to be able to both drive distinctiveness in your business model and to create efficiency and scale.

Setting your company apart from the competition will help attract customers, investors and employees, while driving leads, profitability and growth. Efficiency and scale are also paramount to expanding profit margins. Both are needed for handing an expansive client load. While many factors play into differentiating your business and achieving superb efficiency and scalable operations, there is one thing that greatly contributes to all – technology.

But what technology should be utilized and when?

1. Web-based platforms for round-the-clock access to your customer. Web-based technology platforms are ideal for a number of business solutions. They are logical. Our constant use of smart phones and tablets is not only a way of life phenomenon, but also represents a powerful and direct means to reach and influence your customer around the clock. Equally important, Web-based platforms allow your customers to reach you.

2. Common ways to improve business efficacy with Web technology. Programs built for the Internet environment are well-suited for client facing interactions, as well as for the aggregation and processing all kinds of information. Most businesses require applications and forms to be completed by customers, and Web-based programs give clients 24/7 access and efficient ways to complete them.

Web platforms also compile large amounts of data into central databases and provide multiple ways for deciphering, organizing and evaluating that information. Not only do these benefits improve speed in your operations, they also enable scale (your ability to exponentially increase the amount of business you are able to conduct).

Related: Five DIY Online Form Builders

Common applications of Web-based interfaces include credit card entry forms, CRM entries and databases, investor reporting tools and customer service interfaces, among countless others. But the real power of these interfaces is when they are utilized to create new, unique business processes, pushing slow adopter companies (and even whole industries) to evolve and improve the ways business is conducted.

3. Technology platforms that differentiate your business model and create scale. Once you identify how competitors utilize technology, you may formulate a unique strategy for maximizing efficiency within your own business. Look for ways to employ and combine technology processes to differentiate and create a unique business model. Assume you are able to create custom technology platforms, because you can. Web technologies include “off the shelf” solutions for common functions, custom-built tools for individual business challenges, and the combination of both which allows for truly unique solutions.

4. Integrate technology into your brand. Once you have embraced cutting-edge technology and implemented it into your organization, make sure your corporate brand reflects that. If your technology solutions better the current industry standards for conducting business, strengthen your brand with it to attract customers and superior talent, as well as to align your employees and partners with your goals and values.

New Technologies Is Making a Science of the Art of Sales

Sales teams across the country are faced with an interesting conundrum. There are more tools in the market than ever before. The trick is figuring out which ones are worth the investment.

The right measurement for judging a new tool is whether it increases the likelihood of making connections because, at the core, sales is about relationships. A new technology that helps create and build connections with prospects and clients is worth the investment.

There are three main categories of relationship-focused technologies for sales professionals.

Sales intelligence

With sales intelligence, its all about getting the fullest picture of a client or prospect as fast as possible. Some of the top tools in this field are InsideView and Data.com. Separately, these sales technologies are good, but combined they provide a complete understanding of a target business.

Data.com is a powerful database full of company and contact information for potential leads and prospects. Updated daily, it provides salespeople with a clear view of who they should consider reaching out to next. But while Data.com helps users find the right contacts to target within an organization, it’s still up to the sales individual to discern how best to approach the new prospects.

Enter InsideView. The sales intelligence platform pulls insights into CRM from across the web, everything from recent press appearances to new features, acquisitions and beyond. This provides a glimpse into the state of a company, where it may be headed and more. this level of detail is a must when it is necessary to build out a profile of a company to understand how to best engage.

Tools like Data.com and InsideView allow salespeople to step back and examine the overall landscape before diving in to pitching new prospects. Rather than wading through millions of organizations for leads, these tools put the individuals and companies salespeople should go after front-and-center.

Once the decision is made to approach a prospect, there’s a new layer of sales technologies that come into play to help salespeople understand the individual on the other end of the pitch.

Sales empowerment

Sales empowerment tools “empower” salespeople with data and technology to help turn the art of sales into a science. It’s not about simply having more information, but rather having the ability to analyze and use that data immediately to increase connectivity and build relationships.

One great example of a sales empowerment technology is Yesware, a Gmail-based sales platform for tracking emails, creating templates, syncing to CRM and more.

With Yesware, a salesperson is notified when a sent email is opened by a prospect. Yesware also provides detail on what device type the prospect used to open the email. This information may seem trivial but it has had a huge impact on my team’s ability to make valuable connections with prospects.

Related: When You’re Hungry for Sales, Consider These Lead-Gen Tools

For example, with Yesware, I realized 95 percent of emails opened by prospects on a mobile phone go unanswered if the email content exceeds the size of the phone screen. This knowledge helps my sales team write emails with mobile in mind. We now have heightened awareness of what I call “optic response,” the overall impression or mood an email’s design, style and layout relays, regardless of the specific information presented.

Additional Yesware features, like mail merge, speed up the sales process by allowing us to automatically follow-up with a specific segment within a given message group, such as those who have not yet opened the initial email.

We also use templates to keep track of which subject lines are doing the best throughout the company, and to create specific examples of a portable device email versus a desktop message. All of these features help us engage the right targets with the right message, enhancing our relationships with prospects.

Social sales

These days, social media impacts every industry and individual. Sales is no exception. The upside to everyone over-sharing online is that prospects participate, too.

“Social selling” creates 45 percent more opportunities, with 51 percent of representatives more likely to hit their quotas, according to LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index. With that context, understanding human behaviors, degrees of connection and how prospects share content to communicate are some of a salesperson’s best tools.

Three of the top social platforms in the world — LinkedIn, Twitter and Salesforce’s Chatter — are my trifecta for building and strengthening connections, providing unique background on prospects and clients, and establishing a forum for internal communication.

On the surface, LinkedIn gives salespeople a look into a prospect’s background, such as where they went to college, the cities where they have lived, work background, shared contacts and if they are even the right person at their organization to reach out to.

The true advantage, however, is in obtaining a genuine interpretation of the person’s style, what they value, organizations and activities in common, etc. This is also the single best way for a salesperson to understand whom he or she knows in common with a prospect, so as to build a direct path for engagement.

Twitter is second to none when it comes to understanding the actual behavior of a prospect. From vacation plans to beloved pets to milestones, thousands of random factoids are shared over Twitter. In fact, many individuals will post life’s little annoyances, such as a salesperson in the past who approached them in a way they found less than appealing. When the goal is establishing connection, understanding what not to do is often more important than anything else!

Salesforce has many helpful attributes but Chatter is a feature often overlooked and underutilized. Chatter may appear to be “just another instant messaging platform” but it offers far more by allowing an entire business to share stories and develop communities of learning.

How often in sales is it said that teamwork is not just encouraged, but required? As often as not, a powerful learning moment is lost in a sea of emails. New employees never even get a chance to be exposed to the wisdom of many past experiences. Chatter preserves these lessons for everyone within a company to find. When incorporating social selling into the mix, just “@mentioning” someone on a thread creates an unstoppable force. Conversations grow organically.

My belief is that the most critical aspect of a salesperson’s day-to-day is simply making the connection. Or, as Eminem reminds us on “One Shot,” “If you had one shot, one opportunity / To seize everything you ever wanted, one moment / Would you capture it or just let it slip?”