Top Tips for Increasing Sales with Digital Interactivity

By Dana Drissel, Vice President at Kaon Interactive.

A new McKinsey report reveals that companies that implement transformational sales and marketing capabilities yield 90% higher sustained growth than those who don’t. In marketing and sales, this can be accomplished by using digital interactions and interactive storytelling to create engagements that allow customers to guide themselves through their problem-solving journeys. Below are four tips for increasing sales with digital interactivity.

1. Accelerate Onboarding with Interactive Crib Notesinteractive
According to Qvidian, on average it takes a sales representative up to nine months to get up to speed on a product line and roughly one year to become really effective in selling those products. As corporate strategies are shifting and organisations are acquired, the product marketing mix changes and sales must quickly accommodate.

As these shifts occur, companies begin marketing multiple products that are sold by the same sales force; therefore, it becomes difficult and impractical for them to know the unique features and benefits of EVERY product within the portfolio. This results in a generalized selling pitch, making the sales experiences less than stellar. The best way for sales to adapt is by using interactive crib notes that help them navigate through the product demonstration like a sales expert.

2. Hands On Customer Engagement
Did you know that interactivity increases product knowledge retention by up to 75%? Giving prospects that hands-on sensory experience allows them to explore the product features that are the most important to them in a way that they’ll remember. This empowers your customers to create an emotional connection via interactivity and engagement.

That being said, getting your products into the hands of prospects is much easier said than done. Products (specifically in the telecom, medical or industrial industries) are often large, fragile, hard to obtain and expensive to ship. Even at trade shows companies are often bringing their flag ship products and/or just a ‘shell’ of their product to avoid damage during transport.

3. Utilize Universal Platforms That Reach Global Users
Make sure to utilise deployment platforms that expand your reach and get your interactive content into the hands of those who need it most (customers, sales, marketing, channel, training). Cross platform sales and marketing applications allow for interactive sales tools to be created once and used everywhere, eliminating the need and cost to create separate versions for each operating system or device. The ability to create consistent and engaging messaging internationally (on preferred devices/browsers in that geography) is a game changer for marketers because they can think globally but their sales team can act locally.

4. Use Visual Storytelling to Communicate Value
According to the MHI Research Institute, in both 2013 and 2014 companies claimed that their number one pain point was the ‘inability of their sales team to communicate their value story.’ With 65% of people being visual learners, it is vital for companies to utilise interactive storytelling applications to effectively show visual representations of how their products work. The non-sequential nature of these interactive storytelling applications make the experience very personal and clearly show the value your product/solution can provide, rather than just telling you their features/benefits. Companies that fail to capitalise on their products true differentiators result in lower sales and reduced prices, with long and expensive sales cycles.

These four tips should lead to a self-directed sales cycles for your solutions, creating the epitome of personalized experiences.

Read the full version posted on Sales Initiative.

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Why good writing is essential to your career

How you write says a lot about who you are. It’s that simple.

writingWhen an email reads: “Do you have a 5 minutes time today for discussion of our product?” the immediate response is an emphatic “NO!!!!”   The topic of discussion is irrelevant. No one who writes poorly in a sales email is going to get the meeting, never mind the sale. It’s that simple.

When a note from the lead engineer to the department VP reads: “Our tests show that customers difficulty with the function in question are due to there incorrect installation irregardless of our very careful written instructions” then the VP is definitely NOT going to ask that lead engineer to be the one presenting at the next management meeting. Engineers who can’t communicate effectively aren’t the ones who have their ideas and innovations adopted by their companies. It’s that simple.

It doesn’t matter what your function or role may be within any organization, excellence in written communications is an absolute requirement. Why is this true? The reason has less to do with the specifics of writing than what it says about you as a professional, and even who you are as a person. Consider the implications when a potential employer, a potential investor, or a current supervisor sees errors in your written communications. As Lauren Simonds says, these people  “…might wonder what else you’ve failed to learn that might be useful.”

There are only two reasons for less-than-stellar writing: (a) the writer’s lack of knowledge, or (b) the writer’s lack of attention to detail. In either case, the conclusion that the reader will reach is detrimental to a person’s career. If someone hasn’t taken the time to learn proper grammar or spelling, which are fundamental building blocks of any skill set, then the implication is that there will also be significant gaps in the rest of their professional knowledge base. If the reason is that they did not pay enough attention to detail, then the implication is that this is exactly the kind of result that should be expected in other areas of their work.

People do not overlook bad writing. They may not comment at the time, but they will not easily forget, and their subconscious impressions of the writer will already have been formed. Behavioral psychology has proven that those impressions are almost impossible to reverse, regardless of future performance.

The lesson here is clear: Take the time and effort to become a great writer. It will pay dividends many times over in all aspects of your career.

Original article can be found on Gavin Finn’s LinkedIn.

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New rules of customer engagement for Millennials

5 tips companies must start thinking about when marketing and selling to Millennials

mil 3By 2030, 75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials, those born
somewhere between the 1980s and 2000s. By these numbers alone, it is imperative that companies realize that this generation has become the catalyst for the accelerated growth of technology in the world.

Millennials are the first generation to grow up immersed in an interactive, digital world. Using mobile and social technologies, immediately accessing data, ideas and inspiration and instantly communicating and collaborating is second nature for these digital natives. Companies should eagerly look for ways to embrace this generation’s knowledge of the digital world, as they have never known an environment that was not available at the touch of their fingertips.

The multi-generational workforce now contains employees of all ages, who are complex individuals, especially with a work environment that’s becoming more virtual and diverse every day. The traditional way of marketing is no longer appealing when dealing with this younger, tech savvy digital generation of millennials. So whether a company is conducting onboarding work training or trying to acquire this generation as customers, here are five tips that are fundamental to engaging millennials.

Mobile is the Movement
With smartphones and tablets never out of reach, millennials are leading the trend toward increased digital engagement. (It is estimated that there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices by 2016, surpassing the human population.) These numbers indicate that this digital generation of consumers will dominate and that companies must adapt quickly. Millennials expect a cross platform, seamless online experience, regardless of the device they’re using.

Brief is Beautiful
Communicating briefly is increasingly more important, as millennials attention spans shrink. Shorter attention spans are having a profound impact on marketers because they have to work harder to win and sustain attention. There’s a false perception that the millennial generation has the attention span of a gnat; it is that they have been trained to digest a high frequency of information.

Social Media Channels are Essential
Social Media is all about people connecting with other people, not companies marketing to people. As a generation that was brought up with the evolution of technology, it is vital to the success of a company to interact with millennials through social media. Utilizing this form of communication is an opportunity to put a human face on the company, and to connect in a more direct way with people at prospective companies. The more relevant the content posted is, the more likely a company will engage with the Gen Y generation. Social media marketing can be challenging in capturing this generation’s attention if companies are not following the popular trends or posting interesting content

Value-Based over Price-Based Selling
The value of a service or product outweighs the price for the millennial generation. These products and services should create a solution for a genuine customer pain point or opportunity. Millennials are more intrigued by value-based selling over price-based selling because they are already 57% percent of the way through the buying cycle prior to engaging with a sales representative. Millennials know that they can find the answers to all product questions on the web so they conduct all their research prior to reaching out and essentially want to know what business driver companies can move for them, i.e. cost, time, win rates, etc., not how their solutions work or why they’re better.

Appeal to the Senses
Millennials are looking for that interactive experience that appeals to their senses. The sensory dimension must involve the millennials touch, vision, audio, smell and taste to create that engagement to keep them feeling involved in what is being offered. A company’s product or service must create an emotional response or draw a connection to the experience. Creating that emotional connection to a company will not only lure customers in initially, but will also keep them coming back for more.

The new rules of engagement for millennials are that they desire the opportunities to interact virtually with products and brands via mobile, and through social channels, have their voices heard, and have personal, timely, and straightforward communication about their concerns and experiences.

Read the full version of this byline on CustomerThink.

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Interactive 3D Product Applications Supercharge CiscoLive! 2015

Kaon’s 3D interactive solutions were a big hit at CiscoLive 2015 in San Diego! Check out all the photos of prospects and employees interacting with our applications on touch screens, mobile devices, and the Kaon v-Rack.

Follow us on twitter @marketing3D for more updates and information!

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Check out the hottest technologies at CiscoLive! 2015

Stop by these booths at CiscoLive! 2015 in San Diego on June 8-11 to see the hottest interactive tools used by leading network, telecom, and storage companies to differentiate their products and engage prospects!
Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 11.26.26 AM

Check us out on LinkedIn for more updates!

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CMO Report: The Era Of Digital Transformation

Byline published by Dana Drissel, originally posted on Brand Quarterly.

The era of digital transformation is upon us and is likely to accelerate in the coming year, but many companies will struggle to leverage this revolution. It’s not because they don’t have the budget, but rather because their leaders are unsure about what specific steps need to be taken, in order to align their corporate strategies with the many options that confront them in their digital mission.

The promise of digital transformation is that the adoption of new disruptive technologies will transform the customer experience, the operational processes, and the entire business model, which will lead to competitive success. And that’s the key to unlocking this opportunity – starting with a goal to reinvent the customer experience. A new McKinsey report reveals that companies that implement transformational sales and marketing capabilities yield 90% higher sustained growth than those who don’t.

In marketing and sales, this can be accomplished by using digital interactions and interactive storytelling to create engagements, that allow the customers to guide themselves through their problem-solving journeys – leading to self-directed sales cycles for your solutions, creating the epitome of personalized experiences. The customers are no longer being sold to. Instead they undergo a guided discovery with relevant content to address their specific needs. This digital interactive experience allows companies to transition from ‘price-based or feature-based’ selling to ‘value-based’ selling, by demonstrating the alignment of true solutions to customer challenges.

State Of The Mobile Ecosystem BQbyline

Mobile technologies are the primary platform driving digital marketing transformation and interactive storytelling Mobile technologies are the primary platform driving digital marketing transformation and interactive storytelling, but OS updates are causing many unforeseen problems. Despite extensive testing and preparation by OEMs and carriers, there are a number of things that can, and do, go wrong when a web browser or OS update takes place.

Crash rates spike following the introduction of new OS versions. And while tested, new OS features continue to break apps, causing developers to fix errors and endure yet another 20-day wait cycle at the App Store for review/approval. While Apple quickly worked to fix errors and bugs after their iOS 8 update there was an initial crash rate of 3.3%.

On average, it is costing marketers’ 2x the cost of creating their initial app to get it back up and running, on just ONE device. Ouch! Imagine the downtime this causes a global sales force, the added programming resources required to insure an app continues to work, and the hours of effort marketing teams put in trying to prevent/resolve these issues.

Why The Digital Customer Experience Matters

Growing competition and consumer power are eroding traditional product-based advantages, forcing marketers to shift to a new battlefield: customer experience. Gartner’s Executive Summary for CMO Leadership listed the CEOs number one increased expectation of the CMO is to step up to leadership of the integrated cross-functional customer experience, across all customer touch points.

C-level sales executives have also broadened their expectations of marketing – from generating high-quality leads, to providing sales enablement platforms and content. The global (mobile) sales organization requires access to innovations in customer engagement, from interactive applications for sales meetings, to customer-centric digital content. Marketing is the facilitator and curator of the information needs of the sales team , from competitive positioning to virtual product demonstrations to key industry knowledge. And, as face-to-face events take on an increasingly important role in strategic sales situations, sales leaders look to marketing to create opportunities for effective customer engagement, including product launches, executive briefings, trade shows, and industry networking events.

New Disruptive Digital Marketing Platforms

With B2B customers getting 57% of the way through the buying cycle prior to engaging with a sales representative, it is no wonder companies are losing deals early in the buyers’ journey that they really should have won. This makes the need to communicate product differentiation and value; everywhere your customers encounter your solution, the number one priority.

When looking at disruptive digital marketing platforms CMOs must require the following 7 attributes to achieve successful customer engagement and operational efficiencies…

1.  Make It Interactive

Use interactive applications to generate engaging dialogues. This will aid in clearly communicating how products and solutions help to solve customer problems, and will allow users to navigate through the experience in any sequence they choose. Creating an engaging personalized demonstration.

2.  Host Via The Cloud

Digital marketing applications should be delivered securely through the cloud to allow for real-time application updates, analytics, simplified B2B global deployment and incremental maintenance. This provides instant availability to all users, resulting in global message consistency and up to date applications.

3.  Access To Unlimited Global Users

Expand your reach and get your content into the hands of those who need it most (customers, sales, marketing, channel, training). Use platforms that provide no limit to the number of users anywhere, on any device. This will allow you to cost effectively scale your reach and user base without increasing your costs.

4.  Universal Device Compatibility

Don’t pay exorbitant fees to rebuild the same content for multiple devices. Look for marketing platforms that allow you to build ONCE and deploy on every platform , eliminating the need and cost to create separate versions for each operating system or device. Additionally, really great digital marketing platforms will provide automatic and seamless platform updates to support new operating system versions (and browser updates for the web).

5.  Online/Offline Access

Use digital marketing applications that are designed to run natively on each local device, without Internet connectivity. This will provide your team with the ability to bring the same interactive experience, to every venue (e.g. trade show, impromptu sales meetings).

6.  Real-Time Incremental Updates

Look for marketing platforms that easily and quickly update the digital applications without having to re-develop and re-deploy from scratch, unlike videos, which have to be replaced in its entirety. When updated (e.g. new sections, updated message) only the modified content is changed.

7.  Actionable User Analytics

Find platforms where actionable insights, derived from detailed user behavior, are presented in a powerful yet simple format, providing a clear understanding of how the application or content is used, on what devices and in which geographies it is present. This will help develop a clear understanding of ROI and formulate deep knowledge of which products/solutions add the most value.

Your customers must understand your unique differentiation and product value after every sales encounter , and it is marketing’s job to leverage the right transformational technologies to make this happen. Make the investment in the appropriate digital marketing platforms to start building the foundation for long-term success. It is guaranteed to yield greater efficiency and higher returns.

Follow Kaon Interactive on LinkedIn for more articles!

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Kaon’s CEO Talks “Marketing Excellence” with C-Suite

Gavin Finn’s interview with Jeffery Hayzlett at The C-Suite Networking Conference in Boston, MA, March 2015.

“Involve customers in every step of the process, and surround them with interactivity.”

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