Web-to-Lead Capture Forms Collect Customer Data
Customizable web-to-lead capture forms that feed customer information straight into your CRM enable you to collect data on customers interested in your products and to finally understand who your customers are to shape your company's sales, marketing, and product strategies. Enroll those customers in tailored email marketing campaigns or use the data to assess who your most valuable customers are and to focus sales teams efforts on leads with those characteristics.
- Creating and Embedding Web-to-Lead Forms
- Customize forms to collect whatever data you need using our easy form-creator and embed the form on any of your websites.
- Information filled out by customers feeds straight into profitsflow(quick tip: studies indicate that contacting them within 5 minutes makes them 22x more likely to convert)
- Profitsflow captures all of this information in a lead record and can subsequently start automated email marketing campaigns for them.
- Use that information to learn about common characteristics of markets in which your products and services are in high demand.
With a strong process in place and the right amount of vigilance on your part, you can begin working with your customers to turn their stories of success into even more success for your business. Depending on the size of your business, your customers may be spread across the city, state, country or even the world.
Oftentimes, it can seem as though they exist on islands unto themselves. If you don’t work in sales, support or other customer-facing parts of the business, you might even feel as though they exist on another planet altogether.
Still, there’s undeniable value in being able to share customer success stories and connect prospects with happy customers. If you work in marketing or communications, there’s a good chance that sharing these stories and collecting references is part of your responsibility to the company. Not having direct access to customers is a challenge, but you can still find ways to connect and utilize their experience to help grow your business. It just takes a bit of strategy and a lot of vigilance.
This article will discuss strategies for obtaining customer case studies and references. These particular items are often critical pieces of the sales process — especially if your business sells to other businesses (B2B). Potential customers need to see or hear firsthand how other customers are deriving value and receiving a return on investment from your products or services to prove to their organization that the expense is justified.
Process, Process, Process
Before you begin connecting with your sales teams — or the customers themselves — to obtain success stories, you’ll want to make sure you have a fully baked process in place. Is there anything more valuable to the company than your customer’s time? Probably not!
You’ll want to give your colleagues and your customers the confidence that you're making the best use of their time. The best way to do that is with a streamlined process that gives visibility into every step. Put this into an attractive, shareable presentation.
Some questions you will want to ask yourself while building the process include:
• Do you need to interview and speak with the customer directly? How will you schedule the interview and how long will it take?
• Does the customer need to sign any legal documentation to participate in a case study or act as a reference for the company?
• What Service Level Agreements (SLAs) can you put in place to give your colleagues and customers an idea of how long the process will take? For instance, how long will it take you to complete a written draft for a case study?
• How much input will the customer have on the final product — whether you’re creating a case study document or video? Make sure they know they will be involved every step of the way!
Members of your sales team are most likely focused on meeting their quotas above all else, so you can understand why helping you collect and publish customer stories might not be their top priority. So what’s in it for them?
First of all, make sure they understand and realize that case studies and customer references are often a critical part of the sales process. They probably know this, though, because their customers and prospect are already asking about them.
What if they still need an extra push? What else can you offer your sales team for putting you in touch with happy customers who are willing to share their stories in a document or video, or act as a reference for the company? If there’s room in your budget, a financial incentive can be a great way to encourage your sales reps to look for customer success opportunities. If cash is out of the question, how about entry into a quarterly drawing to win a gift card or new piece of technology? Stoke sales representatives’ competitive fire!
Is there a particular type of case study you need more than others — one from a particular region or industry vertical? Prospective customers want to see similar businesses finding success with your products or services. Make sure your compensation system takes that into account. All stories of customer success are valuable in their own way, but be sure to angle for the ones you need the most. Offering better compensation for stories that meet the desired criteria is one of the best ways to do this.
Once you have your process for collecting customer stories and references in place and your incentive plan is set, it’s time to spread the word! There are many ways to do this, and the larger your organization is, the more creative you will probably have to be in your efforts to reach out. First and foremost: get yourself into weekly meetings. They’re already happening and your colleagues can probably find ways to squeeze you into the agenda. Work with department heads, managers and directors to allow you to present to their team on the process for gathering case studies and customer references for 10 to 15 minutes. This helps the sales team to put a face with your role of shining a light on customer success for the company.
The next time a colleague receives an email from a customer about how happy they are with your products or services, your smiling face should be one of the first things that pops into his or her head. If you need to connect with teams that are globally dispersed, see if you can join a meeting via conference call. There are also plenty of ways to evangelize your program digitally. Rather than sending mass emails, which are so often ignored, how else can you reach your colleagues? Does your organization use enterprise social software like Microsoft SharePoint or Yammer? Post regularly to let your colleagues know what you’re looking for, how you can compensate them for published customer success stories, and how their happy customers’ stories can help generate more business for the company.
Finally, don't discount the power of the printed medium. If your budget allows, work with the design experts at your company to create clever signs that advertise your customer success program and let your colleagues know who to contact to get involved. Everyone needs something to read and contemplate while at the company water cooler or waiting on the kitchen microwave.
As I covered in a previous article, your customers are most likely talking about you on social media. Monitoring your social media feeds and keeping an eye on your
mentions on Twitter can be a great way to find customers who are having success with your products or services.
A positive tweet is a beautiful thing on its own, but what can that tweet become? Can it turn into a full-fledged case study? Can that customer become a reference for potential future customers? Get in touch with him or her through a direct message on the social channel where you found the positive review and take the conversation offline. It never hurts to ask and, chances are, a happy customer will be more than willing to help you out.
Whether it’s case studies to publish on your website or hand out as collateral at tradeshows, video interviews that can be shared on YouTube and other social media channels, or direct references for prospective customers interested in your products or services — your customer relationships have so much more value than what’s written on a purchase order. Don’t miss the opportunity to tap into the relationship and make it shine!
By Franklin Teagle Apr 2, 2013
On June 19th, we celebrated our Third year in Business by expanding our product portfolio to include the hugely successful, UK authored EFACS ERP. Since then, we have had huge interest in this solution and are offering massive special launch discounts on the complete solution up until August 10th. This is a unique opportunity to acquire a proven, successful ERP solution at a fraction of the normal cost. There are hundreds of installation sites throughout the Ireland and the UK with just about every sector covered. We can support sites from 5 to 500 users. Web-based ERP written in flexible, configurable technologies means this software can be deployed in house, over the cloud, to remote users and office based users alike. In the four weeks since launching we have signed up six sites in Ireland, and anticipate further expansion.
We are now running weekly webinars on various aspects of this software, please find the current schedule below:
Monday July 30th, 2012
EFACS ERP system overview
Wednesday August 8th, 2012
Monday August 20th, 2012
EFACS Document Management
Tuesday August 21st, 2012
EFACS ERP Software overview
Friday August 24th, 2012
EFACS Workflow Automation
Webinars are typically 45 minutes to 1 hour in duration.
Despite all the recent talk about putting your business ‘on the cloud,’ the concept is really nothing new. Chances are you’re already using the cloud in your daily life. Ever use Pandora to stream a custom radio playlist? Yup, that’s the cloud. Ever send or store a file using MediaFire, YouSendIt, or Dropbox? Check, cloud again.
The entire Internet itself could technically be thought of as “the cloud.”
So what do we mean when we talk about moving our business over to the cloud?
In short, small businesses and large corporations alike have historically had to manage their own servers to store all of their company’s information and archives. The drawbacks to maintaining this sort of hardware are numerous, from storing backups to having a contingency plan to keep the business running during a power failure.
Today’s cloud providers take that burden off of the business, shifting the heavy-lifting over to massive remote servers with multiple backups. In short, every computer at your business gets in sync, the chances of a crash are exponentially decreased, and you’re freed up to work from your latest round-the-world adventure. Sounds good?
In a nutshell, here are five basic reasons that cloud utilization makes sense for any business:
1. Increased Productivity
Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: Employee One writes a draft document and forwards it to Employees Two, Three, and Four for feedback, each of whom reply with their own mark-ups to the document. Employee One struggles to incorporate conflicting feedback and must email the group three more times as he/she makes edits over the course of an entire work week.
With the cloud, there’s a better way. Perhaps your office already uses a service like Google Drive (formerly Google Docs). Similarly, with an internal cloud provider, each pertinent employee can access a working document, making changes in real time. The send-and-wait email process can be eliminated almost completely, making it possible to complete tasks that were once drawn-out affairs in just a few hours.
2. Reduced Power Bills
Even small companies can see big savings from removing their own servers from the office. Why pay to run a server 24 hours a day? That’s not to mention the green aspect: cloud providers typically use state-of-the-art cooling systems that are highly efficient, meaning you’ll reduce your company’s carbon footprint in the process.
3. No Upfront Investment
In the past, a company had to estimate how much server space they needed and purchase hardware accordingly, leaving room to grow. Most cloud providers, on the other hand, offer pay-as-you-go plans that allow your business to grow at its own speed, while only paying for the server space that you’re actually using. That means no upfront investment in costly hardware that you may not even fully utilize.
4. Automation Saves Time
How many tasks do you complete at work each day that an assistant or even a computer could do for you? By storing information in a central location, the cloud opens up options for automation of regular tasks, from invoicing to payroll. The less time that you have to spend crunching numbers and carrying out tedious tasks, the more time you have to be creative and grow your company.
5. Liberation From the Office
Sure, we’ve been able to email from anywhere in the world for quite some time, but since when could we work on a shared document in real time with an employee on another continent? Cloud technology tears down the office walls, freeing us to work from anywhere in the world. It may be hard to open your computer and dive into a spreadsheet while you’re sitting by the ocean in Aruba, but there’s no better feeling than completing the project and diving immediately from the spreadsheet into the Caribbean. And why not? When it comes to telecommuting with the cloud, the sky’s the limit.
The increasing mobile phone penetration globally has instantly resulted in SMS becoming an effective alternative to traditional modes of business communication. With over 1.2 billion mobile phones and increasing penetration among semi-urban, rural areas mobile text messaging (SMS) just cannot be ignored by marketing leaders.
SMS Software is an effective tool to send short, instant and personalised text message (SMS) to the target audience. Brand managers like to be in contact with their existing customers and prospects to inform them about new products, features and other value-added offerings for them using SMS Software.
Their main concerns for marketing leaders related to SMS marketing are security of their database, getting a flexible platform to run SMS campaign at a schedule convenient to them, doing the campaign effectively, irrespective of the numbers of messages to be sent.
The critical questions related to SMS marketing, from the perspective of marketing leaders, are as follows:
- Whether the platform provided by service providers is secure?
- Is the delivery being carried out using reliable channels?
- Are the message delivery service levels measurable and is the client data is confidential?
- Is there enough transparency e.g. online delivery and real time reports?
SMS Marketing using client application software:
A flexible and high throughput service using client software is the solution to marketing men woes. Such companies provide an end-to-end service using its software products for complete marketing activities which can be done on SMS.
The user is able to devise his own campaign and carry it out without any involvement of the service provider. The client software application products are installed at client premises and campaigns are carried out with clients getting on-line MIS. Delivery reports which are provided by the service provider help the user in cleaning-up his data-base. It is easier to do small campaigns, run contests and advertising agencies can use the platform to carry out simultaneous campaigns for multiple-customers.
SMS limitations: While SMS users enjoy several benefits like sending an instant, personal message which is always read, there are limitations associated with SMS. It is nothing more than 160 characters of text, devoid of sound, pictures and special effects of traditional print media. In spite of the limitations SMS has its own specific uses which help marketers give specific information to their customers. Incoming SMS on 4-digit or 5-digit short codes in conjunction with conventional media has become the most effective tool for generating leads and carrying out contests for promoting brands.
Michael’s Hope For Independence Campaign was established to raise €60,000 for eleven year old MICHAEL TIRON to have a life-changing operation in America that will give him the chance to walk independently with an aid.
“Just over 4 months ago when we started fundraising, €60,000 seemed to us like a gigantic brick wall that was impossible to climb!” says Natalija. “We’ve had an amazing team helping us to coordinate the Campaign and of course a wonderful community that helped us to make this happen! And we are forever grateful to everyone who has helped us to make Michael’s dream come true...”
“Since the launch of the campaign on February 24th in the Strand Hotel, we have received amazing support from both the Bray and Greystones Communities, and beyond” say both Michael’s parents. “Through all the fundraising events, we have been stunned by people’s support and generosity, in particular the whole school community of St. Cronan’s. It has really brought home to us that no matter how tough the task seems, when people come together as a community, anything is possible!”
“We would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to everyone who has shown their support for Michael’s Hope For Independence in any way” says Natalija. “We could never have achieved our target of €60,000 if it wasn’t for the wonderful support we received from people across Ireland and beyond who donated to Michael’s cause.”
“We are absolutely thrilled to have reached our target of €60,000 and we are also thrilled to announce that recently we received a confirmation that Michael’s operation will be on the 31st August!” said Michael’s father Marcel. "We are so overwhelmed by everything that has been happening around our family. And we are even more excited to the changes that are waiting for us in a very near future." continued Natalija.
As is the case with any operation, Michael will require a significant amount of after-care. "There are a few events that have already been organised and we hope to continue with these events, and the money raised will go towards the target of €20,000 for the intensive 2-year program of after-care and physiotherapy which follows Michael’s SDR (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy) operation” says Natalija.
Along with Michael’s after-care, Michael’s family would like to donate €2,000 from these funds towards the “Help Cherie Walk” campaign, to help Cherie Anderson from Leopardstown, who has been accepted for the same operation as Michael. They have also passed on the Bag Packing dates for Tesco in Bray that were originally booked for Michael’s Hope For Independence to the Parents’ Associations of both St. Cronan’s & St. Patrick’s Schools by way of a “Thank You” for all the help and support that they have received.
WITH ALL OUR HEARTS WE THANK YOU...with lots of love from Michael and family.
It is with great pleasure that PROFITSFLOW.COM announces its appointment as Irish distributor for EFACS ERP and Eagle Field Service software solutions by Nottingham based Exel Computer Systems plc. As we approach our third birthday since incorporation in June 2009, this development cements the future of the already successful software business which up to now has been solely focussed on the provision of cloud CRM software services.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is a business operating system primarily geared at manufacturing and distribution companies and provides integrated automation for Stock Control, Sales, Purchasing, Manufacturing, Bills of Materials, Accounts, Document Management and Business Process Automation. Core to the system is the Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) Engine which uses system transactions and pre-defined information to allow purchasing and manufacturing to make informed decisions on what to buy or make without the headaches of manual planning. This ensures that stock levels are maintained at minimum levels whilst preventing shortages.
Commenting on the new agreement, Tadhg Henderson, Managing Director, Profitsflow.com said “The decision to move into enterprise software will broaden the options available to Irish business for software provision. We have always been a service-oriented company, I believe that our excellent track record with regard to supporting our customers and our culture of always putting the client’s needs first will stand to us in this competitive market.”
We are now providing regular web-based overviews of this great software which is installed at hundreds of sites throughout the UK and a number here in Ireland as well. Contact us for information or to see the software.
Why would you implement a CRM system?
There are many different views and opinions out there on what CRM is and what it is intended for. Firstly, its acronym, what does it actually stand for? Customer Relationship Management. It’s all about managing, and keeping control, of a business’ relationships with its customers. In the good old days this was easy – every business generally had personal contact with its customers. In some sectors this remains true however even in traditional businesses the business dynamic has changed. Sales reps no longer stay in the job for a lifetime, and they are now normally a member of a sales team, with a manager above. Andre in the newer style businesses, such as distributors, internet shops, green businesses, etc. where personal contact is non-existant, good information on profiling customer activities and trends is critical to sales growth. So how can CRM be used to help business?
What does a CRM system provide?
A good CRM system will provide various modules which can be enabled/disabled for certain users. You would expect to have modules for managing contacts, a separate area for leads (firms with whom we hope to do business at some point), facilities for generating marketing material (e-mail and letters), support for raising quotations, orders and invoices, and a shared calendar as a minimum. It’s important to be able to track the sales pipeline and allocate everything to an individual user. Some of the newer systems are beginning to include customer service automation as well – trouble ticketing/fault logging, follow ups and basic stock control are important for keeping customers up to date on where things are at.
What about the customer?
As with all facets of business, the customer is always of most importance. Bear in mind that a computer system is just that – it can’t forge a relationship with clients all of its own accord. It is a very useful tool for helping in the process but users must use it and remember that it is not there to do the job for them, but to help. So prior to implementing, it is a good idea to conduct a review of all customer-facing processes in the business. It should then be possible to identify areas for improvement, and how the system features can be used to this end.
So what about Marketing Automation?
This is one of the quickest immediate gains achievable from implementation of a CRM system. As soon as the data is cleansed and loaded, marketing can begin. But to do it right, it’s important that you target market is analysed and segmented. You can then tune the message depending on sector, region, industry, number of employees, emerging trends or a combination of these factors. This gives a subset of the market to target at a micro level.
And the Pipeline?
By defining a number of sales stages it is possible to review on screen or paper the current status of the sales pipeline. This is a huge benefit of CRM – if the data is input correctly then it is easy to identify what’s coming down the line in terms of sales. Each potential sale should be logged as it arises and allocated to a sales stage. As negotiations evolve, the stage is updated, such that the potential value at each stage can be analysed.
What about reports?
Once the system has been running for a short while, reporting can be used to develop trend analysis and get information back from the system. Sales in a particular sector drop on Fridays. Why is that? What can we do – maybe ensure that customers/prospects in that sector are contacted every Thursday. We can also begin to focus on performance of sales reps, teams and customer service.
The above are but a few of the benefits that can be realised by implementing a well-balanced CRM system. The good news is that for most businesses, it can be a relatively painless process, provided that the steps are followed and there is a willingness to take the implementation one step at a time.
There are over 160 ladies that have taken out a sponsorship card to participate in the Flora Women’s Mini Marathon on the 4th June in Dublin this year in aid of Michael’s Hope For Independence Campaign. A big Thank You to the ladies!!!
We also would like to thank Tadhg Henderson, the Managing Director of Profitsflow.com, who will be running a 26 miles Cork City Marathon on the 4th June in aid of Michael’s Hope For Independence!!!
And last, but certainly not least, we would like to thank a couple of our international runners this year that will be participating in Stockholm Marathon and Bupa London 10,000!!!
If you would like to support a participant in a Marathon this year you can do so by following the link below.
Once again, thank you for all your support !
Also you can like us on Facebook !!!
You can have every product that anyone could possibly want, but if you don't treat your customers well, you can kiss your business goodbye! Numerous studies have shown that it's much more expensive to attract new customers than it is to keep existing ones, so it's vital that your business focus on making customers happy.
Stay in Touch - Let your customers know you value their business by reaching out. Newsletters, postcards, individual letters, phone calls, and emails are all effective ways to deliver news about products, special promotions etc. Encourage customers to sign up for these communications and make sure you have permission before adding anyone to an email list. Invite them to contact you with questions, feedback, or to discuss additional requests. Focus on letting customers know that you can solve their problems and meet their needs.
Make Great Service a Priority - Excellent customer service requires training that constantly reinforces the message that customers always come first. Start with the little things, such as a standard way of politely greeting people on the phone or online. The best way to ensure that your staff will treat customers graciously is to set the right example. If you do things the way you'd like them done, that will be more effective than lecturing or criticizing.
Store Collective Wisdom - Set up a system for responding to customer inquiries or complaints. The last thing you want is for your employees to provide inaccurate information, or quote policies that may not be achievable. Problems should be resolved during the initial customer contact, or within one business day at the most. If more time is needed, let customers know -- don't leave them hanging.
Empower Your Staff - There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than encountering a frontline company representative with no authority to help solve a problem. Where there is no policy -- and occasionally in cases when the policy needs to be flexed -- you need to empower certain people to make decisions, use good judgment, and be flexible with the rules. Ask employees to document these special cases. Depending on the size of your operation, you may want to designate one person per shift as a problem-solver.
Know Your Customers - A formal method of tracking your customer interactions will help you identify your best customers, as well as those who have stopped visiting your business and need to be lured back. Simple Web-based customer relationship management software applications can help you do this. Simply enter each customer's contact information and notes about their transactions. CRM software lets you sort this data or analyze it to uncover useful information.
Manage Customer Relationships - Everyone loves special treatment. Once you have established a track record and some history about your customers, you can begin to identify and reward your most valuable ones. Perhaps you can offer a special discount or make a follow-up call to those who have needed recent repair work. There are many imaginative ways to reward customer loyalty.
Use the information you've gathered to make customer service a science. Provide a quality experience and complete satisfaction, and they'll keep coming back for more.
Without marketing you would not have Leads or Potentials to follow up with, but yet without a good sales technique and strategy your closing rate may depress you.
Marketing is everything that you do to reach and persuade Potentials. The sales process is everything that you do to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract. Both are necessities to the success of a business. You cannot do without either process. By strategically combining both efforts you will experience a successful amount of business growth. However, by the same token if the efforts are unbalanced it can detour your growth.
Your MARKETING will consist of the measures you use to reach and persuade your potentials that you are the company for them. It's the message that prepares the potential for the sales. It consists of advertising, public relations, brand marketing, viral marketing, and direct mail.
The SALES process consists of interpersonal interaction. It is often done by a one-on-one meeting, cold calls, and networking. It's anything that engages you with the potential or customer on a personal level rather than at a distance.
Your MARKETING efforts begin the process of the eight contacts that studies show it takes to move a LEAD or POTENTIAL client to the close of the sale. If marketing is done effectively, you can begin to move that prospect from a cold to a potential lead. When the prospect hits the "potential" level it's much easier for the sales professional to close the sale.
It takes multiple contacts using both Sales and Marketing to move the prospect from one level to the next. That is why it is import that you develop a process that combines both Sales and Marketing. This will enable you to reach prospects at all three levels; cold leads, potentials, and customers. It's all about balance.
Try this. Take a few moments and divide your prospect lists and database into categories of cold leads, potentials, and customers. Then sit down and identify a strategy on how to proceed with each individual group.
For example you could try the following methods of contact:
- Cold Leads - Send out a direct mailing or offer them a special promotion
- Potentials - Try a follow-up call, send out a sales letter, or schedule a special seminar or training session to get all of your warm leads together.
Once you've moved your prospect to the "potential" level it's time to proceed in closing the sale. This will be easier to do if you somehow engage the prospect. You can do this by conducting a one-on-one call, make a presentation, or present a proposal, estimate, or contract.
Remember the key to success in marketing and in sales is balance!
Once again, thanks a million for all your support !
Thanks to modern technology, today’s computers and networks are ready for real-time data communications, and the advantages are nothing short of revolutionary. Some industries, including telecommunications, finance, and manufacturing, are already using real-time data in parts of their operations.
But having real-time data is not enough. To successfully compete and increase your company’s bottom line, you need to become a real-time organisation. In other words, you need to use your real-time data to change how you work, how you manage, and how you sell.
Imagine for a moment how much more productive and profitable your company could be if you could track products from warehouse to store shelves in real-time, provide targeted offers the moment a customer calls, and give executives up-to-the-minute reports on critical operations data? When you integrate existing technologies to become a real-time organisation, you can do precisely that and so much more.
The fact is that organisations operating in real-time can deliver better customer service, turn around inventory faster, respond quicker to changes in the marketplace, and better anticipate challenges before they impact the business. Consider the following benefits of becoming a real-time organisation.
You can be pre-active: You’ve likely used the word “proactive,” which means taking positive action now. But how do you know the actions you’re taking will be positive when you have to wait and see? Those aren’t good odds. A better idea is to be pre-active to future known events.
For example, if your real-time data indicates that there was a run on blue jeans, size 32 waist and 34 inseam, in store number 53 and that there is only one pair left, you can safely predict that tomorrow there will be one or more customers who will not find what they want. You can solve this problem before it occurs. When you use your real-time data to be a real-time organisation, everyone involved with keeping the shelves stocked will automatically be informed of the stock levels and the supply chain wheels will turn to make sure no customer is unable to find what he or she wants.
You can have up-to-date information on demand: While many companies offer information on demand, most of the information is not up-to-the-minute. Becoming a real-time organization changes all that. Here is a simple yet powerful example of how real-time data can change even the most routine of chores.
Remember when you were in college and needed to use the school Laundry room to wash your clothes? All too often, everyone else had the same idea you did and all the washers and dryers were taken. Today, many universities use real-time data to change the Laundry room problem. Now students can use their computers from their dorm rooms to see which washers and dryers are in use and which are out of service. The smart Laundry system can even e-mail or send a text message to a cell phone to let the users know that the machines are finished. Ask yourself, “Is my business as advanced as a college Laundry?”
You can conduct event-based marketing: The best time to market to people is when they demonstrate a need. As such, good salespeople do event-based marketing all the time. If you show an interest in something, they grab the opportunity to show you something else they feel you might also be interested in.
With real-time data you can do event-based marketing without human intervention. For example, consider how Amazon.com makes additional sales. If you click on a book about the Lewis and Clark expedition, you will get a list of other top selling Lewis and Clark books on the same page. Does such an approach work? It’s one of the reasons that Amazon’s stock has been one of best performing Nasdaq stocks for many years.
Create a Real-Time Enterprise Today: If you want your company to experience similar benefits, then you need to go from merely having real-time information and use it to become a real-time organisation. The following tips will help.
Know Your Goals: The basic concept of real-time is that when something happens, you want to react to it the moment it happens, not an hour, day, week, or month later. As the speed at which a company can intelligently and automatically respond to change increases, the cost of all their business processes decreases. Hearing this, you might think real-time is all about speed, but that’s only part of the equation. If you don’t know where you want to go, then faster won’t help!
In order to gain the largest ROI for real-time initiatives, they need to be tied to your company’s overall goals and objectives. Therefore, what do you hope to achieve? Are you trying to increase sales? Improve customer service? Enhance your brand? Enter new markets? Whatever it is you want for your business, state it clearly so you can make sure your real-time activities support your overall goals.
Be Agile: Just as there is a difference between strategy and tactics, there is a difference between real-time computing and real-time business. Real-time processing can be seen as event-driven computing. Real-time business, on the other hand, takes business agility—the ability to rapidly respond to changing conditions as they happen—to the next level.
A real-time enterprise is defined by its ability to access information across all boundaries of the organisation. By integrating people, strategy, technology, and processes, real-time organisations are able to recognise shifts in customer demand as they happen and respond accordingly with customer-focused solutions. This enables them to use their higher level of business agility as a competitive weapon, grabbing market share from less agile competitors.
Start Small: Realise that being a real-time organisation is an evolutionary process. An ancient Chinese proverb states that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Therefore, select a place to start and build out from there. For example, Amberwood Homes, a residential homebuilder, has cut three weeks from the five months it takes to build an average 3,000 square foot home by sharing information with plumbers, roofers, masons, and other subcontractors via hand-held devices in real-time. That does not mean that all of Amberwood’s business processes and partners are operating in real time; it means they picked a profitable place to start and will build off that success.
The Real-Time Advantage: There is a clear competitive advantage to having high value, market-based information available almost instantly to the right people, both inside and outside of your company, and using that information to make quicker, more informed decisions.
Real-time business is about leveraging all of your relationships through optimised business processes that can take advantage of nearly instantaneous communications across all the components of a true collaborative network. Delivering up-to-the-minute data with proper context makes all the difference between information and actionable knowledge.
The real-time trend is very real and its impact will be felt by every industry, whether they choose to buy into the concept or not. In today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, there is a great advantage to extending your business processes via the Internet to your customers, partners, suppliers, and employees in real time. Those who take advantage of this trend will emerge as the market leaders and will watch their profits and productivity dramatically increase.
Sales Trends for 2012 As many seek refuge from the negativity of the media, others look ahead to new beginnings. We are moving toward a pre boom economy and selling professionals and managers will need to be more efficient and more productive this year. Here are some of the areas that will be affected:
Lead Generation: The issue of lead generation has increased in the last two years. Technology has helped gather leads but the conversion factor has not increased. Selling professionals and marketing departments must collaborate for better target market optimization. Simply, put leads must be converted and there will be increased attention to close more business.
Customer Service: As reported many times 45% of every client interaction involves customer service. Research illustrates that customer service has decreased in many organisations. Since customer-to-customer influences have become vital to success, it is increasingly important that selling professionals focus more on their most vital asset- the client.
Better Hiring: The days of placing butts in seats to fill a void are gone. Sales managers must find talent that will become immediately productive. The use of On Boarding programs and the discovery of proper talent will be an imperative focus for sales managers. More pressure will be placed on finding the right people in the right positions to help increase margins.
Preparation: The last five years have provided significant tools and technology to sales professionals. From CRM systems to better search methodology in Google, selling professionals are more prepared then ever. Or are they? Customers have access to as much information as their sales professional. It is vital that all sellers be prepared for every client interaction. Reading annual reports, watching the news and having a prepared list of value questions will aid every call. Sales people must have more information than their client.
Value: We are in a knowledge economy. Selling professionals must stop providing information to clients and provide value. Selling professionals must convert the information they have into knowledge that the client can immediately use to be more competitive, innovative, etc.
Process: 92% of selling professionals (and this includes entrepreneurs) do not have a process to build relationships and close business. 2012 will be the year of increased productivity, it is necessary for sellers to gain the knowledge necessary to build trust and close business more efficiently. Sales professionals must be better prepared and better educated. The days of “anyone can sell” have ended.
Training: Gone are the days of sitting in a classroom for 8 hours expecting a return on investment. Managers and business professionals do not have the time and frankly event based training fails. Selling is a process therefore sales training will alter to a more succinct process oriented approach. Secondly, with the movement of selling as a profession, companies will remove themselves from education and desire that individuals take ownership of their profession.
Innovative concepts begin during times of dramatic change. 2012 will provide interesting opportunities to the selling community not experienced since the 1980’s. The year will be challenging yet exciting, those ahead of the curve will thrive. Innovation occurs at the beginning of the curve, competition at the end. First mover advantage is always easier.
Many businesses today are so focussed on getting new sales that they forget about the easiest of all, existing clients. We've all heard it said that existing customers are (or should be) the easiest to sell to, as they have already bought and have an established business relationship with us. But before we can sell to them again, we have to ensure that they continue to be happy customers. This is acheived through effective customer service. Below are some reasons why automating your customer service process can help increase revenue.
Note: these same tips apply to all businesses, regardless of size. The idea is to put in place a system which effectively does the work for you - all you need to do is follow the steps.
Outstanding customer service builds brand awareness and brand confidence.
We have all heard the phrase "building brand awareness" from advertising agencies. However, let's turn this on its head. Think of the big name brands that spring to mind when you think of quality. Is it advertising that puts them to the front of your mind? Thought not. Things like reputation for quality, word of mouth, durability and long-lasting products are the common perceived values of such brands. And the one thing these companies tend to have in common: A well thought out customer service strategy. This leads to customers who have the expectation of a reliable, repeatable, pleasurable experience with a brand, which in turn means their loyalty increases. Customers have good role models for excellent customer service and their expectations continue to rise.
Building staff confidence which results in happier employees.
Since happy employees mean happy customers, progressive companies emphasising customer service and customer experiences are more likely to have a career path for customer representatives. This means lower employee “churn” and lowered staff costs. It also has a more hidden benefit in building confidence in the product, which feeds into the sales team. A sales team confident in the backup service provided to new customers is much more likely to deliver the goods on an ongoing basis, thus creating an enriching circle of positivity.
The customer service experience is more important than price.
Customer service is more important than price to many buyers, which makes it a revenue enhancer. Many people no longer put up with cheap, shoddy product. Over the past number of years, quality has become more important than price to an increasing percentage of most markets. How many business meetings see the price question raised anywhere near the beginning? Even in FMCG markets, quality products are gaining market share.
Well-executed customer service encourages “customers for life.”
Customer service can help make it easier and more graceful to cross-sell, up-sell, and migrate customers within the product/service line, making them “customers for life.” Think about it, you have a customer who has a complaint or problem relating to one of your products. By automating your customer service processes, you can turn that negative story into a positive. For example, log the call on the system. Straight away the customer receives an e-mail confirming that the issue is being investigated. The complaint may have to travel through a number of stages to resolution. By keeping the customer in the loop, without us having to do anything, we are putting our best foot forward. Not only are they aware of changes in status and able to track the call, but we are now at the forefront of their mind when it comes to other products. And when the issue finally is resolved, we have a mechanism to get feedback from the client on their experience. This all promotes a feeling of goodwill, which will often lead to the brand building benefits mentioned above.
Outstanding customer service can help the marketing and sales budget.
Don't forget, it costs less to keep existing customers than it does to create new ones. The biggest mistake many companies make is ignoring their existing customers. Example, you have a sales rep who has a target of €100,000 for the quarter. We have 500 existing customers. By getting a repeat order for €5,000 from just 20 of those existing clients, our sales rep has already acheived the target. But, and we are all guilty of this one, we tend to focus on new business and forget about the people and companies who have already spent money with us and are happy and willing to do so again, and all we needed to do was ask. Customer service has a crucial role to play here: Companies can boost profits by almost 100 percent by retaining just five percent more of their customers, whether you are a multi-national, an SME, or a "one man band" sole trader.
Thoughtful customer service encourages advocacy and evangelism which act as turbo boosters on social networks and other non-traditional channels. You simply cannot beat a client who had a major problem turned around quickly. A few tweets or posts on the various social media sites will see these comments appearing in all the major search engines for months. Repeat a number of times per month and you have suddenly boosted your web search traffic without even trying.
Yes it's true - Microsoft Excel is a genius tool for many purposes of everyday business work. Starting from quick calculations up to complex lists with various formatting rules it seems as if nearly everything can be done with it. People got used to it over the years and learned the ins and outs. Whenever a new task arises that needs to be solved with a PC you automatically think about how it could be done in Excel.
That's where the problem starts: Because we know how to use Excel and we have started it so many times before, we tend to leave out the question for an alternative to it. Is that program really the right thing to manage your customers? What do you do if you want to edit the list on the way? You take a copy of the list (if you knew that you will need it - otherwise you can only create a plain new file) and make your changes. If two or more people do this it gets really hard to merge all the new data to back to the original.
It's not all about avoiding the major problems that you will face. Let us have a look at the benefits we gain by using real CRM software. Imagine how helpful it would be if you can assign your appointments to contacts. Everyone then can have a quick look into the journal to see what has been done with a selected customer in the past. If many users are working with the program it will soon get essential to have a solution that let you manage user profiles and access rights, just to make sure that only the appropiate users are allowed to make changes and see the detailed information.
These are only some benefits you gain by using a CRM system. Working in such an environment is totally different from the boring and endless lists of data that get more and more complicated to handle the longer they are. Modern software really energizes your business. All important information becomes visible with a mouse click or some keystrokes. Communication needs to be easy - otherwise it simply won't take place. You can't overestimate the power of regularly sent out personalized emails. From a CRM this happens with a few clicks.
So why do we need to think about all this? Isn't everyone using such profitable software? No - even nowadays most small to medium size companies rely on the usage of standard tools like Excel. And this is mainly because people do not know that there are solutions to this problem. And they don't have to cost a fortune either.
CRM is the company’s solution to make the most of its customer relationship and organise it's sales teams. However, CRM systems are predominantly used as a sales reporting system and for the segmentation of target groups, to create sustainable and profitable relationships with customers. Embracing all aspects of the relationship between the customer and the supplier, CRM is a structured process with which a company can maximise the efficiency of all customer related activities, ultimately increasing revenues.
For most companies, CRM is a tool for organising a dialogue within their sales environment, strengthening the perception of the company among prospects and customers thus enhancing reputation and brand value. The customer oriented processes of CRM are typically supported and automated by an IT application known as the CRM system.
We think of CRM as a collaboration between marketing, sales, customer service which optimise how a company most effectively interact with its customers. It should be much more than a technology tool and requires a clear viewpoint on value creation. Our experience suggests that those organisations that excel at CRM share a number of characteristics. They invest in superior insights taking a segmented view of customers and have a deep understanding of the value drivers; they use CRM as the basis of focused sales and marketing activity, aligning marketing and sales resource with opportunities, and understanding, which in turn should be optimised to capture those opportunities; they tailor customer service to the needs and value of segments(groups); and they link CRM to overall business unit strategies and continually measure impact.
The main benefit of a CRM system is that it enables companies to increase the efficiency of all customer related activities, enabling them to grow their revenues without expanding their resource spending. For example, a well updated CRM system allows the company to see if its sales efforts are working effectively by measuring both the influence on contacts as well as hard sales facts.
Implementing the right kind of CRM helps coordinate collaboration between Sales, marketing, and regulatory and customer service departments, presenting one face to the customer. This ensures that sales representatives and marketing keep the company in the top of mind of customers and other prospects.
A CRM system is pivotal in maintaining the greatest asset of a company – its reputation. In the business world, the negative experience of one customer that has an interaction with the company may ruin the hard earned reputation of the company for years to come. Having a CRM system that is used optimally will counteract this.
To sum up, CRM is extremely important for the professionalism of communications and a cornerstone in maintaining the company image and brand.
To All our Supporters, Sponsors & Fundraisers - to update your on Michael's Hope for Independence Campaign...
There has been some amazing work going on in the background and so far in excess €20,000 have been raised in just 6 weeks !!
Michael's story has appeared in the Bray & Wicklow People, Wicklow Times, Irish Independent, Daily Star, Irish Sun, Daily Mirror and the Sunday World, and Friday 2nd March Michael was featured on The Morning Show on TV3 !
You can view the segment on The Morning show by clicking the link below. (There are a number of ads at the beginning. When the show starts, scroll to the time 13.39) http://www.tv3.ie/3player/show/155/45989/1/The-Morning-Show
The family is still looking for raffle prizes/items that could be put into a Charity Auction.
Michael's family would like to say how grateful they are for the wonderful support that they have received so far.
If you work in any profession that relies on sales efforts, then you need to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy and active pipeline. A Sales Pipeline is a useful concept used by businesses and sales people to quantify the demand for their products and services. Effectively managing your sales pipeline creates a more stable sales cycle with more reliable results.
A sales pipeline works by measuring the progress through the pipeline, from initial contact to satisfied repeat customer. Unfortunately the pipeline has a tendency to leak. Leads and prospects fall out of the pipeline along the way, failing to become the customers we know they should be. It is only through our own efforts that the list of prospects remains active and viable for business. As long as you are active, when the competition becomes lazy and fails to nurture communication with the prospects, that is your opportunity to win the business.
Pipeline management is by sales and marketing teams and departments, as well as individuals who require a quick and easy summary of their future sales at a point in time. For example, if you are a freelance writer, then you might need to keep track of all of the publications you sent a prospective article query to. You could keep track of this pipeline management with your sales and marketing software.
There are many things you can do with pipeline management programs. You can forecast for future growth, you can track upward and downward sales trends for each client, calculating the revenue for each project. When times are lean, you can bring it to the bank manager as evidence of future prospects.
Pipeline management is often a tool used in larger businesses, as the managers or MD’s have to constantly forecast, make plans and revise those plans once reality sets in. This does not mean it cannot benefit smaller companies however, as the pipeline can be used as a means of tracking the performance of individual employees and makes writing reports on how they are handling a project easier for the employee and the employer.
Another benefit of effective pipeline management is the elimination of unnecessary steps in the sales process. You can see what's causing delays and see where you can get things moving. This is because it's so much more difficult to give an accurate forecast when there are a lot of factors involved. If it's too hard to input into the pipeline management program, it's probably too hard to keep.
Our colleague, Natalija, has started a campaign to raise €60,000 for her eleven year old son who has Cerebral Palsy to have a life-changing operation in the USA.
We are 100% behind the campaign, but need your help to make this dream a reality.
Please see www.MichaelsHopeForIndependence.com for more information and how you can help.
profitsflow.com is wishing the best of luck to MichaelsHopeForIndependence.
Buying an off the shelf software package to automate your sales, marketing and customer service can be a daunting task. There are so many packages out there, which will suit your business and you the best? At profitsflow.com, we believe that the information needed to run an effective sales and marketing solution already exists, for the most part, in your business. And for a lot of companies, much of this is already on a system already. That's why we are introducing our "Profits Bridge" platform to the market.
Profits Bridge for ERP/MIS
Some of our larger Manufacturing and Distribution clients are already benefitting from profitsflow.com's Profits Bridge technology. This basically plugs into your existing ERP and exchanges data with it to prevent the need for duplication. Sales Reps on the road can load it up to see what stock you currently have. Opportunities, sales orders, invoices, account information can be downloaded to produce sales pipelines, project plans, marketing campaigns, all from data that's been input into one system once only. No need to rekey means elimination of duplication, and centralised reporting for all of your accounts, sales, marketing, customer service functions.
Profits Bridge for SME Accounts
The good news is that Profits Bridge for Profitsflow.com is now available for smaller businesses not yet using enterprise software systems. We pull data from your accounts solution directly into profitsflow. You can be up and running with our software in no time at all - accounts, contact details are automatically loaded for you. Get our technology doing the hard work for you - e-marketing campaigns, SMS marketing, automated customer service and sales pipeline tracking without having to get the information out of diaries and heads.
Profits Bridge for custom applications
So you don't have an ERP, and you only use accounts software for boring old accounts. You've built your own database for tracking all of the business critical information. This could be in SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Ms Access, even Excel. Whereever it is, we can connect to it and download the data. We might even help you to get away from a myriad of spreadsheets by repalcing these with a structured, process driven sales and marketing tool which will replicate this information at a fraction of the workload.
Getting paid on time has become a major obstacle to growth for many businesses throughout the recession. At this time of the year, it's important to get those old debts paid to start the New Year off with a bang.