8 Things Small Business Owners Need to Know This Week

By Rieva Lesonsky


1—How to Give Negative Feedback

Getting feedback is key for employees to do good jobs. But for many, offering negative feedback is difficult. To help you do this tough task, check out the infographic below from Headway Capital.


2—How Small Businesses Should Approach Unified Communications

8×8 recently partnered with Spiceworks to survey IT decision makers in small and medium businesses. They discovered unified communications and collaboration offers the greatest opportunity to bring SMBs into the workplace of the future. As businesses move toward a more mobile workforce, they need to focus on how the cloud can address all their communications and collaboration needs. Of the IT pros surveyed, 38% say supporting mobile and remote employees is a top consideration for their communication tools’ use.

The IT pros listed their top considerations for communications: to improve internal (53%) and external (44%) communication, and increase efficiency and productivity (49%).

Having a communications platform that allows for seamless collaboration streamlines workflows among all lines of the business. The 8×8 Communications Cloud delivers an open, customizable technology solution that brings together all features employees need to get their jobs done in one place. Plus, the cloud allows for a level of interoperability that allows company tools to integrate with other cloud solutions seamlessly. With built-in integration with Salesforce, agents have the information they need to deliver personalized customer service.

There’s a lot more information in the infographic below. To download the white paper, Powering the Workplace of the Future click here.


3—Are You Ignoring a Major Information Security Risk?

The seventh annual Shred-it Information Security Tracker Survey, conducted by Ipsos, reveals as we move towards a “paperless” office, U.S. businesses are not prioritizing the management of confidential information in all forms.

Paper documents continue to be a core component of office life. According to the 2017 Security Tracker survey, 52% of small business owners (SBOs) anticipate the volume of paper they use to stay relatively the same. Despite this, SBOs demonstrate a lack of understanding of the vulnerabilities a lingering paper trail can create within their organization.

Kevin Pollack, Senior Vice President, Shred-it says, “Companies of all sizes need to start taking proactive measures to ensure their employees are trained on destruction procedures, that sensitive information is stored securely, and that they’re mitigating information security threats by disposing of paper and electronic devices in a timely fashion.”

According to the Security Tracker survey, 32% of SBOs believe the loss or theft of documents would not damage their businesses and 31% think a data breach wouldn’t significantly impact their businesses. Their actions reflect that lack of concern—39% have no policy in place for storing and disposing of confidential paper documents and 49% shred all documents, regardless of whether considered confidential or not. Additionally, only 13% have a locked console in the office and use a professional shredding service to destroy confidential documents.

Ultimately, these security shortfalls have led to a lack of confidence in businesses of all sizes. Confidence in current secure destruction systems for both paper and electronic media is low, with 46% of SBOs reporting they feel less than very confident. Additional factors contributing to low confidence may include a lack of employee knowledge of the legal requirements in their industry, or a lack of training on company policies for the disposal, destruction, and storage of confidential and non-confidential information. In fact, 36% of SBOs never train their employees at all—highlighting the need for more robust training.

Want to know more? Download the current report to learn more about the ways businesses, large and small, can protect their data.


4—5 Trends Every SaaS Sales Leader Needs to Know

Guest post by Eliot Burdett, CEO Peak Sales Recruiting, Author Sales Recruiting 2.0

In 1901, the Encyclopedia Britannica was printed in the United States and was famously sold door-to-door. These hard-working salespeople were often the butt of Hollywood jokes—including a famous 1969 Monty Python sketch.

In 2012, the company finally halted their hard copy version, in favor of a digital version. This was a historically symbolic moment that took 111 years to happen.  What is even more remarkable is the sales industry has arguably evolved just as much in the last five years as it did in the previous 111.

While sales managers in the encyclopedia era certainly had their challenges, the job of a sales leader today is more complex than ever, and moving at a speed that many are struggling to cope with.

This is particularly true in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry which has exploded. A new study from the Bain & Company research brief The Changing Faces of the Cloud predicts global cloud IT market revenue will increase from $180B in 2015 to $390B in 2020.

The SaaS model—led by companies such as Microsoft and Salesforce—is attracting more disruptors than ever before. As new companies threaten marketplaces and margins, sales leaders in the SaaS space that do not ‘track and react’ to the industry’s latest trends could face extinction.

As the leader of a B2B sales recruiting company that works with world-class SaaS brands to build their sales force, here are the top 5 trends that every SaaS sales leader needs to know, based on third-party data and first-person experience.

1—Being customer centric is king: As the buyer/seller relationship evolves in response to a more educated consumer base, sales leaders are transforming the way sales success is being measured. Per the Salesforce State of Sales report, companies now rank customer experience as the number one KPI used to measure sales success. This means business development leaders must transform their teams to ensure time is made for reps to deepen customer relationships and establish themselves as trusted advisors. In fact, many organizations are including reps in the customer onboarding process to ensure purchasing expectations are being met and business value is being delivered from the start. This tactic is being tested to reduce churn and maximize revenue new account revenue.

2—Sales force structure is now externally driven:  The “Hunter” vs. the “Farmer” question has been going on longer than the debate over who would win a boxing match between Muhammad Ali vs. and Mike Tyson – when he was in his prime. But in 2017, the question is no longer who does the firm need. Instead, it’s what competency profile is required to meet the customer’s needs and buying behaviors. This decision to pivot hiring requirements, and by extension, the structure of the sales force to effectively find, close, and ultimately add value to its customers is what’s setting apart today’s most successful SaaS sales teams.

3—It’s not all about inside sales: Due to reduced up-front financial commitment, many SaaS deals are being cultivated using an inside sales model. HubSpot, a shining example, grew revenue 6,000% in the last four years using a team of 110 inside sales reps. While inside sales are great, most buyers, as SaaStr VC founder Jason Lemkin correctly statesgets exposed to a vendor versus searching for one. And for SaaS firms targeting enterprise accounts, the need to gain senior executives attention and close high dollar deals has forced sales executives to shift from a pure inbound to outbound model. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2017 Recruiting Trends Report, the top role companies are hiring for is sales.

4—Buyers are more concerned with data security than ever before: In recent years, there have been many high-profile data breaches in the U.S. such as Yahoo!, Ashley Madison, the Democratic National Committee and Target to name a few. Consumers and B2B buyers alike are more concerned with data security than ever before. This is especially true in the SaaS industry. A Tech Pro Research survey found nearly three-quarters of respondents said they chose an industry cloud service provider based on who could protect their company’s data. This is forcing sales and marketing leaders to introduce new collateral and selling propositions that focus proactively address buyer’s cyber security concerns.

5—SMBs are hungry for saas: It is not only major corporations investing in cloud-based software. The 2016 Report on the State of SaaS by Better Buys showed 64% of SMBs use cloud technology to drive sales and boost efficiency. Nearly 80% of the SMBs surveyed plan to use more SaaS software across business processes in the next three years.

The B2B sales industry is in a period of unprecedented transformation. The SaaS sales industry is a huge growth opportunity and the sales leaders that understand the trends will have an even greater chance at succeeding.


5—Email Marketing Winners & Losers

GetResponse, an easy-to-use (yet advanced) online marketing platform recently released its Email Marketing & Beyond: Global Industry Benchmarks 2017 report, created by GetResponse and Holistic Email Marketing.

In the study, the percentage of marketers involved in B2B marketing was 19.1%, B2C marketing was 41.8%, with 39.1% managing both.

Notable findings include:

Top open rates: The top-three industries with the highest open rates were Legal Services (39%), Non-profits (36%), and Health Care (34%). The industries with the lowest open rates were Internet Marketing (13%), Automotive (18%), and Travel (21%).

Top click-through rates: Top-three industries with the highest click-through rates were Publishing (7.9%), Non-profits (6.6%), and Arts & Entertainment (6.6%). The bottom three were Automotive (2.2%), Internet Marketing (2.5%), and Travel (3.2%).

Average Open Rate & Click-Through Rate: The average email open rate among all marketers is 22%. The average CTR is 3.9%.

To see the full study (there are a ton of charts and additional data in it), go here.



Quick Links

6—Main Street Winner

Independent We Stand just announced the winner of its “America’s Main Streets” contest. The $25,000 grand prize goes to MainStreet DeLand in DeLand, Florida, population 27,031. Altogether, more than 300,000 total votes were cast during the “America’s Main Streets” contest.

The MainStreet DeLand Association formed in 1985, transformed a rundown, abandoned district with a more than 50% vacancy rate, to a thriving downtown area now at near 100% capacity. The Association dedicates itself to continued downtown economic development while promoting and preserving DeLand’s historic roots.

“Established Main Street organizations like the one in DeLand, with strong support from their community and independent businesses, fall right in line with the mission of Independent We Stand,” says Bill Brunelle, cofounder of Independent We Stand. “We can’t wait to see how MainStreet DeLand Association utilizes this prize and how it will impact independent businesses and the people who support them.”


Cool Tools

7—“Yelp” for Business Professionals

Completed, the first verified peer rate and review platform to cover all professionals in every industry, recently came out of a “very successful Beta” and launched its platform. CEO Michael Zammuto explains, “Constructive criticism of employee performance is extremely valuable—it creates accountability, which can be influential for career development and hiring. However, there has not been a platform that enables users to constructively rate and review all people of business. This is why we’re extremely excited to officially launch Completed. Professionals will finally be able to be rewarded for good work and have a chance to get constructive feedback to improve—a true Meritocratic Society.”

In the same way that Yelp! users review businesses, Completed allows users to rate and review every professional—from a waiter to a Fortune 500 CEO—anonymously or using a verified identity. Completed’s easy-to-use 5-star ratings and reviews, which are verified by the company’s proprietary algorithm, can help professionals identify areas of weakness to improve their work, and provide employers an unadulterated profile of a candidate to enable them to hire with confidence.

Completed has a strict anti-cyberbullying policy that prohibits harassing, threatening, embarrassing and targeting reviews, while allowing users to create a profile to proactively brand themselves to the world, showcasing their business, talents and cultural affinities. With profiles, users can also interact with reviewers to ask questions or resolve feedback they deem unfair.

8—Payment Solutions Provider Expands

North American Bancard Holdings, LLC (NAB) is acquiring Total Merchant Services, Inc. (TMS) and will be the 7th largest processor in terms of merchant locations in North America.

The acquisition brings the following to NAB:

  • Substantial financial and channel benefits: Immediate growth in merchant base and revenue allowing for future investment in emerging technologies that drive ease of use for customers, along with access to additional integrated software vendors (ISVs) and payment solutions.
  • Expanded product and service offerings: On a combined basis, the transaction makes available to customers a comprehensive suite of small business omni-channel solutions, including proprietary mobile and tablet point-of-sale (POS) solutions; mobile marketing applications; ecommerce options; traditional terminals; and small business financing.
  • Enhanced go-to-market capabilities: The ability, under single leadership, to expedite processes and streamline an easy and affordable payments experience for new and existing merchants and resellers.

Subject to regulatory clearance of the acquisition and other customary closing conditions, the transaction is anticipated to close in the second quarter of 2017.