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. 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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Press Release: Torchlite Promotes Robert Harris to Chief Operating Officer

Sep 18, 2020 Torchlite

INDIANAPOLIS (September 14, 2020) – Torchlite, the freelance marketplace for all your Salesforce needs, today announces it has promoted Robert Harris to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO). Previously, Harris served as the Vice President of Product and Customer Success for Torchlite. Harris brings more than 25 years of experience in technology, e-commerce, and organizational leadership.  In the new role, Harris will lead all operations, including product development and engineering, and help establish the company’s strategic vision while facilitating the execution of critical projects. He will also work closely with Torchlite CEO and Founder Susan Marshall and its leadership team to help grow, scale, and operate Torchlite’s platform and services effectively. “With the launch of our new Marketplace for Salesforce, we are helping businesses implement the tools they need and provide highly-trained freelancers with meaningful work during this difficult time,” said Marshall. “Robert’s leadership skills, passion and proven track record in consulting and e-commerce make him the perfect candidate to take our new Torchlite Marketplace to the next level and further scale our services.” Harris is a proven leader with more than 25 years of experience building teams, products, and solutions that deliver compelling value to customers. In his previous roles, he’s demonstrated how to effectively drive cross-functional, organization-wide impact and work collaboratively with key internal and external stakeholders. Prior to working with Torchlite, Harris served as the Founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at MVP Launch Partners and VP of Product and Engineering at Sigstr. He also served in numerous leadership roles at Loxa Beauty and its parent company Beauty Systems Group. “It has been an honor to be part of Torchlite’s journey by helping build the category-leading freelance marketplace for Salesforce and filling a much-needed gap in today’s business ecosystem,” said Harris. “With the accelerating growth of freelancers, per a recent Payoneer report, this is just the beginning for Torchlite. We look forward to continuing to support businesses nationwide by giving them access to the talent they need to run and grow their business.” Recently, Torchlite launched its new Marketplace for Salesforce Essentials, offering a new way for small businesses to access certified Salesforce Essentials Advisors on-demand with no long-term contracts, minimums or limits. The new Marketplace allows small businesses who adopt the world’s #1 CRM platform to access highly-certified freelancers who empower them to sell smarter, deliver faster support, and get started in minutes. 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. For more information, visit torchlite.com.

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Get More From Marketing Cloud: Meet Salesforce Expert Karl B.

Jul 16, 2020 Emily Brungard

According to the Walker Sands 2018 State of Marketing Technology report, sixty-three percent of marketers feel the martech landscape has evolved rapidly or at light speed in the last year, while only 28 percent feel the same about their company’s use of martech. As companies continue to see the value of and secure the budget for marketing technology tools, they’re also realizing that squeezing the full value of these tools can be difficult. In other words, they need help in order to see ROI from their martech spend. We asked Salesforce.com Certified Consultant and Torchlite expert Karl B. to discuss how marketing teams can get the most from Marketing Cloud, and how on-demand freelance experts can help marketers do more with the platform. What is the most common issue you see when working with Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers? The most common roadblock I see, especially with new Marketing Cloud customers, is the expectation that Marketing Cloud is like other marketing automation platforms—that new users can jump in and immediately leverage all the cool features Salesforce promotes. That’s when you start hearing customer complaints about Marketing Cloud; how it’s hard to use and it doesn’t work like their old marketing automation platform. Especially if they’ve come from platforms like HubSpot, which are less powerful, but easy to use. While Marketing Cloud has come a long way in simplifying complex functionality for users—take Journey Builder, for example—the real power lies in how Marketing Cloud allows you to build nearly any solution your business might need. But that power has a price. Marketing Cloud requires training and a developer mindset to truly leverage the capabilities it offers. I often describe Marketing Cloud as a “marketing automation construction set.” What do you predict will be a bigger problem in the next year for Salesforce Marketing Cloud customers? Honestly, a shortage of Marketing Cloud professionals. Customer interest in Marketing Cloud is growing faster than the supply of experienced Marketing Cloud consultants and developers. Lack of training resources has been key to this shortage. Salesforce has created some Trailhead training modules for Marketing Cloud and I can’t help but expect that more are on the way. Trailhead has turned into an incredible learning resource for Sales and Service Clouds and Salesforce’s other clouds. I look forward to seeing how Trailhead training evolves for Marketing Cloud. What is your most frequently shared tip for using Salesforce? When in doubt—Google it! During training, I always tell my clients that “Google is their best friend” when using SFMC or the other Salesforce clouds. Chances are someone else has asked for help for the same problem in Salesforce’s own communities or on StackExchange. And then there are blog posts and, of course, Salesforce’s documentation. On the flip side, what's your "secret" tip for Salesforce success? Education. Never stop learning when it comes to Salesforce—especially SFMC, which evolves so quickly. And don’t be afraid to tackle new areas, like writing SQL queries or learning AMPScript. The best SFMC users found out early on that the real power in SFMC comes from thinking like a marketer, but building like a developer. And that means getting out of your comfort zone and learning some tech. What is your proudest Salesforce-related project? Probably my second SFMC project. The client already had a very complex Sales Cloud org and needed to create dynamic meeting notification emails delivered by a Journey. That project pushed me to level up my SQL skills, dig deep into AMPScript and learn how to code API callouts from Sales Cloud to Marketing Cloud. That’s when I realized how critical developer skills are for accessing the power in SFMC. What are you most excited about in the current B2B marketing scene? Funny, but it’s been an ongoing issue for me since my days as a copywriter and marketing consultant that’s finally gaining traction. Marketers forget when selling B2B that they’re selling to people, not businesses. While the best B2B marketers have always known this, the rest are catching on and realizing that engaging with the person, not the business, is critical, especially in the first touches. I think social media has helped marketers embrace the human connection that’s essential in B2B marketing. Personalization is key to establishing relevance, and I think AI offers enormous potential in helping marketers craft relevant messages to cut through the barrage of bland marketing that prospects face every day. Applying AI effectively and ethically is going to be an exciting challenge in the years to come. Why do you think having an on-demand SFMC expert is necessary? SFMC can be frustrating for marketers new to the platform and the learning curve is demanding. An on-demand SFMC expert accelerates time-to-delivery for your campaigns. And, quite simply, it’s the best way to unlock the power of SFMC for your business without dedicating your internal staff to many hours of training and the necessary trial and error experience. Interested in learning more? Request a demo of Torchlite today.

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Just Announced: Torchlite Launches Salesforce Essentials Marketplace For Small Business

Jun 30, 2020 Torchlite

Torchlite Launches Certified Advisor Marketplace for Small Businesses with Salesforce The Essentials Marketplace matches businesses with Certified Salesforce Advisors to help service small businesses and grow leads with Salesforce Essentials. INDIANAPOLIS, June 30, 2020- Torchlite, the freelance marketplace for all your Salesforce needs, announced today the launch of the Torchlite Marketplace for Salesforce Essentials, a new way for small businesses to access certified Salesforce Essentials Advisors on-demand with no long-term contracts, minimums or limits. Through the Torchlite Marketplace, Salesforce Essentials Advisors can now find work online and small businesses get access to the talent they need to run and grow their businesses. “The Torchlite Marketplace for Salesforce Essentials provides flexibility and agility on any size project at affordable costs,” says Susan Marshall, CEO and Founder of Torchlite. “We are excited to partner with Salesforce to help small businesses during these unprecedented times.” With Salesforce Essentials, small businesses can easily adopt the world’s #1 CRM platform— designed to scale and grow with them. New social, chat and phone capabilities in Salesforce Essentials empower small businesses to communicate with customers on their preferred channels—and can be deployed in just minutes. “It’s our mission to support small businesses with the technology and tools they need to connect with customers, especially in this challenging time and we're proud to partner with Torchlite” said Meredith Schmidt, Executive Vice President and GM of Salesforce Essentials. “The new Torchlite Marketplace for Salesforce Essentials is helping small businesses implement the tools they need, while at the same time helping trained freelancers find meaningful work.” In addition to matching Advisors with customers, the Torchlite Marketplace helps Advisors manage relationships with customers, find new work, and get paid. For those interested in becoming a Salesforce Essential Advisor, apply here. To get matched with a certified Salesforce Essentials Advisor, visit the client portal. 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. For more information about Torchlite, visit www.torchlite.com.

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CRMs Are Critical For Small Business Success

Jun 30, 2020 Elizabeth Basile

The Coronavirus dramatically slowed the world economy in early 2020, and traditional offices, services, and retail transformed into cloud-based operations or risked closing permanently. Many were caught off guard by the urgent need for remote access, leaving them scrambling to put systems in place to survive in a world forced to do business from home. Small businesses (SMBs) were disproportionately affected by the global pandemic as they struggled to stay top of mind without direct access to their customers. When a confined workspace became a public health hazard, owners and workers left in droves with their laptops to run the business from home offices, bedrooms, and kitchen tables, hoping to stay connected and open.  CRMs Give SMBs The Edge Many SMBs have adapted at lightning speed, and it’s no secret why; those that had capitalized on advanced commerce and service solutions are faring far better than those who hadn’t. As we know, maintaining customer contact is the lifeblood of small business, and utilizing a CRM isn’t just good business, it’s become a major difference between those who are thriving, and those struggling to survive the continued economic downturn.  CRM technology allows businesses to target the most qualified leads, ramp up retention efforts, increase sales productivity, and provide highly personalized messaging to existing customers. All of this is great on a regular day, but it’s now become an absolute necessity, and one that isn’t going away.  The Right Technology At The Right Time Long before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, customers were demanding more seamless, personalized interactions. There were limitless CRM options for mid-market and enterprise level companies, but nothing that spoke to the needs and budgets of small businesses. That’s when Salesforce, the gold standard in customer relationship management platforms, stepped in. Salesforce Essentials launched in 2018 to help SMBs get on the Salesforce platform quickly, and scale up as needed. The Salesforce Essentials Advisor program trained new Admins on how to provide additional assistance customers may need to set up and maximize this powerful resource for their businesses.  Torchlite has always been there to support all levels of businesses, but as a small business ourselves, we truly understand the importance of the right people at the right time, using the right technology. This month, Torchlite proudly announced the launch of our Salesforce Essentials Advisor Marketplace. It's a new way for small businesses to access certified Salesforce Essentials Advisors on-demand with no long-term contracts, minimums, or limits. As we move forward with the lessons learned from the past few months, we remain committed to helping your business navigate and thrive in these unprecedented times, while creating job opportunities through our talent marketplace.   Learn more at https://torchlite.com/salesforce-essentials-advisors/

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An Agile Workforce Is The Future

May 20, 2020 Susan Marshall

Marketing leaders across industries and geographies are feeling the pressure to answer tough questions about the future of work, like: How do we attract and develop the new talent we need? How do we scale and accelerate the pace of change? How can we ensure that the people with us now don’t get left behind? And how do we make the right investment in our people to prepare them for the future? An agile, modern workforce depends on a people-first strategy that embraces tech. Leaders need to play a driving role in supporting the development of an agile workforce if they want to survive the digital transformation. The businesses of Silicon Valley and other tech hubs have become leading examples of why an agile mindset works, hitting home the importance of implementing methods that get things out the door for testing quickly (like rapid prototyping or the sprints we do here at Torchlite). Rapid innovation is key — there’s always time to hammer out the minor details after you can prove that a concept is valuable. BMO’s chief transformation officer, Lynn Roger, put it best: “Speed is the new business currency.” Adopting an agile talent strategy allows you to: Bridge the gap between current employees and the skills they’re missing An agile workforce looks “more like highly orchestrated networks and ecosystems with a multitude of approaches to mobilizing, orchestrating, and engaging talent, skills, leaders, and ideas,” according to Deloitte. This business model is especially attractive to companies with talent gaps. No one employee can know it all, which is why more and more businesses are turning to freelancers to supplement their teams. The role that a freelancer plays on a team varies based on the needs of your company. Some on-demand experts augment teams on a single project basis, while others enter into months- or even years-long working relationships. Freelance talent is also used to manage variable demand for companies like agencies whose workloads vary based on client needs. These experts also work in both extended, long-term projects as well as one-off project roles. According to Accenture, “up to 40% of companies experience talent shortages impacting the ability to adapt and innovate.” Understanding that your potential talent’s experience comes from a variety of locations — taking breaks to pursue further education, building a side hustle as a stay at home parent, interning, traveling — and not just traditional corporate jobs, is key to building a diverse and effective workforce. Drive collaborative innovation New perspectives are refreshing. When your team recruits help from the outside (via freelancers, consultants, or any number of other methods), you’re opening the doors to potentially game-changing ideas. When you’ve been neck-deep in a problem for a long time, you start to lose perspective. A fresh set of eyes can unveil solutions you’d never come up with yourself. These “outsiders” can also be pivotal to driving innovation. They force you to answer the question “why?” — and that’s never a bad thing. When they ask questions, they’re trying to get to the root of the problem so they can help develop new solutions to test. This experimentation is the key to actually getting things done instead of just discussing them. These on-demand workers allow you to test ideas on the fringes and fail fast. Focus on what you’re best at while building a happier workforce The benefits of working with freelancers can be obvious — like the fact that you’re checking tasks off of your marketing to-do list. Equipping your team with the right tools, including access to on-demand experts, allows them to focus on their goals and get more done. Freelancers act as a second line of defense for your internal team, allowing you to focus on what you do best while the experts knock out projects quickly and effectively. Some benefits, however, are less obvious. It’s true that on-demand experts allow you to focus on what you do best, but did you know that they also create a happier workforce? Freelancers are “often able to pursue a broader set of goals, whether those are about family, a creative pursuit, a side interest, or community involvement,” according to Deloitte research. Perhaps the concept is best understood as Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale School of Management and workforce researcher, shared with Deloitte: “They care about money, and they worry about money, but they’re not doing this just for money. In fact, money is a problem they have to solve so that they can do what’s really driving them.” Partner with others to provide value for customers And now, tech companies, agencies, educators and brands are all looking for ways to better access, manage and pay freelancers at scale. Our own customers are building and managing private marketplaces to manage talent and produce great results. From training programs to martech vendors, customers of all sizes and from many industries have leveraged the Torchlite platform to empower their own customers: One martech vendor found that a private marketplace provided access to the talent that their partners and customers needed. This increased their time to value, reduced customer attrition, and ultimately led to happier customers. Another marketing technology vendor took advantage of a private marketplace to create a new revenue stream. While freelancers involved in the private marketplace make money and provide value, companies are also able to monetize the ecosystem. One digital marketing academy CEO turned their custom marketplace into a tool for graduates of their program. The students want to put their certifications and skills to work immediately, and their marketplace allowed them to showcase expertise and find gigs. How do I start? Before you can set any changes in place, you must first expand the concept of the modern workforce. That means understanding that some of the most valuable contributors on your team can extend beyond a 9-to-5, office setting. Modern marketers recognize the ability to source talent in new ways is key to competitive agility, and that means incorporating tech and other tools into the talent-hunting process. Put your team on the path to success with a single source that allows you to access, engage, and manage expert on-demand talent. After all, success depends on having the right people at the right time.

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Finding the Perfect Marketing Freelancer

Mar 26, 2019 Emily Brungard

Finding the right freelancer can sometimes feel like an endless game of match-making. Sifting through experts with acute knowledge in the right niche or industry can take far too long. However, finding the right marketer can make all the difference and open up new avenues for campaigns, growth, and opportunities. But you can’t just add anyone to your roster — it has to be the right partnership. Freelancers vs. In-House vs. Agencies Finding the right marketing solution and partnership for your business is a comparison game. You’re likely trying to weigh the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer, a new team member or partnering with an agency. You’re not alone. The changing tides of business have created new avenues for productivity and it is now possible to succeed without a physical location or a comprehensive in-house team. Project-based teams, freelancers, specialized agencies and white-label partners have opened up the doors for new business opportunities. But there are certainly pros and cons for each of these options. Cost Effectiveness Agencies Agencies often offer project-based or retainer based partnerships. These are more expensive than freelancers but less expensive than hiring a new employee (at least over time). In-House The cost of an in-house employee is often underestimated. This option seems attractive because building an in-house team is great for collaboration and culture, but the overall costs can come back in droves. Taking into consideration factors like training, salary, benefits, PTO and possibly turnover — the expenses start adding up quick. Freelancer Hiring a freelancer is the most affordable option (by far). Professional freelancers come equipped with the right skills, resources, and tools to do their job efficiently. Vetting and selecting an expert in your niche is really the only hidden cost. Expertise Agencies Agencies are typically specialized and have team members that reflect that particular niche. Design agencies have designers and web-design agencies have developers...so on and so forth. While these are typically good options for specific expertise, the very best talent typically prefers to work as a freelancer or in an actual operational role within an existing company. In-House Finding in-house talent is a game of cat and mouse. The shifting landscape of marketing has created new specializations left and right. Social media coordinators, PPC managers, SEO experts — these are all necessary components of a successful digital campaign, but one person can rarely do them all. This means you will be hiring a lot of employees. Freelancer Freelancers are great for expertise because you can pick and choose exactly what you need. This widens the scope of any project your client may need because you can hire a freelancer to complete tasks you don’t have the capacity for. Manually searching for freelancers is a headache, but that’s what an on-demand expert marketplace is for! Communication Agencies Depending on the particular agency, this one is a coin-toss. Some agencies pride themselves on constant communication while others are overloaded with work and may take longer to respond. You are also limited to one or two points of contact and work on a delivery, review, revision, delivery schedule. In-House As you may have guessed, communication with an in-house hire is almost flawless. The ease of having someone in person without having to worry about alternative means of communication or even time zones makes this one a breeze. Freelancers This is something you can’t really control unless you have done your due diligence during the vetting process. If communication is a make-or-break factor for you, it should be discussed as an expectation from the start. On the positive side, freelancers rarely put aside a set time to respond, which means you can sometimes converse outside of a strict 9-5. Quick Freelancer Checklist If you have decided to go the freelance route, there are some things you should consider before selecting your expert. Here are the basics: Full-Time Professionals You want to look for freelancers that are professionals in their own right. What do we mean by this? You’re looking for full-time freelancers. This is a big one because professional freelancers have mastered the craft of handling multiple clients, projects, and deadlines simultaneously. Yes, it’s important that the freelancers you choose are well-versed in the field you’re looking for. But it’s equally important that they are vetted for their expertise in the freelance field. Google Check This is a given, but it can easily shine a light on any red flags that may be looming in the background. It can also show you a lot about a freelancer’s qualifications, past work and how they market themselves (the proof is in the pudding). What to look for: Do they have a website? Do they have an LLC? Do they have social media accounts? While all of these aren’t a necessity for whether or not you should hire a specific freelancer, they will give you some insights for what you are getting into. Get References and Evidence Any freelancer you are considering should have no issues giving you references or past work examples for you to evaluate. Past work can really help narrow down your search for a freelancer by illustrating the style and diligence they convey through their career. Verify Their Skills This can be done a few ways, but it's definitely worth doing before hiring a new freelancer. Verifying their skills with any tools or software in question is never out of the question. Ask about any certifications they may have or courses they have completed. Depending on the type of expert you are looking for, you may want to test out their skills with a small test project. Once you have gone through this checklist you’re ready to start interviewing or selecting the perfect freelancer match. Asking The Right Questions First things first, remember that you are looking for help because you are lacking the time, resources or expertise to complete a necessary project or campaign. Start your search by evaluating the holes that you are trying to fill. This will help you narrow down exactly what kind of freelancer you are looking for and the expectations you have for them once they get started. Next, you should ask these 8 questions to assist in the match-making process. There is no such thing as a shortage in preparation when it comes to finding the perfect freelancer — especially if you want results. Are they taking a holistic approach to understanding my problem? Do they have the strengths and expertise needed to achieve my marketing goals? Do they understand my brand and messaging? How will they communicate and collaborate with my in-house team? Will I have the visibility to track projects and approvals on a frequent basis How and how often will they report on the performance and results of their marketing efforts? Can I seamlessly modify my marketing plan and add or change project experts as my needs change, or will I need to find a new partner? What can I expect from the first 90 days of this partnership? Setting expectations is a two-way street. Not only is this important for your own project transparency but also for your freelance partner. Creating clear expectations frees up freelance talent to creating the very best result within the scope of their own multi-client workload. Working with someone who shares your values and will execute your vision is what you want. At the end of the day, you’re looking for a trustworthy partner who will help your team succeed. Project Transparency One big hurdle that we often see companies trying to overcome with freelancers is project transparency and setting expectations. It’s a big deal so we understand why it’s a topic of discussion. Businesses are reluctant to utilize freelancers for a few reasons. They don’t trust people that they haven’t worked with before They have been burned by a freelancer in the past They think it reflects poorly on their business to utilize outside help The truth about these three reasons is that the freelancer could certainly be to blame — but more often than most people would like to admit, the fault is double-sided. Relaying project expectations is 100% the responsibility of the person hiring the freelancer. If you have been burned in the past by a freelancer underdelivering or missing a deadline, it could have been a bad hire. Not your fault. But it may be worth revisiting whether or not your company relayed the necessary information to the talent. Hesitating to hire a freelancer because you aren’t sure whether or not they have what it takes is certainly a concern we understand. That’s why expert marketplaces like ours take pride in finding experienced, skilled and passionate freelancers to offer their clients. Freelancer Time Management As we mentioned, your first step in the vetting process is to find a professional freelancer. Not only is this to ensure that the talent you have acquired is official, but also experienced in handling multiple projects. Now, you’re not going to be able to manage your freelancers time for them. This is entirely up to their process. But we may have some freelancers out there that are reading this article, so this part is just for you! If you’re not a freelancer, feel free to skip this section. Learn to say no This is something that many freelancers learn the hard way over time. Freelancers want to get hired again, especially if they have built a good rapport with a client. Because of this, it’s often difficult to say no even if you know you’re going to be overloaded with work. But this is something you have to nip in the bud early. Just like it’s important for you client to relay expectations effectively to you, it’s equally important for you to relay your availability to them. Get rid of distractions This is a tough one. Productivity is your currency and you will go broke if you have too many distractions limiting your time. Email, funny YouTube videos — even your cell phone can take away from your workday. Try to segment your day so that you check in on important contact platforms at certain times, that way you’re not distracted by requests Treat it like a job You may be thinking “Well it is my job!”. We know, but creating your own work schedule, routines, and limitations are how you can remain happy while doing freelance work. Trying to adopt the workstyles of all your clients can scramble your brain. You definitely want to work as an extension of their team, but you may need to communicate some boundaries as to how you prefer to work. Freelance Cost Effectiveness Our marketing team has saved more than a quarter million dollars over the last year by leveraging our own business model. By harnessing the power of the Torchlite Marketplace, we throttle our marketing team when and where we need it, allowing us to create the output of a larger organization with more resources. Onboarding a new employee costs, on average, $4,000 and takes between three and four weeks. When you factor in all of the costs and the time it takes for your new hire to reach peak productivity, you might ask yourself if it’s all worth it. Freelancers can be productive immediately, and they’re only paid when you need specific work done. There’s no need to hire a full-time web developer, for example, if you only need occasional work done on your website. Companies that use freelancers also save on benefits like insurance, retirement contributions and PTO—freelancers aren’t employees, after all. This saves companies an average of $4,708 per employee per year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. If a company can hire ten freelancers instead of ten employees, that adds up to $47,000 in annual savings on healthcare alone (that means an entire additional employee!). Add to your bottom line without adding to your headcount. Reach out today to find your project's perfect match!

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