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Strong data; richer commentary; better outcomes

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“Time is money.”

As you know, proxy statements are filed daily with the SEC. And they contain compelling information, such as meeting date, record date, location, agenda items, named solicitor, and so on.

Let’s look at this discussion in terms of “wheat and chaff.” The upshot is, there’s a lot of data out there today that you can use in your issuer company research efforts.

Virtual tons, in fact.

And there’s a lot of noise out there, too. It takes time – and a lot of it – to manually dig through all of that data  to find just those items that will make your commentary even stronger for your clients. You can do this manually.

Or you can have just the good stuff sent to you automatically – on your schedule.

A subscription to the Meeting Info Service data feed from TFC Data Services, LLC helps you cut through all the chaff, to find just the kernels of wheat.

The information you can glean from the Meeting Info Service data feed represents a wealth of intelligence. It is comprehensive and in a format that allows easy use. TFC Data Services employees capture, parse, and ingest into a structured, searchable database, this meeting data on a daily basis.

So far, this equates to over 6 million records that we’ve collected annually. We assign a proprietary coding scheme to each agenda item making cross-company comparisons quick and easy.  We then insert virtual “tags” into the original SEC filings so that quick links from our content takes you directly to the location in the original SEC document - immediately – for further research and deeper context understanding.

Coupled with other meeting agenda information, solicitor information and meeting results, the strong data in our Meeting Info Service – (Research/Ops focus) data feed helps you create richer commentary, which creates better outcomes for your clients.

TFC Data Services can help you sort through the noise – the chaff – to get to the intelligence – the wheat – your clients require. And to do things you simply couldn’t do easily before.

Whether you just need data, data plus documents or some other combination, TFC’s Meeting Info Service can meet your need.

Let me know when you’re ready to review a sample of our Meeting Info Service data feed. E-mail us at info@tfcdata.com, or give me a call at (202) 670-4832.

Learn more at our website: http://www.tfcdata.com

“STRONG DATA; RICHER COMMENTARY; BETTER OUTCOMES”

[Online, searchable access will be delivered later this year]

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Analytické CRM

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Now that we have identified and created an outline for the issues and responsibilities of each of these two important internal groups – marketing and sales – let’s look at some of the tactics that discuss how to launch a new program.

At this point, the marketing initiative is pretty much complete, but there remains the option of tweaking it, based on the input from experienced sales people and early-adopter customers.

Before we get too far into the details and tactics, let’s remember that, as a marketing team, you’ve already done a LOT of hard work to get the program to this point – don’t drop the ball now, on the 5 yard-line going into the end zone.

But before the sales team is held accountable for the new program, they need to be educated on the finer points of the new program.

Get started by getting on the agenda for the next sales meeting.

But before you present the initiative in front of the sale team, a few things need to occur first, starting with loading good leads into the CRM system. This action will be highly appreciated by the sales team, believe me. Prospecting for new customers is almost always reported as the single biggest challenge that salespeople face.

These prospect records would include a short overview of how these leads were identified, what actions they took to interact with the company to date, and subsequently, how each lead was nurtured by the marketing team.

Because there are previously-agreed-upon sales/marketing cycle thresholds based on defined customer actions or results - and all stakeholders understand them well – the salesperson can then assume that the leads are good, and are ready to hear from a salesperson. Information of this sort serves as a very strong ice-breaker for the initial contact by the sales team. With this information, the sales team can remind that customer how they heard of the company, and what they did to date in their research efforts regarding this solution set.

With all that said, let’s get back to the sales meeting now.

With sales management’s approval, short pre-work assignments should be required of the sales team in advance of the presentation. This pre-work should be fun, and it should point out how large the overall market is assumed to be (based on the marketing team’s extensive research), how much of it we believe we’ll get and why, and how quickly the targets in that market tend to move.

One of the original marketing team members needs to give the strategic overview presentation to the attendees at the sales meeting. Keep this short and salient. Encourage feedback, and then use it appropriately if at all possible. It can be easy for marketing people to become defensive here – but that needs to be avoided at all costs. Understand that feedback given here can make the initiative even better. The old saw “two (or more) heads are better than one” plays well in this regard. Also – here’s another favorite quote of mine, credited to Abraham Lincoln: “It’s surprising how much you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Next, have the salesperson that was recruited early – and who actively participated – give the actual customer-focused presentation to the rest of the sales team as if it were being given to a new customer for the first time. During this presentation, the marketing/subject matter expert is on-hand to answer questions about the tactical tools, and can discuss how those tools should be used in a customer situation if and when the salesperson/presenter gets in trouble.

Hopefully this is done in realistic, possibly even in a role-playing fashion, so that the sales team can see how the new solution is supposed to be presented to actual customers. To reiterate; before, during and after the presentation, the sales people should be encouraged to ask questions of, or submit feedback to, the marketing expert(s).

Remember – the sales team is already working at least 50-, 60-, or even 70-hours per week (maybe more). Given that, the new program must be something that they can pick up quickly, and can then implement easily – and have a substantial payoff for our customers (and also my sales team).

When this information is presented by a credible Subject Matter Expert (SME) that can travel with a rep, or is available via webinar, now we’re talking soup!

All of this is a lot of hard work on the part of both teams. But when handled correctly, in the context of the new “selling normal,” this type of effort will reward all 3 constituencies. The sales team wins, the marketing team wins, and most importantly, the customer’s team wins, because they purchased a business-valuable solution from your company.

For more information on how TFC Data Services, LLC can help your proxy solicitation, or legal organization by providing “the right data at the right time,” please send me an e-mail, or call me at your first convenience.

Thanks for reading. Please contact me with your feedback, thoughts, or questions. I look forward to continuing the discussion with you.
Don Oehlert
VP, Sales & Marketing
TFC Data Services, LLC.
http://www.tfcdata.com
Don.Oehlert@TFCData.com
(312) 869-4832

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Customer Requirements Table

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Given the marketing/sales team “disconnect” challenges I outlined yesterday, the marketing team must ensure that they create a complete, easily-digestible package that a busy salesperson can pick up very quickly. The reason for this is, as a marketing team you want the sales team to have good results with your programs. A good result creates a win-win-win situation (a win for the customer, a win for sales, and a win for marketing). With wins, comes trust. With trust comes excellent relationships.

As most of us know, people buy something for one of only two reasons – they want something (to make their lives better), or they need something (to solve a problem they may – or may not – know have today).

It is up to us as vendors/manufacturers/solutions providers to find out how they do what they do, to make sure our offering is even appropriate for our target customer set. Nothing is more frustrating for customers (and salespeople too, for that matter) than talking to a salesperson about a product or service for which they have absolutely no need.

While salespeople already have relationships with some customers, when they are looking to attract new customers, there needs to be a number of excellent reasons to interrupt their day with a cold call, to share with them a new offering.

Marketing and marketing research groups are probably the best positioned groups to help define this set of messages, due to the perception in many customer’s minds that a marketing person is not out to “waste my time selling me something I don’t need.”

Given that perception, it is incumbent on the marketing team to create a complete “initiative package,” which must include these items:

1)    a complete description of the product or service offering itself (of course)
2)    what business problem(s) it solves, to concisely describe why it was designed or created in the first place
3)    the estimated size of the market overall, split up:

  1. for all vendors serving that market
  2. what we expect our piece of that pie to be

                                  or, better yet 

  1. what the Blue Ocean strategy is (see the excellent book by W. Chan Kim)

4)    accurate competitive information, proving our Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
5)    a profile of the ideal company and person (by title and responsibility) that would be most-interested in this particular offering
6)    any marketing tools/graphics/URLs that offer supporting information
7)    suggested “conversation maps” salespeople can use to identify and explore customer needs/wants

In my opinion, the conversation map is the most important part of an effective marketing kit. A conversation map, simply put, is a set of questions, with their likely answers, and then follow-up questions that help a prospect understand how this new product or service helps them achieve a goal they want to achieve. To be completely effective, the conversation map must include backup material and context information. The best conversation maps include material on the crucial second- and third-level questions and answers as well.

A package of this type will help the salesperson immensely, in both their prospecting and qualifying efforts.

The new package should definitely include strong, clear infographics and presentation slides, brochures (PDFs), demos or samples, and other appropriate selling materials. These infographics and stories will help “prove” and make tangible the results customers can expect if they implement this new product or service.

These conversation maps and infographics must clearly describe – and scale – the actual business problem being addressed, and how that problem is solved by the proposed solution. In other words, the case study needs to show how this product saves the customer x money or y time – serving a “need.” A well-framed kit also shows how this product can improve the life of the customer. How does it make the customer more money, or enable them to sell a new product of their own as a result of buying the new product or service – serving a “want.”

Including strong customer quotes – best provided by video interview, if at all possible – from reference accounts is a very strong add to any new marketing program kit. When the marketing person recruits a salesperson to join the initiative early, “friendly” customers can be identified and introduced to the marketing team member as a possible “beta tester.” This will be rich territory for references and customer quotes.

This serves a couple of purposes, and serves them very well. Firstly it engages a couple of members of the sales team with the initiative early, so that marketing can gain real-world feedback from a person with fresh eyes. And secondly, many customers like the feeling of partnership an activity of this sort creates. In other words – handled correctly; it strengthens the relationship between the customer and vendor organizations. Thirdly, it creates an initiative champion/leader on the sales team, which will bring along the others, as a side benefit.

Ideally, marketing should include ideas, thoughts, and possibly even exact text covering the new product or service, and how to best tweet, blog about, or include in a salesperson’s e-newsletter. Appropriate landing page(s) and even package deals with unique part numbers need to be created as well, to measure the effectiveness of the marketing program overall.

It is then incumbent upon the sales force to put their full attention and effort into that package, giving it the respect it deserves – and has earned. The sales people need to ultimately pick up that very valuable ball, and move it forward!

Come back here tomorrow, where we’ll get tactical.

Don Oehlert
VP, Sales & Marketing
TFC Data Services, LLC.
http://www.tfcdata.com
Don.Oehlert@TFCData.com
(312) 869-4832

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SAN ANSELMO, CA - JANUARY 27:  In this photo i...

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Normally, this blog space is reserved for ideas, services, and products specific to the interests of proxy solicitors, Investor Relations (IR) teams, and other proxy service providers (corporate governance attorneys, etc.). The reason for the seemingly off-topic post is, well, many times there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between marketing teams and the sales teams, regardless of industry. Given that, I thought there may be some overall value in this discussion.

This particular post is my (heavily edited) response to a very well-thought-out blog post written by an excellent B2B marketing consultant named Chris Koch. His original, very thought-provoking post discussed turning the selling effort into a function that talks about ideas, rather than only holding discussions about products. Read his original post here: http://goo.gl/OnIsf. It’s definitely worth your time.

Let’s get started then.

Jeff Gitomer, one of *the* best sales trainers out there today has a quote that I live by “no one likes to be sold, but everyone loves to buy!” Simple, but very true, when you think about it.

There is also a new “normal selling environment” today, and we have to learn the new truth that customers are much better informed than ever before. They can find product and competitive information from the internet in seconds, without “subjecting themselves” to meetings with what some people perceive to be “pushy” salespeople.

And since the economic downturn of the last couple of years, many people now perform the work of 2 or even 3 people. Given that fact, customers and prospects are simply busier than ever before. And so given these realities, the role of salespeople and marketing managers needs to evolve, too – and at the fundamental level. Strong, internal relationships – especially between the marketing and sales teams – are more important than they have ever been. Taken one step further, external business relationships have changed – or they certainly will change – as a result of this “new normal” as well.

I will present this information in a three-part blog post over the next couple of days, and I’ll call it “How and why to align marketing and sales, Part 1 of 3 – The issue, defined,” “How and why to align marketing and sales, Part 2 of 3 – Why marketing should do this,” and “How and why to align marketing and sales, Part 3 of 3 – It all comes together.”

Please join the discussion at your leisure. My contact information is at the end of each segment, or you can submit your comment at the bottom of this page. Thanks again, Chris, for kick-starting the thought process for this post!

How and why to align marketing and sales, Part 1 of 3 – The issue, defined

Chris: Appreciate your post of May 25, titled “3 ways to link marketing to revenue without metrics.” Having been in the trenches with (or on) the sales team for close to 30 years, I can state unequivocally that sales people DO indeed want to have value-laden conversations with not only their current customers, but also with new prospects. The challenges (for both marketing and salespeople) that arise come from the salesperson’s probable lack of knowledge on the second- and third-level questions on any new marketing initiative. No one wants to feel like they don’t “get it,” and so sometimes, the sales team may avoid the conversation altogether, which is of course unfortunate at the least, and very expensive, at most.

The disconnect (mismatch?) arises from the amount of time that each group spends with any specific idea-based marketing concept (I love your thoughts on this concept here, BTW).

In a nutshell, the marketing team has done a lot of work on this new product or service. They’ve spent literally hours upon hours doing the research – reading all the posts, talking with a few friendly customers, attending appropriate seminars, reading the magazines and books, whatever – and they’ve had a chance to thoroughly digest the information. Even more importantly – they now have the context in which that information lives and thrives. And therein lays the rub.

The other side of the coin is, the sales team is already very busy, running at 140 miles an hour selling the company’s current products and service offerings. Ultimately, of course, salespeople are working very hard trying to make sure they hit quota this year so they can keep their jobs, or at the very least, to continue to identify and win deals.

Furthermore, the salesperson’s role has changed dramatically recently – they now have to spend time learning and implementing Sales 2.0 concepts (blogging, tweeting, “Facebooking,” LinkedIn activities, etc.), as well as to continue performing the normal sales-based activities and tasks of prospecting for and researching new customers, and handling increasing demands from existing customers.

None of this is to say that sales people are busier than marketing people – I’m not proclaiming a value judgment here at all. I just want to make the point that since everyone is so busy these days – everyone – knowing the rules of the game makes it a lot easier to play that game, and hopefully, to win it.

So simply put, busy salespeople may not think they have the time to learn “yet another marketing program” that they perceive was simply thrown over the transom. Admittedly, this is short-term thinking, but it is an all-too-common outcome, as I’m sure you know. And based on the number of deals that may be missed due to lack of pursuit, the associated costs are very high, too.

Tune in again tomorrow for the second part, where we’ll more closely overview this disconnect, and review some suggestions for how to close that gap.

Don Oehlert
VP, Sales & Marketing
TFC Data Services, LLC.
http://www.tfcdata.com
Don.Oehlert@TFCData.com
(312) 869-4832

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Take a moment to think about blacksmiths and buggy-whip manufacturers. Character-based computer interfaces and multi-touch user interfaces on tablet computers and smartphones.

Simply put – things change.

In fact, the only constant in life is change. You can rail against it, or you can embrace it and enjoy the benefits of a new way of doing things.

And the pace of change is only increasing.

Some of the changes you see today include: Institutional ownership levels. Voting authority. Changes to the law, like DFA. Shares being lent out. Fund managers retire. A fund manager’s position on SOP or SWOP changes. ISS or Glass Lewis speaks out. Who increased their position? Who decreased it? The cost of your current 13F subscription goes up.

Whatever.

 TFC Data Services, LLC offers an attractive, cost-effective alternative to managing your access to otherwise raw 13F data.

There’s one big consideration though – there’s always a catch, right? Your internal database is already set up to receive certain data points in a certain order. And this part is expensive to change…

With a subscription to our Institutional Ownership Data (13F) Profile – (Research/Ops focus), you’ll get a regularly-scheduled delivery of comprehensive 13F data that works with your current systems. You have the database already set up, and your people know how to use it during the heat of battle. There’s no reason to change that part out.

Working together with your research, ops, and IT teams, our consulting team will pre-define delivery methods and data points (vote authority, subsidiary info, ownership changes, etc.) so you will receive the data you need in a format that minimizes or eliminates system changes – and you’ll receive that data on a schedule that you define.

Our promise is this – we will make it easy for you to ingest and utilize this critical data inside your existing work flow.

Timely receipt of this data gives you the ability to intelligently service your existing clients more effectively. And receiving this data at a lower cost allows you to service your clients in a more cost effective manner – for both of you.

Final note – we’ve been told by a few of our clients that our data is more accurate than that being provided today, using currently-available tools, and our subscription is less expensive. Cutting edge technology at lower investment levels for you.

“Nice…”

You need business partners that are flexible, and can change as your needs evolve. That’s what we do – the heavy lifting on the data and analytics. This lets you add your organization’s unique expertise, to deliver a great performance for your clients.

“…very nice!”

Let me know when you’re ready to review a sample of our Institutional Ownership Data (13F) Profile. E-mail us at info@tfcdata.com, or give me a call at (202) 670-4832.

See more at our website: http://www.tfcdata.com

Actionable corporate governance data, delivered on your schedule.

[Online, searchable access will be delivered later this year]

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Mutual fund

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Issuer clients are asking their proxy solicitation firms for more today…

…more information…

…more guidance…

…more help.

And they are asking you to help them out with no increase in pricing.

You just found out that one of your best clients has a “touchy” subject up for a vote at this year’s annual meeting. You want to prepare for the meeting by conducting a detailed review of meeting results of their closest competitors or perhaps for companies in their revenue band in the Russell 2,000.

So you start digging. And digging. And digging.

Or, you can order a Meeting Summary Report from TFC Data Services (Business Development/Sales/Research/Ops focus).

With this report (ordered by company name) you can immediately see detailed meeting results from last year, including institutional ownership information, and mutual fund voting records. Whether an item passed. Who voted with management. Which mutual fund investors voted against management, and on which items.

You will be able to spot trends that you’ve never had time to graph before.

You will see which fund has what level of voting authority – Sole, Shared, or None – and what percentage that represents compared to the whole ownership picture.

Our data set and analytics highlight those fund investors who voted against management AND still have ownership in the company, allowing you to help your client craft a specific engagement campaign to reach out to those investors.

Smart outreach outside of the annual meeting cycle is critical in today’s governance environment. Our tools help you focus on your client rather than spending an inordinate amount of time collecting and mining data. We provide actionable information and analytics – when you need it!

We do the heavy lifting on the data and analytics, letting you add your organization’s expertise and deliver a great performance for your clients.

Let me know if you’d like to review a sample Meeting Summary Report.  E-mail us at info@tfcdata.com, or give us a call at (202) 670-4832.

See more at our website: http://www.tfcdata.com

[Online, searchable access will be delivered later this year]

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Me Reading the Financial Times

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How many meetings are you helping to plan this year? Multiply the effort described below with that number of clients…

Researching corporate governance data is a hard, time-consuming, and seemingly never-ending process. Especially during the season. You dig through the SEC’s site. N-PX data. 13-F data. 8-Ks and 10-Ks.

There’s really no standard formatting template for this data – and very few standards in terms of what goes where in these documents. Some companies submit simple text files without any font enhancement. Some use account numbers that mean nothing to anyone but themselves. Others are moving towards XBRL. And yet others use reports that are generated by one of the big proxy advisory houses.

You dig and you dig, and you will eventually find what you’re looking for. Then you bounce that off of the contents from your Google Alert returns.  CNN’s site. The Financial Times and Wall Street Journal. Speak with your colleagues in the office. Make a few calls.

The deadline looms. Their meeting is coming up in 3 weeks. Hope nothing changes in the meantime… How many more clients get this treatment?

Is this the best possible use of your time?

Does this effort allow you to give all of your clients the most-creative advice?

Can you overlay diverse datasets on top of some of this?

You can do all of this, if you arm yourself with the Issue Summary Report (Research/Ops focus) from TFC Data Services, LLC.

Your issuer clients are asking for more insight and information than ever before in the meeting planning process. They are asking you to deliver much more for the same fees as last year – or even asking you to charge them less.

When you order an Issue Summary Report, you select a type of agenda item and an issuer and we provide concise focus points with detailed supporting information.  Current institutional ownership, past voting activity and general governance concerns highlight exactly the investors who are likely to have concerns and should receive proactive outreach before finalizing the agenda details.

We do the heavy lifting on the data and analytics, letting you add your organization’s expertise and deliver a great performance for your clients.

Let me know when you’d like to review a sample Issue Summary Report. E-mail us at info@tfcdata.com, or give us a call at (202) 670-4832..

See more at our website: http://www.tfcdata.com

[Online, searchable access will be delivered later this year]

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