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B2B Sales Strategies for the “New Normal” of COVID-19

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We are not out of the woods yet, but it is safe to say that many B2B buyers are re-emerging to do business.

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June 12, 2020 5 min read

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The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and there is still a massive amount of economic pain and high unemployment, but in the world of B2B sales, we seem to be emerging from the other side of the crisis and entering a kind of New Normal. Some businesses are reopening, some are testing the waters again after being hesitant to spend or invest during the lowest points of the crisis, and the stock market has recovered much of its losses. Although we are not completely out of the woods yet, it’s safe to say that lots of B2B buyers are coming out of the bunker.

So what does this mean for your B2B sales strategies? There are a few key insights to keep in mind to adapt your B2B sales to the New Normal of life under COVID-19:   

1. Get proactive with customer outreach

Now is definitely not the time to sit back and wait for leads and deals to come to you. Put your head down and start working. Develop a comprehensive approach for customer outreach and lead generation from all possible channels: outbound lead generation (cold calls, email marketing, direct mail) and inbound lead generation (search engine marketing, social media, PPC ads).

Related: Research Says This Type of Video Closes More B2B Sales

Also, get more proactive at asking for referrals from existing customers. Ask everyone on your team to brainstorm and make lists of possible customers or sales leads from their own professional and personal networks. Now is the time to pull out all the stops and figure out where your potential customers are, and how to reach them.

2. Have a solid, consistent process

Revisit your sales process. When times are good, lots of B2B sales organizations get a bit complacent about going through the motions of the sales process, or treating every customer conversation the same. The post-COVID world is way too competitive to allow for this kind of complacency. Every deal counts more than ever. You can’t be improvising your sales process right now. You can’t assume that every customer who contacts you is ready and eager to buy.

Hammer out a consistent sales process that accounts for every stage of your customer’s journey, such as:

  1. Initial contact and discovery stage
  2. Preliminary phone call with a sales rep
  3. Product demo
  4. Stakeholder conversations
  5. ROI calculations
  6. Q&A with decision-makers
  7. Closing the deal

Not every industry or company will have the same sales process, but this is a good basic overview. You might want to customize the process to reflect your own company’s typical experience. Of course, not every customer will have to go through the entire sales process, and some customers might need to spend more time in one stage of the process than others. But if you can pinpoint a few key stages and typical steps in the customer journey, you will be better equipped to guide your customers through each stage of the process, save time and maximize your effort, and get them ready to buy.

Related: How Can You Create an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy

3. Revisit your “cold” sales leads

Too many companies overlook the value of their “cold” sales leads. If you have sales prospects that haven’t received a follow-up call since before the crisis started, now could be a good opportunity to check in with them. Even if a prospective customer was not ready to buy, or was even struggling with a crisis of their own a few months ago, their circumstances might have changed for the better. Some big companies haven’t stopped spending, but are shifting their spending into different areas, or spending differently with multiple vendors. Some companies might have changed their procurement process in a way that is more favorable for your business.

Whatever the situation, it’s a good idea to revisit your list of long-term sales leads and check in with the “cold” prospects, even the ones that might not have seemed like high priority leads six months ago.

4. Adapt to a dynamic environment

It seems like the whole world is shifting wildly from one day to the next, and it’s true that now more than ever, the only constant is change. Be prepared for your prospects’ needs to change. All of the companies that you’re selling to are also navigating this same environment of uncertainty and unpredictability; the solution that you sell might suddenly be a better fit for what they need. Your prospects might get acquired by other companies. Your prospect’s vendor might go out of business, creating a need for a new vendor (you!) to get on board with the prospect’s organization. All of your sales conversations need to lean into this spirit of dynamism and resilience. How can you help your customers’ businesses get stronger, leaner, more efficient, lower-cost, or lower-risk? How can you adapt your sales pitch to the unique concerns and challenges of this specific moment?

Related: 4 Ways to Spice Up B2B Marketing

It might sound premature or naively optimistic to talk about COVID-19 having a “New Normal.” Most people might not feel 100% safe going out in public or resuming normal activities again until there’s a vaccine. But the business world, especially in the world of B2B major account sales, seems to be shifting in the direction of something resembling normalcy. Make sure you can adapt your sales strategies accordingly. “Normal” might still be a long way off, but COVID-19’s “New Normal” is still presenting unique opportunities for sales organizations that are ready to take them.    

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/entrepreneur/salesandmarketing/~3/mHcNMuIB6bg/351710

Big Data

FanGraphs’ advanced baseball analytics has a new cloud home: MariaDB

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With the 2021 Major League Baseball season opening today, fans will be filling out their scorecards as they return to stadiums for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last spring.

Of course, the data that is now regularly made available by the MLB goes well beyond the hits, runs, and errors fans typically record in a scorecard they purchase at a game. MLB has made the Statcast tool available since 2015. It analyzes player movements and athletic abilities. The Hawk-Eye service uses cameras installed at ballparks to provide access to instant video replays.

Fans now regularly consult a raft of online sites that uses this data to analyze almost every aspect of baseball: top pitching prospects, players who hit the most consistently in a particular ballpark during a specific time of day, and so on.

One of those sites is FanGraphs, which has transitioned the SQL relational database platform it relies on to process and analyze structured data to a curated instance of the open source MariaDB database that has been deployed on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as part of a MariaDB Sky cloud service.

MariaDB provides IT organizations with an alternative to the open source MySQL database Oracle gained control over when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009. MariaDB is a fork of the MySQL database that is now managed under the auspices of a MariaDB Foundation that counts Microsoft, Alibaba, Tencent, ServiceNow, and IBM among its sponsors, alongside MariaDB itself.

FanGraphs uses the data it collects to enable its editorial teams to deliver articles and podcasts that project, for example, playoff odds for a team based on the results of the SQL queries the company crafts. These insights might be of particular interest to a baseball fan participating in a fantasy league, someone who wants to place a more informed wager on a game at a venue where gambling is, hopefully, legalized, or those making baseball video games.

The decision to move from MySQL to MariaDB running on GCP was made after a few false starts involving attempts to lift and shift the company’s MySQL database instance into the cloud, FanGraphs CEO David Appelman said.

One of the things that attracted FanGraphs to MariaDB is the level of performance that it could attain using a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) platform based on MariaDB and that it provides access to a columnstore storage engine that might one day be employed to drive additional analytics, Appelman said.

In addition, MariaDB now manages the underlying database FanGraphs uses. Appleman said he previously handled most of the IT functions for FanGraphs, including the crafting of SQL queries. Now he will have more time to create SQL queries and monitor the impact they have on the performance of the overall database, Appelman said. “I like to see where the bottlenecks created by a SQL query are,” he added.

FanGraphs plans to eventually take advantage of the data warehouse service provided by MariaDB, Appelman noted.

It’s not likely any of the analytics capabilities provided by FanGraphs and similar sites will one day be able to predict which baseball team will win on any given day. However, the insights they surface do serve to make the current generation of baseball fans a lot more informed about the nuances of the game than Abner Doubleday probably could have imagined.

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/01/fangraphs-advanced-baseball-analytics-has-a-new-cloud-home-mariadb/

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AI

Curri nabs $6M for AI-powered last-mile construction logistics

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Curri, a Y Combinator-backed logistics startup delivering construction supplies and materials, today announced the closing of a $6 million funding round. The company says the proceeds will be used to expand its services as well as its market reach.

Last-mile delivery logistics tends to be the most expensive and time-consuming part of the shipping process. According to one estimate, last-mile accounts for 53% of total shipping costs and 41% of total supply chain costs. With the rise of ecommerce in the U.S., retail providers are increasingly focusing on fulfilment and distribution at the lowest cost. Particularly in the construction industry, the pandemic continues to disrupt wholesalers, highlighting the need for flexible and reliable delivery.

Curri claims to solve this problem in construction with an “Uber-like” last-mile delivery model. The company makes available to customers a fleet of drivers with trucks, flatbeds, cars, and other vehicles who can deliver items like pipe bundles, water heaters, and lumber. Curri users arrange an order, open the Curri app, and enter pickup and dropoff locations to book the service. Curri’s drivers then pick up the supplies and ensure the order is correct before fulfilling the delivery.

Curri offers live updates via the app to let customers follow and share the status of their deliveries. It also provides proof-of-delivery signature and photos for tracking, regulatory, and compliance purposes.

Curri competes with a number of startups in a last-mile delivery market that’s anticipated to reach $66 billion by 2026, including Bond, Bringg, Onfleet, DispatchTrack, and Deliverr. But Curri claims its secret sauce is something that cofounder and CEO Matthew Lafferty calls “elastic scale.” Basically, it’s a concept where customers only pay for what they need. While traditional fleets can underutilize trucks or idle drivers as they wait for orders to come in, Curri says it delivers loads faster thanks to a deep layer of predictive machine learning.

According to Lafferty, thousands of customers use Curri to deliver shipments throughout the U.S. “Suppliers who don’t have the ability to make urgent, on-demand, or long distance deliveries are leaving sales on the table and risk losing customers and business to suppliers who do,” he said in a press release. “Fleet augmentation is the secret weapon of suppliers who care about getting material in their customer’s hands, fast.”

Los Angeles, California-based Curri’s series A funding announced today included participation from existing backer Initialized Capital in addition to new investor Rainfall Ventures. It brings four-year-old Curri’s total raised to date to nearly $7 million following a $150,000 seed round in August 2019.

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/01/curri-nabs-6m-for-ai-powered-last-mile-logistics-for-construction/

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Device monitoring and management startup Memfault nabs $8.5M

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Memfault, a startup developing software for consumer device firmware delivery, monitoring, and diagnostics, today closed an $8.5 million series A funding round. CEO François Baldassari says the capital will enable Memfault to scale its engineering team and make investments across product development and marketing.

Slow, inefficient, costly, and reactive processes continue to plague firmware engineering teams. Often, companies recruit customers as product testers — the first indication of a device issue comes through users contacting customer service or voicing dissatisfaction on social media. With 30 billion internet of things (IoT) devices predicted to be in use by 2025, hardware monitoring and debugging methods could struggle to keep pace. As a case in point, Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 estimates that 98% of all IoT device traffic is unencrypted, exposing personal and confidential data on the network.

Memfault, which was founded in 2019 by veterans of Oculus, Fitbit, and Pebble, offers a solution in a cloud-based firmware observability platform. Using the platform, customers can capture and remotely debug issues as well as continuously monitor fleets of connected devices. Memfault’s software development kit is designed to be deployed on devices to capture data and send it to the cloud for analysis. The backend identifies, classifies, and deduplicates error reports, spotlighting the issues likely to be most prevalent.

Baldassari says that he, Tyler Hoffman, and Christopher Coleman first conceived of Memfault while working on the embedded software team at smartwatch startup Pebble. Every week, thousands of customers reached out to complain about Bluetooth connectivity issues, battery life regressions, and unexpected resets. Investigating these bugs was time-consuming — teams had to either reproduce issues on their own units or ask customers to mail their watches back so that they could crack them open and wire in debug probes. To improve the process, Baldassari and his cofounders drew inspiration from web development and infrastructure to build a framework that supported the management of fleets of millions of devices, which became Memfault.

By aggregating bugs across software releases and hardware revisions, Memfault says its platform can determine which devices are impacted and what stack they’re running. Developers can inspect backtraces, variables, and registers when encountering an error, and for updates, they can split devices into cohorts to limit fleet-wide issues. Memfault also delivers real-time reports on device check-ins and notifications of unexpected connectivity inactivity. Teams can view device and fleet health data like battery life, connectivity state, and memory usage or track how many devices have installed a release — and how many have encountered problems.

“We’re building feedback mechanisms into our software which allows our users to label an error we have not caught, to merge duplicate errors together, and to split up distinct errors which have been merged by mistake,” Baldassari told VentureBeat via email. “This data is a shoo-in for machine learning, and will allow us to automatically detect errors which cannot be identified with simple heuristics.”

Memfault

IDC forecasts that global IoT revenue will reach $742 billion in 2020. But despite the industry’s long and continued growth, not all organizations think they’re ready for it — in a recent Kaspersky Lab survey, 54% said the risks associated with connectivity and integration of IoT ecosystems remained a major challenge.

That’s perhaps why Memfault has competition in Amazon’s AWS IoT Device Management and Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge, which support a full range of containerization and isolation features. Another heavyweight rival is Google’s Cloud IoT, a set of tools that connect, process, store, and analyze edge device data. Not to be outdone, startups like Balena, Zededa, Particle, and Axonius offer full-stack IoT device management and development tools.

But Baldassari believes that Memfault’s automation features in particular give the platform a leg up from the rest of the pack. “Despite the ubiquity of connected devices, hardware teams are too often bound by a lack of visibility into device health and a reactive cycle of waiting to be notified of potential issues,” he said in a press release. “Memfault has reimagined hardware diagnostics to instead operate with the similar flexibility, speed, and innovation that has proven so successful with software development. Memfault has saved our customers millions of dollars and engineering hours, and empowered teams to approach product development with the confidence that they can ship better products, faster, with the knowledge they can fix bugs, patch, and update without ever disrupting the user experience.”

Partech led Memfault’s series A raise with participation from Uncork Capital, bringing the San Francisco, California-based company’s total raised to $11 million. In addition to bolstering its existing initiatives, Memfault says it’ll use the funding to launch a self-service of its product for “bottom-up” adoption rather than the sales-driven, top-down approach it has today.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/01/device-monitoring-and-management-startup-memfault-nabs-8-5m/

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Entrepreneur

Sarah Kunst will outline how to get ready to fundraise at Early Stage

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Sarah Kunst, founding partner at Cleo Capital, has worn many hats. She’s been an entrepreneur, served on plenty of boards, is a contributing author at Marie Clare, has been a senior advisor to Bumble and worked as a consultant in marketing, business development and more.

With all that experience, she knows all too well that the process of fundraising starts well before your first pitch meeting. That’s why we’re so excited to have Kunst join us at Early Stage in July to discuss how to get ready to fundraise.

This isn’t the first time Kunst has discussed the topic with us. On a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live, Kunst and one of her portfolio company founders Julia Collins described how to conduct the process of fundraising.

For example, there is a story to tell, metrics to share and an art to building momentum before you ever start filling your calendar. That all requires preparation, and Kunst will outline how to go about that at our event in July.

Early Stage is going down twice this year, with our first event taking place tomorrow! Here’s a look at some of the topics we’ll be covering:

Fundraising

  • Bootstrapping Best Practices (Tope Awotona and Blake Bartlett, Calendly)
  • Four Things to Think About Before Raising a Series A (Bucky Moore, Kleiner Perkins)
  • How to Get An Investor’s Attention (Marlon Nichols, MaC Venture Capital)
  • How to Nail Your Virtual Pitch Meeting (Melissa Bradley, Ureeka)
  • How Founders Can Think Like a VC (Lisa Wu, Norwest Venture Partners)
  • The All-22 View, or Never Losing Perspective (Eghosa Omoigui, EchoVC Partners)

Operations:

  • Finance for Founders (Alexa von Tobel, Inspired Capital)
  • Building and Leading a Sales Team (Ryan Azus, Zoom CRO)
  • 10 Things NOT to Do When Starting a Company (Leah Solivan, Fuel Capital)
  • Leadership Culture and Good Governance (David Easton, Generation Investment Management)

The cool thing about Early Stage is that it’s heavy on audience Q&A, ensuring that everyone gets the chance to ask their own specific questions. Oh, and ticket holders get free access to Extra Crunch.

Interested? You can buy a ticket here.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/31/sarah-kunst-will-outline-how-to-get-ready-to-fundraise-at-early-stage/

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