Sunday, 27 September 2009

MindGenius Version 3 Now Released

In response to outstanding customer demand and feedback, MindGenius is delighted to release Version 3 of its popular business mapping application.

MindGenius 3 has been designed specifically to facilitate the journey from initial thought through to actions, output and results. MindGenius 3 offers improved functionality around analysis, task management, brainstorming, exporting and presentations. In particular, the new export to Excel functionality takes business mapping into a whole new dimension.

Company Director Derek Jack said:
"MindGenius 3 was produced to align it more closely with business processes and is one of the few tools on the market that was designed specifically around its ability to facilitate these processes. Version 3 makes it even easier for our users to work with their information and ideas and undertake the key business tasks we all have to face regularly such as planning, projects and presentations."

MindGenius 3 is available to purchase for just £147/ €169/ $235 per single user licence. Existing MindGenius Version 2 customers can also upgrade for just £88/ €104/ $141 per single user licence. This offer is valid until December 31st 2009. For multiple user licence pricing, please visit http://www.mindgenius.com/. All prices are exclusive of VAT.

Find out more about new features and functionality or download a 30 day free trial at http://www.mindgenius.com/.

Taking your business to the next level through sales 2.0

Compliance management systems organisation, Gael Ltd, has seen its business quadruple in the past four years, a success which sales director Andrew McGee attributes to the company’s dynamic approach to customer engagement. Here, Andrew explains how modern businesses can cut costs, shorten sales cycles and gain customers with sales 2.0.

Travelling, meeting prospects face-to-face with little prior contact, sitting through dull and drawn-out presentations, having one-way communication in meetings and, in the event of a sale, ticking off the ‘converted’ box and leaving the customer to languish in a silo of indifference all characterise the bad old ways of business. The traditional sales approach is hugely resource intensive and the typical salesperson can relate to the feeling of frustration and waste felt as all commitments are put on hold while they travel to meet a cold lead towards an outcome that is less than certain.

What we are seeing now is an evolution of the sales process, based on new technologies which have brought about a positive change in business relationships. In the same way social media have given individuals a voice and helped them to become more connected, businesses are reaping the rewards of becoming more connected with their customers.

But what do we mean when we are talking about sales 2.0; what are these tools and what do they do? Mainly, we mean applying the collaboration and interaction brought about by web 2.0, to creating a lean and fast moving sales environment.

In fact, from lead generation to final sale, sales 2.0 works as a cycle whereby more customer interaction, leads to increased customer satisfaction, which in turn generates sales leads. First, at the meeting stage – at Gael, 80 per cent of our sales generation business is now conducted through online meetings - tools such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, Glance, or the open source Dimdim which allow you to hold presentations and share a screen at a distance, are absolutely fundamental to the sales development process. Their contribution to the evolution, or soft(ware) revolution in sales, cannot be underestimated.

Once in an online meeting with a prospect, we use MindGenius for customer exploration and to help understand pain points in the customer’s business. MindGenius helps us take unstructured information from a variety of sources and organises it into a map formed of headings and sub-headings. This demonstrates how topics are linked, instantly providing a logical overview of any given situation and allowing easy navigation from one subject (or document) to another, as hyperlinks can be created to further sources of information.

Rather than have a static presentation, it’s much better to engage with the customer fully at the earliest stage possible, and with this type of software, all the information appears on a map that can be explored, rather than a list. The non-linear and interactive approach helps open up discussion and create an in-depth view of how our offering applies to the prospect’s specific needs. It can be updated on-the-fly and the interaction really helps the customers feel confident that we understand their requirements.

Effective problem diagnosis leads to effective buy-in from prospects. Sales 2.0 tools help make customer meetings more meaningful, and so overall, more effective - cutting the time it takes customers to sign on the dotted line and improving our win rate dramatically.

It may come as a surprise to companies that are still using the traditional routes of airport - hotel – meeting – proposal - follow-up - that many businesses nowadays have naturally progressed to online meetings and are regularly closing significant deals without ever meeting face-to-face. The best part about online communication tools is that they also help qualify leads in a much more effective manner if a meeting is to take place. Salespeople can now travel to a prospect’s premises with a verifiable knowledge of how interested the customer is likely to be. Going on site knowing that an opportunity is already significantly progressed and a lead truly qualified can help justify an investment that could otherwise be speculative and a costly risk.

The new engagement with clients doesn’t end there though. Once a deal is completed, sales 2.0 tools really come into their own by providing continued and high-quality relationship building tools. Businesses can use the communications they receive through forums and open commentary as a marketing tool, as well as a valuable source of feedback on products and processes. At Gael, once prospects become our customers, we ensure they become part of a ‘club’. We provide newsfeeds and knowledge bases, but also ongoing individual consultancy – for example with easy to set-up and run monthly status meetings and regular product briefings (all held online). Companies will find that with sales 2.0, time spent on account management is actually reduced, while effective client servicing is increased, business prospects are increased and costs are reduced. A situation that would have previously seemed paradoxical. And the regular client interaction of course also helps with customer retention.

The benefits derived from creating customer communities are enormous. Customers will generate opportunities amongst themselves, through coming into contact via your forums, they will influence your business for the better – we bought functionality to our own products based on customer feedback that we would never have received otherwise; enthusiastic mentions also help identify customers who are willing to participate in case studies or reference programmes. And best of all, the community will also serve as a lead generator. We have found that since the information on our online outlets is constantly updated, with topical discussions, through the community interaction, we have increased visibility in search engine results, which drives traffic and sales enquiries to our business.

All in all, the value a company will gain through adopting a collaborative, partnership type model with its approach to sales, will far exceed any time investment in adopting new sales 2.0 techniques.