Archive for February 29, 2012

New Feature: Attach files to your to-do items!

One of the top requests during our beta period was the ability to attach files directly to a task or to-do item.   We have just rolled this out and now you can place the files right there where you want them.   You will now see a “Attach files” link at the bottom of each checklist item.  Click this link to open the file upload dialog box.

Click on the blue “Select Files” button to open your file dialog box to access your local files.  You can select one file or select several files.

The files will upload to your Zoomstra account and attach themselves to this particular checklist item.  During the upload the status bars will keep you apprised of their status.


Once you have completed uploading files, simply click the “close” link in the upper right of the file upload window and you will return to the zWorkbook builder.  As shown below, the files will now be attached to the checklist item below the description.

Adding files directly to the checklist items makes it easier for your users to take action.  By having the document right there the user can click on it to view it or right click to download it to their computer.

The 3 “what’s” of a great channel enablement program

“It’s time to get personal” exclaimed one of the sales reps.  ”We have to put ourselves in the reseller’s shoes and show them exactly why we stand out and why they should sell our solution.”  Those comments kicked off a tremendously productive meeting between the sales and marketing teams while I was onsite last week with a client.  The cross-functional team agreed that we needed to take a fresh approach to partner enablement and make it much more personalized than they had ever done before.

To start out, the team decided that the enablement program would be focused on the top 3 questions the channel partner’s account execs want to know…

  • WHAT’s in it for me?
  • WHAT do I need to know?
  • WHAT will help me win?

With this new direction in mind, the team was able to break free from the typical spray and pray training so often found in enablement programs.   And since the team had selected and our zWorkbook approach as the vehicle for partner enablement we had a great match.  The customer’s team set off to answer each of the three “What’s” so that we could then create  actionable zWorkbooks to be shared across the entire partner channel.

In the first workbook entitled “What’s in it for me” we used this opportunity to sell the partner account executive on why they should represent the software to their clients.  We defined the business proposition for the partner sales rep.  We explained how the solution allows the rep to capture a segment of business they weren’t addressing. We outlined how the new solution enables the partner rep to improve their existing relationships and how they will make more money from it all.  We crafted 4 lessons in a zWorkbook that provided the context and supporting materials including an existing video that outlined the business problem.

The second question we answered was “What do I need to know?”.  For the partner sales reps, knowing the landscape and knowing how to set the agenda are crucial for success.  The team looked at all of the existing sales tools and digital assets that the marketing team had at its disposal. We then outlined a workbook with the basic information needed by an account executive and then determined which items supported the partner in setting the agenda and talking with their prospects.

Finally we answered the question “What will help me win?”.   This is where the beauty of experience came through for the client.  The sales team in the room had a treasure trove of best practices, examples and processes that have made their own team successful over the past year selling the solution.  We captured all of that experience and pulled together details into a zWorkbook. We included lessons that could be executed on their own with step-by-step checklists and supporting documents and materials.  We created lessons like and “introductory email campaign” complete with list pull details and example email letters. Once we had the outline and the concept the rest of the details came together quickly.  We completed the first set of zWorkbooks in the past few days and we are already testing the program in the USA and Europe.   Feedback so far has been stellar and more and more people are requesting access as they learn about the program.

The real lesson that I think the team learned is that breaking free from “incremental improvement” and striking out into new territory can be game changing.  At first the team was centered on the classroom style “lecture and testing” that is so pervasive in training today.  But after seeing some examples of how to get personal the wheels came off that old LMS bus and a new thought process took over.  It became clear that building partner enablement as a one-on-one program sharing experiences, information and step-by-step guidance was the opportunity to make a big impact across the partner community.  In the end the partner enablement program has to sell to the partner account exec on the opportunity as much as it enabled he or she to sell the solution.


Making Zoomstra Instantly Useful

About two years ago, tech investor Fred Wilson gave a presentation on the 10 Golden Principles of Successful Web Apps. If you happen to be building a web app, it’s worth taking a few minutes to watch.

As the person responsible for ensuring Zoomstra solves our customers’ problems (David is responsible for identifying and understanding what our customers’ problems are), it’s up to me to make sure we deliver on these 10 principles. Some of them are fairly straightforward, such as “#1 – Speed” (which, by the way, we have some very cool things in the works for) or “#4 – Less is More“. Others, such as “#3 – Software is Media“, apply more to consumer-focused apps than to us.

There’s one item in the list, though, that falls squarely into our camp, is critical to our success, and frankly, we’re falling flat on right now. That is “#2 – Instant Utility“. Making sure a new customer sees value out of Zoomstra right away is a make-or-break issue for us, but the nature of our application makes instant value hard to deliver.

We saw the shortcomings of not delivering instant utility during our beta program. Yes, participation has exceeded expectations. Yes, getting feedback from our beta users has enriched our understanding of what Zoomstra needs to do in ways we would never figure out alone. However, simply too many beta accounts logged in and either never created a workbook or created a workbook called “test” or “my workbook”, but never really got their content in.

The reality of our application is that we provide a publishing and distribution platform for your content. Without YOUR content, a key ingredient is missing. This is what creates the challenge to the whole “instant utility” thing.

To better understand the problem, we mapped out the process a customer must go through before seeing value:

  1. Learn about Zoomstra
  2. Identify ways they can use zWorkbooks
  3. Sign up for account
  4. Log in and figure out how to use the application
  5. Create first zWorkbook
  6. Distribute zWorkbook to participants
  7. Join our growing ranks of happy customers

To help future customers make it through these six steps, we’re doing several things.

Direct Sales

We realize this isn’t scaleable, but at this point we’re taking a traditional sales approach to selling our application. By engaging with customers in a real live sales process, we gain an understanding of their problems and can identify ways Zoomstra can solve them. We can also guide them through the process of setting up their account, using the application, and creating their workbook.

Re-do our Start Screen

We’ll be launching a new start-screen soon that will guide new users through the setup process. We want to make sure you don’t get lost and it’s always clear what you need to do next.

Consulting Services

We’ve added three consulting packages to help you get going quickly. We’re experts both in our platform and channel enablement, so we’re making our expertise available. We can get you running, with a customized workbook, distribution plan, and Zoomstra account, in about a week. If you want a completely hands-free program, we’re also offering a managed service where we handle distribution and complete account management.

Zoomstra-Provided Originals

In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out a series of turn-key workbooks and templates on common topics. These can be distributed right away to your audience (Instant utility! Yay!), or can be used as a starting point that you customize from to make your own.

Improve the Workbook Builder Interface

We have a series of improvements we’ll be rolling out to make it easier to build and edit workbook originals. Our goal is to not just make it easy to create workbook originals, but make it a fun, creative, and fulfilling process.

So that’s what we’ve got planned right now to help us deliver instant utility. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will happen. Is there something more you’d like to see us do to help you get going with Zoomstra? If so, please make a comment to this post and drop us a line!

Improved library listing, click to edit smart tasks

Tonight we rolled out a set of new updates to the Zoomstra application.  In addition to several bugs and inconsistencies our beta testers reported we are also deploying the first phases of two major UI improvements.  A new library listing and a new click to edit task builder.  If you experience any inconsistencies or issues with your zWorkbook originals or deployed workbooks please contact us ASAP via support at zoomstra dot com.  Here are the details of what you should see.

Library listing update

In your Library tab you’ll see our first step towards making it easier to organize and manage your library of zWorkbook originals.  Today’s improvements break the listing of originals free from the simple table and give you controls on each of the originals.  You’ll see a new settings button that makes it easy to get to the overall settings for the zWorkbook Original. You can also edit the original, view the reports, duplicate and delete the original all from the control bar.   The process of activating or de-activating an original has been simplified to the single checkbox in the upper right corner of the original listing.  Simply click the checkbox to activate the original to make it available for distribution to users.








Improved Task editing

As a first step towards improving our zWorkbook creation/editing capabilities we are introducing click to edit.  When you add tasks to a checklist you’ll notice that we have replaced those bulky forms with a title and description link.  This makes it much easier to view a larger list of tasks all at once in the editor.  You can hover your mouse cursor over any of the tasks or descriptions and you’ll notice a yellow highlight.  If you left click you’ll open the editor “in-place” which should make it a lot easier to add, edit and move around to-do items in the lesson checklist.

Please keep sending in your questions, comments and suggestions to support at zoomstra dot com.  We read each email and discuss every suggestion.  In our next sprint we are working on some pretty cool capabilities to allow for self-registration to a workbook or group of workbooks.  We also will be introducing our first phase to improving the ability to organize your MyWorkbooks.   We may even be ready to tell you about our first large scale commercial rollout of Zoomstra with a well known software company!  Exciting things are happening and we are glad you have joined us for the beta!

David & the Zoomstra Crew!