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15+ Must-have SaaS Tools for Startups in 2022

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15+ Must-have SaaS Tools for Startups in 2022

According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, the SaaS market is expected to grow to nearly $200 billion by 2024.

Time marches and technology evolves. Gone are the days when all business operations required manual intervention. Being a part of a technologically advanced business era, Automation is no more a buzzword, but a necessity for businesses to succeed.

And when we talk about the automation of business processes, ‘’Software as a service’’ SaaS needs no introduction. Any business that wants to make the most out of technology and favors cost-effective solutions for their IT needs, opts for SaaS tools to automate processes.

Like any SaaS consultant will tell you, Investing in the best-suited SaaS tools can not only remove any kind of friction from work and user flow but also give businesses a competitive edge. Thus, if you haven’t thought of a SaaS stack for your business, you are missing out on a lot of tech advancements that can take your business to the next level.

Now before we learn about the must-have SaaS tools to create your business SaaS stack, let’s look at some important insights about SaaS tools and their perks.

An Introduction to SaaS Tools

Software as a service (SaaS) tool in simpler terms is a software distribution model in which a software provider hosts their software applications on the cloud and makes the copy of that software available to end-users over the internet while charging a fixed subscription fee. These tools are easily accessible on any device’s web browser with an active internet connection and don’t require any physical installation.

Moving on, let’s look at some key features and benefits of SaaS tools along with some key SaaS terms that you should know.

Benefits of using SaaS tools for Business

  • Easy to access, use and maintain
  • Lower cost associated
  • Continuous Functional Improvements
  • Highly Scalable & Flexible
  • No Hardware Investments
  • Enormous System compatibility

Key Features of SaaS Tools

  • Remote Access: The most useful feature of SaaS tools is that they are easily accessible on any device with just a few clicks and taps, the only requirement is an active internet connection.
  • Subscription-based Payment: SaaS tools are the most cost-effective way of automating business processes. As with most SaaS tools you only have to pay for what you use, billing is done on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis based on what feature you choose to utilize.
  • Easy to implement and use: SaaS tools don’t require any physical setup or much time to get started with the software. All it takes is easy signup, subscription, and you are all set to start leveraging the respective SaaS tool.
  • Highly Scalable: The best part of having a SaaS tool is that with the continuous functionality advancements the software keeps on improving. And as your business grows you’ll always have an upgrading option.
  • Security: Any business irrespective of its size prioritizes the security of its data first, and with SaaS tools, security is ensured with encryption and restricted user access.

Common SaaS Terms you should know

  • Vertical SaaS: SaaS solutions render a target to a specific industry only. This software is created specifically for a particular industry catering to their needs, goals, and pain points. For example, Guidewire software, a SaaS tool that specifically caters to the Insurance business.
  • Horizontal SaaS: SaaS solutions that are intended to cater to the benefit of people across different industries with varied needs and end targets. For example, Slack – a communication software that can be used by anybody irrespective of their industry.
  • Packaged SaaS: SaaS product that is designed for certain business goals and processes. For example, Salesforce is an all-in-one CRM software.
  • Collaborative SaaS: SaaS tools that help teams collaboratively work together without hassle. For example, Basecamp is a renowned project management tool.

Now that you have a fair idea of SaaS tools, let’s get on to exploring the must-have SaaS tools for your business according to the business processes.

Must-have SaaS Tools in 2021

Project Management SaaS Tool

Businesses often juggle with multiple clients, projects, and tasks. Managing and catering to multiple clients and projects single-handedly at some point and time can lead to a lack of team collaboration, missed deadlines, chaos, and disorganization, which certainly is not acceptable for any business that aims to succeed.

Especially with the work from the home era setting its pace, working remotely, and collaborating with the team has become a hassle. Often due to lack of management and collaboration, deadlines are missed, work is hampered and all it leads to is a lost client and negative reputation.

Having an all-in-one project management tool that can streamline the management and collaboration processes for multiple projects can be an asset that yields commendable customer experience.

Benefits of Project Management Tool:

  • Efficient Resource Planning
  • Project Planning and forecasting
  • Improved Team Collaboration
  • Enhanced Productivity
  • Improved Planning, scheduling, and risk mitigation

With that said, you might have an idea of what exactly is a project management tool and how it can benefit a business. Now moving forward let’s look into the best project management tools that you can utilize and streamline the management of multiple projects and tasks.

1. Basecamp

With 3.5 Million accounts and 22 years of service, Basecamp is a renowned project management tool. The reason behind Basecamp ruling the project management realm is that basecamp centralizes all the processes making it easy for every individual in the organization to look, understand and play their part in each project.

Having a centralized way of communicating, keeping files, handling project approvals, deadlines, feedback, and streamlining projects is all it takes to cater to multiple project clients while offering them a greater experience working with you.

Features:

  • Easy to manage
  • Responsive Interface – can be accessed on the Web, Android, or iOS
  • Effective team collaboration with employee tags
  • Centralized approvals and feedbacks
  • Easier project communication with group chats
  • Message boards, schedulers, To-do lists
  • Secure and effortless document sharing
  • Free 30-day trial

Pricing: $99/Month

2. Zoho Projects

Another well-known project management tool is Zoho Projects. Similar to basecamp, Zoho projects streamline business processes right from project planning up to the execution of the project.

Catering to all the needs of a business, Zoho projects play a major role in planning multiple project activities, assigning work, managing balanced resources, and collaborating with the team members.

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Features:

  • Impressive UI
  • Task Automation & Management
  • Project Time Tracking
  • Effective Team Collaboration
  • Gantt Charts and Reports
  • Project Administration & Tracking
  • Responsive Online Software
  • Easier Integrations

Pricing: $10 per user/Month

3. Narrato Workspace

Narrato Workspace is a content creation and workflow management tool that helps streamline your content creation process. The software provides a powerful content editor that offers suggestions for improving content quality. Collaboration on content tasks is also very convenient, with the entire team coming together on the platform.

Assigning tasks, organizing content projects under folders, tracking task status and delivering projects to clients on the platform are simple too. The “Client” user role on the platform lets you share work with clients and gather feedback, which can be quite useful for content and web design agencies.

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Features:

  • Grammar and readability suggestions + AI assisted writing
  • Customizable content templates
  • Guidelines repository for reusable project guidelines
  • Folders, content calendar and Kanban boards for organizing/ tracking projects
  • Customized roles and access for managing team members, freelancers and other stakeholders
  • In-line comments on tasks and messaging on platform for easy collaboration
  • Publicly shareable links and WordPress publishing for easy content delivery

Pricing: Presently, you can create a free account and try out the platform at no cost for 6 months.

4. ProofHub

ProofHub is an all-in-one project management and team communication solution for teams of all sizes in a variety of industries. It assists project managers in breaking down complicated projects into small, achievable tasks and subtasks. You can create and assign tasks, set estimated time, track progress, and work with other team members easily in one location.

15 Must have SaaS Tools for Startups in 2022

Create custom fields, check your workflow in multiple views, chat with individuals or groups, conduct real-time discussions, save and proof digital files using the proofing tool, review project reports, and much more. ProofHub is a simple, cost-efficient, and effective project management tool.

Features

  • Effective task management with start and due dates
  • Efficient team collaboration features like discussion boards and notes
  • Easy to use Custom fields to sort and manage information
  • Robust Time tracker
  • Online proofing to streamline reviewal process
  • In-built chat application
  • Kanban boards and Gantt charts
  • Detailed Project reports
  • White labeling

Pricing: $89 per month (Flat price)

CRM – Sales Automation SaaS Tool

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a system intended to streamline and improve the relationship and coordination with businesses’ existing customers, help find new prospects, and retain the former customers.

A CRM SaaS tool in simpler words encompasses all the activities, strategies, and technologies to cater, communicate and manage both the existing as well as the potential customers.

Benefits of CRM SaaS Tool:

  • Improved Customer Relations
  • Increased Customer Revenues
  • Maximized Productivity and organizational performance
  • Better Informational Communication
  • Efficient Analytical Documentation and reporting

Now that you have an idea of what a CRM is and how helpful it can be for your business, let’s move on to explore the best CRM SaaS Tools available for businesses to leverage.

1. Salesforce

When it comes to CRM, salesforce is a renowned name. It offers a centralized platform to streamline, organize and manage marketing, sales and customer support.

Salesforce enables businesses to target different audiences, with the help of smart automation intended to cater to every lead and customer activity, while also helping internal teams work collaboratively while delivering consistent results in the best interest of customers.

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Features:

  • Intuitive UI/UX
  • Robust and flexible security architecture
  • AI-augmented analytics
  • Enterprise-level collaboration
  • Intelligent search feature
  • Metadata Architecture

Pricing: $25 per user/month to $300 per user/month

2. Zendesk Sell

Another well-known CRM SaaS tool is Zendesk. Similar to Salesforce, Zendesk also offers an intuitive centralized platform to manage and nurture every lead prospect that you want to cater to.

Zendesk Sell is well-equipped with robust sales prospecting functionality that intends to leverage an untapped market of over 200 million professionals. Businesses irrespective of their sizes prefer Zendesk Sell to identify prospects and nurture the lead until it becomes a customer.

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Features:

  • Email tracking and automation
  • Sales dashboard and reporting
  • Responsive CRM with Intuitive UI
  • Automatic dialer with text capability
  • Out-of-the-box integrations and analytics
  • Contact and Lead management, discovery, and verification

Pricing: $99 per user/month (Billed Annually)

Marketing Automation SaaS Tool

Now that we have done learning about sales automation tools, the next important automation tool that needs consideration is the Marketing Automation tool.

Marketing Automation Tool primarily is intended to centralize the various marketing activities including emails, blogs, social media, web pages, etc, and deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right customers, in turn nurturing their trust for the brand. Investing in a competent marketing automation tool can help businesses focus on what matters, i.e., an overall marketing plan and lead generation.

Benefits of Marketing Automation Tool:

  • Balanced Resource Allocation
  • Save Time & Effort
  • Improved Customer experience
  • Increased Productivity
  • Multi-channel campaign management
  • Increase ROI
  • Automated Detailed Reports
  • Improved customer retention

Moving forward, let’s look at the best marketing automation tools that you can leverage for your business.

1. Marketo

Marketo is the best-in-class automation software available for businesses to generate, nurture and grow leads.

Owned by Adobe, Marketo is a renowned SaaS tool built to help businesses automate and manage their marketing engagements and workflows.

Marketo empowers businesses to engage the right customer by leveraging rich behavioral data of potential customers, build and scale the best-suited brand marketing campaign and finally paving way for business opportunities and an uplifting customer experience.

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Features:

  • Identifying, Nurturing & Managing Leads
  • Bi-directional CRM Integration
  • Email & Consumer Marketing
  • Web Activity tracking
  • Marketing Calendar
  • Campaign Dashboards and Reporting
  • Save Time, Costs, & Efforts
  • Increased Productivity

Pricing: starts at $1,195/month

2. Eloqua

Known as Oracle Eloqua Marketing Automation Tool, this is another renowned name when Marketing automation is concerned. Primarily Eloqua helps in strategizing and implementing closed-loop marketing and sales activities while managing cross-channel B2B marketing campaigns.

This centralized platform leads to seamless nurturing of leads across each stage of the buying process with competent campaign design, advanced lead scoring, real-time analytical data, and integrated sales tools.

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Features:

  • Dynamic Campaigns
  • Real-time activity tracking
  • Increased productivity
  • AI-enabled Lead management
  • Seamless Revenue analysis
  • Compatible workflow

Pricing: starts at $2000/month

Business Communication SaaS Tool

When we talk about business communication, numerous aspects come into consideration. First of all, business communication can be vertical and horizontal. When we say vertical, it means internal lateral communication between the employees and superiors. Whereas horizontal communication is the communication between employees and teams.

Transparent communication in an organization can lead to a much-streamlined workflow and collaboration between teams as well as individuals. Especially in the work from home era, organizations must maintain an effective channel of communication to continue business functioning without any hassle. And this is why business communication tools have seen an increase in demand.

Benefits of Business Communication Tool:

  • Real-time communication
  • Productive meetings and conversations
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Easy data sharing
  • Effortless task Management
  • Increased productivity

In today’s time, business communication tools need no introduction. So, let’s get to explore the best business communication tools that are available for businesses.

1. Slack

It is a renowned business communication SaaS tool with more than 12 million daily active users and around 7,50,000 organizations leveraging this enormous communication tool.

The primary aim of Slack is to cut down the hustle of communicating through longer mail trails by offering a synchronized platform for the entire organization to communicate, share files, plan projects, have discussions, and maintain a track record of tasks and strategies.

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Features:

  • Messaging, Voice & Video calls
  • Organized channels for specific conversations
  • Can Pin messages and links to channels
  • Easy Access, Management, and tracking of documents
  • Advanced search options
  • To-do list and notes facility
  • Streamlining your sidebar
  • Subscribing to RSS feeds
  • Robust reminders and navigations

Pricing: Free to $12.50per active user, per month (billed annually)

2. Flock

Flock is one of the best business communication tools that enable seamless communication between superiors and associates.

Flock offers a robust online platform that works on all devices and OS, and acts as a virtual workplace enabling direct messaging, group messaging using smart channels, voice, and video calls, screen sharing, file sharing, etc.

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Features:

  • Direct messaging & Video conferencing
  • Integrated search & Guest Users
  • File sharing & To-dos
  • Reminders, Text & Voice Notes
  • Light & Dark mode theme
  • Multiple App integrations

Pricing: Free to $4 per licensed user/month

SaaS-based Workforce  Management Platform

HR departments often find themselves overloaded with a huge set of employee-related responsibilities, which increases with employee strength. Moreover, in this highly competitive era, it is crucial to effectively administer all the workforce activities to give them the best experience.

Handling it alone with manual practices becomes more time-consuming and tedious work to perform, which proved to be more mind-numbing in the remote working environment. This approach brings nothing more than chaos, inefficiency, unproductivity, high cost, data manipulation, data inaccuracy, and burden to HR managers.  

A unified human resource management tool streamlines all the daily tasks and gives freedom from the spreadsheet-based workflow to all the companies. Also, this automated solution is preferable for the tech-savvy workforce to perform their work in this digitally evolving era.    

Benefits of Human Resource Management Software:

  • Reduces paperwork
  • Improvises employee management
  • Boosts communication
  • Streamlines administrative tasks
  • Centralizes all the critical data
  • Generates error-free results

Let’s now move forward and look at the highly used Human Resource management tools to adopt in your business to build a more empowering and effective workplace.

1. factoHR

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factoHR is a famed identity in providing cloud-based human resource management solutions to small, medium, and large-sized companies for automating their daily HR operations with its simplified solutions.  

It is a perfect plug-n-play, mobile-first solution for every company seeking assistance in handling the overall HR tasks. Beginning from recruitment to FnF (Full and Final) settlement, every stage is handled well and more effectively with this solution. Companies can better administrate talent management, enhance employee engagement and productivity, ensure compliance management, and many more with this SaaS tool.  

Its easy and quick implementation functionality in a budget-effective manner makes this solution usable for 1500+ companies with 1.5 million employees onboard.    

Features:

  • Simplified dashboard functionality
  • Hierarchical & configurable approval workflow
  • Assisted by separate mobile application
  • ESS portal for employees
  • Performs mood analysis to keep employees engaged
  • A single source of truth for your data
  • Detailed report generation capabilities
  • Provides analytical insights

Pricing: Starting at $40.80/month

2. Keka

Keka is an employee centric SaaS platform that combines HR, payroll, ATS and performance management in a single suite of tools. With Keka’s robust platform companies can seamlessly manage human resources processes.

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Features:

  • Payroll Management
  • Performance Management
  • Project Management
  • Recruitment Management
  • Reimbursement Management
  • Shift Management
  • Attendance management
  • Bonus, Loan & Advances Management
  • Document Management
  • Email Integration

Pricing – Starting at $ 94/ month

Social Media Automation SaaS Tool

Now that we’ve looked into the SaaS solutions for 4 main pillars of the business i.e. Project Management, Sales, Marketing, and Communication, it’s time to explore SaaS solutions for the fifth most important aspect of a business – Social Media.

It is no news that Social Media Marketing is one of the most important parts of any business’s marketing strategy. And being time-consuming, Social Media Automation has become one of the integral parts of business processes. No marketer prefers to spare time every day to post content on different social media channels, and that is when they choose to opt for social media automation tools that make their content creation and sharing a seamless experience.

Benefits of Social Media Automation Tool:

  • Saves Time & effort
  • Improved Engagement
  • Increased online presence
  • Real-time Analytics
  • Increased brand reputation

The best social media automation tools that you can leverage are:

1. HootSuite

The most renowned social media automation tool is HootSuite. Being an incredibly useful social media tool, Hootsuite enables marketers to syndicate as much content as they wish to share with their audience.

With advanced scheduling features, businesses and marketers can leverage this platform to share content, read responses, schedule messages, view statistics, and a lot more.

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Features:

  • Content Scheduling
  • Content sharing across all major social platforms
  • Insightful Analytics
  • Social Media Listening
  • Team collaboration

Pricing: $17 per user/Month to $610/Month

2. SocialPilot

SocialPilot is one of the best websites like Hootsuite that any business can leverage. SocialPilot offers businesses a seamless social media marketing journey that results in a greater ROI and brand recognition by empowering them with competent features that help them plan and implement their marketing strategy without hassle.

Along with social media automation and social media calendar, SocialPilot offers two unparalleled features: the in-built content curation tool and the White label solution. SocialPilot’s content curation tool helps you maintain the constant flow of relevant yet engaging content while with their White label solution, a business can personalize the experience they want to offer to their client. They can also market SocialPilot as their own social media software creating a flow of extra income.

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Features:

  • Content Curation
  • Social Media Scheduling across all major social media channels
  • Social Media calendar
  • Bulk Scheduling
  • RSS Feed
  • Real-time Analytics
  • Detailed Quantification of Social Media initiatives
  • Personalized dashboards and emails
  • Team & Client Collaboration

Pricing: $30/Month to $130/Month

Accounting SaaS Tool

Accounting is a crucial aspect of every business irrespective of its size or industry. Every business requires accurate data analysis. Investing in having a centralized SaaS tool that will help manage finances has become a common practice.

These accounting tools can range from being simple single-entry programs used for storing individual records, to more advanced accounting systems that enable business owners to effectively track finances, have detailed reports, and mitigate risks.

Benefits of Accounting SaaS Tool:

  • Cost Saving
  • Optimized business financial operations
  • Easy to use
  • Secured Database
  • Automated record-keeping
  • Simplified tax compliance
  • Seamless expense management

Moving forward, let’s look at the best accounting SaaS tools you can utilize for the benefit of your business.

1. QuickBooks

With more than 7 million active users across the globe, Quickbooks is the #1 accounting software for businesses. A centralized platform where all of the business accounting data can be organized, sales can be tracked, invoices can be created and shared, finances can be tracked and planned. What else does a business need?

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Features:

  • Cloud Accounting
  • Invoicing
  • Online Banking
  • Accounting Reports
  • Cash Flow Management
  • Time Tracking
  • Accounting Reports
  • Data Security
  • Automatic Backups

Pricing: $12/Month to $90/Month

2. FreshBooks

Another efficient accounting software is FreshBooks with over 24 million users across the globe. Enabling businesses to experience seamless billing and tracking expenses this software is one of the most preferred account Saas tools.

One of the best features of FreshBooks is payment schedule time tracking. This one-of-a-kind platform enables businesses to set reminders for the unpaid invoices and keep a track of all the missed payments along with a detailed account of specifics.

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Features:

  • Invoices
  • Payment Reminders
  • Personalized invoicing
  • Multi-currency billing
  • Automatic Tax calculations
  • Expense Tracking

Pricing: $7/Month to $25/Month

SEO SaaS Tool

Search engine optimization is no more a buzzword. Businesses today invest in SEO aiming to increase brand visibility and to attract new customers. Utilizing a SaaS Tool to automate business’s SEO is one of the smartest ways to pave the way for results and ROI.

Benefits of using SEO SaaS Tool

  • Attract quality traffic to your website.
  • Enhance conversion rate.
  • Generate quality backlinks.
  • Establish brand awareness.
  • Drive traffic to website
  • Improves website loading speed.

One of the best SEO SaaS Tool that you can leverage is:

Sitechecker

It is an all-in-one SEO platform. Get a full SEO analysis report on your website to develop the best SEO strategy and, as a result, improve your search engine visibility. You can easily analyze and fix SEO mistakes with Sitechecker’s practical tips. Site validation gives you a complete picture of all the SEO flaws of your site. Once you recognize them and fix them, you will have a chance to improve and increase your site’s ranking in search engines.

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Features:

  • Site Audit
  • Site Monitoring
  • Rank Tracker
  • Backlink Tracker
  • SEO Chrome Extension  

Pricing: $23/Month to $79/Month

Bottom Line

We are a part of an extremely competitive business era, where a business can become big overnight and hit a rough patch the other day.

Staying well-versed with the advancements, trends, and updates is a necessity and time is the most precious commodity. Businesses are trying their best to level up with the industry leaders and among such cut-throat competition, if you are still investing time and resources in business operations that can be automated, then you’re certainly losing the pace.

Do not overthink, now that you know what all business processes can be automated. Upgrade yourself to a SaaS stack and see how your business thrives through the competition.


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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

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Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.

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via GIPHY

To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

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Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

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So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

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  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

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So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

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The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.


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