Archive for the ‘sales’ Tag

New way to outsource…here at home

Virtual Receptionist

Domestic Outsourcing just makes sense

Small and medium sized business owners are starting to hit a wall with the way the economy is going. It’s not easy to hire employees at the drop of a hat that can be specialists, or even non specialists and bring value to the business for wages that make sense.

In comes the thought of outsourcing; send what you can overseas…or should you? The Big guys do it, why not us? Isn’t that how to keep costs down? Isn’t that the way to control my business without having to pay out of my profits so heavily?

I know of a couple people that have Virtual Assistants overseas and love it, and I’ve heard a few horror stories about how inefficient they are, comprehension issues, etc.

So where budgets no longer allow for the hiring of new employees there’s an age old challenge that allows businesses to holds its owners down; make them work in the business until they really make it big or they finally fail simply because they are overwhelmed with the work, become too busy to deal with the daily operations and can’t get out to make the cash register ring, or they just give up.

So what about outsourcing…Domestic?

As many small businesses are opening there are just as many business owners that are trying to figure out if it’s still worth the stress and the strain of having to build it from scratch only to get held up because they can’t afford to hire that employee they need, or just shut it down.

Numbers alone already show that even with 25% profitability that someone would have to gross thousands to employ one employee

What's my profit margin?

for 8 hours. (Essentially 10K+ gross to justify a $2100-$2500/mo employee at or around minimum wage)

So what to do then? Outsource? As far back as 2004 Inc.com already had an article that said States were rewarding companies that DIDN’T outsource offshore.

The reasons to do outsource are many. Ease of focusing on core functions, lower operational cost, (huge one) Access to global knowledge base for creative and strategic planning, possibly freeing up resources for projects that need capital infusion etc.

However, when your local and state government are giving you reasons to NOT do it, even with incentives to not outsource, how can you bear having to do all the work yourself? How do you justify the cost of having an employee? I’ve known family businesses with families that have this false sense of pride in having a “family business” when they are actually drowning in it losing time together, losing time to themselves, losing their own identities and becoming the business in a way that is just not fulfilling.

So what’s the solution? Outsourcing…domestic, on shore, at home.

But that’s insane! No company that is a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) will work with a small or medium sized business right? Wrong.

New Niche, new way for the little guys to get out there and compete with the big guys.

Keeping in touch with your customers Live is what keeps your business growing

The secret is using a “Shared” model where numerous companies can share in the talents of one seat rather than having to buy a dedicated agent. (or five to ten as most BPOs would require) Being able to participate in the marketplace with a means to cut costs on virtual reception, Live Chat interaction, Email interaction, Text SMS services, etc can really help to increase revenue by having the menial tasks cared for while you concentrate on what’s important…making the cash register ring.

You don’t have to sacrifice your business’ identity, and you get to keep control over your company’s brand identity and brand affinity. There is a new breed of outsourcing that will help you keep things local, efficient, accurate, and definitely out there available for your market. You just need to search them out and make sure they will do it according to your parameters or that there can be a viable work around to get the job done.

The obvious benefit to the economy here at home is that more jobs are created and more people can work for a living that makes sense to them and their families.

Been a Bit…but I’m back!

Well, I’ve been busy workin on a few projects, and time has definitely gotten away from me.

I’ll be back online here shortly with some of the new research that’s been done by companies looking to help businesses grow via online tools and offline as well.

Right now I’m reviewing a couple of reports and studies about how live Chat is getting more attention online.

Interesting to see that SEO guys don’t necessarily believe that Live Chat can help increase conversion as much as 38%. This confirmed by an international Market research firm, and then again by a smaller firm that was approached by an actual service provider to do research on their particular company.

Guys here’s the bottom line, if you’re not there to interact with your potential customers, guess what? You’re leaving money on the table, and your customer is taking it(Their money) to your competitor!

Why the heck would you want to let go of money that belongs in your account?

Sometimes it amazes me how business owners think they have it all with one side of the picture. I had one guy tell me that if the site is architecturally designed well that conversions are just fine…guess he didn’t hear the part about 38% MORE than what is already there. Or how about the 80-110% for eCommerce sites?

Now I”m not saying this is the end all to increasing conversions on your site, but it definitely a way to make it better than what you have right now.

If you don’t have anything happening with your site right now, time to get it analyzed by someone that understands your niche, and knows how to get you in front of the right traffic. Then it becomes design and copy time, then you need to optimize it until you get the right kind of leads then you need a system to work that lead into a sale. (Whatever that process is)

I can tell you after seeing varied results, it’s better to have it than to not. Oh, and just because a site has it, if it can’t be monitored 24/7 you’ve thrown the money away. Find a service that can respond for you on the overnight or over weekend, etc. (This way you still have a life yeah?)

I’ll talk more about stuff next week…Glad to be back in the writing mode gang!

The three “R”s…

Recently Cory Treffiletti, president and managing partner for Catalyst SF, wrote a quick article on the three “R”s of marketing, and got things back to basics.

To go over them real quick they are; recency, resonance and relevance.

Recency is the amount of time that passed since the last time your particular target market saw or heard from you. Resonance is how you rang in their ear…did you make an impressino? Did you get their attention?

And then relevance…were you what they were looking for? If not at that time, now? Do you still have relevance in their mind?

A lot of times we think everyone should have what we’ve got to offer, and forget that a return on customer is a constant changing or adapting to what your customer or client needs at that time.

I was asked once what my definition of Quality was, after a bit of thought, I answered, “The best possible product or service given to the customer at that moment in time.” It could have been by most terms described as a cowardly answer as it seems to take no solid stance or no real posture to relevancy. I beg to differ though, if you have a mind set to adapt to what your customer wants when they want it, your competitor however strong a brand they may be, may lose that customer or client to you simply because you resonated in their ears a lot more than the familiar brand they are used to and with a product or service that is the one niche they are loking for, Can this be a curse too? yes, let’s be honest you have to have something that everyone will associate you with as far as a brand they can recognize or identify with.

An advantage to being that type of “quality” though, is the ability to adapt to your suctomers needs through constant metrics and testing to see what your market is looking for and giving it to them at that moment in time, There are some Business Intelligence tools that can help with that, and then sometimes it will take a bit more of just watching and listening to the marketplace to see what everyone wants or needs. Get in front of them and make your offering.

All in all though making sure your three “R”s are in order and continual, your business stands to profit the most when everyone knows you have what they want. Driving behavior is the key. If you can effect mass re-programming, you stand to profit well!

Find yours and Keep it Rolling!

Business Development…what is it?

Ok. So ‘ve had this presentation for a bit and felt it was time to put it out there both as a refresher course and a “newbie” course for those that don’t quite get what Biz Dev is.

Here isa link to a presentation that is fairly simple to understand, once I get audio put to it we will do more to get it out to everyone in the business world.

Many think this is elementary stuff, but I’ve been running into too many people that just don’t understand that when times are slow that is when you make your best investments in your marketing, and TRACK THEM! Then you follow your sales through and make sure your conversion ratios make sense, then you do it again. (you know; wash, rinse, repeat as necessary)

Here’s the link: Click here

Once you’ve gotten here,  comment and give me your thoughts on what you think are necessary steps to making business deveelopment really work in our now economy…and be careful, there are a lot of emotions running right now, be critical in your thinking, find facts not feelings.

Where’s the money flowing…

Seth Godin makes a real interesting point on his latest blog; where the money is there you’ll find the people working.

Interesting to me that it starts as an end still and then the means justifies it. (almost sounds like the torture debate going on right now)

Here’s a tag to Mr. Godin’s point; if there is money to be made you can well believe that someone is going to be searching for it.

He wrote that things change around once there’s money to be made in any particluar field. He related it to writers becoming publishers which is the reverse of what was. (When the Writer Becomes the Publisher / Seth Godin – 05/2009)

It would seem pretty logical that once the public wants something, they are willing to pay for it, so what is it that you have that they are willing to pay for? What message can you get across to them to tell them what you have is what they need? Many times I see “the best blah blah” or “Number 1 blah blah in the state” C’mon, do you really think that is going to attract attention? If it does, I’d be pretty surprised. Nowadays it’s just not enough. Mr. Godin back in 2003 made refernece to being remarkable(the purple cow). If you have a pizz,a shop fine, so does almost every other coner strip mall, what makes yours so different?

Here in Las Vegas, NV , a local pizza chain by the name of Metro pizza decided to become the “purple cow” of the valley by holding pizza making classes. Their pizza is great, but now they are the teachers of pizza making, and it’s doing very well. People are paying for classes and more are hearing by word of mouth how great their pizzas are. Do you think they can charge a bit more because of that?

Here’s the bottom line: You have to find the flow of money where it is moving and get in front of it. It’s the one time you want to get run over by the flood. Even if you can’t handle it you’ll have known what is was like and can most likey prepare for it better next time. Pizza makers to pizza making teachers,writers becoming publishers, what else can you think of that would set you apart and find you more income for your business through the right marketing message?

Keep it rolling!

Open mic..speak up!

Hey gang! So much has been goin on lately that I’ve kinda fallen behind. I apologize for that, and promise to keep up a bit better.

In fact, I’m going to have some guest writers posting about sales and marketing.

They will be young in some cases, some will be veterans…just keep an eye out. Every bit can be of benefit to you whether from  the seasoned vet or from the college intern. (Yeeeess I’ve learned some stuff from them too)

Today though, I wanted to do an ‘open mic’ talk about sales and marketing.

I’d like to know:

What do you do when you approach  a new concept? Where do you take it from there?

How do you formulate a ‘position’ on a new product? Once formulated, how long does it take to get it to market? Does your marketing plan introduce the product as it is ready or do you ‘pre-launch’?

What experiencecs have you had? Successes? Failures?

How did you recover from the hard ones?

Did the good ones last? How long?

This is really a means for you to ‘discuss’ what you found as good and not so good in your experience. I’m not asking for company names or product specifics. You can be vague and general to protect the innocent…lol

I would like some honest input though and perhaps I can take one or two of the examples and stretch them for everyone to see how those experiences can benefit their profession or business.

Keep it rollin!

Christmas is Over!

With all the bad statistics of how everyone is worried about how the economy is doing and how the decline in shopping was due to everyone worried about their “Job Security”, hey gang here’s a hint…IT’S A FALSE SECURITY! Anwyay, I wanted to drop thisin for everyonr to think about…wrote it today.

Well, the hardest time of the year is now done!

 

New projects can begin and we don’t have to deal with executives wondering what we’re gonna come up with to drive Black Friday. Not that it was going to help much anyway…We’re in a recession! DOH!

 

I had a couple of really interesting conversations regarding our economy and where they thought things were headed regarding the market and its condition. We all were of the same opinion that if things don’t change soon, we are teetering at the edge of a depression. We also all came to the same conclusion, this particular country is beginning to get out of its comfort zone, and beginning to realize that we are a lot more responsible for our actions than we thought. It was a friend that made me realize that even my meager decisions affect others around me. Guess we all need to take a better perspective on life. Start recognizing that we have a responsibility to the rest of the world, even though we don’t want it, we got it. We need to take care of it.

 

Sure, we don’t want to have to deal with everyone else’s crap, but we started it, we need to finish what we started. This means that the next nuts we vote into office will understand this “bi=partisan” stuff has to end, and they need to do things to the people’s satisfaction. I don’t mean just for the blue collar, or just the white collar, not just the rich or the poor. They need to get it together for the good of the greater not the one.

 

This brings a big “yeah right” on from everyone…ok so, do you throw your hands up and stop fighting to make it right? At the same do we revolt? C’mon, think logically already.

 

I took a Critical thinking class once and our instructor was a trial lawyer…this was an interesting class…believe ye me…the fights that almost started in this class because of what someone’s brother or sister or mom or dad went through with a certain situation, WHOA! The emotions ran deep in this class!

 

I got to speak up in the class one day and nicely explained that not a single person in that room was going to make it in the corporate world simply because they were making choices and decisions in their own lives by their emotions rather than doing their homework and finally coming to a real conclusion…one that was driven by information and “Critical thinking”.

 

The response was kinda interesting. Many sat there in kind of disbelief that I spoke for one. For two, what I just said basically threw all of their opinions and rationalizations right out the window. So, some of them wouldn’t talk to me anymore…LOL! Some chose to think before they did say anything to me. My instructor? He loved me! (not literally) He and I had some great conversations over the phone about the subjects after class about how to think critically and take the point of view that had no view…

 

What da heck does that mean Mike?

 

Here’s what it means;

 

Nothing makes sense until you have all the facts, and to make it make sense you have to have all of the facts. If not, you are taking an uncalculated risk that will cost you in the short and long term.

 

Don’t let emotions and traditions and any other emotional based information permeate into your head or heart for that matter to cause you to decide too early. Take the time to research your thoughts, and sort them out. I have a friend that is so deliberate in his thinking, that when you ask him a question, he will literally say..” uuuummmmm…maybeee, you should try this….ok?” What he does is while he says “ummmmm”, he is thinking how would this work out the best for this subject? Then he makes his suggestion according to what he has figured out. His decisions are usually spot on. Others in that company I cannot vouch the same.

 

Point: Take the time to do your homework, find out, and if you run out of time, see if you can delay the answer. If not, go with the best you can come up with, or find others that have more info than you, and utilize them as a resource. Take the time to take the time…sheesh.

 

Don’t rush…here’s another thought, “If you have to rush, You’re late! Take the time to be early, make it easier on yourself.”

 

Next round I will talk more about how to manage projects when they get dumped on you.

If you’re not ready….they will be!

Well this was posted around Facebook and a few other places today, so why not here?

 

Look here’s the skinny…year’s end is upon us…so what have you done to plan for the next round? Your competition is trying to squash you so they can corner the market(even if it never happens the point is).

 

You have to have something in place so you can get ahead and leave “them” behind. If you can’t do that, you might as well close your doors.

 

So what is below is a toolkit my friend created for small business owners to fend off the big dawgs trying to out advertise you. Heck in some cases you could get some better prices for your marketing if you do it right. You might even get some free publicity…but you won’t get anything if you don’t start planning NOW.

 

But to do it, you’ll need to get this stuff in your hot little hands or on your computer so you can absorb the info and start the planning process….Don’t let the rest of the year go by with,”It was seasons…” as an excuse.

 

Keep it rolling!

When was the last time a prospect called YOU with money in hand to do business?  Did you know that, with just one minor change to your marketing message, you can double or even triple your responses?

 

For a limited time Facebook users can receive a special discount for an amazing new marketing tool-kit designed for business owners and marketing professionals.  Called the Power Marketing on a Budget Guide, this resource will steer you through the myriad of marketing options and create a “buzz” that is GUARANTEED to make your phone and cash register ring!

 

Check this out: www.CorporateRainMakers.com/PowerMarketing/Facebook.htm and start marketing like a pro today!

What’s next?

Hey gang,

Just thinking today about a client I’ve been working with and the thinking that seems to riddle small business owners and their thoughts on what they can do with what little they have.

Interestingly enough, when I sat and spoke with this budding entrepreneur, they seemed to believe everything rides on their productivity. In the beginning this is always true, unless you have a truly developed business plan that includes a comprehensive marketing plan and a hardcore operations SOP.(Standards of Operations) What they didn’t realize is that they are much better positioned in this current economy due to the effects of the recession that is in place right now.

After talking a bit with this Business Owner, they started to see that even with what little time and power they had, they actually had more freedom than a company that is having to ‘reinvent’ itself.

See, when a large company has to reinvent, they have to restructure, which usually means someone’s moving companies involuntarily, they have this huge undertaking to assess and begin the process. This takes quick planning which can overcompensate their intended result. Then once the ‘fat trimming’ has finished, the rest of the crew has to pick up the slack and reorganize so that operations become streamlined and more ‘cost effective’. This has its ramifications as the original plans of the company was to operate at full strength usually by the 5th year in business. This would then profit the company and award dividends to the share holders. Unfortunately as everyone is seeing this not to be the case for the next couple of years…at least not with the mainstream companies

With the recession in full swing, and I mean that with all prejudice towards the failing economy fostered by faulty administrations, and clueless economists, and now chicken $#!T investors, larger and even medium size businesses are suffering by their own SOPs, and policies which are holding them back form making the bold moves to get them ahead of everyone else. For them to have to restructure everything they got used to, everyone in the organization has to be retrained to take on more responsibility, and work harder to help the operation profit.

Meanwhile, the little guy who has no one but themselves to depend on, has no limitations of a ‘major plan’ to reinvent themselves. They are just beginning to invent, create, brand, and produce for their target market what it is they have to offer. Hopefully you guys are beginning to get the picture, because I hate having to say things twice.

The ‘big dogs’ are struggling to keep their values in the Stock Market, while the little guy is having to just worry about his next check paying the bills.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the big guys have to pay rent too unless they own the building, but, they still have much more to deal with to reach their goals, and have a LOT more to deal with in terms of labor relations, benefit packages, accounts payable and receivable, risk management, etc. The little guy? hmmm, can I make my house payment this month?

What I’m trying to get at is this. When you think as a small business that you are disadvantaged, you couldn’t be more out of touch. Especially in this time! You, as a small business owner, have so much to look forward to. You have a recession, giving you a better shot at getting your supplies cheaper, gas being less now makes it cheaper on having a mobile office, which is usually the norm for smaller service businesses. Rents for office spaces in some places are stupidly cheap. If you can’t afford one still, stay home! I mean really…What’s it take to show you, you’re in a really good spot right now?

I know small businesses that landed larger contracts just because they were smaller! Their proposals to their clients were much more cost effective even if they were value based on their pricing! The big guys can’t compete because they have to charge more to keep up wth their costs! Then they have to reasses their budgeting simply because they have to make good on their promises to their shareholders…the small guy? “Honey, I’m hooome…I got paid today…let’s go out to eat tonight!” Get the idea? Perhaps oversimplified but you get the point right?

So today, I give the ‘little guy’ a boost by saying, “Quit cryin! You don’t need a WAAAMbulance, you need to get your head into the game and play hard, it will get you there. Find your target market, get your name out there through Smaller Budget Marketing efforts. Now is the time to meet new potential clients, new networking connections, new supply lines for office or manufacturing…you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find. Make this time work to your advantage!”

Now….Go get ’em!


Business Etiquette…do you really need to get that?

Natalie Regoli is the CEO of The Online Small Business Social Network, Sta.rtUp.biz. The network has been featured in the Wall Street Journal twice, and it receives over 1.5 million page views a month. The url is: http://SUp.biz


Posts: 31 | Created on October 31, 2008 by supdotbiz |

Phone Etiquette Business Busters

By supdotbiz in SUp.biz CEO Corner on Tuesday, November 04, 2008 3:50 PM

Is talking on the phone as natural to you as walking? Think your biggest issue is how to find free internet phone calls? Well, free internet phone calls or not, you could be killing your business without even knowing it. Here are some important tips adapted from John Edwards’ article “Phone Call Mistakes – Ten Ways Not the Answer the Phone”.

Tip #1: Don’t Answer in Meetings

The best practice is to turn off your phone completely in meetings, so you’re not distracted by looking at who called, and so you don’t appear rude to meeting participants. Even if your phone is on vibrate, it is still considered unprofessional not be entirely “present” in the meeting. When talking to a customer, don’t pick up the phone. Your customer will feel slighted and unappreciated.

Tip #2: Return Calls within 4 Hours

Return missed calls and voicemails promptly, even if to say that you’re working on getting an answer and will revert as soon as you have the information. Every four hours, call the customer and leave a voicemail updating them that you are still waiting on certain information. Keep it short and sweet but make sure they know you haven’t forgotten.

Tip #3: Empty Your Voicemail Box

Make sure to empty your voicemail box regularly. If a customers or potential customers can’t reach you, and then can’t even leave a voicemail, they may decide not to call back. Their lives are busy too, and you have to be accessible to them. If you’re this hard to get ahold of, what would happen if they have a problem?

Tip #4: Beware of Automated Phone Systems

Automated phone systems are impersonal and frustrating. If you need to use one, make it very simple for a customer to speak to a live person without having to listen to a lot of options.

Tip #5: Tailor Your Greeting

Make sure your voicemail greeting is clear, professional, and appropriate for your industry. Stay away from music and jokes, even if “relevant” to your industry, as you want to convey the message that you are the ultimate professional and 100% dedicated.

Tip #6: Keep Your Composure

Everyone gets nasty calls from time to time. But when you lose your calm and appear even slightly annoyed, your customer will notice and it is a business killer. Try to mentally focus on an image of a very nice person who had something really bad happen to them today. Tell yourself that it is not you, and that you need to deliver the best possible customer service to help their day improve.

Tip #7: Don’t Eat or Chew Gum

Let your voicemail pick up instead. Munching sounds completely unprofessional.

Tip #8: Don’t Answer without the Proper Greeting

Have too many phones? Make sure to give each a distinct ring so you don’t accidentally answer your business phone with a simple “hello.”

Tip #9: Don’t Ignore Calls

If a customer has taken the time to call you, she wants you to pick up quickly.

Tip #10: Don’t Speak Loudly in Noisy Places

Get to a quiet place before picking up. Let it go to your voicemail if you have to, then get to a quiet place and promptly call back.

Mr. Edwards’ full article can be found at http://www.voip-news.com/blog/20080507/phone-call-mistakes-ten-ways-not-to-answer-the-phone/.