Industry Insights, Trends, and Best Practices (written by our Flexperts)

Torchlite Transforms Partner Relationship Management

Mar 30, 2021 Torchlite

INDIANAPOLIS (March 30, 2021) – Torchlite expands marketplace platform to transform Channel Partner relationship management. Torchlite, the freelance marketplace, today announced the launch of the Torchlite Partner Engagement Platform™, an innovative SaaS solution designed after talking to hundreds of channel leaders, tech companies, and agency partners to address the challenges of launching and scaling channel sales.   Reshaping the future of Partner Relationship Management Torchlite now enables partners and channel leaders to focus on co-selling and servicing customers more effectively instead of worrying about tedious administrative tasks. “Market leaders depend on channel partners of all kinds to grow revenue, tap new markets and service customers,” said Susan Marshall, Founder of Torchlite. “The future of work is changing rapidly, and now B2B SaaS companies and their channel partners can benefit from the rise of marketplaces, new consumption models and a radically improved user experience to work better together on behalf of customers.”   Delight partners with a solution they’ll love Deliver customers and leads with your Partner Directory Make life easy with Automated Payments Streamline communication with Deal Registration and Referral Tracking Drive revenue with seamless co-marketing and co-selling features Enable partners with your content through Partner Resources Empower partners with Playbooks to deliver turnkey services Collaborate smarter to win more business Shine a light on the success of your partner program Use personalized link tracking to measure marketing efforts Surface partner performance through robust CRM Integration Provide pipeline visibility across the entire organization   Delighting Partners, Driving Revenue, and Measuring Success The new platform was built on three core principles to drive the overall success of a channel partner program: Delighting Partners, Driving Revenue, and Measuring Success. Meeting partners where they are instead of requiring them to adopt new processes and technology.     “Torchlite is able to scale with us as our partner program grows,” said Jason Yarborough VP of Partnerships at Terminus. “We started with a select group of agency partners to offer a platform with a great user experience.  Working with Torchlite has felt more like collaborating with a trusted partner than simply hiring a vendor. Torchlite will grow with us as we continue to integrate our program to service ISVs and resellers. We are excited to be a part of shaping the future of partner engagement, building a solution with Torchlite that truly meets our partner’s needs.” Equipped to serve enterprise agency needs with co-marketing and co-selling made easy, Torchlite offers robust sales stack integration and insight analytics to surface measurable partner performance. Referral, agency and technology partners get everything they need and nothing more when Torchlite is driving their partner platform. Learn more about how Torchlite is changing PRM for B2B SaaS Companies. Book a demo today!   About Torchlite Founded in 2015 as a freelance marketplace providing gap-filling martech expertise, Torchlite now enables companies of any size to effectively manage and develop all kinds of partner relationships.

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Partner Power Outshines the Competition

Feb 22, 2021 Elizabeth Basile

The fact is, partners need easy, low friction tools to keep deals flowing as networks expand. The right B2B solution shapes partner engagement, casting a bigger market influence with fewer resources to power revenue. Does your sales stack look something like shared spreadsheets and docs, emails and calls, all logged into a common CRM? In the beginning it seems manageable. When channel managers spend more and more time doing admin work when they should be building relationships, it is time for a better partner solution with seamless cross-platform integration. HOW DID WE GET HERE Partner Relationship Management (PRM) is designed to on-ramp channel sales, aligning sales and marketing teams with powerful resources. A rising star in 2021, PRM tools build on the success of accelerated CRM integration, now widely accepted by SMBs, mid market, and enterprise orgs. Although it may seem like a new concept to the uninitiated, PRM strategies have been in the works for some time. Forrester analysis predicted in November 2020 that "managing these growing ecosystems in a consistent, predictable, and productive way is critical to the success of organizations looking to expand their go-to-market strategies." WHAT'S NEXT Intuitive account mapping, deal automation, and partner discovery illuminate untapped partner revenue opportunities. Good PRM drives collaboration, intelligently distributes leads, optimizes marketing resources, and creates new sales opportunities. The right platform scales as business grows. Critical components go beyond a doorway into a collection of storefronts. Effective partner platforms meet partners where they are instead of requiring them to adopt new processes and technology. Delight partners with a solution they’ll love Drive revenue with seamless co-marketing and co-selling features Shine a light on the success of your partner program HOW IT WORKS Equipped to serve enterprise agency needs with co-marketing and co-selling made easy, Torchlite offers robust sales stack integration and insight analytics to surface measurable partner performance at any scale. With Torchlite, you can start with a handful of referral partners, manage a sophisticated global VAR program and engage thousands of small agencies and independent freelance consultants through a dedicated marketplace. WHAT IS THE COST Torchlite provides the flexpertise needed to develop a partner experience right for every budget. Connect today to schedule a demo. Everything you need and nothing more.   About Torchlite Founded in 2015 as a freelance marketplace providing gap-filling martech expertise, Torchlite now enables companies of any size to effectively manage and develop all kinds of partner relationships. For more information about Torchlite, visit www.torchlite.com.

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Torchlite and Salesforce Essentials Partnered in 2020 To Support Small Businesses

Dec 30, 2020 Elizabeth Basile

Supporting SMBs takes flexibility. One size does not fit all in CRM integration. Salesforce Essentials Advisors anticipate vital need and listen to what their customers want. They make entry into the ecosystem a breeze and they do it every day.   Mendy has been great so far! We've imported accounts, and now contacts. I'll be sending her more opportunities shortly. :)  Amy Ma, Manager Business Development, VetCare Canada   SMALL BUSINESS CHALLENGES Adriene’s customer came to Torchlite because she wanted training on how to use Salesforce Essentials. They'd purchased the org and their Operations Lead knew it would help them. She did her research (along with a couple Trailhead modules) on the platform and she wanted to get it right the first time.   They wanted a complete view of the communication occurring with their partners and sponsors. She just didn't yet know how to use and fully take advantage of the awesome product they'd purchased. The team was using so many different platforms for the business and they really just needed all of their information in one place.   Adriane Foster, Essentials Advisor   TORCHLITE SOLUTIONS Heather McCusker, Operations Manager for Bella Vita Designs and Practice Mastery, based in Ontario, Canada, opted for 1:1 consulting to design efficient customizations with an immediate impact on business operations.   Heather was great. I worked with them on Lead Process, Sales Process, Custom Fields, Custom Layouts, and other organizational changes. I also provided them with video links and written documentation for tasks they can easily complete on their own. Juliane Leary, Essentials Advisor ESSENTIAL ADVISORS Torchlite matches customers to Salesforce certified Essentials Advisors with Playbook options including Best Practices, Sales and Service Setup, Data Integration and Optimization or 1:1 Consultation to customize the perfect Playbook.   Juliane was a wonderful help. Her organization of what she was implementing for us is well documented, that was greatly appreciated. It will be useful in the future. Working with Juliane was a true pleasure. She was very patient and helpful in the process. Heather McCusker, Operations Manager at Bella Vita Designs and Practice Mastery.   Thank you to our Essentials Advisor Juliane. With her help, we have been empowered to make a digital shift by organizing the future growth of our company. We appreciated her informative knowledge, caring assistance and detailed technical support that empowered us to launch both companies on the Salesforce platform. Peter Barry, Practice Mastery   RESULTS RIGHT AWAY They now have a central location for all of their customer data to help them track projects more effectively, increase engagement and the ability to quickly determine which vendors provide them with the best offering in terms of discounts and delivery dates. Juliane Leary, Essentials Advisor   Adina Abramowitz, President of Consulting for Change utilized the Data Integration Playbook to get their org on track with Salesforce.   Everything went great and got done the way we hoped it would. My staff and I are now able to use the Essentials functionality in ways that we previously were not. I am really happy with the service.  Adina Abramowitz, President of Consulting for Change   The Torchlite Essentials Marketplace is where customers and consultants connect to create solutions that work. Clear communication and deliverables are what makes Torchlite a great place to do business.    TAP INTO THE TORCHLITE NETWORK Our hand-selected Essentials Advisors not only know how to get you up and running on your CRM, but will also teach you the best practices to get the most out of your sales, services and marketing efforts.    Hire an Advisor today! More information available at Torchlite.com. 

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Women's Business Daily Interviews Torchlite Founder Susan Marshall

Dec 08, 2020 Torchlite

Emily Sprinkle gets to know Torchlite's founder Susan Marshall. You could say that Susan Marshall’s professional journey has been an exciting ride. She came up in tech just as the world was embracing interconnectivity like never before. People of Susan’s generation have the unique benefit of knowing both the analog and digital experience. A before and after, if you will. Susan was at Apple when Steve Jobs returned and the whole place was buzzing with renewed energy. Marketing was front and center in that world and Susan could see the democratization of the digital revolution taking root. She was product manager for the Pro Tools at Apple, which was coming into its own for consumer use. It still required high-level skills but you could see how this kind of software was going to become readily available to everyday consumers. It just seemed inevitable. That didn’t mean that the technology was simplifying, on the contrary, innovation became hyper-charged as creatives across the spectrum embraced technology into their lives. The users became the driving force of innovation. With that expanded access came predictable frustrations. Torchlite was born out of a need for integration of this powerful technology suddenly in demand in every market and every scale organization. It wasn’t just technology for the few, it was for everyone and it was crucial to staying afloat when the pandemic hit. There is no going back now.   How do you feel your previous jobs prepared you for launching Torchlite? Immensely. I worked with some pretty high-level executives and I got to see how the sausage gets made, up close. I experienced genuine leadership when there was no beaten path to the consumer experience. I saw problem-solving in real-time as the whole world watched. It was exhilarating. And eventually, it led me to create my own solutions to the issues I could see percolating in my industry. I wanted to be a part of something new and I wanted that personal interaction with my customers and talent. I may not speak to each Torchlite marketplace user, but I am watching and listening to their feedback. Because I know it is ultimately they who will dictate the future of my business. Why are you passionate about Torchlite? And what should people know about the company? We are a team of people dedicated to the freelance revolution. We all come to this place by varied paths in the corporate world, nonprofits, and big tech. Torchlite talent is committed to growing their own freelance businesses through ongoing training with the certifications to back it up. I get why my customers come to Torchlite and the talent we provide. It is because we are able to match and guide projects with transparency, identified deliverables, and realistic expectations. Torchlite customers know the value of cloud-based technology but not always the steps to take on the projects they need to get ahead. Torchlite Flexperts, certified, flexible experts, already know the technology and how to bring organizations into the system seamlessly. They have done thousands of projects and can see the pitfalls before they stop a project dead in its tracks. What sets Torchlite apart from other talent marketplaces? We stress communication and transparency. It isn’t an anonymous jobs board driven by algorithms. Torchlite is about making connections, finding the right people for the project. That is the hallmark of a Torchlite project. Our freelancers are frequently rehired by their customers creating trust and continuity with on-demand service when it is needed, and perhaps just as importantly, when it is not.   Has the COVID-19 climate impacted Torchlite? Have you had to pivot at all or do things differently? Fortunately, we were ready to go when COVID-19 hit. Our team was already working remotely so there was very little adjustment in terms of workflow. We had just launched our 3.0 platform in partnership with Salesforce to help SMBs utilize the new Essentials platform. Freshly minted Essentials Advisors, trained to help small – midsize businesses grow, were in the process of onboarding the Torchlite platform to join the marketplace when suddenly everyone was interested in cloud sales and services. We were able to meet customer demand in real-time as the world adjusted to life online. What’s the biggest challenge you’re currently tackling, and how are you working through it? Like many successful startups, we are growing fast. Right now we are working to meet enterprise demand for integration into the online marketplace. Complex industries like finance and health care are in desperate need of systems that will support consumer interface and a remote workforce. We have the talent that can make it happen. We only accept about 4% of the marketplace applicants into our platform and are always on the lookout for our unicorns with high-level certifications and excellent customer service skills. It is the perfect mix for our customers that are going to be the stewards of their data after the freelancer has gone. It’s no secret that most venture funding is given to male-owned businesses. What tips would you offer to other female entrepreneurs who are looking to raise funds? Keep your eye on the prize. Just because that is the way it was always done does not mean it is the way it will always be. We know our business better than anyone and it is our job to get that value across to raise capital. It is about knowing what funders want out of the deal, how that desire will benefit your business, and making it worth the investment. I’d even argue that many women instinctively read the needs of the people around them and excel at raising funds when challenged to do so. What does success mean to you? I’d like to say top banana but it is really about creating continuity. We are not aiming to be the biggest or most comprehensive. There are giant whales out there, dominating the market. We are about customization, even when we have done the tasks a million times. Each project is unique and our experts are trained to not only provide excellent skills but to know and understand what their customers need to be successful. How do you practice self-care? I am a bit of a gypsy. These days I have teenagers that keep me close to home in Indiana, but I get out to Colorado quite frequently to ski or hike the backcountry when I can. What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given? We create our own value. Never let anyone else define you because they cannot possibly see the whole picture. I am very proud of what I have put out into the world as an entrepreneur and as a team player in my career. We have improved the Torchlite product year over year, adding real value, as we learned how best to utilize the Torchlite Marketplace for our talent and our customers. That confidence to move forward comes from me and my vision for what Torchlite can be. I knew what we were aiming for and I kept my focus on the value we bring to the table. What single word or saying do you identify most with? Why? Resiliency. I am humbled by the challenges of this life, without a doubt. It has not always been easy but I keep moving forward and rebounding into a better, more productive place. I am grateful for those challenges, as painful as some were, because they propelled me into action that required a catalyst. It is not the blow that I remember so much as the rebound. I am much tougher than my younger self might have imagined. What’s next for you and Torchlite? We will continue to grow our consultant base as the demand for professional freelancers explodes. So many talented people out in the workforce are discovering that they want to dictate how and when they work. We support them. Whether it was because they were moonlighting, laid off or they decided to go it alone, emboldened by the demand for their particular skills, they found a home with us. We have both utilized and benefited from the freelance model since Torchlite was founded in 2015. We see the value in supporting these entrepreneurial folks as they embark on this journey with us. It’s been a blast. This interview was originally published online by Women's Business Daily Editor-in-Chief Emily Sprinkle on December 4, 2020. Learn more about Torchlite at www.torchlite.com.

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Impactful Ways Small-to-Mid-Market Businesses Can Survive During a Pandemic

Nov 18, 2020 Susan Marshall

The coronavirus has dramatically changed the world economy, forcing many businesses to alter their operations to survive during a pandemic.   The pandemic has taken a monumental toll, small businesses bore the brunt of job loss, with a decline of more than 17% in May 2020. With SMBs especially vulnerable during this time, these companies must be agile and nimble to adjust in ever-changing times. As companies prepare for the future, there are several ways they can come out on top during the pandemic.   Hiring Freelancers With more limitations on staff size and in-person office spaces as we enter fall and a new resurgence phase of COVID-19, businesses of all sizes must think outside of their network for staffing.   With these restrictions, we’re seeing more small-to-medium businesses bridge the gap by outsourcing work to freelancers rather than hiring new employees, especially for marketing services, project management and CRM. In fact, there are now 57 million Americans in the freelance economy, up from 53 million in 2014. (CNBC)   Not only can small businesses benefit from freelancers due to their specialized skill sets to address your every need, but they are increasingly more affordable and flexible without a long-term contract. Beyond that, leveraging freelancers makes it possible to attract world-class talent that would be unavailable to most organizations on a full-time basis.   Even when the danger of COVID passes, the use of freelancers is here to stay. With 43% of the working U.S. population turning to freelance work over the next five years, the rise of independent talent and a flexible workforce will enable businesses to stay competitive and change the workforce for years to come.   Implement a Customer Relationship Management Solution Since March of 2020, the consumer's way of life has changed dramatically. In order to captivate your target audience and stay top of mind without direct access to customers, SMBs must leverage new solutions. As a result, many businesses have implemented Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to support their efforts amid the pandemic.   CRM technology has long been regarded as an essential tool for all businesses. From customer service and email marketing to personalization, companies now expect to be able to connect platforms and technologies with customer data, in order to provide a more personalized experience. With new operational challenges, leveraging this solution has become a necessity to stay afloat.   CRM is the fastest growing software market today. It was a $14 billion industry in 2010 and is expected to reach $80 billion by 2025. That’s nearly a 600% increase. (Source: Grand View Research). This technology drives revenue and gives SMBs a competitive advantage by targeting the most qualified leads, increasing retention efforts, improving sales productivity, and providing highly-personalized messaging to existing customers.   Utilizing a CRM helps businesses connect with their customers on a deeper level, even when they are stuck at home, and could be the deciding factor between those that thrive and those who struggle to survive.   Be Flexible and Adaptable Adjusting during this unknown moment is crucial for small businesses. Whether you’re adjusting to working from home, new marketing techniques, or selling products, being agile can help small businesses stay afloat.   Find creative ways to implement new market trends Having a unique way to market products or services helps you stand out from your competition and maintain a steady flow of customers and revenue. Give your business’s online presence a boost by: Optimizing your business website for mobile Creating valuable content Experimenting with some SEO research Incorporating keywords on your website pages Engaging in online communities and forums Improving user experience Enhance your sales strategy A few ways to enhance your marketing strategy and promote unique offerings might look like shopping virtually or hosting engaging virtual classes, meetings, webinars, and even conferences.   Invest in work-from-home solutions While most people likely have a phone, a computer, and an internet connection, the work they do from home may look different than the work they do in the office. Invest in technology like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Drive to keep communication consistent and simple. The pandemic poses new challenges for small businesses as they adjust to the new reality and look toward recovery. Fortunately, new technology is booming and there’s never been a better time for companies to rethink their marketing, talent, and operations.   This article was originally published on Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick on November 17, 2020. Written by Torchlite founder and CEO Susan Marshall.

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Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot Playbooks

Nov 02, 2020 Torchlite

Torchlite, the freelance marketplace for all your Salesforce needs, announces the release of a new series of Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot playbooks designed to help the millions of small-to-mid-market businesses who have been affected by the ongoing pandemic. The Torchlite Mission The new series of playbooks address the challenges faced by businesses hit hard by the public health crisis. “It’s Torchlite’s mission to support small-to-mid-market businesses. We provide trusted, certified consultants. As a result, our customers are able to access the tools they need to get ahead, especially in this challenging time,” said Susan Marshall, CEO and founder of Torchlite. “With the launch of these new playbooks, our goal is to help businesses implement and optimize their Salesforce solution with ease.” Packaged Services The playbooks are packaged services delivered by a Certified Freelance Consultant or freelancer who has a holistic understanding of Salesforce products. Companies who leverage Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Pardot can purchase one of the 12 different playbooks in the new series.  Certified Freelance Consultants The Torchlite Marketplace enables customers who purchase the Marketing Cloud and Pardot playbooks to collaborate, share documents, and provide feedback through their unique rating system. “I love the flexibility and customer-first mentality of the Torchlite model. Salesforce is a living, breathing thing that will require highly skilled expertise for our model. We like the ability to have access to the short-term project and problem-solving assistance through Torchlite’s network,” said Lindsey Dunn, Director, Lead Generation for Scrubs & Beyond. Torchlite is a certified Salesforce partner with a wide network of vetted professional freelancers ready to help businesses of any size unlock the power of Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot. The Torchlite Marketplace accepts only the top 4% of applicants, ensuring businesses get the very best experts in their field. Pricing Prices for each playbook in the new Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot series vary. For more information on Torchlite and its services or to purchase a playbook, please visit www.torchlite.com.   About Torchlite Founded in 2015, Torchlite enables companies of any size to access and manage highly sought-after freelance talent from anywhere in the world. With Torchlite’s 3.0 platform, organizations can now take advantage of the growing freelance economy and create their own private marketplaces of experts who help customers take advantage of powerful technologies - on-demand.

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The Female CEO: In the Spotlight with Susan Marshall

Oct 23, 2020 Torchlite

Tricia Scott interviews Susan Marshall, Founder and CEO of Torchlite. A 25+ year technology professional, who held successful leadership positions at Adobe, Apple, and Salesforce before founding her own company. As the visionary behind Torchlite, Susan brought the first Torchlite Marketplace online in 2015 to create a roadmap for marketers to successfully navigate the digital learning curve ahead, while giving highly skilled, professional freelancers the opportunity to expand their own businesses. Now a Certified Salesforce Partner, Torchlite's primary focus is to serve enterprises to working with cross-cloud Salesforce products. Susan loves technology, digital marketing, and building teams of super-smart people and I am honoured that she has chosen to share her journey with us. Over to you Susan… So, Susan, what's your story? Thanks for asking. I came out of the midwest to Southern California in the early 1990s. I was young with a fresh degree in History from Denison University and fairly limited work experience. Life was still analogue for most of us, but I quickly began hearing about what technology was going to do for society. What was going to be possible in our lifetimes. It all seemed so fantastic and exciting at the same time. In the early days, close proximity to the creative forces was pivotal to understanding the innovation ahead. You had to hear it for your own ears to believe what was coming down the pipeline, and quickly. With strong writing skills, I got in on the ground floor, creating marketing copy for the incredible new video and graphic design technologies coming online for professional use. It was so new that we were making up words and phrasing for it on the spot! From there, I was hired by Apple to join its product marketing team under the leadership of Steve Jobs. I worked on pro tools for the early tech adopters, high-skilled web developers who could code like it was their native language. Steve had just come back to Apple, and we were all vibrating with his renewed creative energy. Although coding was still the most prized skill among developers, even back then we were working toward universal usage of these tools to democratise access and get everybody on board. The rest, as they say, is history. One opportunity led to the next. I was very deliberate about the positions I accepted before breaking out on my own in 2015 to start Torchlite. I am a lifelong learner, and while I was recruited into subsequent leadership positions, I deliberately chose mentors and projects that I knew I could get behind with the full force of my intentions. By the time I had dreamed up Torchlite, I knew the path we would take to get there - and the sacrifice it would require for my core team of stakeholders and me to achieve success. I was ready for that new challenge. You’ve worked for some of the most successful tech companies in the world, including Apple, Adobe and Salesforce. That’s quite a resumé! What made you decide to set up on your own and how scary was it to leave behind the security of those massive corporations and go solo? Life often pushes us in the right direction. I had returned to my midwestern roots, and the timing just felt right. I’d had this idea percolating in the back of my head as I brought one innovation online after another. With each new product launch, I could see the access broadening exponentially but not necessarily the users’ bandwidth. While we are adapting as consumers to adopt technology on the fly, complex systems still require some finesse. Specialised skills that may require an effective setup are not necessarily skills an employer needs in a long term employee. Over and over, I heard about customers frustrated that they couldn’t get their investment in technology to help them work more efficiently and perform as expected. What’s worse, they’d limp along getting more and more discouraged. I knew that professional help would always be necessary just based on the light-speed rate of innovation coming to market. This digital divide was opening rather than closing. Fortunately, Salesforce recognised the same problem. To make sure the Salesforce technology performed as their customer expected, they began providing robust online training and certifications through the Trailhead training centre. This action and that of other enterprise marketing tech companies gave me the cornerstone to Torchlite. Our customers would have access to the very best freelancers, and their skills would be clear to everyone through a transparent network of high skilled workers with an online profile detailing their expertise. The model has worked well for us and our network of freelancers. I’ve worked on thousands of marketing campaigns and kept pace with the technology to support it. I was ready to break away from the corporate world at a time when freelance work was on the rise. I had a solution to my biggest challenge as a product manager - how do you get technology into the right hands at the right time? By building a network of high-demand, high-skilled experts across industries, I was able to bring together my passions to create my marketplace. I love working with engineers. My team is building the bridges powering innovation. I can stay connected and put people to work. That is a good feeling. 2020 has been a challenging year for many businesses with flexibility being key to surviging this global pandemic. Many businesses are going to see changes for years to come while we work the new ‘normal’.  How do you see using companies such as Torchlite assisting small businesses through the transition? Can you give our readers the top three benefits of hiring nonpermanent  assistance? We hit the nail on the head in terms of timing for 2020. I’d argue that we have never seen such incredible adoption of technology from both business and consumers in our lifetimes. We all jumped on email and such as the world came online, but today is different. I don’t know about you, but I remember the analogue world, learning what WWW would mean to society in our lifetimes. It was exhilarating. Now, twenty-odd years later into my career, technology plays a larger role in commerce than ever before. Digital adaptation is moving so fast that manuals have turned into FAQ pages and automation is king. Understanding the backend of this process is more critical than ever before. Just as we went into lockdown Salesforce graduated its first cohort of Essential Advisors for SMBs. As a strategic partner to Salesforce, we built out a dedicated portal for small and midsize businesses to find the expertise they need to stay relevant in a transformed world. Our playbooks, with the guidance of a certified Advisor, walk clients through the project step-by-step or Advisors and customers can create custom plans to meet the SMB’s needs in consultation on the marketplace platform. It’s all transparent and clear to ensure on-time delivery of exactly what the customer is looking for. The three big reasons to hire freelancers are simple. Freelancers are flexible, specialised, and focused. We do the legwork to find and recruit the best of the best so our customers can entrust the marketplace to give them the insight to make smart decisions. So much is expected of a business owner, learning how to set up and implement technology may not get the attention its investment deserves. This is where a professional consultant is critical. As businesses grow, they have the option to tap back into the marketplace to find an expert ready to support that process. How do you handle criticism? I’ve worked in some very high-pressure environments where sensitivity to how criticism is received isn’t a factor. I learned to take it, and praise for that matter, at face value, setting aside an emotional response to get to the source. Is this something I can fix, do I need expert support to sort it out, or is this something that doesn’t apply to my vision? Because in the end, I have the final say and so it is essential that I hear what is being communicated to me by my colleagues and board members, taking the necessary actions to keep us moving forward. I also give frequent feedback to my team and network of freelance professionals as we continue to grow Torchlite. I believe context is so important when communicating difficult information. I value my team and want them to know that I am invested in their success as much as my own. Critical feedback is always delivered in the context of how we can make this better. Because in the end, we all want to be on the same page or else it isn’t worth it to be here. I am not a big corporation, and I rely on the freelance model to power Torchlite. Those relationships are built on trust. The ability to give criticism in context of success powers that trust leading to long-standing, mutually beneficial relationships. What has been your biggest hurdle to overcome so far in running your own business? Freelancing has so many benefits, but it does require a steady stream of clients in need of those services to stay afloat. We are a niche marketplace that isn't going just to run itself. I know who our freelancers are and their high level of skills. I work closely with my BDM to get in front of the businesses that will benefit from that expertise. I also follow business trends very closely to gauge what kind of talent I need to add to Torchlite to meet our clients' needs. My days are filled with meetings - more now than ever that people don't have drive time between appointments - I do media interviews like this, podcasts, and will talk to anyone that wants to know more about us. I am continually hustling to bring new clients into the Torchlite marketplace. This level of engagement has nurtured a network of loyal freelancers and customers that have maintained steady contracts since our inception. There may be other ways to do it, but this works for us. I like to know what's happening with my baby, who is working in our network and what is happening in the broader marketplace. What is your favourite thing about being your own boss? I work where I want when I want. I am fortunate to split my time between Colorado and Indiana. Each place is so beautiful, and I wanted to be able to enjoy both of them to the fullest. I can set up in a room next to my family and get more done in a few hours than if I was going into an office, putting off time with them. The efficiency allows me to balance my drive to succeed with a life that is fulfilling and rich with experiences outside of my business. Like many CEOs, it is hard for me to stop sometimes with that ease of access, but I've got a team that I trust to keep the plates in the air when it is time for me to go offline for a hike with my kids or to make dinner. It is always there when I get back, and usually, they have made progress on projects I set in motion. More importantly, my brain has been cleared, and I am ready to give it my all again. One of the questions often raised when it comes to outsourcing work is, ‘how can you know if the person(s) you are outsourcing to are qualified/safe/competent’? As the CEO of a freelance marketplace, how do you ensure that your clients get the right match and it it easy to check credentials? This is the cornerstone of Torchlite. Our freelance marketplace is designed to answer precisely those questions. We vet and interview our freelancers for both the hard skills and soft skills necessary to work with our clients. Less than 4% of the applicants are accepted into the Torchlite marketplace because of the rigorous interview process. This is not a self-serve marketplace for freelancers to sign up for, and it shows in the quality of our projects. Of those accepted, we verify certifications and provide a user profile detailing their accomplishments. Client reviews are posted with their profile so new customers can be confident they are matched with the best consultant for their projects. What is the first thing you check in your business on a daily basis? I have a team Slack channel that we use for daily check-ins. We are scattered all over, so it is an excellent centralised place for us to keep each other up to date, sharing our successes and frustrations. I trust and rely on my team and the various freelancers I am working with at any given time to keep me informed. In return, I stay super responsive to their needs. It is a virtuous cycle we started well before the pandemic, and it has become a lifeline these last few months as we all stayed close to home. What have you found difficult on your journey and what would you avoid if you were able to do it all again? There have been so many challenges, but I don't know that I would have it any other way. Those painful moments in my career, and there have been many, pivoted me into something bigger and brighter than I could have imagined. Leaving Salesforce to start Torchlite was hard, but I was propelled on a path that got me here when I took that leap of faith. I had to believe in myself above all others, and I don't know that many women my age were taught to do that. I'd successfully worked in a male-dominated field for so many years, and I was good at meeting the goals set out for me to advance their objectives. Finally, I permitted myself to put my ideas first after years of striving to please someone else. It was incredibly liberating, and without those challenges, I wouldn't necessarily have arrived at this point. What's your top tip for our awesome female entrepreneurs reading this article? Stay focused. Entrepreneurial initiatives require flexibility and sometimes radical change to achieve success. Without a guiding mission and laser focus on the end goal that flexibility can become muddled, and we find ourselves being pulled in too many directions. I start every day with an intention. I have my punch list to get through, and I always ask myself, will this move us forward? Is this the best use of my time or can I rely on someone on my team to make this happen? I take my responsibilities to Torchlite very seriously, which means I need to know everything that is going on. I cannot possibly micromanage any of it, but I can step in at a moment's notice if need be. Fortunately, I have a great team that allows me to maintain high-level engagement with day to day operations while focused on issues that will continue to grow our network. Digital marketing is often seen as complex and there’s no doubt that the need for such expertise is only going to grow exponentially in the coming years. Do you feel there should be better educational programmes for young people emerging into the job markets? You are right. I know there are better educational programmes available right now for anyone motivated to get trained up. One significant change emerging from the pandemic, coupled with the current student loan crisis is a serious reevaluation of how and where we learn. Industry leaders like Salesforce know the value in ongoing training beyond profits. The Trailhead program provides viable, certified paths for freelancers to gain the expertise required to join the Torchlite network as a professional consultant. Again, as a Salesforce partner, we rely on the virtuous cycle as they up their game in training, we can improve services offered to our clients. The new Advisor program is a perfect example. Launched in the winter of 2019, Salesforce Advisors are CRM experts ready to help small businesses get started quickly on the Salesforce platform. We network those new admins with small companies invested in the technology but in need of a hand getting going. For all this to work, it requires each of us to do our part. Our freelancers operate as small businesses. Their next gig depends on the success of their current one. The most successful freelancers anticipate that next gig and make sure they are ready. The Trailhead program encourages ongoing learning as the platform continues to innovate. What's the number one played song on your iPod? I am a classic rock girl. I’ve been listening to some deep cuts from Janice Joplin lately. She’s got a rawness to her voice that really speaks to me. What do you know for sure? I know for sure that I can do this. It is not always going to be the easiest path, but it is the one I have chosen. I can be a workhorse, or I can lead. I am dedicated to my team and the success of Torchlite, so I decided to lead. It feels as right as that first copy editing job that opened my eyes to the power of technical innovation. I believe in what we do and the abilities of my freelancers. As a small business myself, I am invested in their success and will continue to build out this network because no one has to be here. They all chose to work with my team. I don't offer the benefits of a traditional employer. But I do provide a pipeline for more work so they too can dictate the terms of their work-life balance like I do. And to me, that is really rewarding.  Do you have a book or favourite podcast recommendation for our female CEO members? I highly recommend Masterclass.com. It’s important to continue growing and learning no matter what it is. What's next for Torchlite? We will continue to grow our network to meet the needs of our customers. It isn't just about traditional marketing. Businesses are in desperate need of the broad range of digital expertise we provide. There isn't an industry untouched by the digital transformation. The services required to bring it all online from our health records to the financial powerhouses and back to the mom and pop retailer are profound. We are going to keep pace and keep innovating to meet those needs. And we are going to hire professional consultants to help us get it done. [caption id="attachment_41591" align="alignnone" width="683"] Susan Marshall, Torchlite Founder and CEO[/caption] What makes you truly happy and how do you handle downtime? I am feeling really content right now. My kids are teenagers, and I am so proud of them. I've sacrificed a lot of time with them for my career, and it is so gratifying to see that they are thriving despite our non-traditional household. Their dad's dedication to their well being allowed me to "have it all" if there is such a thing. My downtime is about my kids. I now can go offline to be with them without feeling stressed about what I might miss in my inbox. Colorado offers incredible vistas with zero wifi, and I honestly breathe a little deeper when that part is shut down for a while. I know it will be there when I get back.   The Female CEO is a a community of awesome women coming together in support and empowerment and setting a new trend for female entrepreneurs across the world. To learn more about The Female CEO catch up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Webinar: Effective Selling In An Uncertain Market

Oct 16, 2020 Elizabeth Basile

Todd Caponi, author of the award-winning book, The Transparency Sale (and former sales leadership team member for the Marketing Cloud), and Susan Marshall, Torchlite founder and CEO, talk effective selling in an uncertain market.   [embed]https://vimeo.com/468654909[/embed] Consensus selling is hard. Consensus buying is harder. And given that our buyers are now remote and surrounded by continued uncertainty, the deck is heavily stacked against the sellers.But there’s good news. In times of uncertainty, we can actually read the minds of our buyers. Using a little behavioral science combined with practical application, we can shift the deck back in our direction.   In this hour long webinar, you’ll learn How to drive more sales by connecting with your prospects. How you messaged and sold in an up-market will not work in a down-market. How the buying brain engages, prioritizes, decide, and buys. Immediately actionable tips to optimize your messaging, positioning & prospecting.   Todd Caponi Author, Speaker, Workshop Leader Todd Caponi is the author of the best-selling and 3x award-winning book, The Transparency Sale, a speaker & workshop leader as CEO & Founder of Sales Melon LLC, and Managing Director of Chicago’s VentureSCALE. Previously, he had spent almost 4 years building the revenue capacity of Chicago’s PowerReviews from the ground up as their Chief Revenue Officer…turning it into Illinois’ fastest-growing tech company. Prior to that, he’s held sales leadership roles with 3 other tech companies, including ExactTarget, where he helped drive the organization to a successful IPO and a $2.7B exit through the acquisition by Salesforce.com. He’s a former American Business “Stevie” Award winner for VP of WW Sales of the Year, and also once owned & operated a sales training company.

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Meet Salesforce Datorama Expert Brad B.

Oct 02, 2020 Elizabeth Basile

Datorama is a centralized platform for marketing data and decision making across teams. Every marketing performance, outcome, and investment in one place. Torchlite Flexpert Brad B. specializes in helping businesses connect and unify data in scalable solutions with intelligence performance monitoring built in. Businesses large and small have relied on Brad's expertise to design custom workspaces allowing for more efficient and effective marketing uses of company data. Datorama was built for marketers and media professionals to strike the perfect balance between automation and customization.    What does this mean for Torchlite customers? This means you can be sure your Datorama workspace, and most importantly your data, is accurate, timely, and working for the specific and unique needs of your business.   Data management Modeling Analytics Actions Brad is experienced in both marketing communications and data analysis, providing a unique perspective to help businesses not just display data, but also tell stories as they learn and progress with critical KPI insights.   Delivering a single source of truth. Datorama can take any data -- in any format  -- into the platform with AI machine learning, making cross channel insights easy. Working with Torchlite gives our customers access to professional, certified freelancers like Brad.  Align your business goals, build data governance processes, ensure proper naming conventions and data standards, and integrate multiple data sources to display campaign performance in one easily accessible, central location.  Torchlite Flexperts deliver concrete value, saving companies time and money while providing 360 degree views of their marketing activities, creating a single source of truth for critical decision making.  Visit torchlite.com to learn more about how we can help with all your Salesforce support needs.

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Clinical Empathy Can Be Your Superpower

Sep 25, 2020 Elizabeth Basile

Clinical empathy is key to survival in 2020. When sellers understand the human experience of decision-making, they win, according to advisor and best selling author of The Transparency Sale: How Unexpected Honesty and Understanding the Buying Brain Can Transform Your Results, Todd Caponi. Buyers are in a completely different mindset than they were in January. They need sellers who understand what problems they are managing and what goals they are trying to reach. Beyond that, they need to feel that sellers can empathize with their experience. Clinical empathy consciously centers the buyer’s emotional response in the sales process, and according to Caponi, it’s the difference between effective selling now versus six months ago. When a business’ very survival is on the line, real empathy and honesty are more imperative than ever before.    Understanding every company’s three basic survival instincts.  Caponi argues every company is focused on three basic survival instincts, right now. This puts them in the mindset of scarcity, and it’s going to impact their willingness to do business. Using a little behavioral science combined with practical application, sellers can actually read the buyer’s mind, allowing them to more easily connect to their experience and anticipate how to help them.  To understand the human decision making process in business decisions we need only look to ourselves for insight. Our basic response to financial insecurity is threefold:   Eliminate discretionary spending Extend runway while reducing costs on the essentials Avoid downside risks   In times of scarcity, both personally and professionally, our lizard brain kicks in and we start to think about survival over everything else. The same instincts driving personal security are motivating global business decisions. This is because your prospects are, in fact, human beings.   When done right, customers stay, buy more, and advocate on your behalf. The old adage of under-promising and over-delivering creates expectation inflation that works against our natural instincts in stressful situations. When everything is on the line, what we really want is the path of least resistance that fits within the new paradigm. Effective sales reps and marketers create empathic routes for their prospects and customers by anticipating and removing friction from the purchase before they encounter it on their own. A successful sale meets the customer where they are now, under stress, and grows with them when they are ready to scale up. For instance, reduced spending may have included the difficult decision to reduce workforce, but the work still needs to get done. By hiring a certified freelancer, companies can save money and keep their projects on track. Visit Torchlite.com to learn more.    Todd Caponi Author, Speaker, Workshop Leader Todd Caponi is the author of the best-selling and 3x award-winning book, The Transparency Sale, a speaker & workshop leader as CEO & Founder of Sales Melon LLC, and Managing Director of Chicago’s VentureSCALE. Previously, he had spent almost 4 years building the revenue capacity of Chicago’s PowerReviews from the ground up as their Chief Revenue Officer...turning it into Illinois’ fastest-growing tech company. Prior to that, he's held sales leadership roles with 3 other tech companies, including ExactTarget, where he helped drive the organization to a successful IPO and a $2.7B exit through the acquisition by Salesforce.com. He's a former American Business "Stevie" Award winner for VP of WW Sales of the Year, and also once owned & operated a sales training company.   Learn How Transparency & Clinical Empathy Can Be Your Superpower Todd Caponi, author of the award-winning book, The Transparency Sale (and former sales leadership team member for the Marketing Cloud), and Susan Marshall, Torchlite founder and CEO, talk effective selling in an uncertain market.  

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