80/20 sales rule is one of the most rewarding principles of life, business, and time management. The Pareto Principle rule suggests that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your activities. The valuable principle is a challenge to goal setting, highlighting the need to reconsider priorities for success.
The 80/ 20 sales rule means that most of your sales, come from twenty percent of your customers, products, sales strategies, and salespeople. This leaves a massive room for improvement in lead generation, customer management, and sales team communication.
You can improve business profitability by leveraging the 80/20 rule to improve problem solving. By leveraging technology such as artificial intelligence-powered tools like Aira, your sales team can, for instance, hold highly productive meetings, increasing problem solving and idea generation.
Through robust customer management platforms, they can zero in on the most viable sales leads. This process minimizes time wasted on customers least likely to make a purchase and cuts down on expenses. Below are the ways that you can surpass the 80/20 sales rule for more profit in sales.
1. Improve problem solving and idea generation
The sales meeting is the nerve center of all sales operations. Unfortunately, like most meetings, they have become a necessary evil. These forums should be a source of motivation and inspiration for the sales team. They have instead become part of the eighty percent of efforts that bring in little or no reward at all.
Did you know that 71% of meetings are meaningless and are only held because “this is the way we do things”? Over 65% of senior managers say that meetings keep them from realizing their goals. 64% of them say that a meeting often stands in the way of deep thinking.
That said, 62% of senior managers realize that meetings hold massive potential for the sales team. To improve sales, hold a productive meeting that leads to collaboration and sales ideas generation. To achieve this goal, follow the tips below.
Ensure that your meeting is a necessity. Avoid redundancy by making sure that you only hold meetings for challenges that require upwards of ten minutes to solve. If you can answer a question, resolve a problem, or access information in a few minutes, hold a one-to-one chat instead with your salesperson. If your meeting is not helpful to the sale steam, then you are wasting precious time on the meaningless effort.
Plan and prepare an agenda for your sales meeting. Your sales meeting should focus on sales activities, data, and feedback. As part of your agenda, start the meeting by celebrating your successes. Are there new customers or accounts? Is there progress on your targets or improvement on your bottom line? Celebrate the wins and then get to uncovering obstacles or insights on prospects.
Study your data and that of your competition and optimize your sales strategies. Focus on quality leads and nurture them to turn them to loyal paying customers for higher customer lifetime value. Use virtual assistants such as Aira to take meeting notes and transcriptions. After the meeting, Aira will share all action items with the sales team to preserve accuracy, encourage collaboration and accountability.
2. Trim your costs
If the vast majority of your sales strategies and salespeople produce a fraction of your top performers’ efforts, then your business is not self-sustaining. Eventually, you will run out of good money to throw at bad. Your top performers produce eighty percent of your results because they have honed vital sales skills.
They know how to ask reflective questions that uncover pain points from customers. Second, winning salespeople are naturally good at it. Data shows that 55% of salespeople could excel in doing something else besides sales. More revealing research shows that another 25% of sales professionals can become top performers while selling a different product or service.
This means that at least half of your sales team comprises unfulfilled individuals who only got the offer because they excelled in an interview. Interviews provide useful subjective data, but you need objective information to get the right hires.
Have specialized sales assessments that pinpoint sales talent. If you have team members least suited to sales, shuffle them to areas in your business, where their talents can shine. If you do not have open alternative roles, encourage them to re-enter the job market with the newfound interests and talent knowledge so they can succeed in their careers.
These tests can also pinpoint areas that talented salespeople need to work on for success. Sieve your bloated sales team and cut down on the redundant eighty percent to minimize HR, sales, and space costs.
In 1895, the principle’s founder, Vilfredo Pareto, noted that society has a two-way division. On one side are the successful “vital few” and at the bottom of the pyramid are the “trivial many”. In time, Pareto noted that the wealth of his country was in the hands of the elite 20% of the population. Leverage the 80/20 sales rule to reap more from your workforce, budgets, and products using the tips above.
The ongoing global pandemic is a remote workers boom. Sharing workspaces with children home from school requires a tough balancing act. But, despite this shortcoming, 59% of workers say that would like to extend their work-from-home schedule.
86% of workers say that they are more productive working remotely since they experience fewer interruptions than they do when working centrally. That said, there is an immense need to extend remote work comfort levels via technology. Over 50.6% of remote workers have had their productivity challenged by factors such as virtual meeting snafus.
39.6% of these employees cite virtual meeting communication problems as a major pickle. Artificial intelligence meeting assistants like Aira, for instance, can make the unproductive zoom meeting dilemma a thing of the past. Below are some of the tips that will help you work more efficiently.
1. Hold regular productive meetings
One major drawback of working from home is the severed physical connection between workers. Over 70% of remote workers say that fostering healthy relationships with their peers is as important as their jobs are. The average employee spends over a third of their life at work. That means that relationships between co-workers are a vital component of well-being.
High levels of job satisfaction go hand in hand with relationships and engagement at work. Virtual meetings can help increase engagement and foster relationships amongst work from home workers. You should have regular check-ins and one-on-ones between supervisors and employees to iron out any differences and challenges.
These meetings can tackle problems head-on, encourage creativity, and boost the camaraderie on your team. A one-on-one chat between a manager and his employee is an excellent opportunity to check on the worker’s mental health in the absence of the physical wellness meeting.
Virtual meeting assistant tools such as Aira can simplify the meeting note-taking process by logging into your virtual meeting and taking notes. Aira will free every meeting participant, allowing them to focus on the matters at hand.
She will take meeting notes, transcribe the whole meeting session, and highlight the action items. After the meeting, this handy tool will upload all the notes and transcripts in a central location to encourage follow up, problem-solving, and collaboration.
2. Streamline collaboration channels
While contact is essential between remote workers, disorganized contact can be a distraction. In the office, workers spend a lot of time mulling over non-work issues, lowering productivity. Remote work lessens this form of distraction but opens a can of worms in collaboration.
Your employees could easily miss their tasks and remain out of sync with the business’s objectives because of a lack of feedback and collaboration channels. To keep your co-workers focused on the big issue, have an efficient project management platform in place. It will increase productivity on projects, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the team’s workload.
A robust project management tool will help assign and organize your worker’s projects and tasks. If there is a need to reshuffle the responsibilities, you can do it with the click of a mouse. Have the best platform at hand for seamless time tracking, invoicing, billing, and task list creation.
3. Take a break
A remote worker does not have to deal with exhausting commutes, to and from work. In the absence of the daily commute, the employee lifestyle becomes more flexible, allowing them to lead a healthier life. Unfortunately, the work from home arrangement can wreck the work-life balance of an employee.
While the remote worker is more productive working away from the office, they are also more stressed out. 29% of remote workers say their work-life balance is out of order, while 54% of them feel more stressed. In contrast, 23% of office workers struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance while 40% of them feel overly stressed.
To lessen the anxiety that accompanies the remote working experience, employees need to learn how to unwind by taking breaks. Data shows that workers that take brief breaks between tasks are less stressed out. Longer breaks will enhance output.
A remote worker should get up from their workstation and take a walk or grab a snack when they free most distracted or strained. Alternatively, they can meditate, or call a friend to ease the tension. Encourage your workers to try out the Pomodoro Technique to enhance productivity through its simple six-step method shown below:
Select a task
Focus on the task for 25 minutes
Have a sheet of paper at hand and put a checkmark on it, after your 25 minutes are up
Go on a five-minute break to wind up a Pomodoro sprint
Repeat this process three more times
Take a long break after four sprints for the rest of your working hours
Employers are embracing the work from home setting and expect three times more work from home arrangements than they had before the COVID-19 pandemic. While news channels love to hype the narrative of struggling parents working from home, the reality supported by data is quite different. Working from home has its perks. The tips above can streamline remote work, increasing its productivity.
AI refers to a computer system that is trained to perform tasks with human-like abilities, especially cognitive abilities. The training process includes repetitive exposure to the same elements until the computer can recognize and recall those elements in future. As the computer learns, it also acquires the ability to self-correct and reason. That’s a simple example of the benefits of artificial intelligence.
The AI market is still growing. Predictions show that by 2026, demand for AI will reach over $300 billion. According to a voice and speech recognition trends report from Grand view Research, a big driver of this growth is voice and speech recognition, which is expected to grow by 17.2% annually until 2025.
The growth of voice and speech recognition software is already evident in products such as Alexa (Amazon devices), Siri (Apple devices), Cortana (Microsoft) and Google Assistant (Android). There has also been a remarkable attempt by new brands to curve their space alongside these big players. A good example is Aira, an AI assistant that has transformed the online meeting space with its intuitive note taking and minute taking ability.
What are the benefits of Artificial Intelligence?
The true benefits of Artificial Intelligence are realized when it can make human work easier or more efficient. For example, some AI can find insights in large bodies of data within mere minutes. Such a task would take a human being many hours, or even days to accomplish. In addition, in a factory, AI can automate repetitive tasks that usually take hours to complete.
Note that in a business, AI is not created to replace humans, but to support them in their daily functions. As a result, your company will notice these improvements:
Reduced cost of business
Speedy and more efficient workflows
Higher sales conversions
Faster hiring processes
Highly accurate and improved recommender system
Better revenue and profits
Let’s expound on these and more benefits of artificial intelligence implementation below:
10 benefits of Artificial Intelligence you didn’t know about
1. Automating workflows
30% of activities in 60% of occupations can be automated. This is according to a 2017 study conducted by Mckinsey. Since AI can automate tasks, integrating a personal assistant into your business will help you streamline some of your activities.
Main business functions such as sales, marketing, customer service, HR, production, supply chain management
2. Time management both at office and personal level
Top executives in a company usually have a personal assistant to handle administrative tasks for them. For other employees, the burden of having to worry about scheduling meetings, arranging travel, following up on client correspondence, etc., can get in the way of daily productivity.
AI can help businesses optimize their time by automating such tasks. With tools such as Cortana, Siri, Aira, among others, you can automate tasks such as:
Meeting scheduling can take up a lot of an employee’s time. Done manually, scheduling a meeting takes a lot of coordination and planning. The back and forth emailing involved to make one meeting happen can overwhelm employees’ inboxes and also waste a lot of time.
This is yet another area that Aira excels in, as it takes the hustle out of meeting management by syncing calendars and automatically scheduling meetings based on team members’ availability.
4. Enterprise assistant
You have probably heard of Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant. What you may not know is that besides the core functionalities that are inbuilt into Cortana, Microsoft has a skills kit that can enable you to program Cortana to perform company-specific tasks.
The Cortana skills kit was released during a conference in 2018. Prior to its release, the team at Microsoft trained Cortana to create tickets for employees whose computers were experiencing system difficulties, and then file those tickets to a human assistant to assist. Although that is just one skill, it is a clear indication of the possibilities for trainable AI. You can train Cortana to assist you in your work, no matter the industry you work in. Cortana can for instance:
Send texts and emails
Find places and information
Send you reminders
Manage your lists and calendar
Open and run aps
Track orders and packages
You can also use Alexa to perform most of these tasks.
5. Arrange travel
If you or your team constantly need to travel, an AI app that automates flight and hotel bookings is sure to be a time saver.
In addition to Cortana which we have mentioned above, Mezi is a great example of how AI can help you with travel arrangements. Such AI utilizes chatbots to automate mundane travel arrangement tasks, leaving you to handle only the most important transactions.
6. Improving sales
A study conducted by Gartner in 2018 found that by 2020, 30% of b2b companies will make use of AI to boost some of their sales processes. In addition, 25% of customer service processes will integrate chatbots or virtual assistants.
The benefits of Artificial Intelligence adoption in business functions are evident. Some of them include:
AI can boost lead conversion rate by 30% (Gartner)
AI use in sales results in 50% increase in leads, reduces costs by up to 60% and call times by up to 70% (Harvard Business Review )
63% of a salesperson time is spent on non-selling activities. AI can positively improve sales by automating this time. (resourcefulSelling.com)
There are quite a number of AI assistants in the sales space such as Conversica, Exceed, Drift, Node, Sales Force’s Einstein, among others.
However, the tasks involved in recruiting candidates can be quite involving. For instance, every application received has to be read and screened. As such, mistakes are bound to happen, resulting in wrong hires.
AI assistants such as Mya reduce recruitment friction by cross-referencing resumes against job descriptions to find the most suitable candidates. You can also use the AI app to schedule interviews, create interview questions and shortlist candidates.
8. Improve customer response time with chatbots
Customers value fast response time when dealing with a business. A sure way to guarantee this is by using chatbots. Chatbots
Keep business going after official working hours
They respond to simple queries that don’t need live staff
They manage expectations by acknowledging that a query has been noted and will receive attention
As with most technologies, chatbot adoption was a little slow at first; people just weren’t comfortable talking to a machine. More so, first generation chatbots were simple platforms.
Today’s chatbots however are more sophisticated, conversational AI that help to
Streamline enterprise activities,
Hence boost employee productivity, and
Improve customer engagement
Not only can you integrate chatbots into your website, but you can also use twitter’s and Facebook’s AI assistants to improve customer handling on those platforms. Your developers can actually create AI chatbots on Facebook’s platform design kit and twitter’s API platform, and personalize them to suit your brand.
9. Create opportunities for personalization
Marketers experience a 20% increase in sales performance when they offer a personalized experience. In the same vein, 40% of customers are likely to buy from a brand that sends them personalized content. (Source: Instapage)
To personalize, you need to understand your customers’ needs and then target them with offers that will resonate with their position in the buyer’s journey. This needs time, money and expertise, which may be challenging for a business operating on a small budget. AI can simplify this process by analyzing data from different touchpoints and
Segment your customers,
Predict customer intent, hence,
Target customers with the right content and offers.
Forecasts are a normal part of an organization’s planning process. Companies use forecasting tools to make decisions regarding
New product development
Purchase of raw requirements
Economics such as profitability, inflation and interest
Forecasts are critical to the long term health of a business. The process therefore has to incorporate all key information sets. More so, forecasting must be conducted in a timely and efficient manner. That is where AI systems such as neural nets and Bayes networks come in.
With Neural nets for instance, you can look for relationships in data using human-like cognitive processes such as pattern recognition. Tasks such as forecasting employee turnover based on data parameters such as pay, education level, attendance, job level, use neural nets.
As you can see, the use cases for artificial intelligence in business are many, and the benefits of artificial intelligence are endless. As AI continues to develop, it will inevitably converge with other areas of life. As a business, you want to be at the forefront of this curve so that you harness the limitless technological possibilities that are sure to come with an AI-led business world.
Do you know that over 78% of meeting participants find their meeting schedules unmanageable? Upper management is setting meetings times that leave workers feeling out of control. Disorganized meetings are so unpopular in the workplace, that most employees would rather visit the dentist than attend them.
The best meeting assistant apps can change the business meeting processes. They can enhance collaboration, engagement, and productivity. Some of the best meeting apps in 2021 include;
Minute taking can be a significant challenge for any meeting leader or participant. For this reason, every business should have a tool like Aira at hand to handle all minute writing. This app can also record video and transcribe.
As an illustration, you could attend a meeting expecting a conversation to follow a linear pattern. Then the participants diverge from the topics at hand. Such a situation will leave the minute taker confused about what to write. They cannot humanly transcribe every word and sift through the minutes later for gems.
Minute taking is also very distracting. If the person taking minutes has a deep involvement in the agenda, it will limit their contribution. Intelligent meeting assistant tools like Aira can ease these challenges. Aira is an artificial intelligence-powered tool that records meeting proceedings.
It will transcript all conversations and produce a voice recording at your meeting’s end. The perfect meeting assistant, it uses AI technology to track the agenda and topics.
It will then make succinct notes from your meeting. Aira will also analyze the meeting’s action items and email them to all attendees. Aira increases productivity, encourages collaboration, and keeps every meeting member up to date and accountable.
Scheduling meetings can be a tremendous source of frustration. There is nothing as worse than “Sorry, can’t make it”, heard ten times over. There is always a person too busy to attend a meeting in a particular moment.
Consequently, the meeting leader has to keep going back to the drawing board to suggest new meeting times. Then, they have to undergo the whole peeving process once more. Platforms like Calendly can make meeting scheduling much easier.
This app shows other meeting members your availability and offers them meeting times that suit all parties. If you have one too many meeting requests and need to manage your replies, go for Calendly. It will connect to your calendar app, and is compatible with Microsoft Office, iCal, and Google Calendar.
Design a meeting via Calendly and send scheduling links to all people that need to attend. The app will synchronize all confirmations to your calendar and that of your invitees. To help you connect to customers and clients, Calendly integrates with Zoom, HubSpot, GoToMeeting, Salesforce, and Zapier.
Slack is a business messaging app that makes internal communication between colleagues effortless. Meeting members can send real-time messages to each for collaboration in an intuitive user interface.
A team-messaging app, Slack has many useful features that include its groups and channels features. You can also video call your meeting members via Slack for quick chats. Slack integrates with a horde of beneficial business platforms.
One of its newest integrations includes the Zoom app. You can use Slack to manage your Zoom meetings or make calls through the popular meeting platform. As an illustration, the meeting leader can launch a Zoom meeting from the Slack interface.
On Slack, all meeting participants will view all meeting details, including the call’s participants. Zoom-Slack integration will enhance problem solving and decision-making. Slack has smart calendar integrations with the Google and Outlook calendars.
Time management and scheduling are very important skills in today’s high-stress environments. People have tons of deadlines and tasks to complete. They have to handle their core jobs and prioritize time for meetings.
They also have health, family, and other social issues to deal with. HubSpot’s meeting scheduling application is free and makes quick work of the time-consuming coordination process. Using the HubSpot CRM, you can set up a personalized meeting-booking link. Share it via email.
The link will act as an invitation and scheduler, highlighting the most suitable meeting time. Meeting members will then notify you of their availability via this link. The HubSpot CRM integrates with a wide range of useful business tools.
Of critical importance to its meeting, scheduling functions are its Office 365 and Google Calendar integrations. Consequently, you can use this 100% free tool to build contact records that you can track.
Arrangr is a top-notch meeting assistant tool with “intelligent” scheduling features. It has an Intelligent Spot Finder that analyzes ratings, reviews, distances, and pictures. It uses this data to suggest the perfect meeting spot.
Arrangr will also share half waypoint ideas with all meeting members to ensure convenience. This app has a flexible invite feature that sends a variety of meeting times and dates to members for choice. It also allows all members to notify each other of their online conference call or video platforms.
When the best meeting times are set, Arrangr will release the leftover slots. Some of its turnkey features include the creation of automatic meeting pins and numbers and video call links. This meeting assistant tool integrates with iCloud, Google, and Office calendar applications.
Meetings are at the heart of creativity and problem-solving. Productive meetings can positively affect your bottom line and enhance your company’s culture. Use the five meeting assistant apps above to schedule and manage your meetings today.
Bill Gates and Richard Branson are avid note takers. These self-made billionaires are often surprised that most business leaders do not take notes. Richard Branson has, for instance, noted that 99% of business executives hardly jolt down critical business insights.
The English business investor and magnate credit his ten-figure fortune to random moments scribbled on notebooks.
Bill Gates is a computer genius but he at times turns to trusty paper and pen for his notes. Truth be told; note taking is an important business process, but it is difficult.
You can however make your note writing process much more manageable. First, have fantastic meeting notes transcription software by your side.
Artificial intelligence-powered meeting assistants like Aira will record all of your business conversations for future reference. Second, avoid these note taking mistakes below.
1. Using the wrong minute taking method
In school, you had to write your notes down, because as the lecturer said, that the content could feature in your exams. At work, you will not face such threats. Most bosses do not ask their employees to jot down notes.
For this reason, the transition from the school environment to the workplace makes the art of note taking dormant. Most office workers never get to learn the difference between office and history class note taking.
As an illustration, students jot down notes verbatim for retention and revision purposes. At work, come up with a manageable style of taking business notes. You can use lists, mind maps, or short phrases with breadcrumbs in them.
Note specific important factors like resources, tools, figures, or names. Use transcription tools like Aira to record long discussions and use your hands to jolt down what matters the most.
While poor note taking is not a reason to face the sack, skipping notes can adversely affect your career. Constantly emailing colleagues and bosses for clarification on issues discussed in a meeting could hurt your work relationships and productivity.
Fortunately, you do not have to take notes in every work function. The most critical occasions are during one on one, client, or mentors meetings and during, big business conversations.
3. Not understanding why you are part of the conversation
Whenever you are in a business conversation or meeting that calls for note taking, you need to be clear of its objectives.
You also need to understand what your contribution is to the meeting and what value you are deriving from the meetup. Such clarity will lean your note taking towards development and learning topics.
4. Writing without listening
Taking business notes is a show of respect for the person taking. Writing notes shows them that what they are saying is crucial. Unfortunately, the balancing act between listening and writing can impede note taking.
You cannot write good notes if you do not understand the total concept and context of an issue. Listen, reflect, filter your thoughts, and jolt down key items.
5. Failing to specify your topics
Billionaire Richard Branson says that not all ideas count, but they are all noteworthy. Nevertheless, in a bid to capture inspiration, you could forget to cluster your notes. Such write-ups can be very difficult to comprehend later. Ensure that your note-taking process has a splendid structure.
6. Worrying about style and grammar
When writing personal notes, avoid fixating on style, grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Such worries will only distract you from the conversation. Keep writing and develop a personal note taking system as you practice.
7. Not writing concise points
As mentioned, lists, mind maps, and short phrases make the best business notes. Here you can jolt down single words or sentences. Use numbered lists and bullets for flow and organization. If necessary, connect ideas using lines to lessen the need for explanatory sentences.
8. Not underlining the most important points
If you are taking tons of notes, you need a highlighting system that zeroes in the most critical points. Underline, circle, highlight, or use indentation to add emphasis and structure to your notes.
9. Panicking when you miss a point
Remember, note taking shows the speaker you are attentive to their words. It also shows that you care about your job. If you miss a part of the discussion, stay calm. Ask the presenter to reiterate the point. Besides, you can ask your colleagues after the event and add on to your notes.
10. Failing to organize your notes for later use
Most note takers have organization challenges. They might take fantastic notes but will store them so poorly that they cannot use them later when they need them. One important benefit of note taking is its ability to cement the ideas heard. Revisit your notes for this benefit to seep in. Invest in a good notebook. If you are writing on random sheets, keep them all in one location for easy future review.
Note taking creates not only better work relationships and increase productivity, but it shows respect in meetings. Notes will make you smarter, giving you new ideas, connections, and innovations.
Taking notes is a subtle yet potent pathway to success in the workplace. Eliminate the note taking mistakes above and enjoy the benefits of workplace note taking.
Dictating can sometimes be easier than typing, especially if you’ve been working at your desk endlessly. The longer you type, the more your speed dwindles, your accuracy goes down, you become fidgety and eventually lose focus. Thankfully, Dragon naturally speaking allows you to switch to your new tempo of work by dictating to your device. This ensures you can keep working instead of abandoning your project because of fatigue.
The different editions that the software comes in make it an ideal tool for working on topics from practically any industry. For instance, the dragon home is ideal for dictating general content. There’s also dragon legal, dragon law enforcement, among others.
At $150, dragon naturally speaking maybe a little on the costly side, but it really is value for money, considering it’s very accurate.
Note-taking is an essential part of most professionals’ and students’ lives. That’s why Evernote makes this list. Whatever the nature of your project, you can use Evernote to
Jot down ideas
Curate content during the research phase of your work
Evernote records written audio or image content. You can also sketch with the app or upload PDFs. The app not only searches your saved content by word, but also by image. This means that any search will return the corresponding text and image content that you have saved. With the paid subscriptions, you can also search PDFs.
Although Evernote is mostly for boosting personal productivity, you can also use it to collaborate on projects that involve note sharing and editing.
There are simply too many things going on in our daily work and personal lives, that you cannot keep track of all of them. But, fear not, because IFTTT (If this, then that), can automatically update you whenever things that you’re interested in, happen, either online, or locally on your devices.
For instance, if you need to keep track of brand activities on Facebook, you can tell IFTTT “if someone mentions my brand online, then email me their comments. “
Although you may consider some tasks as mundane, they still contribute to your overall success. IFTTT is really good at handling mundane tasks. For instance, sending meeting reminders is a time consuming, mundane task. But attending meetings is important. So, let IFTTT handle your reminders while you do other productive work.
Email organization is a key part of productivity. It’s quite likely that most of the emails you receive aren’t all-important. Even if they are, they aren’t all high priority. That’s where the Sane Box comes in. Sane box organizes your mailbox by automatically moving unimportant emails from your inbox into new folders.
Sane box decides on email importance levels in the following ways:
All emails from contacts that aren’t in your address book are treated as cold calls
It learns. You have to give sane box feedback so that in future, it knows how to treat the emails you receive
If you usually get lots of emails daily, this is one app to try out.
Focus (or lack of it), is a key issue for most people. A lot of people out there (perhaps including you) cannot work on a project for extended periods of time. For some, this focus period can be as short as a few minutes. That is why the Pomodoro technique was invented. So that for 25 minutes, you can focus on nothing, but work, and you only get to rest for a few minutes once your 25 minutes are up.
Strict workflow enforces the Pomodoro technique. Say you need to work on your project for 4 hours, what you do is divide that time into 25-minute sessions. This increases productivity because it’s a reward-based system. That is, work then claim your reward.
Some people are tidy. They know their files and folders by name date and number (okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration there), but you get the point. Some people can find everything on their laptop quite easily.
But, if you struggle with the personal organization on your computer, you might need a tool like X1 Search. It’s a tool that finds files in your document folders, archives, mailboxes, calendars, SharePoint.
Although in the end, we’d recommend a tool that helps you tidy up your desktop, in the meantime, use X1 search to easily navigate through your messy storage system.
It’s not always possible to be at your desk working on your desktop. But you’ll always have your phone on you. That’s why G Suite is every android phone owner’s dream come true. Whether you’re on your commute, on a business trip or just relaxing on the couch, you can use G Suite to continue working on your projects.
Some important features in G Suite include:
Video and audio conferencing
Collaborative tools including Google sheets and Google docs
Autosave and auto-sync
G Suite pricing starts at $6/person monthly. But if you are on the move a lot, it is well worth your while because your teams don’t need to be grounded when not in the office.
A lot of professionals often have to put on elaborate presentations for their customers, but they don’t like the process of putting together a slide deck.
For one, standard presentations take too long to complete
In addition, a standard slide deck just doesn’t capture ideas so well because the formats just don’t seem to fit
If you have the same problem, you should give Prezi a go.
With Prezi, you can work on your projects on a digital whiteboard. Then, you film the content on the board and record a film of that content. You can also choose from a wide variety of templates to suit your presentation requirements.
iWork is to Mac OS users what Gsuite is to Android users. The app allows anyone with an iPad or iPhone to keep working on the go. iWork does that with the following features:
A document editor
A spreadsheet tool
For creating presentations
Price: iWork is free and can work as an app on your iPhone. If you have an iCloud account, you can also use the web app for free.
These tools are just a small percentage of all the productivity tools available online. We encourage you to try them out to address any personal and work productivity issues you may have. Most of them have a trial period, so, make use of that to get better acquainted with the apps before paying.
Amongst the many benefits of the new ‘working from home’ normal is a positive impact on the sustainability of a myriad of initiatives. Economic growth has, in the past, exacted a heavy toll on climate change, sustainable urban living, and responsible consumption.
This drastic reduction of employee and employer carbon footprint has led to a remarkable improvement in intra-city congestion and pollution. Remote work is a sustainable economic growth feature and is the future of the labor landscape. Despite all its benefits, working from home has unique challenges as well. Some of these challenges include:
1. Coordination and communication challenges
According to David Heinemeier and Jason Friend, the founders of Basecamp, communication is foundational to the success of a remote working team.
The authors of REMOTE: Office Not Required, say that bad blood can easily develop between work from home teams when the bulk of their communication takes place through email. This set up will quickly snowball small blunders into full-blown melodramas if they are not quickly nipped in the bud.
Fortunately, a whole industry sprung up around team collaboration tools that make it easier for employees to communicate effectively. Aira, for instance, is a meeting assistant that automatically records and transcribes meeting dialogue.
This robust voice AI platform will save all your meeting notes in one location. She will also help all remote working teams keep track of all online meetings deliberations. Aira doubles team productivity, info sharing efficiency, and multiplies sales increase. Team collaboration tools ensure that no member of the team feels left out of the loop.
Professor Robert Kelly’s BBC interview that earned him the title of ‘BBC Dad” is a perfect example of how distracting the work from home environment is.
In the 2017 live interview with the British news channel, the professor’s two children made a comical entrance to his home office as he talked about the ouster of Park Geun-Hye of South Korea. Parents working from home watched in amusement as Kelly kept composure during the brief scene, keeping the show running.
Most parents can relate to the live TV blooper because they all struggle to maintain a work and home life balance when they have work near their children. One of the major reasons some employees embrace working from an office is to build a firm barrier between their home and work life. To work successfully from home with fewer distractions, you need a designated work spot, devoid of all disturbances.
Have some noise-canceling headphones to eliminate auditory distractions. Set up firm rules with your family and politely ask them to behave as if you were away at work when you are at work from home.
3. Time management
Employers have the innate fear the remote work employees will slack off in the absence of oversight. Most times, the opposite is the reality.
Most work from home employees will overwork because they find it harder to switch off. Surrounded by all the tools needed to put in extra work, they will have a harder time drawing the line. This challenge becomes even more complex when you are working for yourself.
Every remote worker needs to establish a work schedule that keeps them from overworking or slacking off. This rota will keep you productive and give you ample time to be with family and friends. Use tools such as an AI meeting assistant, Trello, Asana, and Evernote to schedule, manage time and tasks, and organize your work hours.
4. Lack of social interaction
Co-workers are often an employee’s main social circle if they do not have a close family. If you are working from home, isolation can be a challenge if you spend days by yourself. To lessen the feeling of being a hermit, have social breaks in your work schedule.
Go out for lunch with friends or grab yourself a snack from a friendly food shack attendant down the street. Take your computer with you to a co-working space occasionally, or work from a coffee shop and enjoy the social environment. Join local organizations and groups for meet-ups and recreation.
5. Technology hiccups
Challenges such as internet outages can make remote work a problem. You do not want your connection or computer to crash right in the middle of an important zoom meeting. To avoid such inconveniences and for your peace of mind, have a backup plan. You can, for instance, a mobile hotspot device for an alternative internet connection and a backup tablet or laptop at hand.
Ditching the daily commute, working from anywhere in the world, and a flexible work schedule are some advantages of working from home. The challenges above, however, can make remote work unproductive if you do not use them to create structure, routine, and discipline.
Virtual meetings are becoming more acceptable. Ever since countries started locking down their borders due to the threat of covid19, companies have had to embrace the idea of conducting their operations digitally. Virtual meetings are now the order of the day, and we have many innovative tools rising to meet this demand. Whether you want to hold a team meeting, pitch a customer, conduct a demo, host a training session, or even run an industry conference, an AI-led tool like Aira is a worthwhile asset to have.
Why virtual meetings?
It is undeniable that face to face meetings introduce the human touch to doing business. Virtual meetings have been evolving towards providing the same experience, and this is evidenced by:
Tools for holding meetings are becoming more advanced; more intuitive
As such, technology is taking over the bulk of the work involved in meeting management. For instance, Aira will attend meetings for you, take meeting notes and email them. In addition, because of Aira’s integrative ability with your CRM, your meeting discussions, files, minutes and action points, become part of your entire team’s workflow.
Benefits of holding virtual meetings include:
Virtual meetings are inexpensive because they eliminate the cost of travel
You save time and energy whenever you hold your meetings virtually because you don’t need to go anywhere. Time spent on the road or up in the air, is then allocated to activities that have more strategic importance.
There is also the added comfort of a virtual meeting; you can hold one from anywhere. In other words, when you go virtual, you give your team the freedom to work from anywhere.
How can you run a great virtual meeting?
Running a successful virtual meeting requires some preparation before, during and after the meeting.
1. Ensure video works
When choosing your conferencing tools, ensure you get one that offers an excellent video experience. Video increases engagement and interaction because participants can observe each other’s responses to discussions. Video also tells you when people start to lose attention. You can then respond appropriately, by for instance calling for a break.
2. Send the meeting agenda in advance
This gives your team time to process what the meeting will mean to them. Participants will also:
Come up with ideas
Note: Before you send a meeting agenda, you need to choose a date that guarantees maximum attendance. As much as a tool like Aira can attend a meeting and send minutes of meeting when a participant is absent, having everyone “present” creates more engagement.
3. Set the meeting tone
Do you want people to respect your meetings and take them seriously? Then set the tone. An agenda is one way to do it, but also drumming up support for key areas of discussion helps people anticipate real value coming out of the meeting.
4. Minimize the number of meetings you hold
A great thing about sending out agenda items is that they help you gauge whether you even need a meeting in the first place. When your team and clients see the meeting agenda, they will comment and based on those comments, you can take the requisite actions.
There is no need to hold meetings if the team doesn’t agree that the issues being discussed do not hold any business value.
5. Do your homework
A day after sending out the agenda, reach out to individual members to get their opinions. Build on that opinion or use it to bolster your own point of view. When you obtain information in advance,
You “sit” with that information and find the interconnectedness in opinions
You get to define where an idea starts and stops, or where offshoots of new ideas begin to crop up
You get a deeper understanding of team pain points, explore their impact, then craft solutions for them or start a whole new discussion around them
You can create a powerful presentation that will keep everyone gripped during your meeting.
Note: when you reach out to people individually, it shows that you value their opinion. This can only benefit your team.
During the meeting
The meeting has now started. You should have a good turnout if you prepared. So how do you now ensure that your meeting runs successfully?
6. Let the team get comfortable with each other
If you are meeting with few participants, let them introduce themselves.
An introduction session is a great way to set the tone
Introductions also get people to talk about their pain points
7. Encourage collaboration
You have already established the pain points or challenges from individual group members. Form your discussions around these challenges. Give team members an opportunity to brainstorm and generate ideas around those challenges.
Everyone in the team takes ownership of the problem and becomes excited to take part in solving it
It’s easier to gauge level of expertise and figure out how to apportion action points or group people into project teams
8. Establish meeting rules
Turn your phones off, and do not “check out” until the meeting is over.
Do not interrupt when someone is talking
Mind your language and have respect for all meeting attendants
Allow everyone’s input. Every participant should “raise their hand” and contribute their point of view
9. Keep everyone engaged
A great way to keep people engaged during virtual meetings is to call on them and give them tasks to be conducted after the meeting, or occasionally direct questions at them. At certain times during the meetings, stop and randomly ask a member for their input.
After the meeting
10. Send meeting notes
A great meeting tool takes meeting notes for you and thankfully, Aira does just that. After the meeting, Aira will automatically mail the action points or participants can simply log into the tool to access minutes and more.
It’s okay to allow people to disagree. This happens often in physical office settings, and you should also accommodate it in a virtual space. Before you end your meeting, allow people to have an informal discussion session where they express what they would do differently.
Calls for a workplace meeting are often met with a level of murmuring and groaning rather than a “Heck yeah! Let’s do this!” While meetings often bring the best ideas to light, According to a study done by Verizon Conferencing, most heavy meeting goers have at one time or the other attended dysfunctional meetings.
Consequently, 90% of them admit to missing bits of the meeting or daydreaming when in a meeting due to flawed meeting behavior. At least 70% of them admit to bringing other tasks to these gatherings while 40% of them simply go off to the land of nod. Most meetings start very unsoundly, setting a wrong tone for the remainder of the event. Here’s the most right way to start a meeting:
Informing participants of the meeting’s purpose and outcome
Circulate your meeting’s agenda to all participants beforehand via Aira. Aira is an AI meeting assistant that makes meeting notes and shares them with all meeting members. She is an artificial intelligence technology powered tool that can share your meeting’s agenda and past minutes before and after the meeting.
At the beginning of a meeting, your participants have two major concerns in their minds. They will want to understand right off the bat why they are in attendance and why they should care about the meeting’s agenda. Most guides will tell you that the best way to start your meeting is by reviewing your agenda, then heading straight to the agenda’s topics.
This process has its benefits but it will not highlight the benefits of the meeting. It will also not bring to light the reasons why they should count the meeting as of any importance to them. To capture the member’s attention from the word go, and also set your conference up for success, give them the answers to these two questions first.
With Aira by your side, you should, therefore, start your meeting by informing the associates of the purpose and the outcome that they should expect. You can, for instance, start with words such as “At the end of this meeting, you will all walk away with…” You can alternatively kick off the meeting with a “the intention of this meeting is…” Such words will get everyone on the same page and ensure that your meeting is a success.
Empower the meeting participants
When it comes down to it, most employees do not know how to behave in a meeting. Some want to look less weird and normal while others are intimidated by the thought of conversing with the person sitting across the table.
There are also lots of silly rules out there that may hinder the participant’s ability to collaborate with others and to display their value. Meetings provide fantastic opportunities for workers to show leadership and problem-solving skills. You should, therefore, start the meeting by shattering the ceiling of unnecessary interpersonal dynamics and secret corporate etiquette.
Get rid of all veiled social rules and the pressure to perform that makes the members edgy and panicky. Empower the delegates and allow them to understand the power that they have in a meeting room. Give them the authority over their contributions by ensuring that they do understand the level of engagement expected from them.
Empowered partners will be open to discussions and participation. Start your meeting by voicing an empowering statement like” you are our select team, chosen to vet our marketing process because you have a deep understanding of our strengths and weaknesses”.
A study done by MIT research says that the collective intelligence of a team is determined by the equal participation capacity of its members.
Restate your meeting’s ground rules
Every business has as part of its cultures, directives that dictate how its meetings flow. Encouraging engagement is a great way to start a meeting, but you should state the boundaries as well. It is important however not to overdo the law setting at the commencement of your meeting.
You can incorporate this feature by picking one salient to the discourse at hand. As an illustration, you can ward off passive aggression by reinstating that all challenges should be addressed in the course of the meeting only and not before or after it. This will ensure more productivity and unity in collaboration.
If your powwow misses a strong start, its members will quickly get off track or zone out, so you must know the right way to start a meeting. If, you don’t want to chair a disorganized meeting avoid casting shadows by creating the wrong idea about your meeting. Begin your meeting with a positive note to foster efficiency. You can break the ice with a story, poignant quote, or interesting statistic then rope them further using one of the tactics above. Use meeting tools such as Aira to analyze your meeting data to ensure that optimization fosters high engagement.
Economic uncertainties will always be with us; the thing is, we cannot predict when they will hit us, what shape or form they will come in, or how long they will last. In light of this, the important thing for businesses is to ensure that teams are supported and have the agility to adjust to changing working environments. You need to prepare your team to work remotely, not just now when the world has to grapple with covid19, but in the future as well.
There is a common misconception that remote work is all about conference calls. While video calls and chats are an important part of getting work done remotely, when we talk about finding tools to support remote teams, we have to look beyond conferencing. Supporting remote working is about team empowerment, and to do this, your company needs to create a tech stack that guarantees team efficiency and effectiveness regardless of their location. Your team needs to feel confident that they don’t have to be office-bound to deliver on business objectives.
In this article, we have compiled a list of 10 ai technology tools that will help your team stay organized, increase efficiency and collaborate better while working remotely.
Slack is best known for its “channel” approach to managing communication.
The thinking behind channels is that when running projects, it can be difficult to track communication, attachments, and tasks via email. Slack seeks to solve this problem through channels that bring teams together around a common purpose.
Slack organizes work based on projects, topic, or team. This way, anyone in your organization can find how to best contribute by being a part of a channel that supports their role.
The great thing about slack is that it can also incorporate external teams, fostering collaboration with your partners.
Other features include:
You can communicate with team members directly on the channel and get instant alignment
Save and search messages and files on slack
Save time by getting all people in one place
Achieve business-critical tasks such as: setting budgets, see budget approval, work on projects, etc.
More transparency through public channels, or increased security through private channels
Pin messages or documents that you want to call attention to
Star channels that are important to you
Integrate with other workplace tools like google drive or one drive. You can also connect to CRM tools like JIRA, Salesforce, Zendesk or own software so that you never miss important alerts and notifications
Work on the go with slack on mobile
Enterprise grid: contact the sales team
2. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft teams help teams to not only communicate instantly while working but also reduce email clutter.
Microsoft Teams is a remote work tool that combines powerful communication capabilities of chat, voice and video, with collaboration capabilities such as document storage and office 365 integration. It can also integrate with third-party software through extensions, making it a must-have for enterprises or large teams.
Record meetings for future reference and to keep absent members in the loop
Pause recordings to answer questions
Allow teams to join from anywhere
For educational institutions, create a virtual classroom and bring all assignments and files in one place, to collaborate virtually in real-time
Have one on one meetings or meet as a group
Keep your team connected in the following ways:
Use the chat, to have “water cooler” talks with colleagues.
Brainstorm on Microsoft whiteboard
Have team building through virtual coffees
Have fun, encourage teamwork and reward performance through teams
Microsoft teams free: $0
Microsoft 365 business basic: $5/user/mo
Microsoft 365 business standard: $12.50/user/mo
Office 365 E3: $20/user/mo
Zoom is a chat, audio and video conferencing app that has become almost synonymous with remote working. It allows people to communicate by joining a zoom meeting or zoom room. Zoom room refers to hardware that allows you to convert your conference rooms to a zoom-meeting.
Despite zoom’s popularity, incidents of “zoom bombing” have raised concerns regarding its level of security particularly for teams that need to safeguard their work. However, as team Zoom maintains that it offers AES 256-bit GCM encryption, you should contact them before purchase, to ensure that their security protocols are aligned to your organization’s requirements.
Zoom has the following features:
You can use chat during meetings without interrupting others
Hold meetings with large groups of people without compromising call quality
Record calls and distributes recordings after your meetings
Integrate with your calendar and CRM. Zoom also integrates with slack
Control your meetings with host options
Stream live on Facebook and YouTube and other proprietary software
Get meeting analytics
Business: $19.99 /mo/host
Enterprise: contact sales
4. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is a calendar, task organizer, appointment setting, and meeting scheduling tool all wrapped in one. It simplifies time management by helping individuals and teams to keep busy days organized. To use google calendar, you need a google account (Gmail address).
Google Calendar has the following features:
It allows you to have a remote meeting through google hangouts
If you want to know what you have scheduled on specific days, type, or voice search “what’s my calendar” on google search. The results are private
You can sync your personal and work calendars into google calendar to get a holistic view of your day
Add colleagues’ calendars to your google calendar to enable you to organize meetings with teams. Note: you’ll need to as your colleagues’ permission before you add their calendars.
Share attachments when scheduling events
Set event reminders and notifications
Use drag and drop function to schedule meetings in no time at all
Automatically schedule events straight from your email
Track projects by adding and monitoring tasks and sub-tasks
Send daily agenda via email
Embed your calendar into your website so that your clients can book meetings with you
Google calendar can also integrate with most meeting tools including zoom, Aira, Slack, among others. You can also sync your google calendar into your iPhone calendar by enabling that function in your phone settings.
Meeting management can be quite tricky without an intelligent tool like AIRA. This state of the art AI technology meeting assistant:
Records and transcribes meetings
Highlight keywords in meeting notes to make tracking action items and topics easier. Teams can search for notes and action items based on keywords.
Organizes actions points and automatically emails them
If you have scheduling conflicts, Aira will join meetings for you
AIRA syncs with popular calendars like google calendar
Has intelligent analytics that allows you to improve future meetings and drive organizational performance
Pricing: Contact team Aira for pricing and demo
Internal systems, intranets, and printouts do not work when it comes to managing projects remotely. Remote project management is best accomplished with a tool like Asana, whose features enable teams to stay organized, communicate and get aligned.
The transition to remote work can create silos, but Asana’s design ensures that teams work and collaborate transparently.
Asana has the following capabilities that make remote project management easy and enjoyable:
Get an entire view of project timelines, to keep you on schedule for each task in real-time
Easily identify problems in task scheduling and fix dependency conflicts at project start
Give everyone visibility to get easier buy-in
Adjust aspects of the project as you go and keep everyone appraised of such changes
Import spreadsheets into asana to make project tracking simpler
Manage team workload to ensure everyone remains productive
Manage new project requests through forms, to avoid getting overwhelmed
Enterprise: Contact the team
Trello is also a great project management tool and is a great addition for teams that handle lots of internal projects, such as a software creation company. Agencies that need to work with external clients could also make their work easier with Trello, as they can give visibility of projects to their clients.
One great thing about Trello is its Kanban-based approach to project management, whereby task organization falls under lists, cards and boards.
If you are an agency or run a consultancy, you can create a Trello board, where customers can track progress in areas of interest to them.
Simply create a board and invite a team to collaborate
Add details to Trello cards, such as attachments, comments or due dates
View at a glance, progress on all your tasks
Automate to eliminate tedious tasks
Sync across all devices so your teams work from anywhere
Integrate with the tools that your team already uses
Business-class: $9.99 per user/month
Enterprise: $17.50 per user/month, on a sliding scale.
Remote work can result in diminished support for your customers.
Hubspot is a CRM software that will come in handy when you need to ensure that your customers are being contacted and given the support they need. Through HubSpot, you can create a log of your interactions with customers at different touchpoints, and in this way:
Address any red flags before they become problems
Pursue opportunities that arise during interactions with customers
With HubSpot, you can ensure that customers barely notice a lack of face to face interaction.
But HubSpot isn’t just a tool for customer support. It has powerful marketing capabilities such as lead scoring, email marketing, ad management, etcetera
You can also manage your sales organization from HubSpot by tracking deal pipelines.
In addition to offering a free subscription, HubSpot offers the following paid subscription options:
If your business model is primarily in-person, or if you have a dedicated customer service function, Zendesk will ensure your customer service team continues to offer uninterrupted support through phone, email, chat and social media.
Zendesk is easy to use and tracks customer queries through a ticketing system.
Other features include:
Analytics to track issue response, logging and resolution
A full sales suite to help your teams’ close deals. The sales suite is supported by live chat, voice, SMS, and automated email sequences that make deal closing easier.
You no doubt have a workflow in your company and to achieve your goals, that workflow has to be synergistic. That’s where Unito comes in.
All work processes, including launching a marketing campaign, lead generation, order management, holding meetings, providing customer care, etc., are all one-stop processes. As each of these processes operates within a different function in your organization, you have most likely invested in dedicated tools for each one. This, in itself, could create silos. Silos break down team synergy and transparency.
Unito helps you create complete workflows by interconnecting your various tools. This way, your remote teams can have a smooth flow of information and collaborate transparently with each other.
Business X: $225
Enterprise: Contact the team
Next steps: Explore these ai technology tools
That’s it for now! We urge you to try these tools (some of them have free trial periods that last as long as 2 weeks long), and if you find that they support your way of working, give them a go.
The tools you choose need to support what your company does and how it does it.
Do you, for instance, interact a lot? In that case, you should lean more towards investing in the best communication tools.
Is your company sales oriented? If yes, invest in tools that will empower sales capabilities.