Tag Archive: sales

Best Practices for CRM

Best Practices for CRM

Best Practices for CRMBest Practices for CRM: Preparation Make the difference between the development of current clientele and market prospecting. In the first case, contacts are identified and are established in the client’s account. Therefore, is convenient to organize a presentation since Conferenceware automatically generates the information required for an invitation, the description, schedule and the mode for voice broadcasting within the format of a new message. From there, you just have to select the persons you want to invite among your contacts. Consequently, a copy of the invitation is saved in each of your contact’s file, in your CRM software. In the case of prospecting by WEBinar, the list of registered persons is imported in CSV format in order to automatically build contact information in your CRM software.

Best Practices for CRM Progress
The objective of commercial presentations is usually to get information regarding the prospect’s business problematic and to identify the persons with power among the organization that have the weight to make the buying decision making. Is through the interactive questionnaire that is possible to evaluate the preoccupations in terms of problems along with the buying criteria of each of the persons influencing the process. While meeting with them, you are able to identify each person’s role within the acquisition, user, evaluator, and their level of knowledge, beginner or expert as well as their attitude: ally, neutral or hostile. In the case of acquired clients, the interactive questionnaire is precious to evaluate their loyalty particularly their disposition to make referrals.

Best Practices for CRM Follow up
The report of a reunion indicates not only the participants but also the answers they have provided to the questions submitted: problems, retained buying criteria, loyalty index. From there, you should be able to prepare a differential proposal, showing by the grade of pertinence, your understanding of the client’s needs. Moreover, by recording a meeting, in which voice and image are synchronized, it can be replayed to check the fine tuning and be kept in the file as an attachment to opportunity.
Empower your sales teams with tools that help them learn more about your customers, spend more time on high value activities, and build lasting customer relationships from anywhere in the world.

Comprehensive contact views

Every record in your CRM is easy to search for and modify, and is structured like a portfolio, so that any associated information is also easy to find. Whether you’re looking at leads, customers, organizations, or opportunities, see all of the related notes, email communications, campaign engagement histories, documents and beyond in an easy to read and modify view.

Be prepared for every appointment

Integrated calendar, activity, and notification management ensure that you’ll never miss another appointment, and with built-in record associations you can rest assured that you’ll always have everything you need to succeed when the time comes.

Automate repetitive tasks

Save time by automating even complex repetetive tasks. Whether it’s sending an email, creating a record or appointment, or updating a field, if there’s a set of standard conditions that can trigger for the task, then your CRM powerful workflows engine can automate it.

The tools you know and trust

From Outlook, to Google Apps, to Office, Exchange and beyond, your CRM integrates with the tools that you already use, so that you can focus on the deals that drive your business.

As mobile as you are

Whether in the office, or around the world, your CRM is accessible on demand, ensuring that you have access to your data wherever an internet connection is available – and for those moments without internet connection, your CRM Mobile for iPhone and Android work offline, so that your data is never out of reach.
Comprehensive reporting

Slice and dice data and compile extensive reports that filter on anything in your CRM from deal flow to employee performance. Use that information to drive insightful decision-making that closes the loop on your business’s processes. Best Practices for CRM

Zig Ziglar Sales Training

Zig Ziglar Sales TrainingZig Ziglar Sales Training

Zig Ziglar Sales Training. To further drive the success of the Ziglar franchise in Australia we are looking for resellers across Australia to market the sales training classes in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

As a reseller you have access to marketing materials and content, access to the sales training and Zig Ziglar products.

For further information on our sales training in Australia visit www.ziglar.com.au or for specific details see Zig Ziglar Sales Training

Secrets of Closing the Sale http://www.ziglar.com.au/salesclosingtraining.htm and the Ziglar Sales System http://www.ziglar.com.au/salestraining.htm.

Zig Ziglar has opened his sales training into Australia. To grow the busienss and share the success of the Zig Ziglar business, Ziglar Australia are looking for people and companies that would like to resell the Ziglar sales training services.

To further drive the success of the Ziglar franchise in Australia, Ziglar is looking for resellers across Australia to market the sales training classes in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Zig Ziglar Sales Training

As a reseller you have access to marketing materials and content, access to the sales training and Zig Ziglar products. Expected income is $1000 to $10,000 per month, with no reseller fees.

For further information on our sales training in Australia visit www.ziglar.com.au or for specific details see

Secrets of Closing the Sale http://www.ziglar.com.au/salesclosingtraining.htm and the Ziglar Sales System http://www.ziglar.com.au/salestraining.htm.

Contact Ray Schroder for further information at http://www.ziglar.com.au/Contact.htm
Ensuring training makes the leap from education to performance and profits is essential in today’s marketplace. What can companies do when evaluating the myriad of options available?

Knowledge is power. This is an old adage that has been around for a long time. However, now more than ever it is true. As Eric Hoffers says, In times of change the learner shall inherit the earth, while the learned finds themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. With technology advances, and the market becoming more and more competitive it is critical that an organization has a workforce that is not only skilled, but is constantly improving those skills. No business can expect growth tomorrow while it rests on the successes of yesterday. Management expects and even demands performance efficiency increases. This can only come from a culture where learning is valued and encouraged.Zig Ziglar Sales Training
The Challenge of Selecting Performance-Driven Training
You may have been given the task to create this environment and/or feed this environment of learning. No training department can be the answer to everyone’s needs. A 2002 report by The Conference Board found that 55% of companies outsource part of the training function. There are many instances when you should go outside the expertise of your organization and look for learning providers. But one quick search on the internet is enough to send you running for cover! It is staggering how many vendors there are that want to teach your staff the art of just about anything. From sales to forklift safety from OSHA compliance to training in tropical diseases. You name it you can find someone who is willing and even eager to come to your organization and teach your staff about it.

Selecting an effective training program is a complex process that requires diligently matching an organization’s needs to its employees’ needs and aligning both of these to create desired outcomes usually improved performance and increased profits.

The process is complex because effective training utilizes a company’s style, voice, mission and many other customized elements that are not available in off-the-shelf training options. What enterprises truly want is to equip their work force with information that works in the moment and provides a real time benefit to a specific product or service.

Benefits of Outsourcing your Training
Why should you outsource your training when you probably have many qualified Subject Matter Experts (SME) in your organization? Outsourcing parts of your training function can have many benefits for your organization. The potential of saving your organization money in the long run is probably the biggest factor that motivates most businesses to outsource. Sure you can take your SME’s off their regular jobs to develop content for specific training your staff needs, but the cost of lost productivity plus the SME’s lack of knowledge of sound education principles usually spells disaster for the final learning product. By outsourcing you save not only money in lost productivity, but you also cut back on expenditures of software, printing costs etc. You place the burden of those fixed costs on the vendor and only pay a per use charge. Many times this will save an organization thousands of dollars.

You also gain the benefit of having your staff focus on what they know best – your business. While some of the learning that takes place in your organization is very specific to your business, a large part of the training you need can be done by an outside vendor more efficiently and with greater expertise. Your staff is freed up to focus their valuable time and attention on improving your products and services to the benefit of your customers and your bottom line. Just as you are focusing on your business, a good training vendor is focusing on their business learning. Many times an outside vendor will have cutting-edge technology or the latest development in a certain topic. Take advantage of their research.
The goal of all business is that employees within the framework and extended facets of the business are all constant students. The hope of this belief is that all functional teams in a businesses ecosystem are self-directed, self-motivated, and self-sufficient. This desire is the reasoning behind a majority of the training programs developed and offered in the soft-skill space.
In the early 90’s Gerald O. Grow offered a self-directional model that adapted itself from the arguments put forward by Blanchard’s situational self-leadership model. Grow’s contention was that in order for training to be effective we have to move away from instructor-led platforms to participant-driven classrooms. Such self-direction only comes when the student buys into the concept of constant learning. Zig Ziglar Sales Training

Grow suggested that in order for learning to become self-directed and training to have a chance, organizations interested in optimizing their training efforts needed to know which stage the individuals were in.

The goal is that in order for professionals in today’s marketplace to stay competitive and effective, they have to move from being dependent on someone to coach them to becoming self-directed in a consultative atmosphere where adaptability and flexibility are the norm. It is also understood that successful training programs build each component into their activity arsenal so that regardless of where the participant is, the instructor can assume the role of a coach, motivator, facilitator or consultant.

Selecting the Right Program
So, how do organizations solve the challenge of selecting appropriate training that delivers measurable results and keeps the work force engaged and motivated?
The easy approach to selecting training would be to charge on board with the current fad or the trend that seems to be popular. In Good to Great, Jim Collins alluded to the fact that great organizations are ones that maintain a status quo of core beliefs over a period of time. Almost every organization that looks at adding new external components to solidify existing processes needs to be cognizant of the amount of change being introduced into the enterprise. Zig Ziglar Sales Training

People are aware of the need to change and hope that every new idea in some ways complements and supplements that which is already in place. Changing direction is okay as long as people understand that the company is not changing the destination with every new input. That’s where frustration comes in. The following steps will assist in the selection of a training program:

1. Verification from all departments that are directly or indirectly involved on what is needed to strengthen the process.

2. Being open to new inputs from everyone who touches the customer.

3. Input from personnel on what new skills they would like to have and what gaps need to be effectively addressed.

4. A measurement from the training provider that shows opportunity to gauge progress before, during and after implementation.

5. Additionally, if the training provider can quantify the approach and provide sophisticated dashboards for a snapshot view on where the improvements are taking place, this would make selection of the program easier.

6. Looking at training companies that can tailor the approach to include customization of the process to fit a specific industry.

7. Benchmarking the effectiveness internally but also benchmarking the broader industry that an enterprise works

within to see what training the competition is using to gain the same market share.
If you are now thinking about how using an outside vendor can be beneficial to your organization, then you need to consider how you will sift through all the options available to you. There are seven key questions you should ask any vendor before investing in their learning content and delivery. Zig Ziglar Sales Training
Key Consideration: Measurable
Key Question #1: Is the training measurable?
This is, of course, the age-old question, how do I know I am getting an adequate return on my investment? There are many evaluation equations circulating that help you calculate your return on investment. Probably the most trusted model is Kirkpatrick’s four-level model of evaluation. In this model you evaluate training on reaction (how the trainee feels about the training); learning (determine the amount of learning that takes place); behavior (on¬the-job behavior changes due to the learning); and results (did the learning meet the desired results.) A reputable outside vendor should be able to show you how they (or you) will measure the effectiveness of the program on at least two of the levels mentioned above.

Training programs that showcase measurability and are built with reinforcement in mind have greater success because they are built on the framework of taking guesswork out of the equation. If the training group is surveyed prior to implementation on their skill set, and the program implemented takes into account the specifics
of such a survey, then the program can be tailored to focus on the areas needing most improvement. This gives the learner the luxury of knowing that the goal of the training is to address the gaps that are preventing them from having true success. In addition, when
reinforcement on learned skills comes every week in the form of difference-making information, the validation is complete. Zig Ziglar Sales Training

By looking for and insisting on tracking mechanisms that allow you to prescribe solutions based on real data and diagnosis, you have a better shot at real improvement for the people you are training.

For the full sales training selection report contact Ziglar Australia.

Building a Credit Repair Business

Building a Credit Repair Business

Building a Credit Repair Business.Building a Credit Repair Business.
If you are looking to start a credit repair business, one of the first things you will need to do is find people who need their credit repaired.

Thanks to the internet, this shouldn’t be very hard. All you need to do is find a legitimate credit repair lead company to start sending you some leads. Building a Credit Repair Business.

The beauty of buying credit repair leads is that the potential client has committed to having their credit repaired by a professional such as yourself.

These people are not merely playing with the idea of having their credit repaired, or just gathering information for research. They are committed.  Otherwise, they never would have gone on line and filled out the on line form.

By filling out the on line form, the potential customer is saying, “I need help with my credit,” “I need my credit repaired,” and they are seeking out a company or individual to help them out with their credit issues. Building a Credit Repair Business.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there that need help with their credit, so the credit repair business is not at all a bad niche to get into. Building a Credit Repair Business.

Once your business becomes functional, take serious consideration into buying internet credit repair leads. Building a Credit Repair Business.

Building a Credit Repair Business: Business Credit Will Help Your Business Succeed

The old adage that it “takes money to make money” is true. Unfortunately, many business owners also find that it “takes credit to get credit.” With the B2B Credit Builder program, this is not the case. Our credit building program can help you to…

  • Separate your business and personal credit. You’ll get a business credit profile that is strictly under your business name, separate from the personal credit report of the owners or officers of the business.
  • Reduce your personal liability and risk. Establishing separate business credit will reduce your personal liability for your company’s financial commitments. A business failure does not have to result in a personal bankruptcy!
  • Build business credit reports and scores. As a result of our program, your business will be listed with all of the top business credit bureaus.
  • Create credibility for your business. Having business credit makes your organization a better candidate for business loans, leases, partnerships and government contracts.
  • Save thousands of dollars in funding costs. Your solid business credit will help qualify you for lower interest rates on business loans.

The benefit to buying internet credit repair leads is that you can buy them relatively cheap, and if your working with the right company, you can get them fresh or in real time. Best of luck.

Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections

Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

Tips for Improving Your Sales ProjectionsTips for Improving Your Sales Projections. Any good business will have a system of sales forecasting Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections as part of its critical management strategy. But most sales forecasts are, by nature, inexact. The trick, experts say, is to know in which direction they’re wrong, and turn that into a picture of how your business is doing.  “People think the forecast is good or bad depending on how accurate it is,” says Tim Berry, president of Palo Alto Software, which creates business-planning software and is—despite its name—based in Eugene, Oregon. “What I think is it’s how well it breaks into meaningful assumptions you can look at later.” Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

For a small business—say, a restaurant—those assumptions could mean mapping activity in the dining room and keeping track of how many meals are sold at certain times of day. For a larger business, that could mean plotting all activity across departments to see how your products are matching up to industry standards. There’s a few ways to test the your sales forecasting to know whether you’re getting an accurate read or just dabbling in expensive soothsaying. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

1. Use separate numbers. One of the biggest misconceptions about forecasting is that there’s one set of numbers that represents the “truth” for your business. In reality, multiple forecasts are necessary in order to represent the needs of different constituencies, says David Stephens, director of sales for Right90, a sales forecasting company based in Austin, which has done forecasting for Sharp and Bivo Networks. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

Your sales team might have a forecast designed to meet its number, but product management is interested in the forecast of a specific product, operations is interested in finding out what it needs to produce and when, and finance needs revenue figures, he says. Someone at the top of the ladder needs to be prepared to put all those together and form a cohesive picture. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

“Senior management requires the forecast be vetted from all perspectives in order to develop the confidence to make critical decisions,” he says.

 

2. Develop a flexible process. It’s impossible to use a single test that will ensure you can track the exact terms, time, and context of every sale. Instead, you should focus on developing a process that can be managed, reevaluated, and modified as conditions change, Stephens says.

 

“This requires discipline, beginning with ensuring that sales forecasts are updated on a regular basis,” he says. That means managers have to understand the sales system, customer history, product delivery, and even the history of the individual salesperson to assess with some certainty the forecast’s accuracy. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

Big companies often make the mistake of thinking forecasting is just looking at the sales history and taking an average over time. Instead, they need to look at many additional factors as well, says Glen Margolis, president and CEO of Steelwedge Software, which is based in Pleasanton, California, and has forecasted for GE, DirectTV and Sara Lee. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

3. Set aside time. Your forecasts won’t do you much good if you aren’t constantly keeping tabs on them. Berr says it’s crucial for companies to set aside a specific time every month (or however often you like) to review the forecasts. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

Berry says his company does this every third Thursday of the month: managers bring in lunches, review the data together, and make any work on any high-level decisions that may be called for. It’s all part of the broader decision making of the company.

“If there’s a set time, everybody involved knows,” he says. “You look at, compare and plan for actual results…you start to see management happening.” Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

4. Use a consistent model. Margolis says he believes there’s no one model of forecasting that works best for every company. But one efficient method is sometimes one used by restaurant owners: matching this year’s sales to last year’s and making a guess for the future. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

“That to me is the best model,” he says. “That empowers people who are actually running business.”

 

But the key is, whatever model is used—whether it is a weighted average over a few months or bare numbers-tracking—needs to be consistently applied over time.

 

“One of the biggest barriers is people saying ‘I’m not qualified to forecast, I didn’t take statistics,'” he says. “Well, I do have the degree, and I did take statistics, and still the educated guesses are what really drive the forecast.” Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

Consistent application of the same model standardizes the format, and makes it easier to review year after year. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

5. Don’t get too complicated. Your business forecasting doesn’t have to be a hyper-complicated process that involves high-level mathematics and projections. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

“Most businesses are not necessarily very sophisticated,” Margolis says. “They don’t have a team of statisticians. It’s someone with other day-to-day activities who also keeps an eye on forecasting.” Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

Stephens says simple, specific software and applications are available for sales forecasting that provide an audit trail, a history of the forecast, and the ability to align the data with customer relations management. The programs also allow you to note changes to any perspective such as product, territory, customer, or salesperson, he says—much more so than just keeping a spreadsheet on your laptop. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

6. Be democratic. If you aren’t including all elements of the business in the forecasting process, you are likely to end up with skewed numbers. Margolis says that if people aren’t involved in the process, they won’t believe the numbers and won’t use them, or will fudge the data to fit their personal expectations. A purchasing department, for instance, may up certain numbers so it doesn’t run out of stock. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

Margolis advocates making forecasting a collaborative process, as much as possible.

 

“There’s ways to manage the collaboration so you’re getting the benefit not the downside of it,” he says. “Because everyone’s participating and they feel like their voice has been heard, they trust it. They’re more likely to trust it than to game it.” Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

7. Focus on exceptions. You can tweak the details of the forecast to death, but your main focus should be looking at the exceptions: where the forecast line diverges from actual sales data. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

“Don’t loose track of the forest for the trees,” Margolis says. “You’re just constantly trying to improve.” Improving forecasting doesn’t happen overnight: analysts expect forecasts to include monthly data for about the next 12 months, Berry says, as well as annual data for year two and three. Anything more specific than that is “basically an academic exercise,” he says. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

Experts say it sometimes takes months of tweaking, adjusting and learning before you can have an accurate guess at how the forecasting will look in the future. Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

 

“There’s constant elements and dimensions you can refine all the time,” Margolis says. “It has to be a core competency, especially in the world we’re in today that’s very unpredictable.” Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections.

Tips for Improving Your Sales Projections. With every successful venture, there is a plan. Planning is key for success. Use these tips to improve your sale projections.

 

Being Punctuality in Business: What it Says About You

Being Punctuality in Business: What it Says About You

Being Punctuality in BusinessBeing Punctuality in Business: What it Says About You. Nothing inspires confidence in a business man sooner than punctuality, nor is there any habit which sooner saps his reputation than that of being always behind time.”  (W. Mathews) Being Punctuality in Business

Being tardy can be a serious marketing blunder for today’s business owner.  From being late to meetings with a colleague or client, to not delivering your product or service on time, tardiness speaks volumes about who you are and how you do business.  If you want customers to choose to do business with you, you must meet their expectations for performance.  If you can’t meet deadlines for delivering products and services, customers will quickly find their way to your competitors.  Being Punctuality in Business

Being Punctuality in Business: What does being punctual say about you?

1.  You care.  Showing up and on time is one of the best ways to show someone that you care about them.  By keeping our commitments to others, we are acknowledging them and their needs.  Caring about our customers must be our number one priority since it is through our relationships that we build our business.  No one knows how much you care until you show them … by showing up. Being Punctuality in Business

2.  You respect others.  Horace Mann said, “Unfaithfulness in the keeping of an appointment is an act of clear dishonesty. You may as well borrow a person’s money as his time.”  Arriving on time for customer meetings, speaking engagements, meetings with vendors, or anything else you do in your business, shows that you respect others.  Respect is the foundation for creating great long-term relationships with your clients.  Being Punctuality in Business

3.  You are professional.  Thomas C. Haliburton said, “Punctuality is the soul of business.”   As a business professional, you have a toolkit of knowledge and behaviors that serve to create an aura of professionalism.  Being on time is a fundamental tool for anyone who wants to be perceived as being the very best. Being Punctuality in Business

4.  You are confident.  When you show up on time, it’s a sign that you are confident to take on whatever might lay before you.  Tardiness can imply that you aren’t confident, that you are hesitating to deal with a person or situation, possibly because you don’t have the skills, knowledge or tools to create a successful outcome.  Confidence is the companion of success, and by showing up on time, you’re putting yourself one step closer to achieving it. Being Punctuality in Business

5.  You are ready to receive others.  Punctuality says to others, “I’m ready”.  It implies that you are open to allowing more into your life.  You’re ready to meet with a client to discuss business.  You’re ready to deliver a presentation.  You’re ready to be involved with whatever is set before you.  People who “aren’t ready” tend to show up late or not at all. Being Punctuality in Business

6.  You have an edge.  Being punctual gives you an edge in business.  Undoubtedly you’ve heard the proverb, “The early bird gets the worm”, or in our case, the work.  In today’s competitive business climate, timing is everything.  With businesses moving at the speed of light thanks to the latest technologies, delay of any sort can cost you clients.  Being punctual is great; being early is even better! Being Punctuality in Business

7.  You’re in control.  Not only do people choose to do business with those who they like, know, and trust, they also like doing business with people who are in control. Business owners who always arrive early or on time to appointments give the impression that they manage things well.  It gives customers the impression that you are reliable in everything that you do.  People want to do business with people who are in control.Being Punctuality in Business

8.  You have a standard for excellence.  Punctuality is a standard for operating excellence.  Not only does it imply that you are in control of your business, it shows that you respect yourself and others.  Successful, well-liked business owners typically have punctuality as one of their highest values.  In a business world where rules are constantly changing, showing up on time will always be at the top of the list when it comes to standards of excellence.Being Punctuality in Business

9.  You keep things in flow.  When you are on time or when you deliver your products and services on time, you keep things in flow.  Other people and events are affected by what you do and don’t do.  If you don’t show up or if you don’t deliver as promised, you can adversely affect the plans of others.  By showing up on time, you allow other people and things to show up on time as well.  Everybody wins. Being Punctuality in Business

10.  Your habit is your brand.  Over time, if you deal with the same person or groups of people, you will become known as someone who is punctual.  You will be perceived as a business professional who respects others and who is confident and in control.  This natural way of being will take on a life of its own and become part of your business branding.  Being Punctuality in Business

9 Ways to Increase Business Profits Quickly and Easily by Tim Jacquet

 9 Ways to Increase Business Profits Quickly and Easily by Tim Jacquet

9 Ways to Increase Business Profits Quickly and Easily by Tim Jacquet. Many business owners who operate a business want as many clients as possible, both those who have just started their business and those who have owned one for a long time. They are, however, not fully utilizing all of their assets as they could be in order to achieve their desired results.

The objective of increasing business profits isn’t only met by attracting more clients.  There are several other reasons why a business doesn’t make as much money as it should besides not having enough clients.

Here are a few simple, yet effective business coaching ideas that will help you unlock the hidden profits in business and also some reasons why things aren’t operating at full potential as they should:

– Focus more time on the important matters – you may not have enough time available to boost your business, especially if you are the one who is serving clients on a regular basis. In this case, you should consider hiring somebody to help. Running a business takes a lot of work, so let the employees handle the day-to-day issues, while you take care of the important ones such as developing strategies for present and future growth.  Set aside an hour each week to brainstorm ideas, implement strategies and nurture key business relationships.

– Carry out competitive intelligence on other businesses, especially the ones that are successful and emulate them. This doesn’t mean copying whatever they do.  Take the best parts of your competitor’s business and apply them to your own.  It is also very important to keep a close eye on the competition, regardless of the nature of your business. If you are running a restaurant, for example, you should inspect the services, the offers and the prices of the competition. By doing a little research on other businesses, you will be able to reorganize, improve your services, adjust the prices depending on the competition, as well as introduce new offers to your clients. By knowing what your competitors are up to, you will always be one step ahead of them.

– Spend less of your gross profit on overhead and ineffective marketing.  Lease unused space in your office or warehouse.  Track sales as a result of expense.  Employ salespeople on a higher commission scale rather than a high base salary.  Test and measure for effective marketing campaigns before dumping a ton of money on any marketing campaign that is doomed to fail from the start.

– Instead of competing on price, develop an ultimate strategic advantage™.  Emphasize the qualities that make your business stand out and create a whole new positioning in the industry.  Find out what really matters to your clients by surveying them and give it to them.

– Talk with clients and find out if they are delighted or not.  Ask for suggestions. Dissatisfied customers will not return, while a delighted client will refer others.

– Nurture existing clients.  Instead of focusing on acquiring new customers, concentrate on nurturing and maintaining the clients that you already have! Make sure they are pleased with the services you provide for them and pay attention to their needs, desires and complaints. It is very important to establish and maintain good relations with your clients, as they are the ones who keep your business running.

Many business coaching companies encourage selling more to existing clients because it improves a business bottom line by increasing the lifetime value of a client.  It also brings new clients, attracted by positive experiences from your delighted clients.  Referrals lower your acquisition cost through word-of-mouth marketing and this also adds to business profits.

– Up sell other products/services.  Selling extras is known to be a great method of increasing profits.  For example, grocery stores strategically place many magazines and snacks near the checkout. People browse and buy these while waiting in line raising the average dollar sale with these extras.  McDonald’s is well-known for its up sell before a sale is completed by simply asking a simple question to add on more products (complete meal, fries, sundae, or apple pie).

– Increase your advertising – advertising is expensive but if things work well, the money will definitely return to you. You can also try to make the best use you can out of free advertising. Get the most out of promotions and limited offers, especially around holidays.

– Seek out business coaching advice. Having a comprehensive set of business strategies can help you further, by providing you with new efficient methods of increasing the profits of your business.  To operate a business effectively long-term, most businesses will have to deploy several strategies in order to diversify their sources of leads and maximize their profitability through smart marketing, team building, and business process management.

7 Tips for Improving Your Sales Forecasting

7 Tips for Improving Your Sales Forecasting

Posted by Inc. in Advertising, Sales and Marketingon Nov 7, 2012 2:04:36 PM

by Tim Donnelly


Sales forecasts are by nature imperfect. But experts say there are ways to squeeze more value out of the projections you’re making.

 

Any good business will have a system of sales forecasting as part of its critical management strategy. But most sales forecasts are, by nature, inexact. The trick, experts say, is to know in which direction they’re wrong, and turn that into a picture of how your business is doing.

 

“People think the forecast is good or bad depending on how accurate it is,” says Tim Berry, president of Palo Alto Software, which creates business-planning software and is—despite its name—based in Eugene, Oregon. “What I think is it’s how well it breaks into meaningful assumptions you can look at later.”

 

For a small business—say, a restaurant—those assumptions could mean mapping activity in the dining room and keeping track of how many meals are sold at certain times of day. For a larger business, that could mean plotting all activity across departments to see how your products are matching up to industry standards. There’s a few ways to test the your sales forecasting to know whether you’re getting an accurate read or just dabbling in expensive soothsaying.

 

1. Use separate numbers. One of the biggest misconceptions about forecasting is that there’s one set of numbers that represents the “truth” for your business. In reality, multiple forecasts are necessary in order to represent the needs of different constituencies, says David Stephens, director of sales for Right90, a sales forecasting company based in Austin, which has done forecasting for Sharp and Bivo Networks.

 

Your sales team might have a forecast designed to meet its number, but product management is interested in the forecast of a specific product, operations is interested in finding out what it needs to produce and when, and finance needs revenue figures, he says. Someone at the top of the ladder needs to be prepared to put all those together and form a cohesive picture.

 

“Senior management requires the forecast be vetted from all perspectives in order to develop the confidence to make critical decisions,” he says.


2. Develop a flexible process. It’s impossible to use a single test that will ensure you can track the exact terms, time, and context of every sale. Instead, you should focus on developing a process that can be managed, reevaluated, and modified as conditions change, Stephens says.

 

“This requires discipline, beginning with ensuring that sales forecasts are updated on a regular basis,” he says. That means managers have to understand the sales system, customer history, product delivery, and even the history of the individual salesperson to assess with some certainty the forecast’s accuracy.

 

Big companies often make the mistake of thinking forecasting is just looking at the sales history and taking an average over time. Instead, they need to look at many additional factors as well, says Glen Margolis, president and CEO of Steelwedge Software, which is based in Pleasanton, California, and has forecasted for GE, DirectTV and Sara Lee.

 

3. Set aside time. Your forecasts won’t do you much good if you aren’t constantly keeping tabs on them. Berr says it’s crucial for companies to set aside a specific time every month (or however often you like) to review the forecasts.

 

Berry says his company does this every third Thursday of the month: managers bring in lunches, review the data together, and make any work on any high-level decisions that may be called for. It’s all part of the broader decision making of the company.

 

“If there’s a set time, everybody involved knows,” he says. “You look at, compare and plan for actual results…you start to see management happening.”

4. Use a consistent model. Margolis says he believes there’s no one model of forecasting that works best for every company. But one efficient method is sometimes one used by restaurant owners: matching this year’s sales to last year’s and making a guess for the future.

 

“That to me is the best model,” he says. “That empowers people who are actually running business.”

 

But the key is, whatever model is used—whether it is a weighted average over a few months or bare numbers-tracking—needs to be consistently applied over time.

 

“One of the biggest barriers is people saying ‘I’m not qualified to forecast, I didn’t take statistics,'” he says. “Well, I do have the degree, and I did take statistics, and still the educated guesses are what really drive the forecast.”

 

Consistent application of the same model standardizes the format, and makes it easier to review year after year.

 

5. Don’t get too complicated. Your business forecasting doesn’t have to be a hyper-complicated process that involves high-level mathematics and projections.

 

“Most businesses are not necessarily very sophisticated,” Margolis says. “They don’t have a team of statisticians. It’s someone with other day-to-day activities who also keeps an eye on forecasting.”

 

Stephens says simple, specific software and applications are available for sales forecasting that provide an audit trail, a history of the forecast, and the ability to align the data with customer relations management. The programs also allow you to note changes to any perspective such as product, territory, customer, or salesperson, he says—much more so than just keeping a spreadsheet on your laptop.

http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/community/growing-your-business/salesandmarketing/blog/2012/11/07/7-tips-for-improving-your-sales-forecasting

Your Online Storefront: Launching an E-Commerce Site to Increase ROI

Your Online Storefront: Launching an E-Commerce Site to Increase ROI.By Iris Dorbian.

Over ten years ago, e-commerce was still an emerging channel. Now it’s become a worldwide phenomenon racking up sales in the stratosphere. According to a new report by the market research firm Forrester, online retail sales in the U.S. are poised to tap $327 billion by 2016. Furthermore, overall online consumer spending is expected to increase to $1,738 per person by 2016 in contrast to $1,207 per person in 2011. For 2012, the forecast is for $226 billion, a 12 percent jump from $202 billion in 2011.

Improvements in mobile devices, coupled with myriad online promotions, may be driving the growth. In the same Forrester survey, conducted in partnership with Bizrate Insights, approximately 75 percent of shoppers polled during last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday said they made their holiday purchases online simply because the deals were better. Clearly, for small business owners looking to increase their profits, launching an e-commerce site is not simply a key best practice anymore—but an imperative.

However, if you don’t have an e-commerce site (and you don’t have unlimited capital), how do you start? What should be on your to-do list?

PQ_Ecommerce.jpgFind an inexpensive, user-friendly e-commerce provider

If you don’t have the funds to outsource this (and chances are more than likely you do not), then ask for recommendations among trusted colleagues regarding the e-commerce provider they are currently using. Also, do some research on your own. Make sure that whatever provider you choose for your inaugural site, they offer the most bang from your buck—meaning they offer an affordable price plan in line with the volume of products you would like to sell.

Ask yourself the following questions: Does the e-commerce platform you’re considering require monthly fees? Can they link in directly with any PayPal or bank account? Make sure before you partner up with them that they don’t take a percentage of your sales revenues. Examples of some e-commerce solution providers that small business owners might want to check out are Shopify and Big Commerce.

Check out the competition

What are your rivals doing in this space? Review their sites. What they are offering? What are their payment plans, target audience(s) and their Google search rankings? What can you do to distinguish yourself from the competition and seize a sizable portion of the market share? Offering improved customer service, expedited shopping, or the ability to speak to product experts on the phone may be what distinguishes you from online titans like Amazon.com and eBay.

Make your site search friendly

By leveraging customer service and search marketing, Bill and Lauren Elward were able to position their online store Castle Ink, which sells recycled printer ink cartridges and toners, as a formidable contender against heavyweight competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and Epson. Launched in 2005 by the husband and wife partners for $5,000—a sum culled from their savings—Castle Ink generated $1 million in revenue last year. This is in stark contrast to its first year when the site didn’t quite crack sales of $50,000. Not bad for a venture initially viewed by Lauren, a former high school English teacher, as a way to supplement family income while on maternity leave.

Bill credits search engine optimization (SEO), which he honed as the director of web analytics, digital strategy, and online marketing at the College Board (a day job he continues to hold) as the number one factor behind Castle Ink’s success. “I think that’s been the key to everything,” he explains. “To have our site findable on Google where almost 100 percent of our traffic comes from [has been critical]. We’re able to outrank some of the super large companies that have much deeper pockets than us simply by having a better organic ranking.”

Don’t sacrifice quality for pricing

Another challenge that Castle Ink has had to tackle is pricing. Larger competitors, says Bill, offer low price points as a way to draw in the most customers. But that doesn’t presuppose the quality is up to par. “Because there’s a false sense of inferior products out there, it has turned consumers off to the whole idea of using a recycled product,” he says. “That’s been a battle for us. One of the things we’ve done to overcome that is to give people a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. We pay for return shipping so basically they can try our products for free; if they don’t like it, they can always send it back.”

Hire staff and make sure they’re qualified

Even if your business does not have the funds to hire a full complement of staff to get your e-commerce site running, it’s still a good idea to bring on someone, even if temporarily, whose sole responsibility will be to launch this component. This is especially true since it might end up yielding more revenue for your company than your other platforms. Take it seriously and don’t treat it like a sideline hobby.

In this vein, make sure you find someone who is qualified. “Don’t go with someone’s nephew who just graduated from college and can program a site,” cautions Julian Barkat, founder and director of e-commerce at Egg to Apples, a Philadelphia-based marketing agency. He adds that one client hired a niece to set up an e-commerce site simply because she “liked colors and studied that in college.”

Barkat, who has managed e-commerce operations for large and mid-sized companies in the past, currently acts as a consultant to small businesses looking to overhaul their site or launch one. Recently, he had a success story with Rescue Rittenhouse Spa, a luxury spa located in Philadelphia. Barkat started working with them in 2010, following the client’s earlier failed attempts at online sales.

After streamlining its SEO efforts, Barkat and his colleagues built out the spa’s e-commerce site via a new platform, Magento. After launching the site in November 2011, the client saw an immediate impact on revenue, while relevant search terms rose up in rankings. For 2012, Rescue Rittenhouse Spa’s year-over-year revenue forecast (which encompasses both the spa and the online store) is up 150-200 percent.

Here are a few other best practices for entrepreneurs to employ when launching an e-commerce site to bolster ROI:

View your e-commerce site as a way to deepen your relationships with your existing customer base rather than pursue new customers already.

Link all of your marketing efforts to your site.
Use Google analytics to track and monitor the visits to your site, particularly your repeat visitors. This will give you a keen sense of what is working on your site and what isn’t.
And finally test your site out before it goes live. Before Bill and Lauren Elward launched their e-commerce site, they spent considerable time and energy testing it and working out the kinks. “In the online space, it’s easy to try something and to wholly invest a small amount in it to see if it’s going to work,” says Bill. “Launch a pilot before you fully embark on a huge display advertising campaign or a huge search marketing campaign.”