1. Сallback form 

Callback request forms are nothing new. Phone is a perfect medium to have your questions quickly answered. But many prospects are cautious about leaving their phone number because they are afraid of hard sell. A new generation of callback solutions is smart – they analyze visitor behavior and engagement (generally measured by visiting multiple pages and spending over two minutes) before displaying a callback popup screen. Typically, the screen says something like ‘You are welcome to keep reading information available on our website. But if you are busy, our consultant can call you back within the next 3-5 minutes and answer your questions about our CRM’. This is a win-win situation. You get a phone number and a chance to convert a prospect into a client, while the person on the other side of the screen gets a chance to talk to a real human being and get his questions answered quickly. 

2. Intelligent Call Routing 

New generation of online CRM and cloud contact center solutions come with ACD and ICR. ACD stands for automatic call distribution. It’s a system that distributes incoming phone calls between your agents. ICR stands for intelligent call routing and it distributes incoming phone calls, well, intelligently. When an existing client calls your phone number, ICR system automatically routes the phone call to the manager who has been assigned to this account. If you have a new caller on the line and the phone call gets dropped for any reasons, when this caller dials your number again, their call will not be put in the phone queue but rather routed to the agent who this person talked to before. Finally, if a new person calls your company and his call is transferred to a certain employee, when the caller contacts you again, the system will route the call to the same employee. ICR systems are designed to save time and avoid unnecessary transfers. Pretty smart, aren’t they? 

3. Caller ID 

All modern CRM systems come with CTI (computer telephony integration). Caller ID is an essential part of any CTI system. It checks the caller phone number against your CRM records. When a match is discovered, an agent sees the name of the person who’s calling and the history of recent interactions. This gives him or her a chance to greet the caller by name and anticipate the reason for calling (‘Hi Betty, I bet you are calling to find out if we sent you the contract yet’). It’s a small thing, but it does make an impression on your clients.

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We were lucky to launch Bitrix24 before Slack. Actually, the self hosted version was released WAAAY back in 2008, and was called Bitrix Intranet CMS. Since we are more popular than Slack in some geographic locations, like Eastern Europe or India, and with some demographics (non-tech businesses, solo entrepreneurs), I’d like to share ideas about what we see as Slack’s shortcomings that we and other software vendors can capitalize on. And yes, since we knew most of that that before Slack even existed, this is pure link baiting and traffic whoring.

1. Solo use

We do a lot of work with others, that’s why we need collaboration tools. But we do even more work on our own. Think about that for a moment. The reason why Slack or Yammer grew so quickly is because one person who learned about those would instantly involve 5–10–50 other people. Which is good for viral growth, but leaves out people who work alone or have only 2–3 people working with them. If you look at tools that are useful both for collaboration and as solo tools, say Trello, they’ve already exceeded 10 million users. At Bitrix24, 12% of active accounts are used by solo users (most popular tools are free CRMfree taskstelephony and shared calendars for appointment scheduling). Slack is useless for a single user. Your solution shouldn’t be.

2. Size matters.

If you don’t know who Stowe Boyd is, you should read everything the man has ever written on the subject of collaboration. It’s pure brilliance. Nobody else comes even close. He even invented the term hash tag, for Christ’s sake. And his Twitter pic looks like he’s Robert Anton Wilson. Stowe ‘predicted’ the fall of Yammer and the rise of Slack. Well, sort of. His observation was simple. Most collaborative work happens in the groups that are small. Up to 10 or 12 people. Remember Jive? Or Yammer just four years ago when it got bought out for $1.2 Billion? Stowe saw that social network format is inconvenient for 10 people working together, but chat is perfect. Think about that. Slack channel with 10 users is awesome. But a forum with 10 people in it is dead. Same a for social network, even though those two media can perfectly be used for exchanging ideas, just like chat. Now picture Slack channel with 1000 users. Utter chaos. But a forum with 1000 users is a vibrant community now.

This means that Slack comes in with a built-in handicap. Yes, you can buy Slack for a company with 5000 employees. But it won’t help it one bit. It’s important to understand that collaboration tools come with very real limitations that dictate its usefulness range. Fewer users than needed, more users than intended and you are dead in the water. I have no idea how Slack is going to solve this dilemma since it’s clear that they are gunning for the enterprise market, just as it is that it’s useless for large companies that it vies for. Maybe that’s why that ‘Enterprise’ plan on Slack’s pricing page is ‘coming soon’ for over a year now. For the record, we killed our Enterprise plan in 2013. Been there, done that. Finally, we sold Bitrix24 to a bank with 320,000 employees and a holding company with 600 subsidiaries/500,000 employees after realizing that large enterprises don’t want enterprise plan, they want enterprise value.

3. Many sizes fit many

This is a continuation of the previous point, but in a way it’s a different one as well. Different companies collaborate in a different way. Or, to be more precise, using different tools. Most web studios use project management solutions. That’s how they think about creating new websites — as projects. A web studio may use Slack as well, but they aren’t giving up their Basecamps and Asanas. Developers may very well use Slack, but they are also very fond of their Githubs and Jiras. Universities use neither, usually, but they love social intranets, wikis and knowledge bases. You can even build collaboration around CRM or Dropbox. You may look at Slack and think for it that proves the mantra ‘do one thing, but do it best’. I beg to differ. If Slack adds decent task management, it’s death to Asana and Basecamp. Well, maybe not death, but it’s gonna hurt. But a far likely scenario that in a year, all task managers will come with IM that are almost as good as Slack for all practical purposes. And people who pay for Slack and Asana or Slack and Trello will drop Slack. They simply won’t need it any longer. Slack in three years may end up in the same place Yammer is now.

I have written about this subject extensively before. I am going to steal from Stowe again and invent a new term ‘Saasicide’ (just Googled it, I’m the fist) to describe the massive die off of countless task managers, CRM systems and Slack copycats, who did not yet realize that for any service to be useful it has to come with a MINIMUM of client management, task management, document management and instant messenger in a single package. It won’t take long — two years max.

4. Price matters

I am going to refer you to How Bitrix24 Thinks About Freemium on order to avoid repeating myself. Slack’s innovating freemium plan has helped the growth tremendously. Find a way to beat it, and this probably means giving away the ‘Slack’ part of your product absolutely free without any limits because you are making money elsewhere, and you have a fighting chance. Remember, collaboration wants to be free.

5. Assisted collaboration

Everybody talks about driverless cars, but think how far we’ve already come. Hydraulic power steering, cruise control, auto-parking, folding mirrors, tire pressure monitoring, traffic sign recognition, rear reversing cameras, sensors of all kinds — when you buy a car in 2016, it’ll probably come with all of these. Our new Nissan did. And you probably know how helpful all of these are.

Today’s collaboration platforms remind me driving without power steering. Slack is far, far ahead of competition here, but again, it’s all limited to chat bots which only work with IM. Far more opportunities for assisted intelligence exist when you break out from the IM ghetto.

I could add a couple more points, like ability to have self hosted version that you can install on your server, which HipChat has recently done, and we’ve had for ages, but I think these five are the most important ones. Did I miss anything big?

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If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably want to read:

Why Open Source CRM Died

How Bitrix24 Thinks About Freemium

What US Developers Should Know About The Rest Of The World

10 PR Strategies For The Cashed-Strapped Startups

Why We No Longer Pitch TechCrunch

The Future Of Slack Is (Not) What You Think

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Christine K. Clifford, CSP is the author of nine books including Let’s Close a Deal! Turn Contacts Into Paying Customers for Your Company, Product, Service or Cause and  YOU, Inc. The Art of Selling Yourself. She is CEO/President of Christine Clifford Enterprises and The Cancer Club, helping companies and individuals craft their story and designs “knock your socks off” Media Kits for companies, individuals and entertainers. 



Let’s start with a basic question – what are the biggest negotiation mistakes that novices make? 

The biggest mistake made by most sales people—both new and old—is thinking of a sale in terms of “What’s in it for you, and what’s in it for me?” I call this the typical “Win-Win” situation. Rather, a sale always has a third party beneficiary: your company, your family, a charitable organizations, etc. So instead, look at the sale as, “What’s in it for three?” I call this the Win-Win-Win. If you keep in mind all parties involved, you have a much greater chance of success. 

What is the quickest way to improve your negotiation skills within a short time period, say, six weeks? 

Ask everyone you know (your boss; colleagues; friends; family) what you are doing right, but more importantly, what are you doing wrong? This information can be gathered fairly quickly and you can start acting on it immediately. 

Face to face meetings and personal interactions are becoming increasingly rare. How do you negotiate in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp? 

Getting your face—and body—in front of a potential client is still the best way to close a deal. But if you can’t accomplish that, send a short video, Skype, or Facetime so you can actually interact with the other party. 

Many newer companies, especially startups, take pride in the fact that they don’t have a sales department single sales person, even in the niches that are still dominated by direct sales, like enterprise software. What’s your view on this trend – is salesmanship a skill that’s going to be always in demand or are technological advances, especially Big Data, leaving less and less room for ‘old school’ sales tactics? 

We are all salespeople… in every aspect of our lives. So the question is not, “Is there a need for a sales person?” But rather, “How can I be more effective?” Every person in every organization is a “face of the company.” And because of that, they are selling the company/product/service/ or cause. But this becomes even more reason to be as effective as you can be given the small amount of time or exposure you may have to a potential client. 

Could you please give a few specific tips for negotiating over the Internet – email, LinkedIn, Skype, etc. 

I sold a $2500 sponsorship to PORSCHE by simply sending a cold/call query email. Why did it work? Because it captured their attention, explained briefly what the benefit would be to them to participate, provided a history of the success of the organization I was soliciting for, and asked them for their business. Tips for negotiating over the internet are these: be brief, brilliant, bold and brave. 

If you were to pick one person to be world’s best negotiator of all times, who would that be and why? 

Taylor Swift has become one of the world’s best negotiators because she has clout; she asks for what she wants/needs in a way that is not offensive; and she is liked—no loved—by all. Positioning yourself in a place where you cannot fail is what Taylor has accomplished in a culture-changing way. 

What books, blogs, podcasts and other resources would you recommend to our users who want to learn more about negotiating successfully? 

I would recommend my two books: Let’s Close a Deal: Turn Contacts into Paying Customers for Your Company Product, Service or Causeand YOU, Inc. The Art of Selling Yourself. 

Thank you for the interview. 

Bitrix24 is a free social collaboration platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 


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    Matthew Paulson - entrepreneur, investor and author of Email Marketing Demystified


    What is the biggest email marketing mistake or mistakes that you see companies make every day? 

    MP: The biggest mistake that companies make regularly is that they email people they have no permission to send mail to. Many companies, especially small businesses, will enter the email address of everyone they know or have gotten a business card from into their mailing list without asking permission from them. Inevitably, recipients of their email will click the “report spam” button and all of their messages will start going into the spam folder or not delivered at all. 

    The other big mistake that people make is that they fail to segment their list. I can’t count how many companies I’ve purchased a product from and then gotten an email from them promoting the product that I’ve already purchased. Every email marketer should break down their list based on their subscribers’ past behavior (such as purchasing products, signing up for a lead magnet, etc.) and then only email the people who are relevant to any given email. 

    There have been a lot of changes this past decade – CAN-SPAM act, mass migration of personal communications from email to social networks, meteoric rise of mobile messaging apps and so on. Which email marketing strategies still work despite these changes, and which ones are now obsolete? 

    MP: Mass email blasts to everyone on your mailing list are a lot less effective than they used to be because of the sheer volume of email that people receive. If a message that an email user receives has no relevance to them, it’s going to be ignored or deleted without being read. What continues to work well is sending relevant content to people based on their past actions. In the email marketing world, this is known as marketing automation. More and more companies will need to move toward sending much more targeted email toward subscribers that show interest in a specific product or services and away from sending generic blasts to their mailing lists. 

    How do you see email marketing change during the next 10 years? 

    MP: It’s going to become harder and harder for email marketers to get their content into their subscribers’ main inboxes. Gmail’s inbox tabs is the first wave of innovation in email that cordons off commercial messages into a separate folder that people will rarely (if ever) look at. There are dozens of apps that are trying to “fix email” by making it only so the most relevant content shows up in a user’s inbox. Email marketers are going to have to make sure their list stays very engaged with their mailing list to make it past the filter of this new generation of “smart email” apps. 

    Given how popular WhatsApp, Viber, SnapChat, Telegram and others have become, how is this going to impact marketing, since it’s MUCH harder to reach clients via IM than email? 

    MP: I think that SMS alternative apps like SnapChat are great communication tools for individuals to chat with each other and can be good ways for brands to advertise, but I don’t think that they will replace email. Email remains the preferred communication channel for most people to do business, receive order receipts, get coupons, etc. A 2015MarketingSherpa survey showed that 72% of consumers say that email is their favorite way to communicate with the companies that they do business with. 

    Self-restraint is probably one of the most important traits for email marketers. Do you have any tips how to resist the urge to send emails to clients or prospects too frequently? 

    MP: The key with email sending volume is to determine what the right volume is for your clients and set that expectation from day one. Depending on your industry, it might be appropriate to email your subscribers daily or only email them once per month. A lot of it depends on how much your subscribers want to hear from you. If your industry is in a niche with a lot of hyperactive fans, you might want to email them three or four times per week. If you’re in a slow moving B2B industry, you might not want to send out more than one or two emails per month. 

    Would you mind sharing a few tips and tricks from your book Email Marketing Demystified about growing your subscriber list, writing subject lines that get emails read, and cold emailing effectively? 

    MP: Growing your list – Try to get past the mindset that your website is the only way to build your email list. You can do cost-effective list building campaigns through co-registration advertising network, Facebook Lead Ads and Twitter Lead Cards to build your mailing list. You can often pay as little as $1.00 or $2.00 for a new email sign-up on your list. You can also leverage your other channels, such as social media and in your physical location (if you are a retailer), to build your mailing list. The key is to attack list growth from every angle. Yes, you should put highly-visible opt-in forms on your website, but you should also work other angles as well. 

    Good subject lines – If you want to get your email opened, the best way is to make the message appear personal in nature. The “from name” of the email should be your full name and not the name of your business. The subject line should be something simple like “Quick question for you”, “I had an idea the other day…” or “Hey, check out this thing I made.” 

    Cold Email – I wrote a blog post about this in detail. 

    What resources should email marketers use/read to stay on top of their game? 

    MP: I like to read the blogs of major email service providers: 

    Thank you for the interview. 

    Bitrix24 comes with email management in its CRM. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB.

    See also:


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    A branding enthusiast, serial entrepreneur, and resilient businesswoman, Karen Post helps businesses stand out & step up their brand. 


    Before we start, could you first explain how the advent of intranet, social networks, mobile revolution changed branding and how digital branding is different/similar to traditional methods used pre-2000s?

    KP: There is a lot of common ground in both traditional and digital branding. 

    Same path forward 
    Attraction, belief/values, attachment and advocacy. 

    They both are reputations, images and perceptions of business entities, products and or services. The brand is that mental impression and emotional connection with the seller and prospect or the buyer. Both are created by a sum of actions, communications and experiences. While the consumer makes the final decision about a brand, the brand owner has a lot of control to drive the opinions around its brand. 

    Big difference 
    Digital is 24/7, real-time, responsive and can be personalized. The experience is limited to visual and audio senses. Relies on data and must be fast. 

    Traditional means has a heart beat, a human smile and can leverage all 5 senses. Humans still need humans. 

    Many digital branding books rely heavily on punk aesthetics. Be yourself, break the rules, polarize, etc. Is ‘provocation’ really the only way to get noticed today? What advice do you give readers of Brain Tattoos? 

    KP: The degree of provocation should align with the brand’s essence. If your brands is edgy, extreme measures makes sense. If your brand is conservative stay true to who you are. 

    One of the trends most visible today is that corporates brands increasingly depend on personal brands of business leaders. Apple – Jobs, Tesla-Musk, etc. Could you elaborate on this dichotomy and synergies/pitfalls that come with it? 

    KP: There are pros and cons to mixing personal/leadership branding with corporate branding. 

    People like to do business with people they relate to and admire. If your leader is likable, that’s a plus. 

    People are human, they can do stupid things and get hit by a car. Both can hurt a brand’s image. 

    What branding mistakes (digital or otherwise) do you see companies and individuals make most often. 


    • Lack of focus, by trying to be everything to everybody, they end up being nothing
    • Complexity, simple brands are smarter.
    • Being tactical instead of strategic. This means not working from a brand essence (purpose, points of difference, promise and personality)

    If we go outside the usual suspects (Apple, PayPal, Tesla, Google), can you name a couple of smaller companies that do outstanding job with digital marketing and are good role models? 


    What resources, blogs, books, podcasts do you recommend to our readers who want to build a successful digital brand? 

    Mine: Karenpost.com/blog 


    Thank you for the interview. 

    Bitrix24 offers free collaboration software. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB.

    See also:


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