Stop presenting- Start engaging!

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Here is an “inconvenient truth” that all sales and marketing professionals need to understand immediately: No-one wants to sit through a presentation on your products and services. Just stop doing that.

At a meeting in December of 2015, the Director of Sales Operations at a Fortune 500 industrial manufacturing company literally banged his hand on the conference room table and said (loudly) to the Chief Marketing Officer and the VP of Global Marketing: “The sales guys need better slide decks from Marketing – the current versions just don’t convey the message well!”   Watching the reaction of the two executives was telling. Neither of them spoke for at least 30 seconds, and then the CMO asked: “Is that why sales declined this last year?” Silence all around.

My question to this (clearly exasperated) team was: “What do your prospects need to know in order to better understand why your products are better for them?  And let’s think about what the best approach might be to convey this knowledge to them.”

The two primary considerations that should be the focus of sales and marketing teams for companies that have complex solutions are:

  1. What are the most important differentiated value propositions that our prospects need to understand so that they will be better informed and will make the best buying decisions?
  2. How can the customer uncover these value propositions quickly and easilyevery time they encounter content or people from our company?

Even if the sales team suddenly became experts at crisply articulating the company’s differentiated value proposition it still wouldn’t provide the knowledge that customers needed in those situations when the sales person was not present.And we know that the customer is actively progressing through the vast majority of the purchasing cycle (or customer journey) without the vendors.

The answer is to provide interactive engagement for the prospect at every touch-point, so that customers are interacting (not just watching a video, or reading a brochure) in order to ask questions, obtain relevant answers, and navigate through their problem-solving journey at their own pace. This requires interactive digital engagement tools at every venue in which prospects encounter the company: online, at trade shows, webinars, events, and even sales meetings.

No more sales presentations – these have gone the way of the printed brochure. The most effective way to transfer relevant knowledge to the prospect is to engage them directly in the discovery of this information themselves. Interactive applications are the most successful vehicle through which your prospects learn about your competitive differentiation, and retain this information when it comes time for them to make buying decisions.

Originally posted by Gavin Finn on LinkedIn.

 

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The Science of Storytelling

4 Benefits Of Using Storytelling In Marketing
As more brands make the move towards content marketing, cutting through the noise is more vital than ever before. But our brains are built to connect with compelling stories.

onespotscience

The Kaon v-Brief® interactive storytelling application, communicates your unique value story through a variety of real-world scenarios that solve a customers’ business challenge.

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3 Essential Ingredients For Your Engaging Sales Presentation

Original article published on Sales Initiative.

mobile-presentAccording to Business Insider, when we speak, we have about 60 seconds to capture our audience’s attention, establish credibility, and motivate them to listen. Those opening seconds are critical in holding the attention of your customers; therefore, your sales presentation needs to be compelling and relevant to each unique audience. While marketing has been trying to eliminate generic and boring presentations, salespeople tend to create content on their own, using inconsistent and often inaccurate corporate messaging. Frequently, this individual content doesn’t clearly differentiate their products/solutions correctly, making it difficult to create consistency within the brand. No matter what the industry, e.g. telecom, medical, scientific, industrial, etc., it is critical to deliver compelling presentations that tell your product story right the first time.

Here are the three essential ingredients necessary for creating a sales presentation that will engage prospects and win deals:

Personalised, interactive and engaging content

Interactive content is anything that requires a participant’s active engagement: in return for that engagement, participants receive real-time relevant information/results that pertain to their specific interests and business objectives. By allowing your prospects to get involved with the presentation and guide themselves through their own journey, they become more informed buyers. Your customers are looking for personalised content that solves their pains, answers their questions, and is tailored specifically to what drove them to the meeting or demonstration initially. Not only do interactive presentations add more value for your user by creating a two-way dialogue, enabling a personalised, user-focused experience from start to finish, but they also allow Sales to uncover what segment is most relevant to the customer throughout the presentation.

Uniform messaging and branding across the organisation

Creating uniform messaging and branding throughout your presentations allows your marketing departments, global sales teams, VARs, and channel partners to have a consistently positive experience regardless of location. By building a dynamic, interactive presentation with consistent messaging that you can access anywhere, your sales teams can deliver the same value-add regardless of the personalisation of the presentation. Not only does this build unity across the organisation, but it also standardises presentations between groups and geographies, reducing the amount of rework necessary, improving efficiency, and allowing applications and content generation teams to act as strategic assets to the company.

Optimised content for all mobile devices

Ever get to a sales meeting and all of a sudden you can’t get the presentation file to open on your laptop computer? You have a moment of panic because you know this meeting is crucial to hit your numbers for the quarter and you don’t want to let this sales opportunity slip through your fingers. Alas, you remember your presentation was designed and built for mobile devices. To avoid these unnecessary situations, it is imperative to create a sales presentation application that can be enabled and optimised for any mobile device, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. This ensures that your sales demonstrations can be re-used across all devices, eliminating the need to migrate or recreate interactive demonstrations when moving from one operating system, device, or browser to another, better leveraging your initial investment in the presentation.

Use these 3 ingredients to engage prospects earlier, shorten the sales cycle, and increase win rates.

By Dana Drissel, Vice President at Kaon Interactive, virtual 3D Product Models (which look and behave just like the actual products). Their interactive storytelling applications help sales and marketing communicate the true ‘value’ and uniqueness of their products/solutions anywhere, anytime, on any device, empowering them to win deals.

 

 

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Marketing In 2016–And Beyond–Will Be All About Value

As the novelty of the new century diminishes, so, too, has the glow of a single marketing channel (social media) as the locus of all things “new” in marketing. In 2015, we observed a more practical approach to content marketing and a more rational view of the marketing mix, in general.

In 2016, we will participate in the resurgence of value in how marketers frame their strategies and messaging.

In a recent CMO.com article, Marcelo Prado, Chief Marketing Officer of GE’s Measurement and Control business, described how important it is to tell the right story about how a company’s products solve customers’ problems. This “tell the right story” insight is at the heart of the most transformational trend of the coming year(s). It is no longer sufficient to be present with a brand message in every new media channel. It is now up to the marketer to draw that straight line directly between customer challenges and the company’s differentiated solutions to those challenges.

Smart buyers have researched all of the content available online, and they will have already gathered the feature/function comparisons themselves. What is critical to address in every customer venue and channel is the bridge between business needs (identified or latent) and the value of the solutions that your company delivers. Savvy marketers will need to make the shift from the “what” of their products and solutions to the “why.”

The Digital Core
The shift to value-based messaging will be at the heart of key campaigns and each core marketing deliverable. Because value is contextual, these deliverables will, by necessity, no longer be analog. Digital marketing will play a significant role in delivering this value message to every channel–online and offline.

The digital thread will be found in the applications that marketers use for ongoing communication externally and internally. The consumers of these marketing deliverables include prospects and customers, of course, but also sales teams, channel partners, and marketing teams.

While offline channels remain critical to both B2B and B2C marketers, the use of digital platforms even in these offline venues will become the norm, rather than the exceptions. When engaging with prospects or customers at an offline event, digital solutions allow for an interaction that ensures relevance, so that each “user” has a unique dialogue tailored to his specific needs–focusing on the value of the company’s solutions to that person’s (or group’s) challenges and requirements. Without a digital platform, the deliverable provides an undifferentiated experience for every user, missing the opportunity to explain and convey the appropriate tailormade value story.

The Story
In 2016 and beyond, marketers will be building a model of the problem-solving journey, and this is best understood as a narrative. For each constituent in the customer’s ecosystem, there is a story–a story both of the individual and of the organization. Thinking about the customer’s world as a tapestry of narratives provides marketers with a critical understanding of how each of these characters in the story derives value from the solution. As the buyer’s journey becomes better defined, the value can be conveyed in the form of this story–for each participant a nuanced chronicle of the processes and the outcomes (i.e., the “why”) that resonate with each customer.

Leading companies are already shifting their strategies in this direction. Competitive forces drive the demand for marketing innovation–beyond product innovation, building an engaging experiential relationship with prospects that fuels revenue growth.

A prominent global life sciences company (and Kaon Interactive client) recently deployed an interactive marketing application based on customer vignettes–stories of real-world challenges facing companies in their market. Sales and marketing teams use this digital application to explain to laboratory managers how their complex scientific instruments deliver superior results (through better science) and optimize expenses (through high-efficiency workflows.) Customers explore these solutions at sales meetings, trade shows, and online, resulting in a clearer understanding of the value to each member of the customer’s lab teams, from the financial managers to the lab directors, and including the scientists and technicians who perform the testing.

Another example involves client Nimble Storage, one of the fastest-growing flash storage companies in the world, which wanted to develop a customer-centric digital interactive solutions storytelling approach to showcase its unique value proposition. Rather than confining the conversation around feature/function differences, the company’s sales and marketing team members engaged in discussions about innovations that would help their prospects achieve their strategic technical and business objectives. These storytelling scenarios resonated with both technical and business-line customers, allowing for a greater understanding and appreciation of the value of their products. The effect of this marketing innovation (digital interactive value stories) has been extremely effective in engaging more interactive conversations with customers and prospects.

Engaging the right audience in a timely, relevant, and impactful value experience will be the key focus of marketing in 2016.

Gavin Finn, Ph.D., is President and CEO of Kaon Interactive, a provider of interactive 3D product marketing and sales applications. Follow Finn on Twitter: @marketing3D.

Original article published on CMO.com.

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Kaon Wins the EContent 100 Award

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Kaon Interactive wins the EContent 100 award! EContent 100 is the list of “companies that matter most” in the digital content industry.

Read more about Kaon’s accomplishment here:
View from the Top: Kaon Interactive

The full list of 100 companies:
The 2015-2016 Top 100 Companies in the Digital Content Industry

 

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Why say “Thank You” at work?

givingtahnksIt’s Thanksgiving. We usually spend this time with friends and family, reflecting on all those things for which we are grateful in our lives.  Regardless of our individual “ups and downs” throughout the year, looking at how so many people all over the world are literally struggling to save themselves from the ravages of war and terrorism will quickly put our struggles into perspective. We should all take a moment to be grateful for the gift of being safe with our family and friends. When one is without that, nothing else matters.

Let’s also not forget to thank all of the people with whom we work, and on whose contributions we depend. To colleagues, mentors, customers, advisors, and suppliers. Each person matters, and their individual effort and attitude makes the difference in our own success.

Thank you to all my colleagues at Kaon, who work tirelessly to make our customers successful. What makes this company special, and different, is that no one needs to be told what is the “right” thing to do. Everyone treats each other with respect and kindness, and commits whatever is necessary to ensure that our customers achieve the value that we’ve promised. And more.

Thank you to our customers – each individual who has contributed to the decision to select Kaon as your partner, each individual who contributes to the collaboration between our companies, and each individual who uses the solutions we build. It is truly a privilege to know each of you.

Thank you to our partners who share our values and our commitment to delivering positive experiences to all of our customers.

Our digital world can mislead us into sometimes undervaluing the need that we all have to connect as people to those around us. Indeed, it is the accumulation of all of these relationships that provide texture and richness to life.

I give thanks to all the wonderful people who have gifted me with the opportunity to work together with you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Original post on LinkedIn.

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“Digital” is an entirely new Marketing Business Model

It is no longer sufficient for marketers to “go digital”.   In fact, digital platforms are completely changing the way marketers must think of their world and their work. The business model of marketing has changed from being event-driven (e.g. a product launch, or website redesign, or trade show) to a continuous process both of brand development as well as purchase enablement. We can’t simply do what we did before, rationalizing our digital chops with excuses such as “now the brochures are in PDF format, saving on all of those printing expenses!”

Modern marketing deliverables are never “done” – they continuously evolve, and the process of creating and updating these digital assets and applications is a completely different process from the outdated analog-based process that was designed around making a brochure or a video. Digital assets are like living organisms. They evolve as our solutions evolve, customers’ needs evolve, the competitive landscape changes, and our storytelling capability becomes richer.

The unique opportunity that this continuous process reveals to marketers is that of continuous engagement from pre-purchase, through the long post-transaction customer relationship. We need to change our deliverables, our organizations, and our objectives from a concentration on discrete, individual events to a broad continuum of customer experiences.

Visit Kaon.com for more information about going digital.

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