A Day at the Arcade

I took my 8 year old daughter mini-golfing and to the arcade the other weekend.  Our mini-golfing was chock full of laughs, thrills, tears, nail-biting PGA-level putting birdies and aces all in the context of Africa-hot ‘Valley’ temperatures, but it was really the arcade that I thought was worthy of remark.

So I have an 8 year old and an 11 year old, and if you’re a parent that’s gone through raising children in their younger years, you’ve probably spent many a weekend at Chuck E. Cheese, bowling, or in this case- the mini-golf arcade.  The consistent racket that pervades these fine gaming institutions is the pay-by-token and reward-by-ticket methodology. 

To enjoy this entertainment, you don’t pay with traditional currency.  You have to go to a special currency exchange machine to convert your US dollars to arcade tokens, or in the futurist state we now live in- a special card loaded with tokens.  The fun began when I inserted my credit card to fund the token card transaction.  After waiting 5 minutes, the machine projected a message saying, “Kiosk is currently unable to dispense cards.  Please see attendant for assistance”.  I hunted down an arcade employee from the prize stand, who proceeded to crack open the token card vault only to find that the token cards were all mashed up together, preventing its ability for dispensement.  5-10 minutes later, she cleaned up the mess and hallelujah- gave us the token card, our gateway to good times.

In determining the amount to invest in the card, I typically run through some mathematical gymnastics to determine how much I should waste spend.  I usually look around the arcade, expecting to see some Pac Man and Space Invaders consoles valued at $.25 per round, circa 1984.  Then I’m always shocked when I look around only to find a 10-foot virtual reality Pac Man, machine gun-based Call of Duty and ‘claw for crap you’ll never win’ all valued at an average of $1.50 – $2 per round.  But this time was different.  To my dismay- there were several games valued at…  $5 a pop!!!  And what might you ask would warrant such a price tag?  Let’s just say, an upgrade ‘claw for crap you’ll never win’.  This time- the crap available to win is my daughter’s favorite..  LOL dolls.  Hook, line, sinker.

So low and behold, we wander around the arcade for what amounted to approximately 8-10 minutes, given 20 bucks only got my daughter 10 games at the historical price point, and 4 games at the newly obscenified prices.  She had some fun, won some ticket credits.  Badda bing badda boom.  Arcade time is done.

But once the arcade time is done, then comes the parents’ most dreaded part.  The picking of the prize.  I swear, it goes the same way every time.  No matter what kid, what venue, I’ve never seen even the slightest deviation.  Here it is..

  1. Parent shares total value of tickets won with child (“Johnny, you have 75 tickets”).
  2. Child enters meditative deep thought state about potential life-changing prize.
  3. Kid randomly asks about prize completely outside the universe of possibility (“Dad, how much is the X Box?”  “Johnny, that costs 17,530 tickets.”  Parent’s thought:  If we came here EVERY frickin’ day for the entire summer, we still wouldn’t get that damn X Box.).
  4. Kid asks about prize just a hair more than the tickets they have (“Dad, can I get the rocket shooter that’s.. 80 tickets?”)
  5. Parent plays bad guy denying child of the rocket shooter.
  6. At the 5-minute mark while still waiting for child to choose the prize, parent starts to lose sanity.
  7. Parent clarifies to child that they have 2 choices:  1) Spider Ring or 2) Pixie Stick.
  8. Child has deep contemplation about the pros and cons of Spider Ring -vs- Pixie Stick.
  9. Parent knows that the Pixie Stick is just about the un-healthiest, sugar infested candy available, but caves to win back 5 additional minutes of life and finally convinces Johnny to get the Pixie Stick.
  10. Parent and Child leave arcade with the mini golf score card, the little green pencil, $20 less dollars in wallet, sunburn, and a Pixie Stick.

How To Keep Kids Productive During Summer Break

A common parenting challenge I’ve come across is what the kids should do during Summer Break.  Kids are so busy these days during the school year- do you just give them a break and let them play Fortnite all day, every day?  Or should you keep them productive and enroll them in camps and classes throughout the duration of their summer respite?

I think the best approach is to do a blend of both.  I subscribe to the idea that they are overloaded in the school year, and need a break to recharge their batteries for the year ahead.  So with that in mind- some video games, YouTube, camps and hanging out with friends is essential. 

On the other hand, kids are sponges- and they have the ability to soak up so much information at this age.  It would be an absolute waste to let 2-3 months go by without doing anything productive.  But rather than force them to practice their reading, writing and arithmetic- I find it effective to figure out what they ‘want’ to learn.  Discover what their passions are, and double down on them during this nice long break.

When summer break arrives in our household, I have a ritual that I’ve been doing for years.  I take both kids out to donuts one morning (separately) and come up with their own “Summer Plan”.  It’s a win:  win- they get a sugar-infused treat, and I get to host a brainstorming session on how to avoid wasting the entire summer away.

My 11-year old boy and I have this down to a science by now.  1st stop- Blinkie’s donuts.  2nd stop- Starbucks.  He picks out the middle high-top table, the usual spot.  The most important element to make the Summer Plan effective, is to have your kids make the decisions.  It’s critical to get their buy-in.  If you were to force your ideas (i.e. “you have to read 20 books, do calisthenics, learn a new skill or else!”), it just won’t work. 

The first topic we covered was how to get some exercise, in the absence of PE class.  He’s at an age and size where I’m open to him doing whatever exercise he wants.  So I asked him how he wanted to get some exercise this summer, and could choose whatever he wanted- riding his bike, using our elliptical machine, lifting weights, you name it.  He had recently started to ride his bike around the neighborhood by himself, and it turned out this was his top choice.  To add some accountability, we determine how much the length of his average ride, multiplied it by a few days per week and came up with a goal of riding 50 miles by the end of summer.

Next topic was learning.  His passion is without a doubt video editing, so we reviewed his list of current video projects, as well as projects he wanted to pursue.  We settled on a goal of completing 4 video projects by end of summer, which seemed to be a good middle ground between realistic and a stretch goal.  The idea behind this is not only establishing a goal and accountability, but there is a tremendous amount of new learning that comes with completing these projects.  It includes watching tutorials, trying new things, learning new skills.  This is taking advantage of having the time to create his own curriculum, and walking away with new knowledge without the rigidity of a formal class.

The last topic was chores.  I heard a podcast recently interviewing an ex-Stanford college recruiter, who felt that household chores were literally the #1 most valuable skill to teach your child, and I tend to agree.  Chores teach a child accountability, humbleness, the value of work and yes- how to make money.  So this summer I decided to get a bit more creative than the usual chores-for-allowance we do during the school year.  My son has a goal he’s saving up for.  And I have a project that I’ve needed help with for several months.  So I decided to assign him the project, and we came up with a way to measure progress weekly to make sure it would be complete by the end of the summer.  We found an app to track progress weekly.  And ‘mean old Dad’ also came up with a penalty if he’s late on doing his chores and I need to remind him.

The holy grail that we came up with was a bonus, based on completing all the summer goals.  If the exercise, video and chores were 100% completed by the end of the summer, we came up with a financial incentive that would be given at the end of summer.  And the financial incentive gets him to his savings goal.  End-to-end accountability at its finest.

As far as my 8-year old, we came up with a slightly less ambitious plan, but perfectly suitable for  someone her age.  She loves to code, which can consist of developing brand new programs on the kids ‘Scratch’ application, or unfortunately- sometimes using coding apps to just play games or watch videos.  To keep things productive, we settled on getting 3 how-to coding books from the local public library that she chose- which had an almost endless amount of coding tutorials.  I didn’t feel the need to set specific goals around coding at this age, but as the summer has progressed- she’s knocked out at least a couple tutorials per week.  In other words- she’s ‘making’ games and online programs -vs- just sitting around and playing them.

Kids getting a new iPhone as they enter Middle School, is the new Bar Mitzvah.

As my 11-year old graduated from Elementary School last week, a new tradition was brought to my attention that I was not previously aware of:

Before a child enters Middle School, apparently, they need to get their own iPhone.

While this took me a bit by surprise, I’ve come to realize that this is now a natural law of how the world works.  I wasn’t thrilled about the financial implications of this new rule.  Yet it did help me grasp Apple’s close-to $1 trillion valuation, so that’s a plus.  I also ran some calculations to help cost justify the iPhone expense, by comparing and contrasting it with the ‘Call Waiting’ feature we added back when I was a kid in the 80’s, and that helped even more.

But once the dust settled, I came to an even more ground-breaking realization:

Kids getting a new iPhone as they enter Middle School, is the new Bar Mitzvah.

I know this may sound ludicrous, but let’s think about it….

When a Jewish boy turns 13, he has all the rights and obligations of a Jewish adult.  And as crazy as it sounds, society now deems the iPhone as the true delineation between child and adult. 

Child = borrow Mommy or Daddy’s iPhone to play ‘Crossy Road’ during allotted screen time.

Adult = have your very own iPhone to Text, Facetime and post to Instagram.

Let me break it down.. 

Old Tradition of becoming an adult-> Bar Mitzvah.  

New Tradition of becoming an adult -> Get iPhone.

Take a look…

  • Preparation / Study – Old days- learning the Hebrew language, educating yourself on the Torah and memorizing your Torah portion.  New way- researching which iPhone model you want to get.  New or hand-me-down?, iPhone 6 or 7, or the new XR or XS?  How much memory do you really need?
  • Haftarah / Bar Mitzvah Speech – in the Bar Mitzvah days, it was customary to chant the Torah reading, and then share your thoughts on the Torah portion in a speech.  Today’s equivalent is earning the right to read the incredible revelations found on your Facebook Feed, and then Liking, Sharing and maybe even making your own personal Post.  With today’s technology, this is no longer limited to just sharing with your synagogue, you can now share it with the whole World Wide Web!
  • Party – this used to be a big, expensive ordeal requiring you to rent a fancy room with a DJ, caterer, photo booth and the like.  But in today’s age- all you need is an intimate gathering to unwrap that white iPhone box, and start setting up your iOS device.
  • Mitzvah Project – Letting your little sister play ‘Crossy Road’, now that’s a good deed.
  • Gifts – duh..  getting your frickin’ iPhone!

Now for those of you that are keeping score at home, you may have noticed a slight discrepancy.  Kids typically enter Middle School at age 11, but technically- the minimum age requirement for Social Media is 13.  Ah ha!  This is one more argument linking the Bar Mitzvah age of 13 to the age one truly becomes a full-fledged adult and officially get the keys to the holy grail, Social Media.  The age in which one is finally entitled to walk the halls of Facebook, Instagram -and- Snapchat. 

That is the true indication that you’ve made it.  You are no longer a child, you are a bona-fide adult.  You will follow the terms and services of the Social Media platforms.  You will be a member of the Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat community.   You will text incessantly with your friends.  You will Facetime for no reason.  And when it’s all said and done, while you may no longer be welcome at your local temple..  there’s always the Apple Store at your local mall.

Why do we check our smartphones 52 times a day?

Our iPhones, laptops, iPads, Spotify, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, texting, emailing, chatting, podcasts…  Do you ever feel like it’s information overload?  Compulsively checking all your apps for updates?  Constantly being stimulated by a Spotify song, Apple Podcast or Netflix show?

On average, American consumers now check their smartphones an average of 52 TIMES EACH DAY, according to the U.S. edition of the 2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey from Deloitte.

Adults in the US spend an average of 2-4 hours per day tapping, typing, and swiping on their devices—which adds up to over 2,600 daily touches.  On a weekly basis, this adds up to spending an average of 14 to 28 hours per week on your phone.

To put this in context- assuming a 40-hour work week, 7 hours of sleep each night and a few hours a day for personal care, you’re left with about -> 58 hours a week for everything else.

I know this sounds crazy, but the math from this research leads back to the average adult in the US spending 25-50% of our free time in front of our phone.  Look around at Starbucks, restaurants, people walking around..  at home, work, school.  Are they spending half of their free time on their phones?  Maybe not, but I’d say the concept of people spending a quarter of their free time on their phones sounds scary, but just about right.

Why do we do this?  Why are we so compulsive about checking our phones?  Research shows that a big contributor is the dopamine rush we get from checking, and more specifically- from positive (or negative) social interactions we get from the apps on our phone.  Getting likes on social media, or even texts and emails can be a dopamine trigger.

Dopamine = a chemical produced by our brains that plays a starring role in motivating behavior. It gets released when we take a bite of our favorite foods, after we exercise, and when we have successful social interactions. It rewards us for beneficial behaviors and motivates us to repeat them.

If we perceive a reward to be delivered at random, and if checking for the reward comes at little cost, we end up checking habitually. If you pay attention, you might find yourself checking your phone whenever you feel bored, purely out of habit. Keep in mind, the programmers at Facebook work very hard behind the screens to keep you doing exactly that.

Are we aware that we waste so much time our phones every day?  And if spending 2-4 hours per day on the devices is information overload, what is the optimal amount of time to spend each day?  I wonder if I could limit my compulsive phone checking to 30 minutes?  Or 1 hour?  What if I checked it just 10 times, or even 5 throughout the day?  Would the world fall apart if I wasn’t checking incessantly?  And what could I do with that extra time???


Yelp Says… “Hey Jason, are you near La Super-Rica Taqueria?”

Do you ever get those creepy, yet intuitive push notifications on your mobile phone from Yelp?  Like, “Jason, are you near La Super-Rica Taqueria?  Here are some reviews…”

I don’t know why, but of all apps- I’m fascinated at how Yelp does this.  Don’t get me wrong, all location aware apps are cool- like Find My iPhone, Starbucks and Pokemon Go.  But for me- Yelp is the most practical.  I eat out at restaurants 2-4 times per week, and am always looking for a good new place, especially when I’m outside of my hometown.

What’s particularly fascinating is when you enter a new town that you may not be familiar with, and as you do- Yelp sends a push notification recommending a restaurant as you arrive, to help you find a new place to grab grub.  This is super practical in my opinion.  I’m usually traveling for work, and always looking for a new lunch spot.  I mean how many times can I go to Chipotle and Starbucks?!  Bring on a new lunch spot, bring on a new local café!

Or what’s even creepier is if you just left a restaurant, bar, etc.. on occasion it asks for a review of where you just were.  How did it know?!  Obviously with the phone’s GPS technology, but that’s pretty impressive that it knows that you were actually in that specific location.  I went to the new local Dave and Busters the other weekend, and low and behold- as I walked out.. it asked ‘how did you enjoy Dave & Busters?’.

So turn on that push notification and location services on your phone, and you will find a new world of culinary delights!

Have You Tried The New “Jason Baer” Flavored Gatorade?

Inspired by last Thursday’s article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Age of Personalized Everything”, I thought I would explore how deeply personalized products have become here in the year 2019.  Although I’m in the business of personalized marketing, I was not fully aware of the revolution where actual products are becoming personalized, just for you. 

What’s driving this seems to be what’s driving the entire digital revolution- the treasure trove of data companies are collecting, and their ability to use it in meaningful ways.  On the demand side- this is the new era where customers rule, and with the advent of apps like Netflix and Amazon, customers have come to expect everything personalized just for them.  In other words, the dialogue here is… “Yo Gatorade, where’s your ‘Recommendation’ made for me, just like I’m picking a Friday night series to binge on?!”

Here’s a breakdown of some of the groundbreaking new personalized products, and yes- these are for reals:


This year, Gatorade is launching “Gx”, which is a customizable hydration system.  This is where the Apple Watch meets your green electrolyte sugar water.  They’ve developed a sweat patch, which tracks your sweat profile and concocts your own Gx drink.  To create a so-called sweat profile, you stick the sweat patch on your forearm during a workout, and it records how much sweat you perspire for about 30 minutes and how salty it is.  You take a photo of your sweaty patch and send it to the Gx app, which uses image-recognition software to read it. Those results are combined with weather data, the duration and intensity of training and a questionnaire that asks athletes to detail their performance goals. Once the right Gx formula is determined, users buy concentrated pods of it online, load it into a special Gx bottle and add water.


Many of you have probably heard of the weight-loss program, Nutrisystem.  Well now they’re taking the idea of losing some pounds to the next level.  Last year Nutrisystem introduced DNA Body Blueprint, an at-home DNA test that is the basis of a 40-page report on nutrition needs, metabolism and fitness suggestions based on the user’s genetic coding. The test delivers new insight into an individual’s weight-loss efforts. This is fascinating, but what happened to just working out and eating healthy?


I don’t know about you, but the decision of which vitamins to take has tripped me up for years.  Blue pill or red pill, right?  I’ve always taken the daily multi-vitamin, but I’ve also dabbled in Ginseng for energy, Vitamin B to avoid hair loss (not so effective, to my dismay), and a ridiculous overdose (400% recommended daily amount at least)  of Vitamin C whenever I feel a cold coming.  Then my doctor tells me that vitamins have never actually been medically proven to be effective, so what do you do?  Then comes along the nutrition firm, “Care/of” who aims to demystify the world of vitamins. Customers spend about five minutes online completing a profile of their health needs and goals. Then they receive a list of vitamin recommendations and corresponding research that explains the company’s selections. Customers can select which vitamins they want in their monthly supply of daily vitamin packs. Each pack is printed with the customer’s name, which makes taking daily vitamins fun and builds lucrative word of mouth.  Turns out, people do like posting photos of their name.  Lord help me, Facebook.


While all of these personalization developments are great, will they actually pan out for the companies that are providing them?  Will they generate interest, and can they be profitable given the lack of scale?  One of the biggest personalization announcements back in 2000 was Adidas’ “MiAdidas” customization platform- which allowed customers to create their own personalized versions popular shoes like the Superstar, Stan Smith, and Ultra Boost. But unfortunately, earlier this year- Adidas decided to discontinue miAdidas, and focus in a different direction where customers just help make suggestions for shoe designs.  Back to the drawing board.




The CaaS (Coffee-as-a-Service) Experience

Image result for starbucks logo png

For the 2nd post in my “Experience Blog” series, I thought I would provide a commentary on what I like to call the CaaS (Coffee-as-a-Service) Experience.  Starting back at the beginning, the earliest I can remember that coffee became a ‘thing’ was 1996.  It was right when I got out of college that the Frappuccino became mainstream and Starbucks surpassed 1,000 stores.  Low and behold, coffee and all of its many derivations became a must-have.  Whether it was for studying, going to work, relaxing, socializing- we all had that white and green cup in our hand at some point during the day.

For me, the most interesting inflection point was in 2014- which was the advent of Starbucks mobile ordering.  I dabbled a bit in the beginning as a novelty, but little did I know- this would eventually be something that I could not live without.  With mobile ordering, I came to realize that there was no longer a need to ever stand in a Starbucks line again.  And yes, I’m guilty of ordering via the mobile app not just for coffee-on-the-go, but also when I’m sitting in a Starbucks coffee shop for hours.  I have banished Starbucks lines forever. 

But where the Starbucks mobile app drives the most value for me is when I have a morning drive for work during the week.  The routine goes as follows…  Get ready, pack up the car, order Starbucks on mobile app, open/close garage door, drive directly to closest Starbucks (without passing Go) -> Grande Americano and Spinach Feta Wrap in hand.  I honestly don’t even consciously think about this process anymore.  This is what I’d consider a moderately healthy breakfast and a guaranteed caffeine pick me up, all with virtually no effort other than a couple clicks.

In Conclusion:  Starbucks has 100% Nailed the Digital Customer Experience with their Mobile App.

So let’s look at the facts.  This is undoubtedly a priority for Starbucks, and CEO Kevin Johnson is trying to drive more of the business to the Starbucks app.  As of the end of 2018, 12 percent of Starbucks’ total sales came in through its mobile ordering features, according to the latest edition of the PYMNTS Mobile Order-Ahead Tracker.  Clearly room to grow, but a solid footing with only 4 years under their belt.  What an interesting example of a physical store with a physical product, making a successful transformation to a digital business.

But if having your coffee waiting for you at your local Starbucks isn’t good enough, it appears as though consumers are looking for an even more effortless experience.  Coffee delivery.  As of this January, Starbucks has joined efforts with Uber Eats to bring delivery services to U.S. cities.  The two firms piloted the delivery program, starting last fall in Miami. As of January 22nd, Starbucks delivery was officially up and running in San Francisco. From there, delivery services via Uber Eats are rolling out in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., and a London pilot is also in the pipeline.  In order to accomplish delivery, Starbucks is being seamlessly integrated into the Uber Eats mobile app, and deliveries are supposed to arrive warm within the half-hour.

And with a look into the future..  believe it or not, coffee is actually being delivered via drone (what?!!!) in Australia. Yes, Alphabet Inc.’s subsidiary Wing, whose most recent trial delivered coffee to 160 households in Canberra, Australia.  Coffee is popular among Wing’s Canberra customers, says Wing CEO James Burgess. It’s not an item typically delivered by car because of how quickly it gets cold. “Our record is 3 minutes and 17 seconds from an order to coffee in hand,” he adds. (The coffee travels in a normal to-go cup and is protected by a recyclable paper cocoon.)





Frictionless Experiences (#1 from Experience Blog series)

I spent last week in what proved to be an epic “Adobe Summit” conference, the first one I’ve personally attended.  And although I walked away with several key takeaways, Adobe’s claim that the future of business hinges on the “Experience” seemed to be the big one.

If you look at some of the world’s fastest growing companies- they’re no longer as focused on the people, resources, inventory or products.  At its core, eBay is a garage sale.  Uber is hitchhiking.  AirBnB is staying at someone else’s pad.  Many of them don’t have the employees or inventory that traditional companies used to have.  But what makes eBay, Uber and AirBnB so incredible are the game-changing app and website experiences they create for their customers.  How quickly we’ve come to rely on these experiences.. how could we live without Uber?

In the 1st post in my Experience Blog series, I want to call out the ‘frictionless’ nature of the Uber experience in particular.  I took both taxis and Ubers in Vegas, and wow- what a difference.  The taxi experience is old school.  It’s choppy, clunky, slow and manual.  I had to wait in a long line at the airport to get my taxi, and then instruct the taxi driver where to go.  The most inconvenient aspect of the experience was the payment.  The cab driver was savvy enough to suggest that I start the process before I arrived at my hotel, but it still took 2-3 minutes to swipe my credit card, enter the pin, choose the tip amount, process, and then have my cab driver grab the receipt from a separate device in the front seat.  So what does this mean to me?  This antiquated, slow process means that I have less time to work during the drive, spend time catching with my family or take advantage of some much needed relaxation.  It is more prone to potential errors, given all the manual steps.  And I forgot to mention that while I was waiting to have my credit card processed, my taxi driver was in the middle lane of the hotel dropoff, which put me in a pretty awkward, unsafe position to get out of the car.

Now let’s shift to the frictionless Uber experience.  I pulled up the Uber app on my phone, selected my destination, (pre-selected) payment method, meeting spot -> and my job is done.  The rest of the responsibility now falls on Uber and the driver.  I wait for the driver, pop in the car- and I’m free to do what I need to do.  There’s a feeling of freedom within the experience.  I would call it a ‘lighter’ experience.  The bags are in the trunk, and I have nothing to worry about.  There’s nothing in between me and getting to my destination. In a working world where we’re slammed with back-to-back meetings and conference calls, it’s a luxury to get some free time in the back of an Uber with not a worry in the world.  No payment, tip, credit card, waiting, nothing.  Just arrive at your destination, open the door and you’re there.

Now I get it- I know my complaints are totally 1st World problems,.  If these are my biggest problems I have to worry about- then life’s not so bad.  But from a business perspective- the purpose of technology is to drive better efficiencies, and the move from friction to frictionless experiences is doing just that.

So to put it back on you…  how can you create your frictionless, Uber-like experience for your customers???

3 Fascinating B2B Sales Trends

I’m one of those guys that loves to read the predictions about the coming year in the news come late December / early January.  While it can be interesting to read the tastemakers’ views into their crystal ball, I thought it could be interesting to take a 2nd look, now that we’re well into the year and at the end of most companies’ Q1.  For this post, I’m focusing on trends in my world of B2B Sales.  I did a decent amount of research on the topic, and here are the 3 that I found most fascinating and relevant:

1. Intent Data will drive all Prospecting efforts.

In the future, intent data will be able to deliver what seemed impossible just a few years ago: a go-to-market operating system that identifies for organizations the target prospects that should be reached that day, week, month or quarter based specifically on buying signals that indicate a higher level of purchase intent and interest. It will come from more sources and potentially even include personal activity away from the office. Once aggregated, this blending of personal and professional identities will ultimately allow B2B companies to, for example, target ads directly to the CEOs of companies of a specific size and in a specific sector and region.

2. AI will generate a better sales pitch

No, AI won’t replace humans this year, but we firmly believe that artificial intelligence will be used in creating personalized sales pitches. For years, companies have recorded data about lost and won deals, and reasons behind those outcomes. At the same time, the new data sources are drawing a much more nuanced picture of each potential customer.

Already now seasoned sales professionals can come up with a personalized sales pitch to almost any customer that belongs to their ideal customer profile. And they can do so in the blink of an eye. We predict that this will soon be done at scale. And not by salespeople, but artificial intelligence algorithms that read all that data in no time, and learn based on new data added by users or analytics professionals.

3. Real-Time Sales teams will emerge

At the moment, there are only a handful of companies that have a real-time sales team. Drift and Intercom were some of the first companies promoting this concept: a sales approach where new sales inquiries are being responded in real-time. The first RTS teams have focused heavily on online chat discussions, but we assume that the scope of RTS will expand to cover the whole sales process across multiple channels.




5 Ways to Crush it in ’19 with your SDR / Account Exec Partnership

Given I’ve now been in a Sales and Sales Leadership position for over 2 decades now, I want to start by saying how lucky we are to be in a world where most Sales Reps are fortunate to have a Sales Development Rep (SDR) or Business Development Rep (BDR).  Not to sound like “…back when I sold, we had to walk 20 miles in snow to get to a customer meeting!”, but I have to say that life with an SDR is a heck of a lot better than it used to be.  In the “pre-SDR” days, Sales Reps had to do ALL of their own prospecting, lead generation, appointment setting, and handle the entire sales process all the way to the close.  In today’s world, the bulk of the responsibility for that initial lead generation is on the shoulders of the SDR.  Shout out to the SDR’s, you rock!

But in this new world, unfortunately- Sales Reps are not always effective in working with SDR’s.  More often than not, they’re quoting Glengarry Glen Ross saying, “the leads are weak”.  And to those Reps, I want to echo Alec Baldwin’s response from Glengarry with- “The leads are weak? *@#$( leads are weak. You’re weak!”

So how do we solve this problem, so that the SDR and Sales Rep can be successful this year?  The key in my opinion is.. partnership.  As a Sales Rep, I’ve had a successful relationship with my SDR year after year, and I attribute that to putting in the time and effort so that we’re both investing in a successful partnership. 

Here’s a summary of what I think it takes to build a successful SDR / Sales Rep partnership:

1. Schedule 1: 1 Calls 2X Per Week

The most effective teams meet twice per week.  The first meeting is typically on a Monday, to determine the plan for the week.  The second meeting is later in the week to review the results.  The Monday meeting should have a specific agenda, which outline your joint goals in all categories.  Agenda examples would include reviewing this week’s target accounts, number of calls, emails and social outreach, and how many appointments you plan to set.  In the spirit of the partnership- you will both walk away with action items- not just the SDR, the Sales Rep should have actions too, so that you’re tag teaming the work to penetrate new accounts.  The call typically lasts 30 minutes.  As the Sales Rep, I typically send out a summary of the week’s goals to my SDR, and review the results later in the week to ensure the proper accountability.

2. Keep a Prospecting Tracker

In order to help keep the prospecting efforts well organized, I find that keeping a ‘Prospecting Tracker’ spreadsheet is an effective way to keep everyone on the same page.  I highly recommend using a Google Sheet (vs. Excel), so that you can both make changes in real time, without having to email a spreadsheet back and forth.  While I wish there was a simple way to do this in Salesforce, I haven’t been able to build a clean report that’s as easy to edit as a Google Sheet.  I imagine that one day I’ll be able to do this in the CRM, but haven’t been able to pull it off just yet.  Here is a list of some of the key data I track in the Prospecting Tracker:

  • Prospect company
  • Key contacts
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Track outreach activity (email, call, social)
  • LinkedIn connections
  • Teamlink connections (connections from your company, as identified in LinkedIn)

3. Run an All-Day Prospecting Workshop every Quarter

One of the absolute gems that I figured out a couple years ago, was scheduling an all-day Prospecting Workshop every quarter between the Sales Rep and SDR.  We’re talking about loading up on a Venti coffee that morning, bringing in lunch, snacks, and having laptops and a whiteboard ready to go.  The best place to start is by identifying the top prospects to target for the quarter.  This is a great opportunity to enable the SDR to help mold the strategy, and get their buy-in.  You can jointly research the accounts, to make sure which ones best fit your ICP (ideal customer profile).   From there- you will fill out all the fields in your Prospect Tracker, as mentioned above, such as contacts, contact info, and key LinkedIn connections to help get you in the door.  I know it’s tough to carve out an entire day to do this, but trust me- it pays off big time.  My SDR’s have consistently been top performers in generating SQL’s (sales qualified leads), and we typically both agree that the Prospecting Workshop is one of the main reasons.

4. Understand your SDR’s Career Goals

It is common knowledge that being an SDR is just a starting point for one’s career.  One of the main drivers in being successful as an SDR, is to move up to the next level to Inside Sales or an Account Exec.  But keep in mind- this may not be their goal.  They may be more motivated by compensation, personal recognition- or moving into a different role- like a Solutions Consultant or Customer Success Manager.  The Sales Rep is typically a more seasoned veteran, and it’s important to take responsibility as a mentor for the SDR, and share all of your tips and tricks you’ve learned over the years.  Everyone is different, and it’s critical that you understand their goals, and let your actions within your daily partnership help drive them towards ultimately achieving their specific career goal.

5. Celebrate the Wins

And if you haven’t figured out yet, my approach with the SDR / Sales Rep partnership is definitely one of ‘work hard’.  But the partnership will burn out if you don’t also add the ‘play hard’ element as well.  So given the success you’ll have with this approach, don’t forget to celebrate the wins and have fun.  During your quarterly Prospecting Workshops- be sure to go out for a nice dinner after a hard day’s work.  Be sure to celebrate and shower praise for every new lead, appointment and opportunity created.  And I find that even though the SDR’s are responsible for just generating the opportunity- they truly care when their initial lead gets signed and booked as ‘closed won’, so don’t forget to share that as well.

So there you have it, some ideas to crush it in ’19 with your SDR and Sales Rep partnership.  We’re lucky to have such a great resource, so make the most of it and good luck generating more appointments, leads and Closed Won deals!