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Monday, February 22, 2016

Are Your Prospects Apologizing? They Should Be....

A common topic among B2B sales teams is how difficult it can be to reach prospects. My team often makes (8-10+) attempts to reach prospects (more in some cases,) which is a reflection of the fact that people are extra busy in today's B2B environments. It takes a very coordinated effort of skill, expertise, and persistence to reach prospects and is much more than a "numbers game" as so many people believe. Rather, not only do you need to know how to sell, but also the psychology of engagement, and preparation to maximize the moments you do get.
What could you be doing right when prospects are apologizing?
 Even though there is a requirement for a much higher level of persistence in today's B2B selling landscape, old habits die hard and the habit of '3 strikes and you're out' is still very alive on the sales side (2 is even common, 2 emails and 2 calls.....) What that means is a typical effort to reach a prospect is a couple of voicemails and an email, and if the prospect hasn't responded by then, the rep moves on thinking they weren't interested after all. I have heard reps say things like "if they were interested they would have called back" or "I don't have time to chase them" to "I'm not going to waste time leaving voicemails, I sent an email--if they don't respond they aren't interested." Right when a follow up engagement is starting to get on a prospects' radar, many reps gives up and it's two ships that passed in the night. Sound familiar?
Recently, I was talking with a client of ours who gave me an example of how he had to call one prospect more than 5 times. It was someone that initially was very interested but went quiet. My client said he felt sure there was something there and persisted, and to his surprise the prospect was very interested and nothing had changed, he was just busy. We agreed most sales reps would have given up by then. I asked "did your prospect apologize when you connected with him finally?" He said YES, and how did I know? We have that happen all the time, it's an indicator of doing something right.
What does this mean to you when your prospect apologizes? It means they did get your messages, they had good intentions, and appreciate your persistence (This whole article is assuming this is happening with a professional peer-level outreach and not being a pest--which my other articles have mentioned.)
A few things to keep in mind:
  • Typically it takes around 3 discussions before relationships with prospects becomes reciprocal, which means those first 2 discussions may take extra effort to connect.
  • What is often interpreted as no-interest is really just "real life." It is important to put yourself in your prospect's shoes to understand what is really happening and not take it personal.
While reps give up trying to reach their prospects thinking they aren't interested, what really happens is maybe they were out of town, they were out sick, or things like their client called them ranting about a problem and they had to put out a fire, one of their staff had to leave on a family emergency, they had a key team member quit, because they get 300 emails and 15 vendor calls a day and there is a lot of competition for their attention, or because an enterprise platform they just bought crashed, or they have 200 sites offline right now because the network went down....the reasons are countless...but bottom line, the deal is still there and they are still interested.
The National Sales Executive Association had released some statistics a couple of years ago from a study that stated:
  • 2% of sales are closed from a single attempt,
  • 3% from two attempts,
  • 5% after 3 attempts,
  • 10% after 4 attempts,
but here is the whopper--
  • 80% of deals closed after making from 5-12 attempts.
Companies often do a "Did They Buy" Study on past leads that typically reveal that from 50%-70% of your prospects ended up buying something, but did they buy it from you?
Prospects tend to take the path of least resistance—so if you are making it easy for them to buy from you by being available and persistent, then you have increased your chances of closing the deal.
If you hear a lot of apologies from your prospects and progressing deals, it isn't a bad thing. If you aren't, then take a look at your process for follow up and ask if you might be giving up too early?
One thing you never want to do is start communicating in a punitive manner, mentioning they haven't responded or it is their fault you haven't connected. It can turn a warm prospect into a cold one.  Let them off the hook when you reconnect and remove any tension in a conversation, not add to it reminding them they haven't responded. First, you have no idea what is happening on their end. For all you know, they could have had a tragedy in their family or some other extreme circumstance. At a minimum they are so slammed they haven't been able to respond, and they may not enjoy their workload reminding them they aren't responsive isn't helping build a rapport for the future.  
When was the last time a prospect told you they were sorry they didn't call you back sooner?
I'll look forward to hearing your comments!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Are You Still Using BANT? You Are Losing Deals If You Are

BANT has been around for years, we still hear from companies that are looking for programs that deliver BANT qualified leads. We agree that qualifying criteria is important when it comes to ranking opportunities, for a number of reasons. A couple of those are:

  1. Having defined criteria surfaces the short-term opportunities so you are in the right place at the right time with the right resources
  2. Avoid wasted effort and resources being deployed on wrong prospects at the wrong time
Something to be careful of though is downgrading something that would be a strategic entry into an account or dismissing access to stakeholders and influencers in key accounts early in a buy-cycle because other aspects of the deal aren't fully baked yet. 

More often than not, vendor preferences are established well before the budget or timing is clear, and to miss that early window of engagement, which is also a window of influence, could mean missing the deal altogether. 

I have known of situations where a prospect's willingness to talk to a vendor wasn't pursued because it didn't meet BANT criteria (BUDGET - AUTHORITY - NEED - TIMELINE) and later when the account was revisited thinking everything would be aligned by then,  discovered another vendor got the business. What happened? Many times it was because the investment wasn't made in the relationship at an earlier stage, and when the deal materialized another vendor was well established in the account.

So before using BANT to determine your actions in an account, first look at your prospects and clients and determine what makes the most sense for YOUR actual sales cycle and sales environment.  

Ask yourself:

  • How long is our sales cycle?
  • When we engage at a later stage, are other vendors already influencing an outcome?
  • If we were in there earlier, would the outcome have been different?
  • WHEN do my prospects want to engage? Do we get gets calls and inquiries early in their planning cycle?
  • Is there generally a lot of white space between the time we know a deal is brewing, and when we start taking action to get it because of BANT?
Looking at the dynamics of the deals you close, will help you better position yourself both in effort and timing to make sure you have the highest possible chance of influencing early preferences and later decisions. 

Use BANT to help understand a prospect, but don't let it downgrade an opportunity unnecessarily and especially to a point of not engaging. Early engagement is highly valuable in today's market; examining multiple areas of your buyers' behavior will help you make intelligent decisions on how to build your pipeline. 

Happy Selling!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Picking Channel Partners Based on Sales Environments, Not Just Industry Category

We do programs for channel organizations all the time, everything from identifying new partners to delivering MDF sponsored programs for channel partners directly. Regardless of the industry, there's common challenges within channel organizations I have seen over and over;  one of them is early on-boarding and adding partners that are truly going to generate revenue.  Successful partnering requires initial matching that goes beyond basic industry categories and also needs to actually identify sales environment synergies to accurately evaluate the potential.  When channel execs consider a potential partner from the vantage point of similar sales environments, it ensures introducing your product as a natural fit versus something that will derail a sales cycle and both sides lose.
The complexity comes in because your channel is both an extended sales team and a customer in a sense, you are serving them as a customer with support, information, training, time, access, etc.  Their "customer experience" with you impacts their level of success. As a sales team, they also increase your reach and visibility to gain greater market share and can quickly make a positive impact--but that depends on how they are supported as a "customer" in many cases. 
A way to think about it is just as you hire an internal rep based on experience and understanding of your selling landscape, the same principles apply to channel partners. An example is a rep may have achieved Presidents Club selling servers or network hardware, but may struggle in a professional services sales environment. Why?  Hardware and services are a completely different selling experience, not to say a rep can't move from one to the other successfully, but there are huge differences and some reps find it hard to make that leap. Channel partners multiply that challenge as they are generally running on tight margins, and can't afford a significant learning curve on a new selling landscape in addition to a new solution/product that impacts their existing productivity. They are only successful when additions to their portfolio fit in with the conversations they are already having and enhances their current solution, not distracts from it.
An example of this is in the IoT space; many equipment and device providers seek out complementary firms as partners but the sales environments can be totally different in every aspect, i.e. the stakeholders are different, the budget allocation is different, the sales cycle is different, and the investment is different. Not to mention many IoT OEM's go far up-chain and look at engineering or services firms as partners. In some cases it may work, but if their current sales process and environment is radically different, it will be tough to add your product into the mix successfully as their current sales domain is not .  
Another dimension of that to consider is your channel managers and are they able to transform a sales team of a different product set to sell yours when the partner's selling landscape today is very different.  
The complexities can be many, but the best way to eliminate a challenge preemptively is to match sales environments (or at least know what you are dealing with) up front as a first level of vetting.
As the OEM,  enabling a new channel partner requires a lot, some of those things being: 
  •  Ongoing training and supporting their sales team to close business
  •  Incentivize  the partner to sell and promote your products--that can be in the form of leads and marketing incentives; if the partner is working in a different sales environment throwing leads over the fence just to be neglected and mismanaged is leaving revenue on the table.
  • Staying in tight communication about new products, new releases, new features, etc. And having transparency into any challenges the sales team has in promoting those.
  • Participating in sales calls, contract negotiations, etc.
As the channel partner,  there is also a big commitment. Some of which includes:
  • Training your sales team which often requires going off-line for a bit to learn about a new product and company.  
  • Engaging your OEM and involving them in the process. A new topic of discussion can invigorate a sales team, and create new opportunities.
  • Helping your team understand WHY this is a good fit, and WHY this expands their footprint in accounts.  Assuming everyone "gets it" can leave huge gaps in execution.
We work with many channel organizations, and when companies are able to fine-tune these areas, they can make a huge impact for both parties. 
I'll look forward to your comments on how you have modified your partner selection!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Train Your Team To "Listen," Not Just Wait Their Turn To Talk

"People don’t listen, they just wait for their turn to talk."
That is a saying many of us have heard before; many of us have also seen it in action when we are conversing and then the other party responds with something totally out of line with what you said and you think "you didn't listen to anything I said...!!"  
This happens all the time in sales.  You wouldn't immediately think it, but the culture within a sales organization contributes to the lack of listening skills. Many teams are pressed into results and are forced to quickly qualify or dump prospects in order to build their pipeline. Good relationship building and conversation skills aren't rewarded, revenue is.  Unfortunately, the thing that happens is the rush to qualify also misses many revenue opportunities because prospects aren't going to open up when they are being "sold" or told to come back later when they have money.
Here's an example....a company (the prospect) has a major problem collaborating with their partners and distributers, they have looked at a variety of options and they all weren't a fit. If someone can present something they will move on it as this is a critical need for their business. They haven't budgeted for it yet because they don't know what they need--is it technology? Process? A consultant? All of the above? They need something to get their head around the "How will we do it?"  The company talks to a senior level biz dev expert at a firm, and they love the approach and the creativity to make suggestions and create a vision for them of how to solve this...they want to talk more. The next call a rep is on the call....within 5 minutes the rep is asking if they have a budget...the rep loses interest when the VP says they need to figure it out first, and then the rep says once they are further along with their planning and know what they want to do, they can reconnect and talk about it. All the creative ideas, all the solutions options, all the helping them to envision working with them has been reduced to "if you have no money up front to tell me this is worth my time, I am not interested."  End of call, end of interest.
This happens all the isn't isolated incidents. It boils down to 2 things, 1) the mindset of the rep, and 2) what is reinforced as a culture. If the culture of a company is to discourage spending time with prospects before they have a clear budget, wait till they are "old-school BANT "qualified,  then they are only going to focus on later stage deals.   It is a punitive way to respond to prospects that want to engage at the time they are planning and choosing options.
It's a complex problem because there are some fantastic reps out there that intuitively know to spend time to help their prospects come to a decision. They invest in their relationships and genuinely care about what they do--you don't have to train them to listen because they do it anyway. There are also very selfish reps that really don't care about their prospects at all, and much of what they do that displays genuine concern for their prospects evaporates as soon as they don't see anything in it for them--you cannot transform them into people that  care. Unfortunately many buyers have experienced the latter and this is what has contributed to the initial pushback ALL reps get in the beginning. 
How can this be solved?
"Listening must become part of the sales cycle"
  1. Coaching your team to have a deeper discussion and truly understand the requirements..."this is what an early discussion needs to look like."
  2. Understand your buyer persona. Do they engage early? Do you know if this buyer profile generally will explore options, chose a vendor(s), and have a more developed plan before they have their budget defined?  Answer this honestly, not in the perfect world of everyone that calls has their budget and will buy within 60 days. If your buyers typically are early engagers, you need to have more invested in early discussions. 
  3. Hire people that understand this. It may change your interviewing model to more of a character vs. skills search. Ask them questions about their views of prospects, ask what is important in early conversations, ask how they go above and beyond for their customers, etc.
  4. Help your team(s) have a conversation template. Sometimes conversations aren't had because the reps don't know how to have them. Give them a list of questions, and a B List of questions if the prospects are chatty.
  5. Help the team understand the importance of documentation. Even if you listen and have the greatest conversation in the world; if no one documents it, you will backtrack over topics already covered every time.
The good thing is more and more companies understand this and are doing something about it. I'm interested to learn what you have done to modify your approach to implement better listening and early engagement best-practices!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Would You Take a Call From YOU?

"What are the tricks you use to get people to talk to you?"
I get asked this question a lot; people struggle to find the answer on how they can engage and get people to talk to them. There must be a well-kept secret people are using that are successful at this.
"The secret to success in cold calling is actually the most well-known, transparent fact about sales there is. Prospects don't like to take sales calls....but they are constantly on business calls"
How is THAT a secret of success?
Because executives DO take business calls. That being the case, sales reps need to steer clear of the many things that people think of when they hear the term "sales rep." That means no tricks, no manipulating, no untruths, no forcing people to commit, no strong-arming, no word switcho-chango tactics, no insincere flattery, no cheesy gimmicks to get people to talk, etc. (the list goes on....)  That isn't executive behavior, that isn't "business call" behavior. 
Can you imagine the CFO of a F500 company calling the CFO of another F500 company and saying "I know you're very busy, I promise I won't waste your time, if you like what you hear in the next 20 seconds, can you give me 60 more seconds?"  Needless to say the one receiving the call would be like "Who the heck is this??? Weirdo..."
One of our clients recently said they could never cold call. I asked if they call people they don't know and have a business discussion...they said "of course, all the time."  That IS the quintessential cold call!  
It can be surprising because when you think of a "sales call," it conjures up scenarios of rejection, push back, getting screened, refusals, trying to get the appointment, barriers, and many other negative experiences associated with having to break through many obstacles to get to a "decision maker." There is a system of screening to block sales calls, but the screening is not designed to block normal business calls.
Executives call executives and have substantial conversations all the time without any trepidation. The key is to distance your methods from the typical "tricks of the trade."
When I am training teams, I often ask them to think about what they do as part of their engagement, and ask... "Would you talk to YOU if you called? Would you listen to a voicemail from YOU? Would you respond to the questions YOU ask?"
The answers are surprising after some reflection. And having them listen to their voicemails often surfaces they sound more "sales" than they think.  This includes being impatient. People are very difficult to reach in general, and often the difficulty in reaching people is interpreted as no interest or they need to turn up the volume to press their prospects into action, which comes across as pressure and makes them withdraw even more.
An example of what not to do, is recently I received an email from a rep I have known for years from a company I have worked with for almost 15 years. I already said we will renew closer to the renewal date. But a couple of weeks before that time, I get this:
"If it isn’t your intent to renew please let me know and I will stand down and direct my attentions elsewhere."
Of course this annoyed me a great deal and I said I didn't appreciated that, especially after so many years and especially after I already said I would renew. They realized how bad it sounded and apologized, all is good now (for a sales relationship.) But many people wouldn't have pushed back, they would have went away. There are many options for this solution today and companies need to be awesome at every stage to retain their customers.
More and more we have been working with companies on the process breakdowns around relationship management because it is the reason so many deals and long-time customer relationships fall apart. It is poor communication, taking customers for granted, trying to "sell" when really you need to "talk." 
"Relationships with customers and prospects fall apart from poor communication, taking customers for granted, trying to "sell" when really you need to "talk." 
I'm interested to hear how you have addressed continuous improvement with your teams!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Are Your Beliefs About B2B Sales Still True?

The power our beliefs have over decisions and actions in all aspects of life is immense.  Some of our "professional" or business-related beliefs (i.e. cold calling never works!!) may be based on past experience, some of them are considered industry standards, even opinions of trusted sources can get adopted into mainstream decision making.  Regardless of the origin of current beliefs, to stay present and effective in B2B sales requires ongoing self-examination. Doing that will make sure that dated theories and practices that can be a barrier to success are rooted out.   
"Reps don't do things with prospects because they were looking for the worst engagement option, they were doing what they believed to be the right thing."
Over the last 20+ years, needless to say the selling landscape has radically shifted; every stage of the sales cycle is different than it was pre-Y2K.  Successful professionals  and companies have acknowledged that and went on to adapt and align by modifying how they relate to prospects.  

8 areas that have changed:

  • The solutions and infrastructure have changed
  • The stakeholders involved have changed
  • The information about vendors available in the public domain has changed
  • The budgets and allocation of those budgets have changed
  • The way we communicate has changed
  • The way we market has changed
  • The way we engage has changed
  • Business culture has changed
"Have  your sales practices changed?" 
The entire terrain of B2B sales from the buyers perspective has changed; buyers are much more empowered and are more informed.  Something that has been slower to change are the methods used by many sales professionals, and sales management. The consequences of not modernizing processes are sales pipelines are not as healthy as they should be, conversions are below expectations, reps struggle to make numbers, management is pressured, marketing programs lack ROI, etc. (the list goes on....)
This isn't rooted in a deliberate choice of bad practices, it goes back to doing what they believe is the right thing in many different areas.  
What are some of the outdated beliefs that can hurt production?
  • BELIEFCold calling and cold emailing are dead FACT: Outbound calling is still the #1 best performing marketing activity per the DMA annual study.  The things that are dead, are bad calls and cheesy emails.  People don't take bad calls and they don't like emails that are manipulative; they dotake calls that are a good use of their time and will read and respond to emails that make sense.  
  • BELIEFSocial media doesn't make a difference closing deals on the front lines FACT: Social media is the best option to learn about your prospects before calls/meetings. In 10 minutes, you can learn more than ever via social media and social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, InsideView, Hoovers, to align with your buyer and not waste time asking about areas they already disclosed publicly. Sales management often has the opinion that social media doesn't close deals, but it needs to be looked at as a tool not a sales channel. If you look at it as a highly valuable resource to "learn and listen," the results are very positive and make a difference in the sales cycle. 
  • BELIEFIf prospects don't call back after a couple of attempts they aren't interested FACT: Business leaders are more time constrained than ever. They are working 70+hours a week, in back-to-back meetings, dealing with hundreds of emails daily, and much more. Having to call prospects 8+ times is totally normal in today's busy work environments.  This is well-documented by many respected sources, yet the standard outreach is still 3x and then abandoned.  Deals never get traction when there is a lack of persistence. 
  • BELIEFLeads are only good a few days and go cold  FACT:  If you try to keep a conversation going by focusing on an event (webinar, email, white paper, etc.) then yes, interest in that goes cold. BUT interest and activity related to the topic likely hasn't changed. They are still working on what caught their attention in the first place. Follow up and subsequent discussions should stay focused on a topic, not a past event.  Their interest isn't a transaction with a limited shelf-life, it's a clue to a bigger picture.
  • BELIEFJunior people work on the front lines to support senior level reps in the field FACT: With the amount of complexity in today's selling landscape, the people on the front lines need to be more business savvy than ever to be able to mentally map real-time what prospects say (or do) to topics. They need to be able to engage in peer-level, situationally fluent discussions with senior management. It requires a highly-developed skillset to engage and maintain an open dialog with prospects at that level.  Putting junior people on the front lines leaves enormous amounts of revenue on the table from missed opportunities just from under-developed conversation skills.
  • BELIEFI'll spend time researching the prospects and companies when I know they are interested  FACT: Prospects go into meetings fully researched, and know what they want to talk about.  When sales reps put off learning about prospects until after the meeting, it leads to less productive early meetings having to cover ground that was available in the public domain, and risks missing big opportunities to progress their interest.  It seems like a small thing, but early meetings set the stage for the whole process and can accelerate success. 
  • BELIEFIn-person meetings are the way people buy FACT:  One thing I see is many times the people that believe this come from the "era of in-person, more formal meetings" (which they prefer themselves) and like the idea of coming to an onsite meeting. Which is great, I get it, I used to fly all over the country meeting prospects, and it was effective.  And in some cases an onsite meeting definitely is the way to go; however, it is very common, effective, expected, and well-received to have early meetings happen via WebEx, Skype, etc.  Millions of dollars of revenue happen from remote meetings,  don't let a personal preference obstruct the progress of a deal.
  • BELIEFCRM is a waste of time, I'm not sharing my information FACT:  A CRM will enable you to be in the right place at the right time. You can set yourself up for success by documenting where you have been, and where you need to go. It is an excellent tool to plan, collect, and review what needs to happen in an account. You can also collect and prepare content to go out to prospects based on areas of interest they have disclosed. Staging the right content at the right time makes an impact to fill white space between live conversations and goes a long way. You can set up tasks, alerts, etc. that enable you to pull it all together to take precise steps to progress deals.  
 "Maximizing impact at each interaction is what is needed with the new sales terrain"
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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Death of a Deal from a Free Download

It's an effective incentive to gain users by offering a free trial and download. I've used lots of free/trial apps myself and converted to a paying customer, it works. And it works for everything from mobile apps that are non-critcial, to apps that run a significant part of a business; the ability to test drive can make the difference. It's a great strategy that lets the product and subsequent results sell itself. 
A couple of things can get in the way of a deal though...Sales management can wonder why more aren't converting to revenue, and marketing teams are wondering what they need to do different.  There's a couple of things to look at to assess the issue.  First, there is a possibility of miscalculating the profile of the person downloading and test driving. Additionally, the non-supervised aspect of a free download/trial leaves a lot of room for things to happen that are a total blind spot to you.
That being said, a test drive where the user has a lot of independence can be a double-edged sword and end up being a deal killer.  What are the scenarios?
It's all about the user assumptions, the profile of the user, their expectations, and how far off that is from the actual activation/user experience.
To start, being able to test drive has a "fun" aspect to it, it's really interesting to get in there and see what an app can do. People enter into this with an anticipation of good results. 
But you have to take into account that:
  • People are impatient
  • Since it is a "free" test drive, they are often expecting an "easy" test drive setup
  • The user that is the "downloader" and "buyer" may not be the technical person that understands or would execute a complex setup
  • They are evaluating the experience immediately from when they start setting up
  • They have a way mentally they approach technology, and it is usually not in a way an engineer does (unless it is an engineering user profile)
What are the things that can go wrong?
  1. When a user gets stuck activating a feature, you lose them if they have to spend too much time on a single stage they feel should be simple
  2. If they misuse a feature, get confused, you lose them if it becomes a bad experience
  3. If they feel it is taking too long to become activated, need to go back and read directions too many times, you are losing them if they have to spend too much time figuring out what is wrong
  4. If the setup isn't intuitive, you are losing them. The average user expects a pretty easy set up without hiccups
  5. If the directions are hard to find, hard to read, assumes the user knows more than they do, you are losing them.  Many times the user that is doing the trial, is not a technical resource needed to set it up if it gets too complicated
I have seen many scenarios where it's clear a lot is assumed about a prospect doing a download. It is assumed they are very technical, and can figure out a lot on their own. 
This is what results in lots of downloads, fewer activations, fewer conversions. The secret sauce to success is addressing the above in scenarios that surface issues BEFORE they try to use the app.
What are some things you can do?
  1. Assess your user by asking "Are you the technical person that would implement this?" If not, then ask "Do you have resources to help?" and if they are a key prospect, you might want to ask "Do you need help?" Losing a F500 client on a free demo because the setup was botched is something that can be easily avoided, it is worth it to spend some time with them to make sure it is a success.
  2. If it is an app that will have a high number of users, discover that up front, "How many users would you have?" If they are a high value prospect, have someone assigned to walk them through a setup.
  3. If you see a big name company come in on a download, get on it immediately.  Unfortunately, what some companies do to address that is have a salesrep call them within 15 minutes of downloading a demo/trial which is highly annoying and is all about the sale and not about the experience. A BETTER option is to make that first outreach very non-sales, and the entire objective is to go live successfully. Schedule a time to activate them. This may not always be practical, but doing it for high value prospects ensures success.
  4. Don't leave them on their own. Have a video clip for every stage of the activation/setup. Don't assume it is easy to figure out, even the most simple apps can be misused or misinterpreted. Recently I activated an app that walked you through each stage and said "here is a video of what this looks like" with 60 second clips.  It was awesome and 100% success the first time. THAT is what you want.  
  5. Make sure your documentation speaks in the language of your user. A good way is to work with someone in an advisory capacity to go through the process and surface areas that are unclear. Expecting your new users to ask questions may not happen because 1) they don't want to look stupid so they keep trying on their own, 2) they set it up wrong and just run with it, or 3) they are busy, tried too many times, and lost interest in trying. Better to have someone not involved as a user to walk through it and surface anything that is not clear.
  6. Provide an activation map for what this should look like for them. "X activity takes 15 minutes..." If they are spending 30, they will know something is wrong and will call before they spend 2 hours on it and get infuriated.
  7. Ping them through the process via email. "You signed up 3 days ago, did you know you can now do this..." Keep them interested!  They might have downloaded on the whim, but you can prove value when you keep them engaged and interested.
There's a lot of additional aspects to free trials that need to be addressed, these are some of the obvious that sometimes slip through the cracks. In a conversation with Lynne Barker who heads up the Channels group over at Avention, "Death by Trial and Demo" is a term she threw out there early on having experienced it herself. Stay engaged, and proactive with new users to make sure it's a great experience!
I'm interested to hear what some of you have done with your own trial offers to help users succeed out of the gate. And if you are seeing these scenarios how you have fixed them!
Happy downloading! 
About Mari Anne Vanella:
Mari Anne is an award-winning author of the Best Seller "42 Rules of Cold Calling Executives" and CEO of The Vanella Group, Inc., a sales development firm working exclusively with enterprise tech firms from all over the world. She developed a proprietary Telesales 2.0™ formula which produces 5x above the DMA industry standard for tele-based lead generation.
The Vanella Group, Inc. is featured on many industry channels such as Selling Power, The Sales Lead Management Association, and many others. Mari Anne has been a speaker in featured sessions at Dreamforce where her unique approach to Social Selling was showcased.