customer relationship management

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Keeping Old Customers in the New Year | Extraordinary Business

5 simple strategies you can use to keep your old customers

ew yearThe best customer you can get is the customer you already have. While many businesses focus on adding new customers, an important key to success is focusing on keeping customers you already have. Accenture’s 2013 study on customer behavior showed that 81 percent of customers who switched companies say the company could have done something to prevent the switch. That high percent equals lost sales that could have been saved. Marketing management site CMO.com also points out that customer retention actually leads to new customers through referrals by satisfied customers.

Creating a customer retention strategy can be as individual as your business. The best person to figure out how to keep customers is the one that found them in the first place. While experts can help with advice and guidance, it is up to each business to ensure the satisfaction of each customer.

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Keeping Old Customers in the New Year

5 simple strategies you can use to keep your old customers

The best customer you can get is the customer you already have. While many businesses focus on adding new customers, an important key to success is focusing on keeping customers you already have. Accenture’s 2013 study on customer behavior showed that 81 percent of customers who switched companies say the company could have done something to prevent the switch. That high percent equals lost sales that could have been saved. Marketing management site CMO.com also points out that customer retention actually leads to new customers through referrals by satisfied customers.

Creating a customer retention strategy can be as individual as your business. The best person to figure out how to keep customers is the one that found them in the first place. While experts can help with advice and guidance, it is up to each business to ensure the satisfaction of each customer.

 [···]

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Managing Your Mess | Extraordinary Business

Leveraging IT to manage your business and your customers’ experiences.

IT Software Service MessBusiness owners spend lots of time trying to figure out how to make everything talk to each other, or copying and pasting information from one system to the other. More often than not, it results in one by IT mess.  In order to manage this mess, I have seen with many small businesses is “daisy-chaining” software solutions together.  The list of solutions might include:

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Business Development | Extraordinary Business

How to get and manage more customer relationships

One of the greatest challenge many business owners face is in business development.  Time and time again, business opportunities are simply lost as a result of having poor or no business development processes in place.  Those business that expect to have staying power in the marketplace must have those systems in place, and they must be updated and tweaked, continually.

The center of this process is typically around some method of customer relationship management.  A customer relationship management tool is one that allows you to keep track of people that you meet, some of whom may move through a series of steps that will look something like:Grancesco Marino graphic

  • Lead – A person that may or may not have the potential to do business with you.  They seem to fit into your target market and could potentially be someone with whom you could do business.  Leads often fall into two or three categories:
    • Cold lead – They’ve never heard of you, nor have you gotten an introduction to them
    • Warm lead – They’ve heard of you, possibly through an introduction, but don’t know enough about you to make a purchase decision
    • Hot lead – someone who knows you and or your business, and is open to purchasing from you.
  • Prospect
    • A prospect is a confirmed lead – someone who has a need you can fill, has taken an interest in filling that need, and has the resources to purchase from you.  The key, here, is that they understand what you and your company have to offer
    • There are a number of steps you’ll want to follow (and, perhaps customize, based on your industry and target market) in order to get them to the phase of client:
      • Interview them – learn more about their needs, concerns, challenges and/or interests
      • Analyze needs – determine how you can best fulfill their needs
      • Present – present your solution or solutions set
      • Negotiate – work around any objections
      • Close the Deal – get the contract and money in hand!
  • Client – you have fulfilled their needs in exchange for money or another medium of exchange
  • Repeat client & referral partner – getting them to purchase more from you and (not or) get them to refer other people to you.  This will be your least expensive form of marketing, since these people know you and your business and hopefully, enjoyed the experience.

The challenge many business owners find is that without having developed a strategy to manage all of this, money is left on the table and clients slip through the cracks.  Even those that put money into a CRM system, such as salesforce.com, Maximizer and Act! will quickly find that the software does not automate itself; you’ve got to invest the time and energy into learning it and making it work for you and your business.  Data entry and update is not a quick process.  However, it will pay off.

The best recommendation from industry professionals (CRM) is to work with an industry professional who can get a good understanding of your business, your sales processes, your current lead generation tactics and other nuances of the sales process and have assist you with choosing, implementing and training you on how to get the greatest return on your investment.  Like anything else in life, you are limited by what you know or have capacity to learn.  Working with an experienced professional will likely save you time and money and get your CRM solution running on the right foot.

Customer relationship management can be the difference between growing an extraordinary business and going out of business.

Grow extraordinary.  Try CRM.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.

We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.

If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Business Development | Extraordinary Business

How to get and manage more customer relationships

One of the greatest challenge many business owners face is in business development.  Time and time again, business opportunities are simply lost as a result of having poor or no business development processes in place.  Those business that expect to have staying power in the marketplace must have those systems in place, and they must be updated and tweaked, continually.
The center of this process is typically around some method of customer relationship management.  A customer relationship management tool is one that allows you to keep track of people that you meet, some of whom may move through a series of steps that will look something like:Grancesco Marino graphic

  • Lead – A person that may or may not have the potential to do business with you.  They seem to fit into your target market and could potentially be someone with whom you could do business.  Leads often fall into two or three categories:
    • Cold lead – They’ve never heard of you, nor have you gotten an introduction to them
    • Warm lead – They’ve heard of you, possibly through an introduction, but don’t know enough about you to make a purchase decision
    • Hot lead – someone who knows you and or your business, and is open to purchasing from you.
  • Prospect
    • A prospect is a confirmed lead – someone who has a need you can fill, has taken an interest in filling that need, and has the resources to purchase from you.  The key, here, is that they understand what you and your company have to offer
    • There are a number of steps you’ll want to follow (and, perhaps customize, based on your industry and target market) in order to get them to the phase of client:
      • Interview them – learn more about their needs, concerns, challenges and/or interests
      • Analyze needs – determine how you can best fulfill their needs
      • Present – present your solution or solutions set
      • Negotiate – work around any objections
      • Close the Deal – get the contract and money in hand!
  • Client – you have fulfilled their needs in exchange for money or another medium of exchange
  • Repeat client & referral partner – getting them to purchase more from you and (not or) get them to refer other people to you.  This will be your least expensive form of marketing, since these people know you and your business and hopefully, enjoyed the experience.

The challenge many business owners find is that without having developed a strategy to manage all of this, money is left on the table and clients slip through the cracks.  Even those that put money into a CRM system, such as salesforce.com, Maximizer and Act! will quickly find that the software does not automate itself; you’ve got to invest the time and energy into learning it and making it work for you and your business.  Data entry and update is not a quick process.  However, it will pay off.
The best recommendation from industry professionals (CRM) is to work with an industry professional who can get a good understanding of your business, your sales processes, your current lead generation tactics and other nuances of the sales process and have assist you with choosing, implementing and training you on how to get the greatest return on your investment.  Like anything else in life, you are limited by what you know or have capacity to learn.  Working with an experienced professional will likely save you time and money and get your CRM solution running on the right foot.
Customer relationship management can be the difference between growing an extraordinary business and going out of business.
Grow extraordinary.  Try CRM.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.
We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.
If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Wagging the Dog | Extraordinary Business

One of the most challenging aspects of running a business is getting everything done.  It seems like the “to-do” list is one that is never ending and always expanding.  Let’s face it: as leaders, we are in constant pursuit of the proverbial “Pot of Gold.”

At the same time, we must remain able to make the right decisions, get the right things done, on time and as expected.  That could be business development, planning, business development, client management, etc.  That doesn’t exclude, however, the need to take care of ourselves so that we can come to work and be the best that we can every day.

The tactics that have been found to be the most successful is segmenting the day.  The other part of that is to have a certain amount of work to get done each day.  Face it: you cannot do everything.

The first thing you might want to do is to look at the major components of your business that MUST be done every day.  These are those things that might not appear to be urgent, but are definitely important.  In my case, that boils down to:

  • Business development, including writing, publishing, meetings, customer relationship management, workshop and speech development, phone calls, proposal development etc.
  • Personal time, including meals, exercise and family time
  • Client work, including client meetings, client phone calls, etc
  • Administrative work, including employee development, bookkeeping, “job” work, or the client work that is outside of the core work that I do for my clients

For me, these are every day tasks.  In order for all of these things to get done, I have to set aside time – the same time every day, to do these things.

The next step is to look at the task list, and determine where each item of the task list fits with the different categories.  If it is call a vendor back, it will fall into business development.  If it is doing research for a client project, it will fall into client work.  If it is prepare invoices or statements, it falls into administrative work.

Next, I prioritize the tasks into A, B and C.

  • A) tasks at those that are very important and must be done right away,m that only I can do
  • B) are those those tasks that are very important but don’t have to be done right away that only I can do
  • C) are those tasks that are not as important, but still have to be done quickly that only I can do

The things that don’t fall into those categories, or things that other people in my organization can do are either processed as goals (look into buying a building) or forwarded to others to get done.

Finally, I add those tasks to my weekly schedule, allotting a certain amount of time for the completion of the task, focusing on priorities, while attempting to allot some time to each task, or at least planning the task.  This is an ongoing exercise, since new tasks will come across my desk every day.  Knowing how to prioritize, knowing when to use and assistant and knowing when to say, “no.” is essential to getting things done.

As a leader, you can always spend your time chasing your tail, or letting the tail wag the dog.  Or, you can be extraordinary: manage your time and run an extraordinary business.

Be extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Technorati Tags: time,time management,scheduling,extraordinary,leadership,business,schedules,task management,calendar management
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Wagging the Dog | Extraordinary Business

One of the most challenging aspects of running a business is getting everything done.  It seems like the “to-do” list is one that is never ending and always expanding.  Let’s face it: as leaders, we are in constant pursuit of the proverbial “Pot of Gold.”
At the same time, we must remain able to make the right decisions, get the right things done, on time and as expected.  That could be business development, planning, business development, client management, etc.  That doesn’t exclude, however, the need to take care of ourselves so that we can come to work and be the best that we can every day.
The tactics that have been found to be the most successful is segmenting the day.  The other part of that is to have a certain amount of work to get done each day.  Face it: you cannot do everything.
The first thing you might want to do is to look at the major components of your business that MUST be done every day.  These are those things that might not appear to be urgent, but are definitely important.  In my case, that boils down to:

  • Business development, including writing, publishing, meetings, customer relationship management, workshop and speech development, phone calls, proposal development etc.
  • Personal time, including meals, exercise and family time
  • Client work, including client meetings, client phone calls, etc
  • Administrative work, including employee development, bookkeeping, “job” work, or the client work that is outside of the core work that I do for my clients

For me, these are every day tasks.  In order for all of these things to get done, I have to set aside time – the same time every day, to do these things.
The next step is to look at the task list, and determine where each item of the task list fits with the different categories.  If it is call a vendor back, it will fall into business development.  If it is doing research for a client project, it will fall into client work.  If it is prepare invoices or statements, it falls into administrative work.
Next, I prioritize the tasks into A, B and C.

  • A) tasks at those that are very important and must be done right away,m that only I can do
  • B) are those those tasks that are very important but don’t have to be done right away that only I can do
  • C) are those tasks that are not as important, but still have to be done quickly that only I can do

The things that don’t fall into those categories, or things that other people in my organization can do are either processed as goals (look into buying a building) or forwarded to others to get done.
Finally, I add those tasks to my weekly schedule, allotting a certain amount of time for the completion of the task, focusing on priorities, while attempting to allot some time to each task, or at least planning the task.  This is an ongoing exercise, since new tasks will come across my desk every day.  Knowing how to prioritize, knowing when to use and assistant and knowing when to say, “no.” is essential to getting things done.
As a leader, you can always spend your time chasing your tail, or letting the tail wag the dog.  Or, you can be extraordinary: manage your time and run an extraordinary business.
Be extraordinary.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Technorati Tags: time,time management,scheduling,extraordinary,leadership,business,schedules,task management,calendar management
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Kiss Office Rent Goodbye…or Maybe Not!!

I had a great conversation, yesterday, with Scott Sherman, the COO at KIS Business, about the realities of “Cloud Computing” as SAAS office products are  being called.  According to Moderro Technologies, applications included in your cloud will include services such as:

  • An Office Suite – email, calendar, “word processor”, clip_image002spreadsheets and presentation software
  • Business Applications – CRM (Customer Relationship Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), Accounting, Databases and HR Services (e.g. FlexHR’s Employee Universe)
  • Project Management and Collaboration software

According to Sherman, the problem with Cloud Computing has to do with security – keeping your company’s private information, private.  If you think about Governor’s Palin’s predicament with her email account, you have to take into consideration what could happen to your company’s information, in the hands of the wrong people.

Does this mean that you are stuck paying office rent for the next 20 years?  Definitely not.  Your ability to be mobile and to collaborate with workers anywhere in the world may be closer to your horizon than you realize.  Being able to pick up and work anywhere, anytime will help your productivity, substantially.

Does this mean that you have to purchase and maintain your own server – as if you have nothing better to do?  Not reasonable.

Does it mean that you have to take a risk with some of the free services?  Probably not the best option, either.

It means that you’ve got to find a solution that will work for your organization.  Consider the following as you plan for your integration.

  • Risk – there is a risk horizon you need to be aware of.  The more visible your organization and the more desirable (unique) your information is, the more at risk you are for a breech.
  • Planning – as your organization grows, you will want to move to tighter and tighter security models.  Some of the SAAS environments do offer 128 and 256 bit encryption service, often at a higher cost.
  • Productivity – While you may not wish to get all services from one organization, you’ll want to ensure that systems that need to work together can.
  • Support and Maintenance – Ensure these are available, around the clock.
  • Matching – Before reviewing the products, make yourself a weighted list of requirements, or a wish list for the ideal product.  Then see how each product stacks up.  Include cost, complexity, learning curve and scale ability and security.
  • Pricing – Ensure you do an apples to apples comparison.  A company that offers 1 G of storage for an unlimited number of users is not the same as 15G of storage for 5 users.  You’ll have to look at the software services in terms of which will give the greatest value proposition for your organization.

While you may not be ready today to invest in a mobile office, or you feel a product such as Windows Live Small Business, Google or ZOHO may be fine for you, do not rush into this at the last moment.  Like any business decision, be decisive and committed to doing it the right way, set a goal for getting it done, set up a list of criteria for quality and do your homework!

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