Monday, June 29, 2015

The Importance of True Customer Service

Customer Service is one of those things that all companies like to say they do well. Some even use it as a differentiator, a benefit. However, many fall short when looked at from the client's point of view. In Customer Service: Help Your Business Stand Out From the Competition we attack this very topic.

What are you doing to set your company apart? How are you besting the expectations of your clients?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Success Through Serendipity

The other night Frans Johannson spoke to an engaged audience at the COSE ThinkSpot
event. His take on serendipity and innovation is worth paying attention to. One of the most impactful things he said was to not take the predictable path. It is so easy to go down the road that is logical; that makes the most sense to you because of your industry. However, if you think about it, everyone in your industry is following that path. So how are you differentiating your company? Exactly – you’re most likely not!

Moreover, logic doesn’t necessarily make sense when you are growing a company. Sometimes looking at things differently and paying attention to the surprises is what makes all the difference. Frans tells us that the unexpected is what makes us stand apart. He suggests we invite serendipity by not looking for the obvious path.

When we come up with many ideas and push ourselves to come up with something different we find the road to success. It is those moments Frans writes about in his new book, Click Moments that work the best. And we are constantly confronted with surprises and unexpected moments. As my grandmother used to say, “life is long and full of wonder.”

How will you harness the power of the unexpected? How will you use the surprises you experience to succeed?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Do You BackUp?

Data backup is critically important to business success. And yet, too many small business owners don't think about it until it's too late! Imagine needing a document or file and not being able to get your hands on it because of a computer problem.

A couple of years ago I was working on an article and my computer froze. I had to take it back to factory settings to get it to work again. If I hadn't been backing up my files I would have lost everything I had created and been working on. That could have been disastrous for my business.

 How many times have we heard about viruses infecting a company's computers and wiping out their files. Besides the challenges of being without critical data the time it can take to recreate those files can be expensive and daunting. Thankfully, it’s easy to avoid this problem if you back up your computer to either an external hard drive or off-site to the cloud.

The folks over at SingleHop have created an infographic to help highlight the issues lack of data recovery systems can cause. 
So, what are you doing to secure your precious data? How are you ensuring you have what you need when you need it? 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Outsourcing Customer Call Centers - Yay or Nay?

Over time a lot of companies have outsourced their call centers to companies overseas or even here in the US. This practice has been met with varying degrees of acceptance - or not. There are many reasons why it is better to keep your call center in-house. These reasons are explored here.

Are You Budgeting Enough for Employee Appreciation?

Employees are the backbone of any company. Whether there's one or 1,000, they move a business forward - or backward. Nurturing employees can make a huge difference in the impact they have on a business.
It doesn't cost a lot to nurture employees.  Read more here

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Perils of Big Fish

big fish - little fish
So many salespeople and small business owners strive to hook the big fish - the large clients. There's a belief that these are the best customers and that there is validity and credibility attached to being able to say you've won those accounts.

I see it a little differently. When I think about hooking the big fish I think about long sales cycles, low quotes with tight margins, and diversion of attention. Let's take a look at each.

1. Long sales cycles
Large clients make decisions slowly. They have more people involved in the decision making process and they have more priorities. I've seen a lot of salespeople struggle with the inability to move a sale forward. The reality is that larger clients have so many priorities that they may not feel any urgency for what you have to sell. Competing priorities go on all day, every day inside large companies. We can't expect them to maintain interest in our product or service just because we've had a meeting with them. We have to continue to be persistent and patient - all at the same time.

Because these sales cycles are longer we have to also make sure we are pursuing smaller clients at the same time. We have to make sales and bring clients in while we continue to troll for the big catch.

2. Low quotes with tight margins
Large companies are accustomed to negotiating price - in their favor. If we aren't careful we'll end up pricing too low to make the account worthwhile. We have to seriously consider the ROI of winning the big account. If the price is too low and the margins too tight we'll find it tough to grow. We need healthy margins to have money to invest in our business. And to be there for the unexpected. Large clients aren't loyal. They consistently shop their vendors to make sure they are getting the best for the lowest cost. What would happen to your company if your big fish left for a cheaper alternative? All that revenue gone. All that time spent working for them instead of building a client base. Dangerous.

Once again it can seem like a major win to land that big fish. However, what may seem like a coup can turn into a nightmare if the revenue isn't worth the effort.

3. Diversion of attention
Large clients require and demand a lot of attention. And they can. We tend to favor them and understand that we have to consistently nurture them. These clients expect to be taken care of. They expect the VIP treatment. And because we were so focused on getting the business we fall into the same belief system once we've snagged them. We have to give them a lot of attention in order to keep them.

So, we commit resources to them. These are resources we could be using to bring in more medium and small clients. We could be building a foundation of loyal, well priced, evenly handled clients. We could be growing and committing our resources in ways that would benefit our company more than having that big fish.

Step back and consider what you want for your company. I'm imagining it's healthy growth with loyal clients who respect and appreciate what you do for them; it's reasonable margins and a deep bench of clients. It may sound like success to hook the big fish. In reality - success is serving many clients and having the time and money to continue to serve them all well.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Combat Obscurity To Succeed in Business

On Monday, June 8th Rodney Hughes was my guest on Accelerate Your Business Growth radio. He shared a ton of great ideas for growing a business. One topic that really hit me was when he talked about obscurity. He said that the number one challenge facing small business is obscurity.

If people don't know you are there they can't buy from you.
If they don't know the value of the product or service you provide they won't buy from you.
If they don't know how you benefit them, they won't be compelled to buy from you.

So, it's our job to make sure we are marketing our businesses in a way that combats obscurity. Makes so much sense! In this big, small world there is a lot of competition. You have to stand out from the crowd and consistently provide a compelling message. It's not about selling what you have to offer. It's about sharing your expertise and creating awareness around your company.

People buy from people they trust. They'll trust you when they are exposed to you and your knowledge on a consistent basis. Consistency is a key to success. Make the decision that you are in it to dominate and then implement a strategy to make it happen.

If you'd like to learn more from Rodney, listen to the show here.