Millennials: The Technology Fluent Generation

Millennials have become the Full length of young men and women holding cellphonecatalyst for the accelerated growth and development of disruptive technologies in the workplace. A study conducted by IBM stated that 50% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials, also known as Generation Y, by 2020. As a millennial myself, educated in a technology fluent society and raised in a digital world, I become intrigued when companies adopt technological innovations that will fundamentally help improve their business as well as their customer experience.

We want everything that surrounds our company’s to be digital, easily accessible, and visually appealing. Although it may seem risky, we like disruptive ideas that differentiate us. We’re less compelled to be risk adverse and more inclined to be early adopters.

As a marketing professional, I watch my sales counterparts use interactive applications to navigate through complex selling environments. Everything my generation desires needs to be right at our fingertips, on our mobile devices. The very realistic and interactive nature of these digital selling experiences appeal to our tech savvy nature, allowing us to engage with products/solutions in a very intimate and personal way. No longer do we need to read boring fact sheets to learn all the specifics about the products, as interactive 3D product tours (which look and behave just like the actual products) allow users to engage with the product and experience unique features and functions via animations, in a way that truly transfers knowledge and communicates the products ‘value’.

According to Forbes, 74% of non-millennials agree that millennials offer different skills and work styles that add value and improve business in the workplace. Now go back 10-15 years and ask those non-millennials how they used to sell extensive product lines with difficult complex features? They would probably refer to product spec sheets or carry around sales kits filled with generic information they hoped could answer any buyers’ inquiry. No generation before has had as much access to technology or the infrastructure we, millennials, have today. We can tailor a pitch to the specific audience in which we are speaking to because of the interactive nature of the new sales and marketing applications available.

Gartner conducted a study that showed that 57% of the B2B buying cycle is completed before a customer even interacts with a sales representative. This digital dependent generation wants interactions that rely less on face time and more on creating their own emotional connection via interactivity and engagement. A recent study revealed that product knowledge retention increases by 75% when prospects can drive their own sales experience. That’s why it is more important now than ever, for companies to create cost effective user driven digital applications that are appealing to Gen Y as both employees and consumers.

The final most efficient and innovative way for companies to appeal to the millennial generation is to utilize an enterprise application that allows for content management and social sharing. Many places of employment are now ‘BYOD’ companies, which means ‘bring your own device,’ and while millennials wholeheartedly embrace the fad, we also have our own personal (non-work) applications on our mobile devices. BYOD is attractive to us, millennials, because often times we feel that the corporate-issued devices and apps are outdated and don’t play to our strengths. This younger generation also expects applications to work seamlessly on a full range of devices and platforms without compromise. Therefore, companies with a digital mindset must attract and retain these millennials with responsive, user-friendly applications that can be managed on their own devices.

The key takeaway is that we, millennials, passionately embrace new technologies and ideas that will help improve inclusion and engagement. We are extremely dedicated to our jobs and want to be just as productive outside the office. What companies need to do is to provide us with interactive applications that appeal to our tech-savvy ‘hands-on’ nature that keep us informed and engaged. It’s time reach the Gen Y prospects of tomorrow!

Article can also can be found on LinkedIn.

Be sure to check out Kaon Interactive for innovative sales and marketing tools!

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Kaon Reaches Industry Milestone

The number of interactive experiences with 3D product models on Kaon Interactive’s mobile platform exceeded the 1 Million mark! Sales people, prospects, and marketing teams are increasingly turning to 3D mobile experiences to simplify complex product and solution stories, and to reveal the differentiated value of products and solutions in 138 countries!

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Digital Transformation Is Upon Us…

digital-transformationThe era of digital transformation is upon us and is likely to accelerate in 2015, 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 to take in order to align their corporate strategies with the many options that confront them in their digital mission.

The promise of the 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 that lead to self-directed sales cycles for your solutions, creating the epitome of personalized experiences. The customers are no longer being sold to but instead can 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.

So, if your company has not yet embarked upon the transition to digital customer engagement, it is time to do so or you may be left behind.

 

Click here to learn more about Kaon Interactive’s offerings.

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Interactive Apps Supercharge Channel Sales And Marketing

February 26,2015– Byline by Gavin Finn, published by IT Best of Breed.

Selling and marketing has become more complex as customers perceive products (and services) to be more commoditized.

This has resulted in an acute need to clearly articulate and communicate differentiated value. Unfortunately, research has shown that traditional sales presentations are not effective in this kind of environment. Beyond slide presentations, looping videos and brochures, what alternatives do sales and marketing teams have, when it comes to effectively communicating value to the prospect?

When channel salespeople and marketers think of engaging with their target prospects, they should be thinking about a wide variety of interactive experiences, both online and offline. Why? Because interactivity is the best way to ensure that prospects and customers remember important information. When people engage interactively, their knowledge retention increases by a factor of three.

True interactivity is the process of engaging in a dialogue involving three primary dimensions:
1. Sensory: using any combination of touch, visual, audio, smell, and taste.
2. Emotional: developing an emotional response or connection to the experience.
3. Intellectual: the exchange of information that is relevant and useful.

When an experience involves these three aspects of connection and communication, true interactivity has taken place. Interactivity is non-linear, meaning that specific responses are provided based on individual actions, resulting in a meaningful exchange of ideas and information. The user does not have to follow a prescribed sequence of events; rather, they create their own personalized path by exploring areas of interest to them, at whatever degree of detail is relevant.

In today’s digital world, access to interactivity in the selling and marketing ecosystem is readily available, in the form of “interactive applications.”  Delivering interactive experiences well beyond passive sales materials (such as slides, PDFs, and videos), interactive applications are apps that can run on any device – on the web, on an iPad (or Android tablets,) on smartphones, on PCs, and on large interactive touch screen appliances at trade shows or sales offices. These applications contain a combination of visual and text information, and allow users to navigate through the experiences in any sequence they choose, and at the pace that suits them.

Interactive applications work by showing how products and solutions help solve problems, through animation and interactive dialogue between the user and the application. If the user is technical, they would explore the details of products and solutions at a greater technical depth than, say, an end-user, or a financial buyer. But the application is successful at conveying the necessary knowledge because it crisply demonstrates the solution to each particular user so that they can understand the value of the product/solution, and can access any supporting evidence or detail that they may need in order to make an informed purchasing decision.

In a sales meeting, for example, it is often necessary to explain how a technology solution will be beneficial to a variety of the customers’ departments. How will end-users’ workflow be improved, or why will the quality of their work improve? How will the systems integrate within the existing or future architecture of the company’s IT infrastructure?  What will the total cost of ownership of the solution be, and how can the finance team see return on the investment?

When an interactive application integrates all of these stories into one environment, the sales meeting becomes very productive and efficient. The customer can navigate to that section of the application, and can interactively learn about the value message that is most significant to them.

In the above example, the IT solution can be explained through an interactive network architecture diagram, perhaps. If the financial buyer asks about ROI, then the sales person can turn the application over to that individual, and they can explore the section or areas that show the financial value. The end user can understand the outcome of the solution’s deployment from the perspective of improved workflow, or quality. Each of these users can control their own interactive experience so that they are not subjected to the same slide presentation or video as everyone else, creating an extremely personalized engagement.

For channel marketers and salespeople, the goal should be to turn every encounter with a prospect or client into an interactive experience. By leveraging interactive applications across a variety of platforms and venues, new levels of engagement can be achieved, more successful relationships built, and more deals can be won.

Gavin A. Finn is president & CEO of Kaon Interactive.

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Kaon Interactive & Custom Exhibit Houses Team Up in Strategic Partnerships

Interactive Booth Demos Exceed Customers’ Expectations & Win Deals
Beyond the 
Show Floor

PRESS RELEASEEXHIBITOR2015 Las Vegas, NV (March 2, 2015)

Kaon Interactive, the leading provider of interactive 3D product marketing and sales applications, today announced a strategic partnership program for custom exhibit houses to further strengthen their ability to serve their customers at the trade show and beyond. The new partnership allows B2B organizations to take Kaon’s unique immersive 3D interactive experiences used to crisply communicate product/solution differentiation at trade shows, and deploy them seamlessly across their entire global enterprise.

This innovative partnership program is a deliberate effort to help marketers efficiently and effectively ‘communicate their value message,’ which was the number one inhibitor to B2B sales success in 2014 as reported by the MHI Research Institute, an organization dedicated to improving B2B sales performance.

“In an effort to align our long-term goals of customer acquisition, retention and providing ongoing value, Kaon Interactive has proved to be the prefect strategic partner,” said Bob Babine, President of 2020 Exhibits. “Their interactive 3D storytelling applications provide the hands-on engagement Millennials are expecting within a booth environment and deliver a much less invasive approach to traditional sales training when it comes to on-boarding employees. Our customers now have the ability to take this exact same engaging event experience and use it across their global sales channels to communicate competitive uniqueness and win deals.”

“In this customer-first, mobile-first world, companies need easier ways to differentiate themselves regardless of the venue, platform or device,” said Gavin Finn, President & CEO of Kaon Interactive. “Together, Kaon and our exhibit partners will provide flexible interactive sales and marketing solutions that communicate with customers the way they live and work today.”

Kaon Interactive Learning Track At Exhibitor2015

Join us on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 3:45pm as Gavin Finn, President and CEO of Kaon Interactive presents the following Measurement & Results learning track (W103) at Exhibitor2015 titled, “Downsize Exhibit Space and Increase ROI with Engaging Small Booth Experiences.”

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MD&DI: Top 4 Medtech Marketing Trends of 2015

MDDI  February 13, 2015- Published by MD&DI (Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry)

As labs and hospitals try to cut costs, knowing how to effectively sell your medical device products will be key.

Faced with uncertain funding and ever-increasing costs, laboratories and hospitals are more prudent than ever regarding the equipment they purchase. As such, marketing and sales professionals in the scientific instrument and medical device markets must clearly communicate their product differentiation and value at every touch point.

From a marketer’s standpoint, this means there is a tremendous increase in the need to deliver experiences that inform customers and partners about the specific differentiated value of the company’s products and solutions, not simply their features and functions.

This will require taking a new approach to marketing and communications with a focus on measurable outcomes. Successful companies will seek to accelerate revenue growth by transforming their approach to how they will globally launch and bring to market new solutions. Here are four medical marketing trends that marketers will begin to see intensify in 2015.

Acceleration of Product Knowledge Transfer and Sales Onboarding

According to Qvidian, on average it takes sales representatives 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. In 2015, medical marketers must use disruptive marketing technologies to accelerate internal product education and reduce the time it takes for sales channels to effectively communicate product value and competitive differentiators. The end result could equal a decisive competitive advantage and huge financial gain (increasing revenues by millions of dollars).

To accelerate product knowledge transfer, innovative medical marketers are turning to interactive storytelling applications to clearly articulate both value and competitive variation by making pertinent product information more readily available to the sales channels in a way that’s engaging. Key features of these applications include the following:

  • Immersive interactive storytelling solutions that speak to multiple constituents in the buying ecosystem (doctors, technicians, lab directors, CFOs).
  • Interactive 3-D product models (with sales crib notes) to help quickly convey competitive product differentiation.
  • Localized content for globally dispersed sales channels.
  • Real-time content updates, so that all users have the latest information at their fingertips.
  • Cross-device accessibility to support global training (mobile, tablet, web, laptop, touchscreen).
  • Online and offline accessibility.
  • Simplified access to relevant collateral, videos, and presentations that are imperative to sales success.
  • Ability for salespeople to rank the popularity of content within the application (videos, presentations, PDFs, etc.) to provide users with a quick snapshot of the most effective sales tools.

Adjusting for Globalization

The medical device sector will experience growth in emerging markets (e.g., China, India, Russia, and Mexico) over the next few years, which means these markets could drive the medical industry for decades to come.

The increasing number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), joint ventures (JVs) and other collaborative business models means that companies with disparate marketing solutions will need to synergize their local operations with global requirements. The ability to create a consistent message internationally (on the devices or browsers of preference in that geography) is a game-changer for brand marketers, as the concept of “glocalization”—thinking globally but acting locally—becomes their mantra.

This capability must also be customized locally to those instruments, assays, and procedures that are approved (or pending approval) in each geography, so as to ensure regulatory compliance everywhere.

Regulatory Compliance Will No Longer Result in Boring Marketing Content

Yes, you read that correctly. Medical device marketing tools and collateral can now become digital interactive experiences that also comply with regulatory standards. So step away from the printed op-techs and fact sheets that cause prospects’ eyes to glaze over and start to integrate more seamlessly within your marketing content.

Interactive marketing content invites customers to create their own journey, based on their specific needs, helping them make more informed buying decisions. A recent study revealed that product knowledge retention increases from 20% to 75% when prospects are able to drive their own interactive sales experiences.

Today, the digital experience is so realistic and precise that you can get very finite details on 3-D product demonstrations that mimic the medical devices exactly (both looking and behaving like the actual product). A study conducted by Mondo, revealed that 80% of companies plan to increase their digital marketing budgets, with half of that number increasing them between 5–10%. As this trend continues to emerge, it is vital that medical companies incorporate these interactive 3-D product models into their sales strategy to differentiate themselves from the tough competition.

Telling Your Value Story Effectively

In both 2013 and 2014 medical companies claimed that their No. 1 pain point was the “inability of their sales team to communicate the value story.” So it only makes sense that companies in 2015 will get away from price-based selling and begin to talk about the value of their products and services. Medical device companies are turning to interactive storytelling applications that facilitate an engaging dialogue with the prospect, rather than a presentation to the prospect.

These applications have a nonsequential order to them, which makes the buying experience very personalized. The buyers have the opportunity to be in the ‘drivers seat’ and guide themselves through the sales journey. Buyers in the medical field specifically are not being sold on the price of a device or product, but rather on how that device or instrument can deliver unique value-add, resulting in more competitive wins.

Without a crisp, consistent way to articulate a competitive positioning that highlights customer benefits, companies fail to capitalize on their true differentiators, resulting in lower sales or reduced prices, with long and expensive sales cycles.

Exercise these top trends and let 2015 be your year to shine!

Dana Drissel is senior marketing director at Kaon Interactive.

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“In-Person” Selling is Best

Original article published on Gavin Finn’s LinkedIn profile.

Just because people use the Internet to do more research about products and services does not mean that face-to-face meetings are unnecessary. In fact, when you look at real data, there is proof that in-person meetings are the most important part of a customer’s buying experience. This is certainly not true of every product category, but the reality is that if you want to improve sales and marketing effectiveness, you have to do a great job in face-to-face meetings.

Forrester Research just released a study on how B2B marketers will be allocating budgets in 2015, and the #1 category across the board is face-to-face events, just as it has been since 2008. Even more than digital marketing. That’s not to say that digital marketing is not critical (it is) but overlooking the priority of the physical, face-to-face meeting can be devastating.

Oxford Economics studied the effectiveness of virtual meetings (phone, video, chat, etc.) and determined that for new prospects, in-person meetings were 85% more effective than virtual meetings, and this benefit was incredibly significant even for existing customers (65%).

Why, in this age of Content Marketing, and Social Media, and Digital Marketing, do people still need the personal touch?

Because it is better for the buyer:

  • For complex products and services, buying decisions are made less on the basis of technical features and functions, and more on the basis of organizational and personal relationships and trust. Yes, a significant portion of the buyer’s journey happens without a sales person’s involvement. But after the initial selection process, when it comes time to help the prospect make a good buying decision, cognitive studies have shown that there needs to be anemotional connection that goes beyond analytics. Body language, facial expressions, and voice tone are all examples of emotional cues that help buyers evaluate vendors.
  • When buyers are making decisions, they need interaction to get all of their final questions answered, and to ensure that they have understood all of the product/solution information correctly.
  • Particularly for products that aren’t commodities, buyers want to establish a relationship with the company, and even the people in the company. That relationship will transcend the initial transaction, and will allow for a mutual exchange of value that lasts a long time. One example of this mutual exchange of value is when buyers learn interesting and relevant facts from the sales and marketing people – information that will help them in general, but may not be specifically related to this particular purchase decision. Face-to-face sales and informational meetings allow for “side-line” conversations among participants that are often very valuable in building a rapport.
  • Buyers (especially when there is more one person involved in the decision process) make better decisions through face-to-face meetings. A breakthrough study of organizational behavior showed that overall outcomes of group purchase decisions were far superior when there were face-to-face meetings with vendors, highlighting effectiveness both in terms of better decisions (long term satisfaction) as well as efficiency in the process.

And, it’s better for the seller:

  • In person meetings are the best forum to clearly articulate competitive differentiation, and to firmly establish a prospect’s understanding of the company’s value proposition. Since the biggest inhibitor to sales is the inability to communicate value messages, according to the MHI Research Institute, addressing this challenge should be a top priority for marketers and sales teams. A face-to-face setting is the best venue to correct any misperceptions regarding the customer’s understanding of the product or the company, and to augment the customer’s existing knowledge with additional benefits and advantages.
  • Studies have shown that sales cycles are much shorter when there are face-to-face meetings as part of the process.
  • These venues are the best environments in which to truly qualify the prospect, to determine that there is, indeed, a good fit between their need and the company’s solutions, and that they are serious about solving that problem.
  • Just as the buyer wants to build relationships, so does the selling organization, and the opportunity to establish a personal connection to the individuals involved in the buying process is far superior in person, than using other channels.

Not every customer interaction has to happen face-to-face. In point of fact, most customer touch-points will not be of this type. The majority will be the customer interacting with marketing content, the website, or third party references absent any involvement of the sales team at all.

But the most important interactions will happen when the people buying your products meet the people selling your products.

Click here to view the original version on LinkedIn.

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