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June 2010

Before You Leave for Vacation, Make Sure You’ll Come Back to Happy Computers

Our computers and hand-held devices hold our business.  The worry of file cabinets crashing while we're away are a thing of the past - it's the back up, the hard drive, the LISTS, ORDERS and CALENDARS.  In the summertime, you have a few unique things to worry about: traveling with a computer; making sure that computers don't suffer from heat or lack of ventilation; and ensuring that a big storm or hurricane doesn't knock out your systems while you're away.
If you're traveling with a computer, you'll want to make sure you don't accidentally leave it at the airport - that's an obvious first step in a successful journey! After that, your primary worry until you get to an electrical outlet will be making sure you have enough battery power to last.

  1. Make sure you've run a full backup before you leave. Save copies of important documents on your corporate file server, and password-protect and encrypt the files on your hard drive.

  2. Invest in a biometric USB flash drive that requires an authenticated fingerprint to access files in case things are misplaced.  I usually have a USB drive with current projects I'm working on, all usernames/passwords to upload files, etc.  This way I don't have to transfer as much from my laptop to my desktop. Most of you only have your laptop, so that's not an issue.

  3. Give yourself plenty of time at the airport, and keep an eye on your computer at all times -- a recent study showed that people most frequently lose their laptops at security checkpoints and at departure gates.

  4. While traveling, preserve the life of your battery by dimming your screen; turning off autosave; minimizing the number of programs you're running; and disconnecting external devices like mice and USB drives. Even your browser extras, toolbars, etc. can suck up resources.  Thin it out.  You don't need a lot of your "at home" programs running in the background.  Check your auto-start programs* to see if you can do without a few of them. This will help speed up your performance while computing on-the-go.

Is the computer staying home?
Keeping your computer cool during a heat wave can be a big challenge. A few common-sense precautions can help.

  1. Give your computer access to plenty of air. At home, clear those stacks of paper off your CPU, pull it out of the corner, and make sure your fan can operate properly.

  2. Speaking of fans - take the cover off your CPU and make sure your fan is clean. If it's gunked up with dust and pet hair, it won't be able to run efficiently.

  3. Move your computer to a place where it doesn't have to work so hard to cool itself. If it's sitting in bright sunlight or if it's right near an appliance that generates a lot of heat (like a projector, for example), it's already at a disadvantage.

All adult supervision gone and letting the computers stay home by themselves in the office.

Let's say you're shutting down the office, leaving your computers behind, and getting out of town for a week or two. How can you make sure a storm, flood, or hurricane doesn't put a damper on your return?

  1. Get expensive equipment up off the floor. Even mild flooding can cause major damage to thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment.

  2. Run a full backup and test it to make sure you could restore your system in the event of a major data loss. We've spoken with countless business owners who run backups but never test them, and then they're shocked to find out their "business-critical" backups are corrupted or incomplete.

  3. If you have an onsite backup system, great. If you have an offsite backup as well, that's even better. And if your offsite backup is far away in a secure location that's not prone to major weather events, that's best.

  4. Write down all your software product keys, license numbers, passwords, configuration notes, and encryption codes and put them in a locked safe -- preferably both on premises and off.

  5. Have a plan in place so that if a major disaster occurs while you're away, other people in the office know how to contact each other and what procedures to follow in order to get your business systems running again. This includes writing down the sequence in which applications, servers, and databases need to be brought back online in order for data to properly repopulate.  For my clients, I have plans B and C. If I end up stranded on a desert island (wow - there's a great thought - sigh), anyway, if I were out of the picture for a bit, there are a list of procedures that my behind-the-scenes team of suppliers and trusted professionals have to ensure your sites, artwork, etc. would be intact, available and they would be able to help you pick up where we left off before I had left the continent.  Make sure your support team has back up plans as well.

Edited by Susan Finch, originally written by
Christopher Louden:  |


Join BtoB Magazine Tuesday - June 22nd for it's Lead Gen Virtual Show

I will attend and I suggest you consider it also...Jim Obermayer

Join BtoB this Tuesday, June 22 for the only *free* virtual tradeshow dedicated to the best lead management technologies and tactics for B2B marketers

You won't want to miss this free event featuring keynote addresses by Joseph Jaffe - Author & marketing/new media/social media thought leader and Charlene Li - Bestselling Author & founder of Altimeter Group.

The show will be open from 11:30 a.m. ET - 5:30 p.m. ET, allowing plenty of time for you to network with peers, attend sessions and enter to win great prizes.

Complete agenda:

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What's the best way to track the sales leads that are passed to channel partners?

Entry by Andy Brownell, Chief Marketing Officer, LeadMaster Inc.

For those of us who do business through channel partners, finding out exactly what happened to leads that are sent to the channel is always a challenge. How many of those leads did your partners follow up with? How many turned into sales? What's the ROI for each program that generated those leads?

If you're fortunate enough to have a channel sales rep helping your partners follow up with and close leads, you're doing a better job than most. Still, many leads fall through the cracks. Why? Because sales is a numbers game and warm/cool leads are on the losing team. Each partner rep may work with dozens of channel partners each of whom may work hundreds of leads. And when a rep is working to close a deal, he's not focused on the other leads.

Many of us thought that CRM systems were the answer. But reps frequently write things like 'Called 3 times and couldn't reach them,' or 'No opportunity,' prematurely marking them dead. Management might not understand why, but in the reps’ perspective, it makes sense: they only have so much time, and working on proposals, configurations, presentations and briefings takes time. They'd much rather be working on an immediate deal than on a lead that might close in 6 months.

So what's the answer? From my experience, combining what I call a ‘lead driver’ with a quality lead management system can increase the number of A-level leads passed to sales reps, thus increasing the number of deals closed. First, let’s focus on the lead driver. The primary role of a lead driver is to follow the lead, whether this position is internally filled or outsourced. Following and managing the leads through the channel has to be this individual's sole responsibility, so that they have time to manage and track the massive volume of leads circulating in the channel.

The lead driver makes sure the leads are being worked. As they work with partners, if a partner hasn't followed up on a lead within a specified period of time, the lead driver reassigns it to another partner. Thus, the lead driver follows the lead until it is either closed, lost to the competition or has been determined to never truly have been a lead. By raising the visibility of leads that weren't sales ready, lead drivers can help improve the overall lead scoring methodology. Moreover, as sales reps focus only on leads that are truly sales ready while the rest are sent to lead nurturing, the lead driver helps drive not only revenue and sales efficiency but also lead quality.

As the second part of the equation, for this process to go smoothly, all sales leads must be passed through a single lead management system. This provides those with authorized access real-time updates of any and all leads; it helps marketing know the effectiveness and the ROI of their lead generation programs; it minimizes outdated information in your database; and the channel manager can finally track which partners are following up on leads and which aren’t.

Thus, the problem of tracking ROI and channel efficiency is solved with a dedicated “lead driver,” and a single lead management system that you and your channel share. But this is not the only benefit of having a unified lead management system. This approach can also benefit your partner sales reps. Here's an example. When a partner rep leaves the company and a new rep is hired, the lead driver gives them a call, tells them about the leads they’ll be working and walks them through the lead management system. By having up-to-date information about their leads in a system that is easy-to-use, the new rep can come up to speed quickly.

Consider implementing a sales driver for your own channel. With a small initial investment, you’ll be sure to increase sales revenue.

Andy Brownell
Chief Marketing Officer