Onboarding Remote Employees: How to Build Culture, Rapport and Support

Running a remote marketing firm provides a lot of benefits for our team and our clients. But having a team working from home most or all of the time isn’t without its challenges. One area that I get asked about a lot is how to successfully onboard a new work from home employee? How do you make sure they feel like they are part of the team quickly? How do you make sure they have the tools and access they need to get up and running quickly?

Here are some of the strategies that have worked for us. We also reached out to our network of business owners, managers and talent leaders to get their thoughts on strategies for managing onboarding remote employees. Their insights are included throughout. 

Clearly Layout 30 and 90-day Plans

Whether your new team member is working from home or not – having a clear 30 to 90-day plan is so critical. SHRM points out that 69% of employees are more likely to stay based on their onboarding plan. At Lake One, we turn to the same tool we use to plan and manage our client Marketing Springs – Asana. We build out all the tasks and milestones for our new team members and link it up to the essential resources they’ll need to accomplish their onboarding from links to our standard operating procedure to the company drive file structure. 

Jennifer Zick, Founder and CEO at Authentic Brand adds, “New employees – whether working in a physical office or remotely – need clarity in two primary areas in order to get up to speed and become productive in their roles. First, any new employee needs to know where to find what they need to do their job. Secondly, they need clear definitions on what they are responsible for, and what success should look like.”

Diversify Training and Communication Styles

Mix up the training schedule to make sure your new team member gets to spend time with a diversity of folks. This helps the new employee develop connections within the company and absorb information better. Not to mention, putting the responsibility on one person to get a new employee up to speed can be a lot.

Tyler Anderson, Principal at Andcor Talent states, “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to communicating during onboarding and beyond.  Each leader (and team member) needs to understand communication preferences and needs. Some may prefer and are comfortable with email.  Others need verbal communication and interaction. And others want a combo of both.”

Outline Subject Matter Experts

Make it clear – who in the organization owns what. This not only saves time across the board, but it sets expectations for both the new and existing employees. If you have a standard operating procedure (see below) this is a great place to put this information. Some HRIS systems also have a place for this in an org chart. 

Anderson recommends, ”Getting them up to speed fast and hit the ground running by pairing the remote employee with an on-site employee or if everyone is virtual, another remote team member who they can go to for advice.”

Onboarding Remote Employees

Zick notes, “Many companies may not have well-organized online databases or platforms full of training materials, sales collateral, HR documents, or other resources that new employees can quickly locate. In these situations, it might make sense to align an employee with an internal guide – a “sherpa” of sorts – who can answer questions to help them quickly get to the right person or place to find what they need. Collaboration tools – like Slack – can be invaluable in these cases, allowing employees to quickly ask questions and crowdsource answers from their peers. The key is to open as many pathways to answers as possible, as quickly as possible, to help the new team member feel fully equipped to do their job.”

Set Up All Accounts in Advance

One simple thing you can do to make sure your new team member is ready to hit the ground running is getting all their account access set up in advance. There is nothing more frustrating than over the course of 30 days constantly having to ping a supervisor to get access to this, that or the other thing. Make an account run through a task in the onboarding plan. That way your new team members on their first day can go through all their welcome emails from systems, make sure they can access everything and feel good about checking some things off their onboarding plan. 

Anderson suggests, “Break up onboarding/training tools. Don’t throw too much at them all at once. Also, if you can get started on setting those tools and accounts up before official day one, all the better.”

If Possible, Have an In-Person on Day One

Depending on where your team is actually located and where the new team member is, this work from home onboarding idea may not be doable. But if it is, even grabbing lunch or breakfast with your new employee can help defer any jitters on day one. If you can’t do it, is there another team member that’s close by? 

Anderson notes, “When this whole C-19 thing is behind us if you have a physical office, bring the new hire in and go to lunch or a happy hour. But don’t just let it be a one-time thing. Hold quarterly gatherings and continue to make them feel like part of the team.”

Break the Ice 

Like with any new job, the first few days can feel like you’re an outsider. That can be especially true for remote employees who aren’t onsite. Find ways to break the ice with new employees. Whether it’s fun facts, a game, or something else. Keep it light and fun. 

Cami Zimmer, EVP Sales & Marketing at Glympse says, “Use “Reply All”: Send out an email to the group with an icebreaker question, asking everyone to respond via email and “reply all” so that everyone gets to know each other a bit more. 

Don’t cut the Chit-Chat: It’s personal chit-chat that actually helps employees relate to each other!  When working remote, team members do not have a chance to make small talk with others in the coffee area. We have to build time for this small talk into group meetings.  Try to spend a few minutes at the start of each meeting to discuss personal or department updates. Ask that team members send in recent photos through Slack or other chat tools.”  

Anderson says, “Learn and share fun facts:  “What are three (3) things people you know well would be surprised to learn?”  Give examples – e.g. survived a plane crash, world-class chess player, child actor.  Give the new hire a couple of days to mull over the questions and share what other team members have said in the past. After learning what teammates answer, they might be more willing to open up.  This exercise is great for building rapport and humanizing remote team members.”

Schedule Video Meet n Greets

A key part of our operating procedure at Lake One is daily standups and regular check-ins. Get your new team member looped in on these ASAP. Even though they may not be fully up to speed – the face time with the team is crucial and they’ll also start to get the habit of how the team works remotely. 

Anderson advises, “Set up a series of orientation calls/video chats within the first few weeks with the CEO and each member of the leadership team to learn about company history, culture, goals, structure. In addition, set up calls with team members in other departments within the first month.  Maintain this going forward in long-term across functions and combining new and tenured team members. Depending on the individual’s communication preferences, at a minimum suggest starting the call with a video chat to do a quick wave and know who you’re talking to and then turn it over to a phone call.”

Have a Standard Operating Procedure? You Should

We run on EOS ® Traction and our standard operating procedure is our north star. If you don’t have one – start documenting one. This is also a great way to help familiarize them with how y our organization operates and executes consistently. In an office setting – it’s easy to pop up and ask a question. Virtually, that’s not always possible. Standard operating procedures help give guidance on how the business handles key situations. 

Zick says, “What has been effective for us, and for many of our clients, is having a very regular and predictable cadence of communication – whether through in-person or virtual meetings. People quickly feel included, valued, and aligned when they know that they are “in the loop” on the company’s strategy, decision-making, and work efforts.

Because our company runs on EOS – The Entrepreneurial Operating System – much of this cadence is built into how we operate. Our executive team meets weekly and quarterly to work on the business. Additionally, our consultants – our Fractional CMOs – come together twice per month as part of our “mindshare” community. In-between these planned meetings, we use collaboration technologies (Slack and Basecamp) to stay connected, share ideas, celebrate milestones, and reinforce our company values.”

Setup Regular One-on-Ones

Another holdover from working face to face – one on ones are key. But even more so with your work from home team. In the first few weeks, it may feel like overkill but do this at a minimum weekly. First, it’s a great way to build up that comradery and second, it’s a chance to identify any early questions or concerns that might be harder to pick up on working way from each other. 

Rob Weber, Managing Director at Great North Labs says, “Productivity should be measured and greater expectations of asynchronous work should be accepted. When not working in a face-to-face environment, you’re much more likely to see work schedules drift and become more flexible. This flexibility though should still require certain regular check-in meetings or standups to ensure collaboration and free-flowing discussion. I’m also a big fan if possible to occasionally still meet-in person, such as for onboarding, annual planning, etc.”

Anderson suggests, “Maintain a consistent communication structure.  Include regular check-ins and checkpoints that are mandatory for every team member.  Sets expectations of how each team member should interact, communicate and adhere to the plan for every team member. I also suggest leveraging visual communication tools.”

Closing Thoughts

Anderson says, “Keep in mind, not everyone is built to work remotely so before you onboard be sure you have the assessment data to identify who will work well and who will not.  Some really need face-to-face interaction and the structure of an office environment. Others will work well independently and thrive in a virtual one. There aren’t enough tools in the world to turn one into the other. They may be successful but you run the risk of losing them to the environment that’s better suited for them.”

Zimmer notes, “We were/are lucky in that we had a remote policy in place before this all happened. We all have laptops, Zoom, Slack and are used to working remotely part-time. Thus, we really haven’t noticed much of a pause to business.  Being in the Last Mile industry, we are experiencing an increase in inquiries, even, keeping most of us here at Glympse rather busy.”

Weber reminds us that, “The characteristics of a well-managed business are similar for all businesses, regardless of whether they support work from home operations or face-to-face. Accountability is created through transparent delivery of key performance information which empowers the workforce to make decisions wherever they are working from.”

Zick advises, “Through this time of chaos and uncertainty, the very best advice that I could offer to leaders and employees is to give one another abundant grace. Everyone is adapting. Everyone is coming up to speed on our “new normal”. And everyone’s workplace experience is being radically changed. The silver lining in all of this is that – as a global community – we’re learning how to work differently, and the lessons that we learn through this time of disruption can carry us forward with new skills, deeper empathy, and an even higher level of workforce productivity. Together, we will get through this.”

Related Reading: Benefits of Working with a Virtual Marketing Agency

Lake One’s Seeds of Service Campaign Kick-Off: Second Stork

At Lake One, giving back is important to us. Like it says in our mission, we believe business can both pursue profit and be a force for change, leaving the world a little better than before. That’s why we’re proud to announce our Seeds of Service campaign for 2020. We created this campaign to give back to the communities who have supported us and live out our mission.

This quarter, Lake One is partnering with Second Stork, a Minnesota based non-profit helping new parents in need.

Welcoming a newborn into the world should be one of the happiest times in a person’s life. Those early days are meant for soaking up newborn smells, sites, and snuggles. The last thing parents should be worried about is how they are going to clothe and feed their little one. The reality is that many new parents are financially stretched, anxious and unprepared to bring their baby home from the hospital. Often, they don’t have the basic supplies to keep the baby safe and healthy during those first few weeks of life. It’s because of this reality that Second Stork was born. 

Second Stork, founded in 2009, provides essential infant-care items to families in need. Completely free of charge. Items like newborn clothing, a safe place to sleep, an adequate supply of diapers and wipes, receiving blankets and other necessary items. Second Stork operates entirely on volunteers, such as school groups, corporate teams, families and charitable groups.

The Lake One team will be volunteering at the Second Stork warehouse to help pack diaper bags full of essentials! If you’d like to get involved, check out the Amazon Registry to purchase items for families in need or donate directly to Second Stork here.

Second Stork and Lake One are grateful for your donations that keep the “stork flying.”

Amazon Registry

Subscribe to the Lake One blog to see all of our Seeds of Service adventures this year.

Lake One’s 2019 Most Read Content

They say that hindsight is “20/20”, which seems quite fitting as we look back at 2019 and prepare for the new year of 2020 ahead. What a year it’s been for Lake One! We welcomed new partners, new team members, and new strategies. We hope your year has been filled with just as much newness and excitement. 

We’re so grateful for all that 2019 has brought. To commemorate such a wonderful year, we’ve put together a highlight of the most read, linked and shared content for you to enjoy:

most read content

Most Read 

Our readers just couldn’t get enough of these blog posts this year: 

Sales and Marketing Alignment Guide

  • With our guide to sales and marketing alignment, learn how to get your teams to work better together. 

Sales and Marketing Alignment Statistics

  • Sales and Marketing teams misaligned? You’re not the only one. Read more about the benefits of aligning your sales and marketing teams. 

3 Lead Follow Up Processes That Will Turn Off Your Inbound Leads 

  • Here are 3 lead follow up process problems to avoid. Read more about what they are and how to solve them. 

History of Inbound Marketing

  • Curious to know how inbound marketing got its start? Read more about the history of inbound marketing. 

B2B Smarketing Team Assessment 

  • How aligned are your sales and marketing teams? With our B2B Smarketing Team Assessment learn if your teams are misaligned. 

Lead Scoring Guide 

  • With our guide to lead scoring, read how to score leads appropriately. 

Most Shared 

If sharing is caring, then this content was very cared for by our readers in 2019: 

Sales and Marketing Harmony

  • Our sales and marketing alignment guide was a must-read and a must share in 2019. Helping sales and marketing teams live harmoniously is an ongoing priority for Lake One. 

Lead Scoring 

  • This was a fan favorite in both the read and shared department. We hope our guide to lead scoring was helpful to you all.

Action 19: Lessons in Business Resiliency 

  • Lake One was fortunate enough to be able to attend and sponsor the first-ever Action19 event hosted by our partner Authentic Brand.

We have a lot of great content in store for you in 2020 too. Make sure to subscribe to our blog for updates. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come: 

  • In House vs Contractor vs Agency Comparison Chart
  • Define Your Sales Process Worksheet 
  • Digital Marketing Agency Budget Worksheet
  • And More 

Here’s to the remainder of your 2019 being filled with friends, family, festivities, and fun. We’ll see you in 2020!

Components of a Lake One FieldGuide: What Your Digital Marketing Strategy Includes

When we create a digital marketing strategy for our clients, what we adoringly refer to as a FieldGuide, we pour hours into research and strategy. We heavily consider every piece we present in order to create a cohesive, targeted plan.

So what’s in a Lake One FieldGuide? We clearly lay out the action steps needed to elevate your marketing to target the modern buyer and hone in on your lead gen potential. Here are the elements your Lake One FieldGuide will include. 

digital marketing strategy

Step 1. Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis can be viewed from two angles: qualitative & quantitative. One without the other, like most things in marketing, would paint an incomplete picture. Your Lake One FieldGuide will include analysis on both ends of the spectrum for up to three of your top competitors. 

Qualitative Competitive Analysis: 

What are your top three competitors up to? How well designed are their websites and are their sites created to move the user into conversions at every stage in the funnel? Additionally, what do their websites convey at first sight? We call this the Blink Test. Do you know what they do and what their differentiator is immediately or do you need to read heavy content and scrounge around the site to find out? 

Quantitative Competitive Analysis: 

What do the numbers say? Here we look at things like the competition’s traffic + sources, domain ratings, and backlinks. Without spending an inordinate amount of time, these numbers give insight into their marketing activity and authority. It’s also a good way to see, in a numerical fashion, how you stack up.

Want to know more about Lake One? Check out our FAQ.

Step 2. Develop and Document 2-3 Personas

Before we get to the guts of your campaign, we need to understand who we will be targeting: your buyer persona. A persona is “a profile that represents your ideal customer.” We conduct research- online and offline- to understand who you’re talking to. We zero in on what their challenges are, what makes them change their purchasing behavior, and what barriers they experience. The point of this is to be able to develop a marketing strategy that addresses these elements.

We’ll create two or three personas to being. Later on, we’ll decide where to narrow the focus further once we’ve jointly considered ease of implementation, ability to get quick wins, and budget. 

3. Keyword Research

Now that we know who your personas are, we want to know what they’re searching for and what the search volume landscape looks like for your product/service. We’ll use a few different tools to find niche keyword clusters that we’ll target via content. Our goal in this research is to find keywords and phrases with high search volume and low competition. IE- while it’d be fantastic to rank your retail shoe store for “women’s shoes”, you won’t have much luck beating Amazon and Zappos. 

A Lake One FieldGuide includes keyword clusters that we can realistically target to get you ranking on relevant SERPs (search engine results pages).

4. Persona-centric Content Calendar

When we created your personas, we thought of their challenges, barriers, and drivers to change. Now, it’s time to pair those elements and questions with a content strategy. 

digital marketing strategy

Blog Campaign Topics

Personally, brainstorming blog topics is my favorite part of campaign planning. The number of blog ideas we generate will depend on the scale of your campaign and frequency of posting- whether we’ll be posting on your behalf twice a month or a few times a week. 

Additionally, the number of personas will impact how many blogs topics we need. Each persona will have their own content strategy. The topics we select as part of your campaign will seek to answer the questions, pain points, and interests you unearthed in your persona research. In some cases, we’ll actually take their concerns and turn them directly into topics. Here’s an example. If your persona poses the question, “How do I lower healthcare costs for my company?” a great blog topic might be “5 Examples How to Lower your Company Healthcare Costs.” Additionally, blogs will be matched to your persona’s needs at every stage of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. 

The other things we consider when generating your blog campaign are the keywords and topic clusters we uncovered earlier in our keyword research. We’ll pair your persona’s needs with search data to create a 1-2-punch of stellar topics. 

All of this sounding good to you? Here are a few more reasons why you should work with us.

Offer Content Topics 

Next up is pairing those blog topics with conversion opportunities in the form of content offers. We’ll propose 1-2 offers at each stage of the buyer’s journey. These offers are intended to boost your lead gen and provide value to your users. We might propose an offer in the format of a… 

  • Checklist/self-assessment 
  • Guide or eBook
  • White paper, brochure, or sell sheet
  • Infographic
  • Content “Packet” that includes a mixture of the above in one offer

5. Persona Centered Lead Nurturing Sequences

Your FieldGuide at this point includes persona insights, keywords, and a killer content strategy. We’ll now present a plan to put all of that to work in nurturing sequences. What are those? You might know them as drip campaigns, workflows, or just as email marketing. When a user downloads one of your offers, we ideally want to enroll them into an email campaign that nurtures them along the funnel. A user who starts out by downloading an awareness offer would get a sequence of emails that nudge them into the consideration offer… and then into a decision offer… and then *fingers crossed* into being a customer. 

So, included with your FieldGuide are examples of the type of sequencing we’d like to do for your key offers.

6. Persona Watering Holes and Digital PR Hitlist

The last part of your campaign will be some research on where your personas hang out- their watering holes if you will. What websites do they like to engage with and who might be their influencers. These insights will lead to the creation of our digital PR hitlist. For example, if your personas spend time on authoritative HR sites, we’ll add a few to our hitlist. When it’s time to execute the FieldGuide, we’ll reach out to these companies to do things like guest blogs in order to get in front of you personas where they already are. Furthermore, this strategy generates backlinks and bolsters SEO.

Let’s start a conversation on creating a FieldGuide for you. Request a consult.

REQUEST A CONSULTATION

Benefits of Working with a Virtual Marketing Agency

I set out to build Lake One to be, in a lot of ways, the anti-agency. I thought about all the bad experiences I had as an in-house marketer working with consultants, freelancers, and agency partners and wanted to make sure to instill in the values of our team – the opposite of those bad feelings. A lot of the reasons people choose to work with us, are because of that choice. But one I get asked about is the flexibility of our team. Our team is virtual. Not in the sense of AI & robots (although we use a lot of cool tools that are built with that power enabled), but virtual in the sense that our team works from all over the place. Sometimes, we lose business because of this and that’s okay. But I think the benefits of working with a virtual marketing department outweigh any of the perceived concerns. Here are a few benefits to consider when working with a virtual marketing agency.

working with a virtual marketing agency

Highly Productive

Let’s face it. The office environment is distracting. Random meetings coming up for absolutely no reason, that person who loves to stop by and talk your ear off. Sometimes it’s hard to get work done at work. Remote work arrangements increase productivity by removing distractions. Of course, at home, a coffee shop or coworking spaces can provide their own kind of distractions, but being in control of the space our team works in lets us be flexible to adapt to the tasks we need to accomplish.

Better Team Morale & Health

Because our team works remote and has more control over their days, we can fit things in that help reduce stress. Research has shown remote teams have a 44% higher positive attitude and 53% lower stress level. All of this leads to a happier, healthier life which bleeds into the work we do.

Reduced Costs

Because our infrastructure costs are lower, overhead is low. It’s amazing how much companies spend on overhead and those costs get passed through, especially in the services business. Because our costs don’t include fancy offices, we’re able to provide services at a more approachable price.

Okay, I get the benefits – but how do y’all dig in?

So maybe I have you sold on the benefits. But you’re wondering about our ability to strategize. After all, the work we do is highly important to your business. Do we even talk to each other about the accounts we’re working on? Let’s address some of the ways our team works together.

Program Management

First and foremost, program management is the hub by which internally we see where all projects are. Externally, clients can see how things are progressing. We’re constantly fine-tuning our processes around program management to be as transparent about what’s getting done, what’s getting stuck, and what’s coming up.

Virtual Marketing Agency Program Management

 

Daily Communication

We adopt an agile marketing approach and run daily standups with our team so we all know what we’ve worked on, what we’re our priorities are for the day, and what we need from others on the team. That’s a starting point. We also have daily sidebar conversation virtually and a series of carefully planned meetings internally to tackle things like business operations, ongoing innovation, and ad hoc client troubleshooting.

virtual standup

Client Communication

Aside from transparent communication via our program management, we regularly communicate with clients. Often daily. We have a structured meeting cadence and frequently meet face to face to tackle the big hairy strategic discussion.

Reporting

Internally, we have dashboards monitoring all accounts and reporting on progress on goals. At a glance, we know daily how our clients are progressing which allows us the insight to isolate problems or opportunities.

Put a Virtual Marketing Department to Work for You

At the end of the day, we’re not that much different than an agency with an office. We have some flexibility that gets our creative juices flowing – but we’re always driven by one thing. Success for our clients.

REQUEST A CONSULTATION

Action19: Lessons in Business Resiliency

We were fortunate enough to be able to attend and sponsor the first ever Action19 event hosted by our partner Authentic Brand.

The theme of the event was Resiliency. While the speakers aligned their messages to the overall theme, each focused their address on a specific form of resiliency: personal, business/sales, and financial.

Action19 Recap

Personal Resiliency: Cory Hepola

Cory Hepola is currently a radio host for WCCO. Having switched his career from news anchor to radio host recently, Cory focused his keynote address on the perseverance it took to attain his success. Cory broached the subject of failure by discussing his hundreds- maybe even thousands?- of job rejections. He reminded us that we all go through struggles. So why then do we put up walls? Why do we avoid transparency, never talk about getting fired or rejected or criticized, and why is it that we only put the best versions of ourselves out there? We all do it. The point of Cory’s keynote wasn’t an appeal for us to all openly air our dirty laundry, but more so to call to attention that everybody has dirty laundry. Resiliency is found in not letting the struggle stop you from chasing your dreams.

Action19 Recap

One of my favorite parts from Cory’s keynote was his insight into dreams only coming true when you’re ready for them. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up when things aren’t going your way or happening fast enough, but more often than not, things won’t happen until you’re actually ready. The beauty of resiliency is that the more you persevere, the more prepared you’ll be when the universe is ready for you. Know your strengths, weaknesses, values, and purpose, and work toward goals that help facilitate your true character. True character is, after all, what shows itself when times are tough.

Cory was also keen to point out that whatever we do, it’s important to surround ourselves with good people. Allow those people to push you and support you.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

The message of resiliency we all walked away with from Cory was that Everybody (capital E) fails. When you’re ready for it- actually ready, not just impatient- it will come to you if you’ve persevered through the struggle.

Hiring Resiliency: Mike Frommelt and Mary Nutting

In a dialogue between Mike Frommelt, Visionary & Co-Founder, KeyStone Executive Search and Mary Nutting, Owner, CorTalent & President, NAWBO, we learn about resiliency in recruiting and retaining employees. Mike built on to the adage, “right people, right seats,” by appending “right time.” He implored us to find employees as eager and passionate about your company as you are; the people truly invested in their careers. He continued to say that those people who really understand are the ones who will be all in.

Action19 Recap

Mary built on that idea. She pointed out the importance of hiring people based on the person and their values- people with “stretch skills” (potential). Find out and understand how a candidate’s personal values fit into company values before hiring. This will help ensure a quality fit, somebody more likely to succeed and grow within your company.

Mary also addressed the importance of knowing your business’s needs today. She discussed how occasionally businesses got lost in the goals and forecasts that predict future need. Rather than hiring for that, hire for what you need today. Don’t let your business get ahead of the talent- make sure you have talent for right now.

And then there’s that little matter of compensation. How do you deal with that? Let the market set it. Simple.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

Resiliency is found through your people. As leaders, it’s critical to empower, inspire, and spend time with them everyday. And as Mike said, you want people’s hands and their hearts to bring your company to the next level. Invest in your people and your reward will be employees who work for you because they want to, not just for the paycheck.

Sales Resiliency: Josh Fedie

Josh Fedie, founder of SalesReach, lit the room with humor as he told us about resiliency in sales. First, smarketing (holla!). Align your sales and marketing teams. Make sure they are working toward the same goals and that you practice sales enablement, and are ensuring your sales team has all of the marketing material they need. Then, make sure you have the right tools – sales acceleration- to speed up your deals.

The modern buyer will be searching for you. It’s important to know, as Josh taught us, that every touchpoint in the sales process matters. Therefore, ABB + ABS. Always Be Branded & Always Be Selling! Always make sure you align your actions with your mission and vision. When your brand shines through, people will always work with people they like. Forever and ever.

Another knowledge bomb Josh dropped was to do video. Now. Like, right now. 90% of consumers said video helped them make a purchasing decision. Use video in your marketing and in your sales process as video enables your salespeople to be very personal. At every turn, you should be enabling your people.

Action19 Recap

Empower your employees. Let them know they bring value to the organization. Those employee brand ambassadors will create custom brand ambassadors, and that’s where revenue resilience truly lies.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

Resilient sales teams are the product of resilient smarketing teams. An aligned smarketing team can help you empower every person in the company. Always be branded, and always be selling.

Financial Resiliency: Panel

The last session of the Action19 mini-conference was an expert panel discussing the topic of financial resiliency. Andy Schornack, President & CEO of  Flagship Bank Minnesota, Heide Olson CEO of All In One Accounting, Inc, Amy Langer Co-Founder of Salo LLC, and Aric Bandy President of Agosto.

The question ‘what should you do to prepare for a recession?’ was the first to be posed to the panel. Make sure your balance sheet is structured properly and that you have liquidity in assets. Develop good cash management in good times. And protect your people. While this wasn’t a continuation of the retention discussion from earlier in the day, treating your people as your greatest asset was a constant theme through the financial resiliency advice.

Action19 Recap

Additionally, we heard from Heide not to let your guard down when things are good. Always know where you are financially and don’t just have a plan B. Also know what triggers to be aware of that might indicate the need to switch to B. Furthermore, focus on process, people, and diversifying appropriately to make it through the next downturn. Invest in technology while you can, too.

Another question the group tackled was “As you head into a downturn, what happens when you ratchet back sales & marketing?” We’re going to take just *a little* liberty and say that the resounding answer was “bad things.” But really, panel members told about how when they cut back on marketing was when competitors were able to come out ahead. Additionally, they mentioned that it took a long time to catch back up to where they had been. Even in downturns, there is opportunity if you have the right team and are well positioned to take advantage. Find out why your employees and clients are working with you and do more of that.

Key Resiliency Takeaway:

As mentioned, supporting people was a large part of this financial discussion. Be resilient by creating an empowering environment where employees know they are valued.

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*Photo credits to Authentic Brand

Lake One’s FAQs

Thinking about working with a partner on your digital marketing and sales program? Cool. Thinking about Lake One? Aw shucks. You might have some questions. Here are a few of the commonly asked questions we get from prospects and clients about what it’s like working with Lake One and what to expect from a digital marketing sales program.

Lake One's FAQs

Continue reading “Lake One’s FAQs”

Lake One’s Ryan Ruud Obtains Hubspot Trainer Certification

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime

Ingrained in our culture here at Lake One is coaching and teaching as we engage with our client partners. Yes, they’re asking us to do marketing activity on their behalf but we do so in a fashion that teaches and trains as we go. It’s collaborative and meant to make us all stronger because life long learner is the spice of life – I think that’s the quote, if it isn’t it should be.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that our founder and CEO, Ryan Ruud, has been accepted into an elite group of Hubspot partners to obtain Hubspot Trainer certification.

In the coming months we’ll be developing curriculum around inbound marketing, modern and measurable marketing programs, sales and marketing alignment and more and making these courses available for private onsite instruction as well as looking to establish recurring courses around our region.



 

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Lake One’s SLA & Why It’s Critical for Sales & Marketing Alignment

Have you ever noticed that despite being separate departments, sales and marketing is called, sales AND marketing? (not Sales OR Marketing). The two go hand in hand, or at least they should. But that’s not always the case however, alignment can only be achieved through detailed continuation and effort to ensure everyone is on the same page. 

In order to help achieve harmony among client-facing teams, Lake One implements a Service Level Agreement (SLA). By Definition, the SLA is an agreement between our client’s sales team and Lake One marketing on the lead management and lead qualification process. It helps drive sales and marketing alignment. Read on to learn about the 7 key components of our sales and marketing SLA.

Sales and Marketing Alignment SLA

Interested in seeing if Lake One may be a good fit for your company? Request a consult!

Goals & Objectives

We are a big fan of goals (and you should be too), so it’s no surprise that our SLA kicks off by stating the goals and objectives of the SLA.

The purpose of our SLA is to ensure that the proper elements and commitments are in place to facilitate a flow and acceptance of marketing qualified leads to sales.

The goal of our Agreement is to obtain mutual agreement for the lead qualification criteria and lead handling between the Marketing department and the Sales department.

The objectives of this Agreement are to:

  • Provide clear reference to lead ownership, accountability, roles, and/or responsibilities.
  • Present a clear, concise, and measurable description of lead qualification, acceptance, disqualification, and nurture.
  • Match perceptions of expected lead quality with actual lead quality and delivery.

Clearly Defined Roles

A plan and an agreement are a great place to start, but if you don’t know who’s on first, it can leave you scrambling when it comes time to actually execute. Roles and responsibilities are broken down into two groups:

Marketing

  • Generate leads
  • Score & qualify leads
  • Nurture leads & contacts
  • Handoff qualified leads to sales

Sales

  • Accepts/rejects MQLs
  • Actively manages lifecycle stages/opportunities and lead statuses
  • Wins Deals

The final component is assigning key stakeholders to oversee the process and teams: one person from sales, one person from marketing. The above is a complete and total team effort, but listing out key stakeholders gives the team a point of contact and holds parties accountable.

Curious about what else Lake One has to offer? Read this post to learn more about what makes us tick.

Sales and Marketing Alignment Roles

Lead Qualification Strategy

If the leads marketing is generating don’t match the expectations of the sales team, it won’t benefit anyone. In fact, this is how inbound strategies fail. In order for marketing to be generating leads that the sales team will get excited about, everyone needs to be on the same page of what a qualified lead actually is.

So in order to start nailing down lead qualification, we ask questions such as:

  • What engagements signal leads are ready to talk to sales? (think completed forms, user actions, etc.)
  • What requirements do all leads need to meet based on your ideal buyer profile? (industry, organization size, role/title, etc…)

From there, we actually build what we call a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) List. The list serves a dual purpose and plays a major part in the process in finalizing what will constitute a lead as well as how you’ll track them going forward. Once the list is created, we can also take a look at historical data – like how many MQLs are there to date – and set benchmarks off of the new definition for goal setting.

SMART Goals

What will the SLA accomplish? This is best stated in SMART goal format. In case you need a little refresher, see below.

Specific: For the SLA, goals will likely fall into three buckets – marketing lead volume, lead flow, and a lead management/sales process goal. We always recommend hitting all three as they cover the major components of the Agreement.

Measurable: Here’s an area where the MQL List becomes very important. It’s a clear way to track how many MQLs marketing is able to deliver and when.

Attainable: Be realistic with expectations, but don’t sell yourself short either. The beauty of the SLA is that both Sales and Marketing will be on the same page on what is achievable.

Relevant: Relevance is a great gut check in making sure your SLA goals align with the client’s company goals.

Need a little help with your SMART Goals? Download the worksheet!

Terminology

We use industry jargon and marketing terminology so often that it is important to define key terms so everyone is using them the same way. We focus our definitions on two main categories: lead status and lifecycle stages.

According to HubSpot, lifecycle stage indicates where a contact or company is in your marketing/sales funnel (subscriber, lead, MQL, etc…). Lead status indicates where a contact or company is within a buying cycle as a lead (New, Unqualified, Open Deal, etc…).

Sales and Marketing Alignment Terminology

Lead Rejection

Just because a lead checks off the boxes and becomes an MQL, doesn’t mean that the lead will convert to a customer. An integral part of the living breathing document that is an SLA, is lead rejection. Just as Marketing sends the MQLs, sales, in turn, communicates back through Lead Status and Lifecylce stage, or for the leads that aren’t so hot, lead rejection.

In our process, lead rejection is defined and agreed upon by both parties and typically results in a form field selection in the CRM.

Sign on the Dotted Line

The final and most critical stage in our process is a signature. It’s not necessarily a signature in the actual sense, but more of what it represents: an agreement of both parties on all of the above! Alignment is impossible without it. 

We do have to add that once you have an SLA in place, it should be reviewed, tracked, and measured against, evolving as needed with the growth of the company. And not to mention, the SLA is a component of achieving sales and marketing alignment, but not the only component. Are you ready to discuss how Lake One could help enable your sales teams and help you achieve sales and marketing alignment? Contact us

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Lake One’s 2018 Most Read Content

Another year is winding down. We hope you’re finding time to spend with friends and family reflecting on the year that just was and preparing with excitement for the year ahead.

As we reflect on our year here at Lake One, we want to share with you some of the most read, downloaded, and shared content we’ve created as you prepare your organization for 2019.

Lake One’s 2018 Most Read Content

Most Read:

These blogs are some of the posts that were viewed most often throughout the year:

Most Downloaded:

These resources were the ones requested most frequently:

  • SMART Goals Worksheet
    • Goal setting doesn’t need to be rocket science, but it should happen. Otherwise, we’re just marketing without a correlation to a business objective. Our SMART goal worksheet helps document goals to move towards keeping the business moving forward.
  • How to Build a Lead Machine
    • Building a lead machine requires a steady focus. Our lead machine ebook looks at the most common things to keep in mind to drive steady conversion.
  • 2018 State of Inbound
    • What’s on the top of sales & marketing minds of organizations around the world heading into 2019? Read the latest State of Inbound Global Report to find out.

how to build a website that converts

Most Shared:

Across the content we shared, these posts drove the most engagement:

  • Launching Lucent
    • We shared the design story behind a new tax relief startup we worked with this past year.
  • News from the homefront
    • We were thrilled this year to grow our partnership with Hubspot, twice! Leveling up to become Gold partners.

We have a lot of great content in store for you in 2019. Make sure to subscribe to our blog for updates. Here’s a preview of some of the things we’re working on:

  • The Lake One Guide to Lead Scoring
  • The Lake One Guide to SaaS Marketing
  • Interview Series with Modern Marketing trendsetters
  • And more

We’ll see you in 2019!