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The goal is to provide a summary of the webpage.

Google’s guideline states:

“A page’s meta description tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about.”

Meta descriptions do not directly influence search rankings.

But they play a role in helping potential site visitors understand what a page is about, which can provide a positive impact on search referrals.

What Is A Meta Description?

The meta description is an HTML tag (technically, it’s called an HTML element) that provides search engines and searchers a summary of what a webpage is about.

It is displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) underneath the title of the page. The URL, title, and meta description together form what is called a search snippet.

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Meta Description Example

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the international organization responsible for defining HTML standards, the meta description has three qualities.

The three qualities of a valid meta description are:

Users can type whatever text they want, without any restriction, as long as it describes what the webpage is about.

The summary must be appropriate for use by a search engine.

There can only be one meta description per webpage.

Google Rewrites Meta Descriptions

The search snippet can contain either the meta description from a webpage or it could be text that Google selects from the visible part of the webpage itself.

Google’s guidelines state that they will only use the meta description if it is accurate.

Depending on the accuracy of the meta description, Google may rewrite a meta description for your webpage that is entirely different from the meta description on the webpage.

This is nothing new. Google automated this process many years ago.

A study from 2023 found that Google rewrites meta descriptions 70% of the time.

If that’s true, could it be that publishers aren’t creating accurate meta descriptions?

One thing that is beyond dispute is that it is important to understand the correct way to write a meta description.

Meta Descriptions vs. SERP Snippets

Some people mistakenly use the terms “meta description” and “search snippet” interchangeably.

But meta descriptions and search snippets are two different things.

The meta description is an HTML tag that you control. You can create and optimize your own meta descriptions.

Search snippets are the descriptions Google shows for your webpages.

Why Are Meta Descriptions Important For SEO?

Meta descriptions are not used as ranking factors.

So, how should they be used today, why are they important?

But it also suggests using it to persuade users that the content is what they’re looking for.

“They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”

The goal of SEO is to rank the site at the top of the search results.

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What Is The Recommended Or Ideal Meta Description Length?

It has been considered a standard SEO best practice for years to keep meta descriptions at around 160-165 characters maximum (or 156-160 characters, depending on who you talk to).

The reasoning behind this is that this optimization helps to avoid the truncation of the meta description in the search results.

But Google uses the meta description to better understand the webpage, and there is no limit to how long the meta description can be, although Google suggests no longer than a short paragraph.

This is what Google recommends:

“A page’s meta description tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about. …a page’s meta description tag might be a sentence or two or even a short paragraph.”

SEOs recommend keeping the meta description within a set limit based on how much of the meta description Google can show on a search results page.

Google says to be concise and write as much as a paragraph.

The W3C HTML standards state that there is no limit other than it is a “free-form string,” which means no rules on how much text is used.

If one is to conform to what Google recommends, then the ideal length of a meta description could be said to be as long as you need to summarize the webpage accurately but no longer than a short paragraph.

Ultimately, use your own judgment.

7 Writing Tips And Best Practices For Meta Descriptions 1. Research Your Competitors

Regardless of your industry, SERP research will help you see what works for your competitors without getting them rewritten – which may inspire you to write better meta descriptions.

Researching which meta descriptions are successfully shown in the search results and which ones are rewritten by Google may help you better understand the right way to do it.

To do SERP research effectively:

Step 1: Research The SERPs For Your Targeted Keyword

It’s easier said than done, I know. It can be time-consuming to manually go through every search result and identify what, exactly, is your competition’s kryptonite.

The reason why we were looking at the competition is that usually, the competition implements techniques that are currently working.

Step 2: Research The SERPs For Your Competition And What They’re Doing

Here, you take a look at your competition and figure out exactly what they are doing for their brands.

This will let you keep a running tally of your competition and track them easily and efficiently every month without enormous monthly costs.

2. Map Your Customer’s Journey

Identify your target audience’s optimal buying journey and what happens at each stage of the marketing funnel.

The marketing funnel can vary widely depending on your target market, so sharing an exact funnel to follow here would be fruitless.

Target and tailor your meta descriptions according to your findings but always make accurately summarizing the topic of the webpage the final goal.

3. Use Your Brand’s Unique Tone And Style

Every brand should have a unique tone of voice that’s consistent with its brand identity; this is how the brand appears online to users.

Each meta description should be uniquely crafted and tailored to how that tone of voice amplifies itself across the brand’s ecosystem.

You wouldn’t use the same tone of voice for a corporate law website as you would for a daycare website, would you?

So, why would you use a tone of voice that’s exactly the same from page to page?

The main benefit of tone of voice is that it reaches different personas targeting certain keywords.

By targeting personas with user intent and combining keywords with this research, it is possible to reach your target audience with a level of sophistication and optimization that truly resonates.

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4. Include Keywords Your Audience Actually Searches For

Google maintains that they don’t use keywords in the meta description for ranking purposes. But when you perform SERP research, what is it that you see? Highlighted keywords in the meta description.

This is something that can draw your reader to the most relevant result that will satisfy their query.

5. Take Advantage Of Trending Social Headlines

As a social media connoisseur, you’re most likely on the up and up in your industry when it comes to identifying exactly what’s trending and what isn’t passing muster for your audience.

Following influencer accounts and industry firms should already be a part of your strategy.

Taking it a step further, assess which topics are currently trending in your space and see what meta descriptions appear for the highest-ranking results.

Google Trends, BuzzSumo, and Trending Topics on Twitter are all good places to check and see what might be trending that’s relevant to your industry.

6. Target A Specific Search Intent

Generalized meta descriptions and hollow phrases such as “best widgets” and other sales-speak can turn off prospective customers.

It is important to inspire confidence that your result is something that will satisfy their user intent for the query.

You want to speak about what your readers are really after, not attempting to persuade them into your own sales funnel.

7. Refresh Your Meta Descriptions For Older Content

Refreshing stale content on a website can be a boon for the site and is a great way to get new traction for older pages.

Also, by refreshing your meta descriptions, it is possible to get more traction from social media as a result.

You can re-share and grab more visibility from older posts if you perform a systematic refresh of all of your meta descriptions.

Examples Of Great Meta Descriptions

So, what does a great meta description look like?

Here are a few examples:

“Pain and suffering are very real to the victim in a personal injury case. Learn more about how to reduce discomfort from our personal injury attorneys in this latest blog post.”

“By thinking clearly about your needs, it is possible to find a computer that will help you do all the things you currently love, and more. Our technicians explain.”

“What are you looking for in a widget? Our widget technicians can help you find the best one for your needs. These are the things you should look out for in widgets.”

Not every meta description type will work well for each industry. This is where testing, assessing your results, and making changes based on those results come in.

Tailor your meta description to the website and down to the page that is designed for your users.

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Optimizing Meta Descriptions

The fundamentals of a meta description that Google recommends are to summarize what the content is about, be concise but use as much text as is appropriate, and don’t use it just for keywords (keyword stuffing).

It’s also recommended that the meta description is attractive to a potential site visitor.

While the traditional SEO practice uses the meta description for keywords and a call to action, that’s not the best practice according to Google and the W3C.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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What Are Windows Runtime Errors And How Do You Fix Them?

Runtime errors in Windows are as old as the operating system itself. It’s a common error message to see when an app crashes, but what exactly is a runtime error, and what can you do about it?

Software development is complex, and modern applications rely on sophisticated libraries and supporting data to work as expected. This guide will help you understand why runtime errors happen and how to minimize them.

Table of Contents

What Is a Runtime Error?

The term “runtime error” refers to any application error when a program is executed. In other words, it happens to a running program. This is in contrast to errors that happen when a program is compiling. Compilation is the process of taking programming code (the “source” code) and converting it to binary code that can be excited by the operating system. If any part of the source code is invalid, the compiler will stop and give an error message.

Runtime errors happen when the compiled executable encounters a situation where it doesn’t know what to do next or something interferes with its normal operation. At this point, it will throw in the towel and give a runtime error.

Different Types of Runtime Error

Because runtime errors are defined so broadly, troubleshooting them can be tricky. It helps to understand what common types of error you may encounter. The five error types below are not exhaustive but are the most likely culprits.

Logic Errors

Logic errors happen when the computer literally encounters something that “does not compute.” It’s an output generated by the program’s code that produces an unexpected result, sometimes an impossible one, because the logic of the code doesn’t track or the programmers did not anticipate a specific set of conditions or inputs.

Memory Leaks

A memory leak happens when a program doesn’t give back memory that it requested after it no longer needs it. Over time memory leaks leave fewer and fewer resources for other programs, leading to degraded performance and, eventually, runtime errors. This is an interesting one because the software that reports a runtime error is usually not the one with a memory leak. It’s just a victim of the leak.

Dividing by Zero

It’s impossible to divide by zero, so when your computer tries to, it implodes into a black hole. Just kidding! It will crash the program with a runtime error along the lines of “cannot divide by zero.”

Undefined Objects

This error is usually associated with Java and JavaScript, where variables that have not been assigned a value or haven’t been declared. In other words, there’s no data in a variable, or the code refers to a variable that doesn’t exist. Basically, the programmer messed up in some way.

IO Errors

IO or Input/Output errors happen when a program tries to read or write data from a storage device and fails. This can be for various reasons, from a disconnected drive to a faulty hard drive or USB hardware. Scratched optical discs are another common cause of IO errors.

How to Fix Runtime Errors

So you’ve encountered a runtime error, and it’s bumming you out because you’re trying to get things done. While we’ve mentioned above that runtime errors come in different varieties, and specific errors may clue you into which type, there are some general fixes that may work regardless of the details.

Reboot Your Computer

Rebooting your computer may solve memory leak issues or clear out any temporary data caches or other working data that may have caused a program to stop. If an issue goes away after a reboot, it doesn’t help clear up the cause, but for occasional problems, a restart is a fast solution to try.

Update The Application

More often than not, runtime errors in software result from bugs in the software itself. Once a software developer is aware of these bugs, they’ll usually fix the problem and release an update for the application. So one of the first things you should do is check whether an update for your software is available.

Perhaps more importantly, when you encounter a Windows runtime error, you should report it to the developers. Sometimes there’s a reporting button alongside the error message; at other times you may have to take a screenshot or write down an error code and then get in touch via email or social media. Reporting a new bug can speed up getting a fix.

Update Windows

Runtime errors can also be due to bugs or other issues in Microsoft Windows itself, which are often rectified in Windows updates. Small issues are usually addressed in “hotfixes” which are small updates that fix specific urgent problems.

Alternatively, if a program has started giving runtime errors shortly after a Windows update, you may want to delete the last update until the developers update their software.

Update Your Outdated Drivers

Drivers are software that let the operating system control your hardware, such as the display adapter (AKA your graphics card). New software or newly-updated software may rely on features that only exist in the latest version of the driver, so when you update drivers for your computer components, you might fix hardware-related runtime errors.

Reinstall or Repair The Application

Runtime errors can be the result of corrupted application files or data. So when the program executable tries to access data it needs to work, it runs into errors because that data is wrong or missing.

By uninstalling the application and reinstalling it, you can overwrite that corrupt data with a fresh copy. You may not have to uninstall the application first. Many apps will offer a “repair” or “verify” option when you either run the installer again or try to uninstall them from the Programs and Features section of the Control Panel.

Close All Other Apps

Runtime errors that are caused by memory leaks or because a particular app needs more memory than is available can be mitigated by closing any nonessential programs that are open. You may also want to adjust the size of your swap file, to create a little more breathing room for apps that don’t fit into RAM.

Run Windows in Safe Mode or Perform a Clean Boot

If you suspect the runtime errors that you’re experiencing are the result of drivers or other software applications in the background, you can use either Safe Mode or a clean boot to confirm it.

A clean boot is almost the opposite of Safe Mode. Rather than loading a minimal operating system, Windows disables all third-party startup software. If a clean boot resolves the runtime error, it’s likely a third-party app that needs to be disabled, updated, or replaced. Refer to our guide on how to perform a clean boot.

Update Runtime Components

Software often depends on shared software libraries and standard software runtime components. If these are not installed, are corrupted, or are the wrong version it can cause issues. Examples of such runtime components include the Microsoft Visual C++ redistributable package.

You can download the required VC++ redistributable from the Microsoft website, but it’s usually included with the software that needs it. So reinstalling or repairing the app should also restore the Visual C++ runtime library. This is one of the easiest runtime component problems to identify, because the runtime error message will usually specify that it’s a “C++ runtime error.”

Check For Corrupt Files

Data corruption happens when the ones and zeros that make up a file are damaged or overwritten for some reason. Damage to system or application files can lead to unexpected runtime errors.

You can run the Windows System File Checker (SFC) to check and repair damage to system files. For applications, most of the time the installer will have a “repair” option if you run it without uninstalling the app first. With software clients such as Steam, you can also use the “verify” option on your games to check that the files are still whole.

Perform a Malware Scan

Many types of malware inject themselves into running code, corrupt data files, or alter executable files. All of which can lead to runtime errors. To rule out malware as the reason you’re getting errors, run a scan using your favorite antivirus or antimalware software.

Perform A Memory Test

Before your running software gets to your CPU for processing, it stops over in your RAM. If your RAM is faulty, this may cause runtime errors that are hard to track down. Run a memory test and make sure it’s not an issue with bits getting flipped in your memory modules!

How Do You Manage Your Finances?

But of course, with the dawn of mobile devices, many people use an app or a combination of apps to manage their finances. It can be quite easy to use this method being that many banks have their own dedicated apps and employ great services such as allowing you to snap a photo of your signed check to deposit it electronically.

Some others manage their finances online but still with their chosen bank’s website. They can move money from account to account without having to leave the house or place a phone call. Paypal has grown to be a great source as well, allowing you to send and receive money electronically while also rolling out other banking services. But there are still a few “analog”-type people who prefer to do it the old-fashioned way with pencil and paper.

And no, I didn’t forget about the category not talked about yet. It’s not good, but we know there are some people out there who don’t manage their finances at all, despite how easy it is to do so with apps or on the Internet.

Whats your chosen method? Do you find it easy just to head to different sites on your browser to manage it all? Or maybe you use the convenient apps on your smartphone or Quicken or Microsoft Excel. Are you old-fashioned and still using pencil and paper? Or do you just spend freely knowing it will all work out in the end and don’t manage it at all?

Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site’s sponsored review program.

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How To Write A Sales Plan

A sales plan is a blueprint that sets specific sales goals for your business and helps your sales team achieve them.

For your sales plan to be effective, you should include realistic goals, tools to track your sales, future expectations, commission structure and relevant training programs.

A sales plan is a critical tool to help a business drive sales and navigate risks.

This article is for small business owners and sales managers who want to create a successful sales plan.

Every business needs a business plan as well as more detailed road maps that offer guidance to each department working toward that common goal. As the revenue-generating engine of your company, the sales department should be a top priority for this type of document, aptly named the “sales plan.” This guide introduces the concept of a sales plan and gives you all the guidance you need to create a sales plan that works for your business.

What is a sales plan?

A sales plan details the overall sales strategy of a business, including the revenue objectives of the company and how the sales department will meet those goals. This may also include revenue goals, the target audience and tools the team will use in their day-to-day. In addition, the sales plan should include examples of the hurdles and pain points the team might encounter, as well as contingency plans to overcome them.

“[A sales plan] is essential to support the growth of an organization,” said Bill Santos, vice president of the ITsavvy Advanced Solutions Group. “A sales plan helps individual reps understand the priorities of the business as well as the measurements by which they will be evaluated.”

Business plans vs. sales plans

Business plans and sales plans are closely linked. A sales plan, though, should outline the actions that the sales department will take to achieve the company’s broader goals. A sales plan differs from a business plan, though both work toward the same end.

“A business plan is a ‘what’ [and] a sales plan is a ‘how,’” said James R. Bailey, professor of management and Hochberg Professional Fellow of Leadership Development at the George Washington University School of Business. “Business plans are where a firm wants to go. A sales plan is a part of how they can achieve that. A business plan is direction; a sales plan is execution.”

For example, a software company that developed a new mobile application might state in its business plan that the app will be installed by 1 million users within a year of launch, while the sales plan describes how that will actually be achieved.

How to write a sales plan

Every sales plan should suit the individual needs of a different company, so they come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all sales plan; the one you create will be unique to your business. With careful planning, you’ll have a much clearer vision of what you need to accomplish and a road map for how to get there. 

Chris Gibbs, vice president of global sales at Centripetal Networks, named some additional items that every sales plan should include.

Targeted accounts: Assign each salesperson a few key accounts to focus on, and grow from that base.

Targeted verticals: Sales teams might focus on specific market segments or verticals, such as a particular industry.

SKUs: Salespeople should emphasize certain SKUs or inventory items rather than get lost in a broad catalog of merchandise to sell.

Sales and marketing coordination: Sales and marketing teams should work together to create promotions to help generate sales.

Product road maps: Every company has a road map, and each product should have a road map that shows the plan and direction for a product offering over time to chart out when a product will launch and when it might sunset or be replaced by a newer model.

Forecasts: Sales forecasting is projecting sales volumes and expectations by comparing them historically to sales of previous years, and then conducting market comparison to determine where sales will fall against the competition.

“Sales plans are extremely important to ensure there is cohesiveness between product teams, sales and marketing,” Gibbs said. “In addition, they’re important for ensuring that timing of new products and/or new version releases coincide with sales objectives and forecasts.”

What are the steps to create a sales plan?

A sales plan is necessary for businesses of every size, from an individual entrepreneur to a Fortune 500 company. When you’re ready to actually write your sales plan, follow these steps:

1. Define the objectives. 

Clearly outlining your goals and stating your objectives should always be the first step in creating a sales plan or any other business venture. You should include the expected sales volume and any markets or territories you expect to reach. 

For example, let’s say you own a retail store selling household goods and electronics. If your purpose is to establish yourself as a trusted local retailer, ask yourself the following questions:

Who are your customers?

Are they in-store customers?

If so, are they purchasing anything or just browsing?

Are they online customers?

If so, how did they stumble upon your website? 3. Determine and outline the sales strategies. 

Sales strategies are the actual tactics your team will use to reach customers. They can include marketing channels as well as procedures for lead generation and client outreach employed by your salespeople.

Here are two examples of potential sales strategies: 

Use your POS system to retain customer information so you can track current and new customers.

Employ email marketing, text message marketing, social media, outbound call center services and direct mail marketing campaigns.

4. Define roles for the sales team. 

Each member of the sales team should be assigned clear roles, whether they vary from person to person or everyone performs the same functions.

Defining the sales direction of the team is crucial, as it shows the focus of the company and helps the team target and execute sales most effectively.

The plan of attack for the sales team should be communicated clearly by leadership, whether it is from team leaders or the CEO.  

5. Inform other departments of sales objectives.

A sales plan shouldn’t just update a company president or C-suite; it should inform the whole organization of the sales team’s objectives. 

Clearly outline your plan for the rest of the company to help them understand the goals and procedures of the sales team. Other departments become more efficient when interacting with the sales team and clients. This also conveys a certain level of quality and professionalism to the clients about the company.

6. Provide tools for the sales team.

Provide the tools each member of the sales team needs to achieve the stated goals, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software. The best CRM software is customizable to meet a company’s needs, making it much easier for your team to use the software and work efficiently.

7. Detail how the department will track progress. 

Offer strategic direction and insight on how progress will be monitored. Having a quarterly review to assess whether the company is on target is just as important as the plan itself.

Markets change, and so should your sales plan. Keeping it up to date will help you capitalize on the market and achieve your goals. Tracking progress is made easier by the tools you use to collect data. That data will then have to be analyzed and presented in a way which all departments can understand and use for future growth. 

Key elements of a sales plan

Every sales plan should also include the following elements.

Realistic goals

You need to set achievable goals. Challenge your sales team, but don’t push too hard. Bailey said that these “deliverables” are among the key points to include in a sales business plan. 

“Deliverables need to be as specific as possible and moderately difficult to achieve – specific inasmuch as being measurable in a manner that is uncontested [and] moderately difficult inasmuch as making sales goals too difficult can lead to failure and discouragement.”

Midpoint goals also help build morale and keep the team working toward a larger goal. Instead of having one giant goal, creating smaller goals to achieve along the way will keep your team focused.


Set milestones that give you the opportunity to regularly determine whether you are on track to achieve your sales goals or need to make adjustments.

Sales tools

Tracking sales throughout the term is helpful, and you can employ tools to keep track of each team member as well as the department overall. It also helps establish a culture of accountability among salespeople.

“Tools can help, especially project management and CRM software,” Santos said. “Having a weekly cadence of update and review is also important, as it sends a message that ownership and updates are important.”

Clear expectations and a defined commission structure

Assign goals and responsibilities to each team member to make expectations clear. This is true whether or not each team member has the same goals.

“We meet with each individual to come up with a plan that works for them so that they can reach their goals,” said Leah Adams, director of client success at Point3 Security. “We measure results based on numbers. Each team member has his own plan and how they’re going to get there.”

It’s also necessary to spell out the commission structure in full detail.

“The only real difference is how sales count,” Bailey said. “In petroleum-based products … a few big clients are necessary. Compensation needs to be structured not just in contract value, but in graduated terms: Above $1 million, commissions move from 5% to 9%, and so forth. In smaller-volume enterprises, commissions might be front-loaded with higher percentages early, then graduated down. You have to reward what you want.”

Training programs

Along the way, some training might be necessary to maintain the momentum.

“What’s important to us is that we’re teaching these individuals to be the best salesperson they can be,” Adams said. “We help them do that by constantly training them and giving them knowledge of what’s going on in our industry. Everything stays on track because each member of the team knows their individual goal; though each person has a number, they also know the ultimate goal is for the entire team to hit.”

Adams said that an effective CRM keeps things organized and helps delegate tasks and responsibilities on a schedule that uses the company’s lead information.

Key steps to follow when devising a sales plan

Here are some best practices for creating a sales plan:

Refer to the business plan. The sales plan should directly address the objectives of the business plan and how those objectives can be achieved.

Advance clear objectives. The clearer the objectives are, the easier it will be to reach your goals.

Reference prior sales data. Chart sales over the previous few terms, and project the trend for the current term. New businesses can create sales projections based on expectations.

Outline the commission structure. This will help motivate your team and help you calculate anticipated costs.

Be clear about how progress is measured. There should be no dispute about this. If larger clients carry more weight than lower-volume buyers, that should be stated upfront.

The benefits of a sales plan

A sales plan keeps the sales department on track, considering the details of how they must operate to hit their targets and achieve company objectives. Because the sales team is the primary driver of revenue, it is an incredibly important document. [Related article: Adopting a CRM? How to Get Buy-in From Your Sales Department]

“It’s extremely important to have a sales plan in place, almost a must,” Adams said. “Without this plan, it’s almost impossible to get through the year and hit the company’s sales goals.”

It’s not uncommon to encounter obstacles along the way, however. A good sales plan accounts for that.

“Almost always, you’ll run into the speed bumps along the way, but with a plan in place, it makes it a whole lot easier to navigate through it all,” Adams said. “The sales plan allows you to adjust when necessary so the goal can still be hit. I strongly believe a plan allows you to stay in control and reduce the risk while being able to measure the team’s results along the way to that finish line.”

Key Takeaway

A solid sales plan helps you deal with unexpected events and acts as a benchmark for where your company is and where you want it to go.

Sales plan templates

Sales templates are helpful in that many of them are based on tried-and-true formats that have been used by businesses across several industries. They can also provide structure so that it is clear to each employee what their role and responsibilities are. 

Free download

Create your own sales plan by downloading our free template.

“A template helps plan each individual’s daily activities in a structured way,” Adams said. “If you know what each person is doing daily, it’s easier to help correct what’s going wrong. It helps with things like conversion rates, etc. Yes, these templates can be customized in any way a team’s manager sees fit, based on how he believes the team will perform better.”

Sales plans should be unique to the company; however, there are key components they should always include. Because there is somewhat of a formula, you can use a template.

Templates are extremely helpful, Gibbs said. “It creates uniformity for the team, as well as a yearly or quarterly sales plan to present to senior management.”

Gibbs added that templates can easily be customized to meet the needs of a particular business or sales team.

Keeping your team on track with a sales plan

Planning is vital for any business, especially when dealing with sales targets. Before selling your product or service, you must outline your goals and ways to execute them. Essentially, a sales plan enables you to mitigate problems and risks. When there is a clear plan of action, you will know how to proceed in order to attain your goals. 

Enid Burns contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Do You Trust Ai To Do Your Job?

Almost two-thirds of Australians believe there are not enough safeguards, laws and regulations in place to make the use of AI safe in the workplace.

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ChatGPT and the varied offerings from other Big Tech providers have highlighted the transformative power and challenges AI tools can pose at work.

A 17-country study reveals how much and in what ways we trust AI in the workplace, how we view the risks and benefits, and what is expected for AI to be trusted. The Trust in Artificial Intelligence global research study completed by University of Queensland Business School and KPMG surveyed 17,000+ people and indicates that only half are willing to trust AI at work.

The analysis suggests the varying levels in trust and acceptance across countries largely reflect three key factors:

Differences in the perceived benefits of AI and the extent to which they outweigh potential risks: people in western countries and Japan are generally less convinced of the benefits of AI, and together with South Korea and Israel, less likely to believe the benefits of AI outweigh the risks, compared to people in the BICS countries and Singapore.

Perceptions of institutional safeguards: there are differences across countries in the perceived adequacy of safeguards and regulations to make AI use safe, and confidence in the institutions responsible for this. Fewer people in western countries, Japan, South Korea and Israel view current laws and regulations for safeguarding AI as sufficient, and report less confidence in companies to develop, use and govern AI, compared to people in Brazil, India, China and Singapore.

Familiarity and understanding of AI: people in western countries generally report less use of AI at work, and lower use and knowledge of AI in common applications, compared to people in the BICS countries and Singapore.

The findings of this global survey provide a clear overview of the current and future challenges to trust and acceptance of AI systems, as well as opportunities for overcoming these challenges.

“Given the rapid and widespread deployment of AI, it will be important to regularly re-examine public trust and expectations of AI systems as they evolve over time, to ensure AI use is aligned with and meeting changing societal expectations,” the study says.

Florian Douetteau is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Dataiku, the platform for Everyday AI, democratising access to data science and enabling enterprises around the world to build their own journey with Artificial Intelligence. The company has raised $600 million at a $3.7 billion valuation in their most recent Series F funding round in December 2023.

Douetteau started Dataiku in 2013 out of his passion for data, machine learning and people. He envisioned a future for businesses with AI becoming mainstream through the collaborative effort of everyone in the company, not just data scientists or technical experts.

“We are focused on being the company that helps businesses to get it done,” Douetteau says in an interview with Forbes Australia. “We leverage existing business expertise, only through AI and across a company, not just through a technologist.”

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He says the landscape has evolved dramatically over the past 10 years, from big data trying to find capacity to store information to cloud technology that has reduced costs.

“There is a conviction now across all industries that this can be a more efficient way of doing things in some areas of a business. We have the expertise to leverage AI to increase those efficiencies.”

Douetteau says the uses of AI have been “underestimated” and can give back time for the business to be more creative rather than overwhelmed by everyday reporting and researching of data.

How brands are using AI

AI is rapidly changing the way people communicate and create and brands are no exception.

Bain & Company has agreed a services alliance with OpenAI to help enterprise clients identify and realise the full potential and maximum value of AI, with The Coca-Cola Company announced as the first business to use the system.

OpenAI is the research and deployment company behind the AI systems ChatGPT, DALL·E and Codex.

The alliance builds on Bain’s adoption of OpenAI technologies for its 18,000-strong multi-disciplinary team of knowledge workers.

Over the past year, Bain has embedded OpenAI technologies into its internal knowledge management systems, research, and processes to improve efficiency. Given the early successes of those initiatives, Bain and OpenAI are working together to bring OpenAI’s groundbreaking capabilities to its clients globally.

“AI has reached an inflection point and we foresee a huge wave of change and innovation for our clients across industries. We see this as an industrial revolution for knowledge work, and a moment where all our clients will need to rethink their business architectures and adapt,” says Manny Maceda, Bain & Company’s Worldwide Managing Partner.

Maceda says that by collaborating with OpenAI, there will be “unmatched access to state-of-the-art foundation AI models, so that we can create tailored digital solutions for our clients and help them realize business value”.

Zack Kass, Head of Go-To-Market at OpenAI says, “Coca-Cola’s vision for the adoption of OpenAI’s technology is the most ambitious we have seen of any consumer products company.”

James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company says the company sees opportunities to enhance its marketing, along with exploring ways to improve business operations and capabilities.

Smaller e-commerce businesses are finding ways to use AI in their own way. Kayla Houlihan, tribe skincare founder, detailed five ways she was using ChatGPT this week on a LinkedIn post: product descriptions, creative names for a secret project, PR/media pitches, employment contracts, brand bible revisit.

Houlihan describes the tool as “surprisingly good” and “great for writer’s block”, but adds it needs fact checking and doesn’t have an accurate tone of voice.

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here.

Do You “Possess” What You View Online?

In a ruling yesterday, the New York Court of Appeals dismissed several counts of possession of child pornography charged to college professor James D. Kent, after a computer he brought to university IT for anti-virus service was found to contain child pornography in its browser cache.

For those specific counts–he’s still going to jail on other, related charges–Kent was found to have not committed an “affirmative act” such as downloading, saving, or printing the image files in order to “possess” them; rather, they were passively saved by his browser in its hidden cache.

Throughout internet history to date, there has been a distinct difference between viewing and possessing. Looking at a Far Side cartoon on a Geocities web page is different than printing it out and thumb-tacking it to your cubicle door. Simple. But as connections have sped up, hardware has gotten faster, and the internet on our phones has become equally if not more usable than the one on our computers, that line has all but disappeared. When you have constant, high-speed and portable access to the entire internet–text, photo, video–why do you ever need to download it?

Child porn is an extreme example, but many of us are guilty of breaking the law with more innocuous, but still illegal, material. Copyright violation is much more common–rampant on the web, even–and the laws surrounding it are murky at best, contradictory and useless at worst. You can buy a used CD or book in a shop or off of Craigslist, performing a perfectly legal transaction. You can lend your friend a CD or book for free, also perfectly legal. But try to do the same general act online, using something like BitTorrent? You’ll find yourself on extremely shaky legal ground, in which you may or may not be eligible for a fair use exemption, may or may not be prosecuted, and may or may not be convicted. And that’s for downloading actual files, which is much simpler to paint as “possession” than something like streaming.

The file doesn’t matter anymore.

If you need proof, take a closer look at an iPhone or iPad. Try to find the .mp3 file of the song you’re listening to, or the .txt file of the note you just wrote to yourself. You can’t. Because files and folders? Those are the past.

* * *

This seems like the kind of concept we’re all semi-comfortable with when it applies to stuff we as users want people to have access to, like the new Santigold album. We like being able to stream it from SoundCloud, or from Rdio, or “watch” videos containing the songs and a still image of the album cover on YouTube. We’ll even fight for it! We’re okay with things being legal but of questionable financial help to content creators (Rdio), sometimes legal and sometimes not (SoundCloud), or convenient but totally illegal and likely to get pulled down at any moment (YouTube). We’ll stick black bars on our Twitter avatars to protest (admittedly awful, overreaching, potentially disastrous) legislation that attempts to stop us from doing these things! But what about stuff we really don’t want people to have access to?

If “possession” just means that you have some material or a copy of the material, for access any time, then we need a serious rethinking of that term and the laws that rely on it. And if “distribution” can mean both sending an email with child porn in an attachment and simply sharing a link where the same files can be found and downloaded, we’ve got to rethink the legality of those two very different actions–because they have the same result.

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