interlinkONE, Inc. Launches New ilinkONEpro Add-on: Proposal Builder

WILMINGTON, Mass. – (November 15, 2017) interlinkONE, Inc., a leader in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry, is thrilled to announce the launch of a new capability inside of our distributed marketing solution, ilinkONEpro. Proposal Builder is a new capability that opens the door for many of our clients and their current customers.

InterlinkONE Proposal Builder: A (Nearly) Plug & Play Proposal Compilation Solution

Proposal creation just got easier.

Do your sales reps need to be able to create proposals – quickly and easily – in the field?

Do you need to be able to customize the same proposal for multiple customers?

Welcome to Proposal Builder.

Using our brand new proposal compilation software, you can create a template that includes front and back covers, a table of contents, and any other repeatable elements you want to include.

From there, just add content – you can select PDFs you’ve previously uploaded to our system or upload new ones from within Proposal Builder. Reorder your content as you’d like – our dynamically populated TOC will update based on your PDF titles.

Once you’ve finished adding and reorganizing content, you’ll get a single PDF file to review and edit or approve. When you’re happy with it, Proposal Builder will generate a final, print-ready document to send to the printer or deliver electronically to your customer.

Customizations in a Snap

Creating a new proposal for each customer gets tedious. That’s why we’ve designed Proposal Builder to streamline this process. Save a proposal you’ve created for Customer A, and just add/remove individual pieces to create a new proposal for Customer B.

You can even include customized fields in your template for things like your sales rep’s name, date, and customer name. These fields can be entered from a single customization page, instead of having to re-key those fields for every proposal you create. This way, your sales rep can quickly update and customize an existing proposal for multiple customers.

Faster, Lower-Stress Proposal Creation

Thanks to this nearly plug & play system, you or your sales reps can create customized proposals for individual prospects in minutes. Just choose a template, select which pieces to include (or upload new ones), add info to your customized fields, and you’ve got a high-res PDF or print-ready document for your prospect.

Because your templates can be used again and again, your sales reps won’t have to tackle the technical side of proposal creation – just choose their forms/other pieces, enter the prospect’s name and date, and they’re done.

We’re confident you and your sales team will love Proposal Builder, and we’re excited to show you everything it can do.

 

About interlinkONE, Inc. 
interlinkONE has been in the SaaS industry for over twenty years. Led by CEO John Foley Jr., our team continues to be pioneers in the world of technology and online marketing solutions. ilinkONEpro is our distributed marketing and warehouse management solution. The solution streamlines operations and reduces cost by unifying all marketing communications and initiatives.

Business Development Contact:
Dan Luise
dan.luise@interlink1.com
978.694.9992 ex 202

interlinkONE, Inc. Launches New ilinkONEpro Add-on: Book Build

WILMINGTON, Mass. – (November 8, 2017) interlinkONE, Inc., a leader in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry, is thrilled to announce the launch of a new capability inside of our distributed marketing solution, ilinkONEpro. Book Build is a new capability that opens the door for many of our clients and their current customers.

InterlinkONE Book Build: A (Nearly) Plug & Play Book Compilation Solution

Do you get a headache just thinking about compiling your new training manual?

Put away those aspirin. InterlinkONE has a new solution that makes updating and rearranging your book into a print-ready document much easier.

Welcome to Book Build.

Save a template (which can include all of your repeatable elements, like front & back covers, table of contents, and end papers). Add chapters in PDF form, either from pieces you’ve previously added to our system or upload new ones. Rearrange until you’re happy with the flow of your new book – the dynamically populated TOC will update based on your chapter titles.

Once you’re done tinkering, you’ll get a single PDF to preview and edit or approve. When you’re happy with the book, Book Build will generate a final, print-ready document you can send to your printer or deliver to your end users electronically.

Customizations in a Snap

Need to create different versions of your book for different languages or audiences? No problem – you can create multiple templates and just upload the new chapter versions.

Need to make an update to a manual you’ve previously created in our system? Just upload the new chapter(s), reorder as you like, and you’re done!

Have different training classes that only need select parts of your total manual? Your training coordinator can quickly select just the units they want to include – so manuals tailored to each individual class are simple to create.

Compilation to Print in No Time

Thanks to this nearly plug & play system, you can create a whole series of books in a fraction of the time, just by importing your chapters in PDF form. Once the content is uploaded, you can compile, reorder, and print – all from one simple platform.

Best of all, you can choose any repeatable elements you’d like to remain in our system (front and back covers, TOC, About [Your Company], etc). These pieces form your template and can be used again and again.

If you regularly create books for your customers or employees, you’ll love Book Build. We’re excited to show you how it can streamline your book creation process.

 

About interlinkONE, Inc. 
interlinkONE has been in the SaaS industry for over twenty years. Led by CEO John Foley Jr., our team continues to be pioneers in the world of technology and online marketing solutions. ilinkONEpro is our distributed marketing and warehouse management solution. The solution streamlines operations and reduces cost by unifying all marketing communications and initiatives.

Business Development Contact:
Dan Luise
dan.luise@interlink1.com
978.694.9992 ex 202

How an Agile Framework Creates Satisfied Clients (and Developers)

Is something missing from your development strategy?

Many of us unfortunately stay in the dark when it comes to improving the way we do things. After all, we can never know that we’re doing something “wrong” until it is pointed out to us. If you feel like you are doing everything “right” in your software development and yet frequently come up against dissatisfied customers or blasé reviews, you’re certainly not alone. Although it’s tempting to look for one or two quick fixes, perhaps what’s really needed is an overhaul of the way you approach a project from day one.

That’s where agile software development comes into play.

Customer Satisfaction is the First Principle of Agile Development

Customer satisfaction is at the root of agile development. As the name “agile” implies, flexibility and a willingness to adapt to changes quickly is one characteristic that sets agile developers apart. Among the core principles set forth by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, customer satisfaction is listed first, highlighting its importance. After all, customers are the driving force behind software development. If the software doesn’t meet the needs of the end user, what purpose does it serve?

How to Keep Clients Happy During the Development Process

Listening to and understanding clients’ needs and then translating them into valuable software is certainly an art form. But building relationships with clients is an ongoing process, one in which you have countless opportunities to satisfy them and keep them happy. Here are some small but powerful ways to make each of your clients feel respected and valued.

  • Ditch PowerPoints, handouts and diagrams.

    In progress meetings, present your clients with a working sample of the software. This reduces confusion, allows questions or concerns to be raised in a more timely fashion, and builds trust between the client and the developers. Diagrams, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations all attempt to provide a visual representation of the software, but nothing beats the real thing. Plus, demoing the software itself, even if it is a work-in-progress, saves the developer time in the long run. Who honestly has time to create a PowerPoint when sitting down with the client and the software is more effective and efficient?

  • Don’t be on-time; be early.

    Many clients have reasonable expectations about the time it takes to develop a superior product. But at the same time, everyone loves to be surprised with early delivery. One of the key ways in which agile developers can create satisfied customers is by delivering updates earlier than expected. Set a realistic timeline for project deliverables, but build-in an extra day or two (or even longer) to guarantee that things are done before your client expects them. This underscores the fact that you’ve been working hard and gives the impression that this client is one of your top priorities. And from a client’s perspective, that feels good!

  • Collaborate closely with clients.

    This means meeting often to show the latest progress made to the software and embracing changes that need to be made, regardless of how late in the process they are brought to light. The founders of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development recommend delivering working software on a weekly basis rather than monthly. Even if your client has concerns or negative feedback, handling them in a collaborative and constructive way helps you turn them into satisfied (and hopefully repeat!) customers.

Developer Satisfaction is Also Key

The agile development framework seeks to make developers’ lives easier and more fulfilling, resulting in happy partnerships around the office, not just with clients. What makes a work environment satisfying can vary on an individual basis, but the following generally produce good results:

  • A collaborative environment, not an isolated one
  • Micro-managing is avoided in favor of building confidence and trust in employees, and to allow them to create their own workflows
  • Over-documentation is avoided to allow developers to focus and be efficient
  • A sustainable work pace is maintained to avoid employee burnout

At the heart of an agile software development framework is a responsiveness to the needs of both clients and developers. If you and/or your employees often feel fatigued and dissatisfied, don’t try a career change just yet. Instead, learn more about agile software development. It could alter the way you approach a software development project for the better—from beginning to end.

 

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing and business topics on the web.

Avoiding the Black Hole of Prospects – When to Walk Away

Yes, you have worked really hard on this potential deal. Yes, you have spent countless hours communicating with this prospect. Yes, it is hard to walk away. But, it may just be time to let this one go. Whenever you are developing a relationship with a potential lead, a lot of time and effort most likely goes into it. But sometimes it’s just not enough and this prospect is not worth your time. Here are a few signs that should tell you its time to walk away:

Focused Solely on the Numbers

Numbers and prices are obviously a big part of any sale. But, that should come after a relationship has been formed. If a prospect is asking about the price and costs of everything right off the bat that most likely means they are already leaning on a different product or service, or are not interested in learning about what might actually be best suited for their needs. They want a quick solution that won’t break the bank and are not ready to take the time to find the right one.

Not a Decision Maker

At the end of the day, it is a decision maker that will close the deal with you. While communicating with a prospect, ask yourself if this person can actually make the decision. Do they know everyone that is involved? Can they tell you what they see for the future, after this deal is made? Are they openly communicating with you or relaying messages to someone else in their company?

Choosing an End Date

Make sure the prospect can give you an end date or period of time where they would like to start utilizing your product or service. If it is too open-ended or they appear to be dragging their feet they will most likely not close a deal any time soon. The last thing you want is emails or phone calls going back and forth for months on end with no positive end result.

Do They Understand What They Want?

When forming the relationship with a prospect, part of it is the understanding what exactly they are looking for. Can this person, in detail, express the needs of his or her company? Talk is cheap when it is broad and unhelpful. To best fit their needs and yours, you need to know what exactly they are looking for.

Fail to See the Value

You know your product or service is of value, but do they? Sometimes a prospect might not see the true value that your product or service will bring to them. If they need constant reminders and convincing then just maybe it is not the right fit for them. If they fail to see the value, then there most likely is no value in continuing to sell to them.

Lack of Communication

One of the easiest signs to a sale going nowhere is a lack of communication. If they are simply ignoring all of your emails or phone calls, or there are large gaps of time between responses then odds are they are uninterested. In selling, persistence is key. But, after a certain point, the time spent attempting to communicate with an uninterested prospect, is better served building a relationship with someone else.

Are They a ‘Yes Man?’

Communication is a two-way street. At first, you want to listen and research as much as possible to make sure you understand their needs. But, when it comes time to demonstrate and explain your product and service, what is their response? Are they asking questions and clarifying details? Do they seem engaged? Or are they simply nodding their head and going along with whatever you say? If it is the latter, interest in your particular product or service is probably low. By asking questions and having a dialogue, the prospect is truly deciding if it is right for them. If they stop asking questions or agree with whatever you are saying, then they are most likely already thinking about a competitor and have become dispassionate.

 

Now, if you are witnessing some of these signs, it may be time to walk away. But, that does not mean cut off all future communication. Times change and down the line, they may in fact be in need of your actual product or service. Keep the relationship you have built whether small or strong and follow up once again down the road to gauge if things have changed.

In the meantime, do not waste your time falling into the black hole of prospect chasing. Stay on top of solid leads and don’t waste time with those who are not serious about doing business.

How In-Plants Can Use Cross Media: Part II

Missed part I of this mini series? Please click here to read my previous post!

What cross media channels can my in-plant facility choose from?

The list of channels available today can be overwhelming. Before we get into the different channels available, a word of advice: choose a few key channels that you think will work best for your target audience, and build on them as you go. Trying to blast your message to all channels at once can spread your message too thin, so it gets lost in the marketing chatter consumers face every day.

CrossMediaLifecycleHere’s a brief breakdown of a few different types of channels you can use:

  • Traditional / Offline: This includes direct mail, signage and billboards, television, radio, and events. Just because all the cool kids are on social media these days doesn’t mean they’re not still consuming these traditional channels, so you shouldn’t drop them either.
  • Social Media: It’s the 900-lb. gorilla in the room, so let’s talk about it next. Social media is so crucial because your audience is likely to be using it on a daily basis. Twitter has more than 300 million active monthly users, generating more than 500 million tweets every day. Facebook is the bigger of the two giants, with more than a billion active users. And those users are more than happy to interact with their favorite brands on social media; Coca Cola’s Facebook page has more than 92 million followers. Imagine having the ear of that many potential customers!
  • Your Website (preferably optimized for mobile): It may seem obvious, but your website is another marketing channel. Optimize it for mobile (meaning your site displays nicely on smartphones and tablets), and you’ve got two channels in one.
  • Mobile: This includes mobile apps, which can take a number of different forms depending on your business and your customers’ needs.

Those are just a few of your choices; your final mix will depend on which channels your customers are likely to consume. More on that next:

How can we incorporate cross media into our marketing plan?

So you’re sold on cross media. Great! But…how do you get started? Probably the simplest way is to find places where you can incorporate it into your current marketing plan.

Sending a direct mail campaign? Use key elements from it on your social media platforms, and allow customers to respond to the campaign via social channels. For example, you could run a contest, advertise it via direct mail, and let customers tweet their entries on Twitter.

The most important thing to remember when using cross media is to keep your brand image consistent across channels. Use the same images, and adapt the same messages for different channels. You want your brand voice to sound the same no matter where your customers hear it.

Cross media marketing can be a powerful addition to your marketing toolkit. Keep your customers’ preferences and needs in mind, and your cross media campaign could give your profits and brand image a big boost.

I hope you enjoyed this two-part mini series on how in-plants can use cross media marketing to improve their results. Please comment below with any additional comments or feedback!

Which Social Networks Should Be a Priority for Your Association?

With limited resources and a wide variety of social networks to choose from, many associations find themselves asking, “What should be the number one social media outlet to pursue?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy way of answering this because each social site is so unique. They each provide their own benefits, and associations would be able to use and benefit from each of them in different ways. Here is a breakdown of how you can use four of the top social media channels.

  1. Social_Media_Image_PurchasedYouTube. This requires low management maintenance. Whenever you create a video, you should upload it and share it with your audience in different ways. You can embed it into your website, email marketing blasts, share it on other social networks, embed it into online profiles, and have QR codes direct to them. If you enjoy being creative with your marketing efforts and you tend to be more of a visual person, preferring to give a face to a name and show your audience how your association can help them, YouTube should definitely be a utilized channel.
  2. Twitter. Twitter requires the most management, but also has the most benefits. First of all, its outreach and engagement opportunities are very extensive. There are many tools out there that can help you search for leads and existing contacts (contact me if you need help with this!). You can also initiate relationships by following people, and if they know you or have heard of your association, they will typically follow you back and interact. You can also embed your Twitter feed with your personal and Company Page LinkedIn updates (more on that in just a minute). Some tools even let you update your Facebook through Twitter. By syncing up social networks with each other, it can cover a lot more ground with just one post. Another benefit with Twitter is its hashtag feature. The best examples of hashtag usage would be during events. If you go to an event, attendees and vendors are able to include the hashtag (such as #BestEvent) within their tweets, which will make their posts show up in the #BestEvent Twitter feed. This is a great way of finding people at the show, engaging with them, and simply sharing your experience of the show with others. However, be mindful that there are a lot of tweets out there, so you must be consistent with your posts in order to position yourself as a thought leader who provides information but who also engages with their audience as well.
  3. LinkedIn. This network requires low management and has a more professional setting compared to others. Everyone should belong to this network because LinkedIn members appear within or close to the top five Google searches when their name is searched for. This helps encourage connections and relationships and it makes it easy for members and prospects to find you. Personal profiles also give you the capability of sharing your website, social networks, more information about your association, and many other types of information. If people want to learn more about you professionally, LinkedIn gives them the chance to do so, and then gives them the option to connect with you. While you are on LinkedIn, if your work email has its own domain, build a Company Page for your association. This gives the opportunity for all of your coworkers/employees to be under one network. LinkedIn Company Pages also give you the opportunity to promote your services, update members, and connect prospects with sales reps and more! You can also keep it updated by posting regular Company Page statuses. I would recommend sticking with 1-3 status updates each week to start, and try to focus on association news/industry news that your target audience would be interested in.
  4. Facebook. Facebook requires a medium level of management. My recommended amount of posts for Facebook is 4-5 posts per week, possibly a little more if there is an event happening that you are participating in. Sharing industry-related information in different mediums, such as photos, YouTube videos, blog posts, or articles, is a great way to engage with your Facebook audience. Your audience in this channel usually consists of existing members who enjoy being a part of and trust your association, and prospects who are interested in your organization, events, and services. Facebook fans usually join your page in order to stay in the loop with what is new. Posting pictures and YouTube videos of members and workers at your association is also great content and allows your audience to better connect with your organization. This social network is meant to focus on humanizing your association. So if you have an existing dedicated fan base who is online and wants to stay in the loop, Facebook may be your top priority.

At the end of the day, every association has its own unique audience. Think about where your audience is and how they enjoy learning about the type of services you have to offer. Once you discover these key components, determining which social media networks are the right ones for your organization will become more apparent. No matter which one you choose though, each network is great for enhancing your association’s search optimization. The more you update them, the higher they will rise in search results, plus, the bigger your networks are, the more potential you have of sending members and prospects to your website.