Your team works well together, solves problems, and comes up with innovative, unique ideas. Except when they don't. If your team is in a creative slump, here are five ways you can end it.
1. Identify the Blocks
Denial is your enemy. Awareness is your friend. If everybody is sitting around, pretending like everything is going just fine, you need to step in. Open the discussion so that they can be open about their difficulties. Ask questions and listen to their answers. Chances are, they already know a few issues - or, perhaps, many - that are causing blocks. Set up a team meeting and talk about what is blocking the normal creative flow you have come to expect from them. The goal of the meeting should not be to destroy all creative blocks, but to figure out what they are. Sometimes, talking through the issue will prove to the solution. If communication problems, personality conflicts, or internal stress is the source of reduced creativity, an open and supportive discussion can do a lot to resolve it. If, however, the issues are different, you will know how to start addressing them once you know what they are.
In March 2014 we added duplicate control to Bitrix24 CRM, alerting users that lead, contact or company they are trying to add to their database may already exist. This summer we expanded this feature to include searching and merging duplicate entries that can be performed at any time, not just data entry.
Michael Leander as a direct marketing pro with over 20 years of experience. He also he is mostly known as a permission based email marketing guru, he is a firm believer in multi-channel promotion and a RoMI (Return on Marketing Investment) advocate. We caught up with Michael to ask him a few questions about email marketing, its past and the future.
What is the biggest email marketing mistake or mistakes that you see companies make every day?
Procrastination is the deliberate act of delaying, unnecessarily, what needs to be done. Some delays are necessary: waiting on permission, waiting on information, waiting on collaboration. But many delays are optional We choose to delay because we are avoiding something else. If you are holding back on work that you are able of begin, you are procrastinating. And when you or others in your business procrastinate, the costs to your business start adding up.
The Potential Cost in Time
Time-cost is one of the first things that comes to mind when we think about procrastination. When we procrastinate, we may be doing useful things, such as organizing the files or returning phone calls. But useful things are not always important things. Time spent on non-important (but useful) tasks is time we do not spend on the important projects. Maybe you did reach inbox zero. Maybe you do have a really organized office. But how about those billable hours? Did you log any of those in by the end of the day? You know what makes money for your business: finished work and billable hours.
Research shows that up to 64% of employeeswaste time daily on the Internet, using non-work related sites. Procrastination is nothing new, but the Internet has made it so easy - and so interesting - to procrastinate anytime. For your business, let's estimate on the low end, and assume that you - and your employees - only waste 2 hours a week surfing the web. That's 2 hours a week per person. How many people are involved in your business? 10? There's 20 hours a week down the drain. Could your business have profited from those 20 hours being used to help clients, finish projects, and bill hours?
Bob Thompson is an international authority on customer-centric business management who has researched and shaped leading industry trends since 1998. He is founder and CEO of CustomerThink Corporation, an independent research and publishing firm, and founder and editor-in-chief of CustomerThink.com - the world's largest online community dedicated to helping business leaders develop and implement customer-centric business strategies. His new book Hooked on Customers reveals the habits of leading customer-centric firms. We talked to Bob about why so many CRM projects fail and what can be done about it.
What CRM mistakes do you see companies make most often, other than not having CRM at all?
Probably the most common mistake is the perception that CRM is a technology project. Thinking that a software implementation is all that’s needed is a source of many CRM failures, because behind the technology are people being asked to change how they do their jobs.
Another big mistake is not thinking about how everyone “wins.” CRM projects tend to be focused on company and management goals. The sales rep or service agent can feel there’s not enough benefit for them to get behind the initiative, thus undermining it. Customers can feel the same way, if a CRM project is designed to make them the “target” of an efficiency effort, rather than a beneficiary of an improved experience.
Finally, “having” CRM is not a black or white proposition. Every company has some kind of process to acquire new customers, sell to them, and service them. Executives shouldn’t think that once they’ve installed software or launched a project that they’ve “done” CRM. Instead, think of CRM as a journey where there’s always room for improvement.
We are continuing our interviews with cold calling and inside sales experts. Today we are talking to Ron LaVine of ColdCallingTraining.com who's been teaching others how to sell over the phone for over 17 years
1. What is the biggest mistake or mistakes people do when they try cold calls?
They make a call to someone without doing any pre-call research and planning about the person, their company and industry.
2. Skype, Viber and others are replacing traditional phones quite rapidly. Are there any important differences to keep in mind when making cold calls via messengers vs regular phones?
Getting better at what you do isn’t something that just happens; it’s something you make happen. By understanding and incorporating the principles of deliberate practice, you become more adept in your work. And practice makes it easier to slip into the state of flow: intensely focused and enjoyable work.
What Is Deliberate Practice?
Deliberate practice is a term coined by psychology professor Anders Ericsson, and it refers to the habit of consciously putting planned time and effort into building your skills. The essential elements of deliberate practice, according to Ericsson, include, “specific goals to improve performance, successive refinement through repetition, feedback and instruction.” (Source: http://www.amazon.com/The-Road-Excellence-Acquisition-Performance/dp/0805822321) In other words, deliberate practice is not about working more or even working harder. It is a process:
first, identifying the skills that are key for doing your work,
then identifying the weak areas you have in those skills,
then deliberately working on getting better at those weak areas in your key skills.
Bitrix24 partner Anton Dolganin has added a free Form Constructor app to Bitrix24 marketplace. After you install the app, you will be able to create forms for your website or social media page that automatically import data into your Bitrix24 CRM. The only requirement is ability to insert js-code into the web page where the form has to be located.
Working on-the-go can be more of a hassle than a help if you don’t get savvy about mobile productivity.
Mobile Productivity Don'ts Don’t try to make mobile work like office work. You simply can’t work mobile the same way you do at home or in the office. You don’t have the desk space, the elbow room, and sometimes you don’t even have the wifi or the power outlet. Instead of trying to make mobile productivity conform to your office expectations, embrace the challenge of working lean. Save the bulky, complex work for office time. Focus on what you can do quickly. Let go of the need to get everything set up the way you like it. If you spend much time “setting up” a home away from home, you’ll barely get any work done before you get interrupted or realize it’s time to board your flight.
Note - this article has been originally written for TheNextWeb.
PR is hard. And expensive. Most of the time, you get nothing out of it. And when your company finally is mentioned in an article, even in a big publication, the results can be disappointing. Like that time when we got a whooping 169 visitors after getting into ZDNet.
Over the past two years, I’ve made a lot of PR mistakes. I’ve also got Bitrix24 into Forbes, VentureBeat, ReadWrite, PCWorld, PCMag, TechRepublic, CIO, ITWorld and 200+ other tech publications. I’ve learned that what you do with the article AFTER it’s published is frequently a lot more important than what do you before. And I am happy to share my insights with you.
1. Pay for LinkedIn Inmail.
LinkedIn Inmail is the cheapest and most effective way to pitch journalists. My account cost me $100 a month and at least 50% of all mentions of Bitrix24 in the press are results of LinkedIn pitches. The most amazing thing about LinkedIn is that once you find one or two journalists, their network will actually show you who else to contact –editors in the same or other publications. It saves you a lot of time. Also with Inmail the results are guaranteed, you pay only for those messages that got read by their recipients.
Ideas are worthless unless implemented. To make the most of those creative brains on your small team, you can’t have a brainstorming session and leave it at that. You need to have a system in place to manage ideas from the initial burst of insight to complete execution.
The Three Stages of Idea Management There are three essential stages in idea management: Stage 1: Capture/Input Stage 2: Feedback/Analysis Stage 3: Decision/Action All three stages are necessary. With a smaller team, you can move more quickly from one to another, but you still need to work in the right order to manage ideas effectively.
Stage 1: Effective Collection The best ideas are often the ones that sound a little crazy. Sadly, those are the ideas we are most likely to reject because they sound, well, a little crazy. It’s important to create a truly open space where all of the ideas can come out and introduce themselves. Welcome all ideas equally in order to keep getting a lot of ideas. Quantity produces quality; let your team members know that all of their ideas are welcome. The more the better. It’s a lot like panning for gold: you have to sift through a good bit of silt to find that nugget.
Cornelius Fichtner is a PMP, CSM and noted project management expert. Since 2005 he has interviewed over 150 project managers from around the world on The Project Management Podcast, with topics covering all areas of project management like methodologies, PMOs, earned value, project leadership, Agile, certifications and many more. The interviews are available for free at www.pm-podcast.com . We asked Cornelius to share his insights on what's currently going on with project management.
Project management world has been radically changing with socialization and consumerization trends. Asana grew out of Facebook in a way and is catering to that very same audience. Bitrix24 is popular in PM community because it combines project management with social collaboration. Trello monetizes through stickers, and so on. What do you make of this trend and what does it mean for 'old school' solutions, like Basecamp or MS Projects?
This trend can mean only one thing: The 'old school' tools like Basecamp and MS Project will start developing and integrating social collaboration in their offerings. In fact, we have to say that they will add "even more social collaboration into their tools" because these companies have seen the trend and have responded by adding social features for some time now. Asana, Bitrix and Trello on the other hand were developed with the social crowd in mind. It is at their core. But they are the newcomers in the field of project management and collaboration software. And they do not (yet) have the large customer and user base that many of the "old school" tools have. So the question really shouldn't be "what does the trend for social collaboration mean for the 'old school' tools", but instead the question has to be "Will the newcomers have enough 'staying power' once everyone is offering social features in their project management software"?
Is email dead? The answer is still being debated. But one thing is certain: While ESNs (enterprise social networks) are probably not going to completely eradicate email usage, they are fast changing the way people in the workplace communicate, share ideas and collaborate. Here are three ways ESNs are better than email:
1. ESNs increase work efficiency and foster better knowledge sharing.
If you’ve experienced working for a company without a knowledge management system in place, email may sometimes work like this: If John needs information he thinks Ellen has, he emails her, to which Ellen replies – if John types in the correct email address and the email doesn’t get trapped in the spam filter, that is. If Ellen unfortunately doesn’t have the information he needs, John sends an email blast to his department’s distribution list. If nobody in the list can help John, he emails another department. If that department can’t offer anything helpful, on and on goes the quest for the missing information. In the event one of John’s emails finally finds its way into the responsible person’s inbox, there’s no guarantee that John will get an immediate response, particularly if the said recipient still needs to weed through 3,108 emails that include invitations from lunch buddies and discussions about the most recent Game of Thrones episode that are in no way tied to work. (Yes, email abuse does happen.) The scenario may seem a little extreme, if not depressing, but it’s not too far removed from reality, either. One good thing about enterprise social networks is that threaded conversations are visible to participants, and people who can’t directly help can tag or invite those they think can, quickly finding the experts and making knowledge sharing more effective. Plus, any time the same question or issue crops up, discussions are archived for review.