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Meet the Internet of Customers

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The combination of the Internet, social media, mobile CRM, analytics and collaboration allows sales people to identify new opportunities, engage earlier and share relevant content in order to make a sale, says QUINTON PIENAAR.

There is a huge shift occurring in the world of buying and selling. Customers and prospects have been practicing ‘connected buying’ for years, but too many salespeople, at too many companies, are failing to use the same strategies and resources that buyers have become experts in. But how can getting connected change the way you sell and what does ‘connected selling’ even look like?

Today everything is connected. There are 4,5 billion social connections alone on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. By 2017 there will be 5 billion smart phones and 50 billion connected products. This is what we call the Internet of customers, which was made possible by the cloud.

What this means for sales is that customers have changed.  They don’t want to be cold called, they do research before they contact vendors and they are having conversations that don’t include sales people.  The brute-force approach to selling – battering away at the customer’s defences until they crumble – may have worked in the past, but it doesn’t work anymore.

In South Africa there are too many companies that are stuck in the past or aptly ‘disconnected’: These people struggle to fill their pipelines and don’t have effective lead management, the lead quality is poor and it lacks insight from social media. According to Salesforce.com, 79% of marketing leads are not pursued and sales people waste a significant amount of time and effort on fruitless searches. An estimated 68% of sales reps spend time on everything but selling. Most often, 30% of their time is searching for the data they need and never find.

At the end of the day, these sales people do not know to whom they are selling or who the key decision makers are. Often prospects know more about the sales person than they know about their products. This leads to 60% of deals forecasted incorrectly and the use of the wrong systems. On premises solutions are often slow and costly and more often than not, there is more than one customer database, which can only lead to trouble.

For these disconnected, it is time to get connected. Connected selling is informed selling. The combination of the Internet, social media, mobile CRM, analytics and collaboration leads to invaluable insight. It helps sales people to identify new opportunities, engage earlier, share relevant content, use everything they know to collaborate and close the deal.

It is an evolutionary leap.  It is called connected selling.

* Quinton Pienaar, CEO of Agilitude, a Salesforce.com reseller. 

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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