Archive for September, 2013


Mondays with Mike: Brussel Sprouts Are Back

How can you use the trend "everything old becomes new again" to help your business? Author and entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz explains how to monitor and predict business trends.


3 Ways to Amaze Your Customers Today

Customer service is the backbone of every successful business. Here, Shep Hyken, international customer service speaker and author of The Amazement Revolution: Seven Customer Service Strategies to Create an Amazing Customer (and Employee), offers three unique ways for small business owners to impress their customers.

Give these a try today!

Send a note

Every time you land a new customer, take five minutes to write them a hand written thank you note. Do it right after you sign them as a customer so their account is fresh in your mind. When writing the note, cite the conversation you just had with specifics on their business and express how excited you are to welcome them into your company.

If you don’t have time to write a hand-written note, Hyken recommends employing Gracious Eloise to help you craft computer generated notes that look hand written.

“They will send you a few pages of words to write out in your handwriting,” he says. “Then, when you are ready to send a thank you note, you just type it quickly and hit send. I’ve had people tell me that they couldn’t tell the difference between my handwriting and the note made on a computer.”

Create confidence in your business

Customers need to have confidence in your product or service in order to stay with you or to sign on as a new client. Hyken says there are five main ways to create confidence in the eyes of a customer.

First, be polite by saying or writing “please” and “thank you” in all of your correspondences. Second, show up on time. “It is disrespectful to be even one minute late for an in-person meeting or a phone call,” he says.

Third, always follow through on your promises. Fourth, be proactive. “Just like the best servers will fill a water glass before you ask for a refill, you should be on top of what your customers want and need before they ask,” Hyken says.

His final piece of confidence-boosting advice: set expectations and exceed them.

“If I tell you that I’ll call you tomorrow at noon, I’ll try to call you at 9 a.m. instead,” he says. “If something is due Friday, I will try to deliver it on Thursday. Those little touches really matter in the eyes of a customer.”

Work quickly

Every company should try to answer emails in less than 24 hours, says Hyken.

“Speed is something people want,” he says. “If you can deliver it to them—be it in your phone call strategy or your email strategy—it will wow them.” 

happy-customers


Work Your Biz Wednesday: Making Your First Hire

Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson, discusses how to hire your first employee as your business begins to grow.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Motivate Your Salespeople

When it comes to managing employees, your salespeople are a special breed. Dealing with rejection day in and day out is tough, so it’s important that you are your sales team’s biggest cheerleader. Need help motivating your salespeople? Try these tips:

  1. Money matters. The salary, commission and bonus plan you offer is a key motivational tool—but what combination works best? While a commission-only approach can be motivating, it also tends to decrease teamwork. Straight salary, on the other hand, removes motivation and creates “coasters.” You’ll typically get the best results offering a base salary plus commission. Quarterly or year-end bonuses can be an additional motivator.
  2. Offer extras. Non-cash incentives like prizes, trips or gift cards are good motivators and help foster healthy competition among the sales team. You can keep costs down by bartering with vendors and suppliers to get incentives.
  3. Create “stretch” goals. Goals should be neither too easy to attain nor so hard that salespeople get discouraged. Aim for “stretch goals” that require just enough effort to build new skills.
  4. Be clear. Put the details of how commissions, bonuses and incentives are earned in writing and make sure every salesperson understands what he or she needs to do to attain the rewards. You don’t want disappointment and resentment.
  5. “How’m I doing?” You or your sales manager needs to provide ongoing feedback or salespeople won’t improve. Make sure criticism is combined with suggestions for how to sell better. Sharing positive feedback and praise in public (such as at sales meetings) is a great motivator.
  6. Know your team. Different salespeople are motivated by different factors. Instead of using a “one-size-fits-all” approach, tailor your feedback, rewards and interactions to each individual for best results. For instance, one person might be more motivated by tickets to a sporting event, another by an afternoon of comp time.
  7. Help them grow. Ongoing training such as that offered by sales or industry organizations is a great way to show your salespeople you value them—and motivate them to try the new tactics they learn. You can also have more experienced salespeople on your team mentor novices. 

salespeople


Mondays with Mike: From-M-L-E

How do you deal with coworkers that are a challenge in the workplace? Mike Michalowicz, author of "The Pumpkin Plan" and "The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur", offers a tip in this week's Mondays with Mike:


Productivity Tips For When You Feel Like You’re “In The Weeds”

6178168482_37ab536ce9_oIt’s Monday at 9 a.m. and you are already stressed. Instead of enjoying a relaxing weekend, you spent the last two days stewing about the crazy week ahead of you. Now that you are sitting at your desk, your mind is racing on how get the most done in the shortest amount of time.

Before hyperventilating, take note of the following tips from Cathy Sexton, productivity strategist and coach at The Productivity Experts, and watch your list disappear in no time.

Clear your desk

You desk should be clear of all distractions every day, says Sexton.

“When you have 30 things on your desk, all of that stuff is subconsciously talking to you and taking your energy,” she notes. “If you clean off your desk and organize, you will feel tremendously more focused.”

Dump your brain on paper

Do you have so much on your mind that you can’t figure out what to do first? If so, Sexton recommends writing everything in your head out on paper. The process of distilling your thoughts into written words will calm you down and help focus your energies.

Make a master list

Instead of coming into work and making a 20-item to-do list, pick the three or five most important items on the list and focus on them for the day.

“Once you get those done, focus on something else,” Sexton says. “When we have 20 things on our list, we pick and choose what we want to do and then end up getting wrapped up in non-essential things.”  

Set a timer

Setting a timer can be an incredibly useful tool in tracking how many minutes/hours you are spending on work related tasks vs., say, checking your Facebook page.

“Set a timer for 30 to 45 minutes and no more than 90 minutes at a time,” Sexton suggests. “Stand up and take a short break after the timer goes off, then write down your activities in a log to help you track what you are doing at what time.”


How to Price Competitively and Make a Big Profit

selling-onlineRecently, I went to renew my subscription to Symantec’s Norton 360 antivirus product. I had been receiving pop ups that my license was ending. The offers were to renew it for $79.99 a year. I routinely look at Amazon before buying anything, so when I saw that they sold the same product for $21.95, I called Norton to find out if they could match the price. They claimed it was not the same product (it was). Then, they offered me $20 off the $79.99 price. This seemed silly. If Amazon can sell their product for $21.95, why can’t Symantec?

Before the internet, there were many distributors that could mark up prices based on geography or a specific industry channel. Now, most products start out as a commodity. If the consumer can shop for a better price for the same product, they will. So unlike the Norton 360 case described, the price of any product has to be the same throughout the distribution channel. This does create more competition and puts pressure on lowering the price.

So how do you keep prices competitive and remain profitable?

  1. Don't sell commodities. A commodity is an interchangeable product consumers can buy anywhere. One brand can easily be substituted for another. Think of consumer electronics. When customers shop for these types of products, they look for the best price. With big box stores and super Internet sites like Amazon, it is impossible to compete and make a profit.
  2. Add value. Consumers will pay more for value. For example, buying a grill or flat screen TV ? A company that delivers and sets it up for the consumer is more likely to get the sale.( If you have ever tried to assemble your own grill or hang a TV on a wall, you know this is value.)
  3. Sell less for more. Remember, it's the profit margin that contributes to the bottom line not the sales number. If given a choice between high sales and high profit, choose to sell less for more!
  4. Specialize and be known for one thing. A company may not have the widest selection, but do they offer pre-sales or post sales advice? Help the consumer make the best choice and they are more likely to buy from that company.
  5. A distribution channel that can be supported. Don't be like Symantec. If you are going to sell a product through a broad distribution channel, sell the same product directly for the same price. Alternatively, add something to the product or service the distributor doesn't have so it can be sold for more.

How  do you manage price and profit?


Work Your Biz Wednesday: From Employee to Entrepreneur

The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson, offers six steps to take when you want to transition from employee to entrepreneur.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Monitor Your Employees’ Computer Use

Employee-internet-monitoring-protects-employees-300x200Preventing your employees from surfing the Internet, using social media or checking personal emails at work is not realistic these days. But employee Internet use can put your business at risk in many ways. How do you maintain the delicate balance between keeping your business’s data safe, keeping your employees productive, and keeping your people happy?

  • Be proactive. Checking social networks or taking time out to watch a funny cat video or scan sports scores can actually make people more productive by functioning as a virtual “water cooler” break. But the problem arises when employees start abusing the privilege and spending too much time online. Make it clear to employees that getting their work done comes first. Don’t turn a blind eye—simply getting out of your office, walking around and noticing what employees are doing on their computers will go a long way toward keeping employees’ Internet use in check.
  • Create a policy. Security is a big issue when employees go online. Clicking on a suspicious link or opening what appears to be a legitimate attachment is easy to do, but can lead to viruses and data breaches. Start by installing adequate security software and firewalls. Regularly update software and install needed patches. However, keep in mind that the weakest link in the security chain is human nature. Set rules about opening attachments, clicking links, downloading software and other potentially harmful actions, and make sure employees know and follow them.
  • Be open. Employees will be more likely to comply with your Internet policy if they know the reasons behind it. For instance, if too many people watching streaming video is slowing down your Internet connection, people will understand the reasons for restrictions vs. just thinking you’re arbitrarily banning certain actions. Similarly, downloading software without checking with your IT person or clicking on links in emails could put your security at risk. Explain the reasons, and you’re more likely to get willing compliance.
  • Follow up. If employees are abusing the system, don’t let it slide. Address the issue with the individual employee and set consequences for the actions. Otherwise, your remaining employees will think you don’t care and you’ll see the behavior spread.

You can also install monitoring software that records employees’ keystrokes, their emails and the websites they visit on their work computers, and alerts you about potential problems—though that can seem a bit extreme. Check out the Top Ten Monitoring software programs to learn more. 




 
Nextiva Logo

phone-icon(800) 799-0600 Sales phone-icon(800) 285-7995 Support
Nextiva is the leader in Business VoIP Services. Copyright 2014 Nextiva, All Rights Reserved,
Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, Patents, Sitemap