Calling all sales people who spend a lot of time prospecting online: how to increase your “spontaneous productivity”
Have you ever sent an email to a prospective customer just to find out later that your colleague already contacted him? No worries, it happened to me too. In today’s world where communication is becoming more spontaneous and informal (twitter only gives you 140 characters - that’s not a lot to be formal) you see an interesting post or status update from a potential customer and think you’ll seize the moment and initiate contact right there. Responding to an interesting post is one of the best ways to start a conversation online certainly better than sending a cold email. However, you didn’t know that your colleague already exchanged several emails with him when you were on holiday partying in Ibiza. Unifyo is a tool that helps you to address these kind of challenges, especially in a team environment. Unifyo recognizes contacts inside any website or tool, as you browse and displays all relevant information from you and your team members such as emails, tweets, documents and their profile in your CRM tool.
What about the following scenario: you see a twitter update in your stream from a name that sounds familiar to you - you just can’t remember right now where you know him from. You decide to ignore the post and read on. Actually, it was a post from an existing customer with whom you haven’t spoken for a long time. Wouldn’t it be really cool to see right there in twitter the last time that you’ve emailed him or the last time an order was placed? Oh wow, I haven’t spoken with him at all this year, it’s time to contact Bill again! Try out for free how Unifyo can help you to not miss out on those spontaneous opportunities anymore.
The role of a business analyst seems to be as versatile as the one of a product manager. I wanted to shed some light on how similar the responsibilities of a seasoned business analyst or a project manager with a strong functional background are compared to those of a product manager.
As a BA you have a wide variety of responsibilities and a lot of them overlap with those of a PM.
The most important one is taking a stand between different stakeholders. At an IT project, one needs to balance the vision of the client’s CIO, the internal development team and the end users. CIOs want to use cutting edge technology to be recognised as an industry leader but they also don’t want to spend a lot of money (because they often report to the CFO). Existing dev teams either don’t want to change anything (we already have a great system) or want the best and coolest technology out there regardless if it make sense to the end user. The users want the system to solve all their problems, think for them, work for them so that they can sit back and relax. This usually means over-customising if it’s an off the shelf product, or over-engineering if it’s a custom solution. My favourite quote here for a requirements workshop: “besides all the things mentioned in today’s session I want the system to be able toast my bagel and produce Starbucks-like quality coffee”.
Deciding on features vs degree of customisation or cutting edge technology vs costs is actually quite challenging if you stand alone in front of a crowd of users, developers and senior managers.
Product managers, in a similar fashion, have to navigate around organisational politics and weigh the pros and cons of a number of factors. For a product, you have paying customers that want as many features as possible, CEOs with a specific vision of where the product should go, an internal dev team that rather wants to write beautiful and perfect code and is more interested in how cutting edge their technology is than solving customer needs and a marketing and sales department with a whole set of different demands. Again, the product manager needs to make a few tough decisions.
Keeping the needs of your customers in the forefront of your mind at all time is crucial whether you are developing an IT system for users in your company or building a product for external customers. Understanding your customers needs and problems and finding a solution that solves those is key to success for both. This is not possible without frequent and ideally in-person interactions with users. A BA runs user design sessions; a product manager needs to get out of the building and talk to potential customers to understand their needs. Involving customers/users early on in your design process helps to reduce risks and increase adoption regardless of external customers or internal users. Testing critical features before roll-out, improving usability and creating good looking applications are equally important to business analysts and product managers.
Product managers need to have a business acumen and are responsible for the financial success of a product. Similarly, business analysts often have to establish a business case before the project kick-off to justify the project and calculate an ROI.
If you’ve read this far I’m sure I don’t need to explain that communication and interpersonal skills are equally important for both.
Even though there are a lot of parallels there are also a few differences: users at an IT project are usually employees and not customers. Unlike customers who will just stop using your project, employees can’t really not use a specific software unless they quit. That’s the reason why addressing user needs and having a superior UI is more important for a product manager than for a business analyst. Because BAs build software that is usually ‘just’ for employees they often get less resources. Their main goal is to build a solution within a strict budget. Product managers have a little bit more wiggle room here to make the user happier.
Bitcoin really is a tiny market in the scheme of things, and its recent gyrations mean that the dollar, euro and yen have nothing to fear from the competition. If a currency can lose 75 percent of its buying power in two days, it may not be the best store of value. But it also an important window into the strange and uncomfortable mystery of “What is money,” which is a harder question to answer than one might think.
Breaking it down.
Thank you to The Economist for pointing out that Dance experienced the highest success rate of any category in 2012. One of our favorite fun facts!
Daily chart: what works on Kickstarter. 44% of Kickstarter projects launched last year managed to raise the money they requested. Games raised the most cash, but dance projects were most likely to reach their funding targets.