Archive for the ‘VoIP’ Category


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Why Scary Sells

??????????????????????????????????????????????????Can you scare customers into buying your product? Fear can actually sell as much as sex or desire since it will trigger people to take action.

According to Lea Dunn of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, when people feel alone and afraid, they form an emotional attachment to the brands around them. She states that in this heightened state, consumers are more likely to remember those products and think of them favorably. Dunn says this happens because fear induces a need for human connections and if there are no people present, products fill the gap. She believes this emotional attachment happens because people think the product actually “shared” that experience with them.

In works in many sales situations. Behavioral psychologist Dr. Wyatt Woodsmall said that “If you can find out what people’s worst nightmare is, camp out inside their nightmare…[they’ll] do anything…to get out of that situation.”

News broadcasts have peddled fear for years. An insider rallying cry of the media has always been, "If it bleeds, it leads".  Famous brands use fear all the time to sell their products. For example, L’Oreal’s tag line of “Because I’m Worth It” confronts self-loathing among women. FedEx’s “Absolutely, Positively Overnight” addresses the fear of missing a deadline. Nike’s “Just Do It” takes aim at missing out because the consumer is afraid.

Fortunately, you don't need to rob prospects to sell them a home security system. Here is how to scare customers into buying:

  • FUD. When I was at IBM in the 1980s, they told us that “no one ever got fired for buying IBM.” This concept helped because I had to sell against competitors whose products seemed technologically similar to ours but always much cheaper. I frequently used a technique that was called “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to direct the decision maker to buy IBM.  In my sales calls, I recounted all the things that could go wrong if he chose a competitor. Fortunately, the decision maker many times chose IBM, despite the fact that we were more expensive, because we were perceived as the low-risk alternative.
  • Deadlines. Consumers are afraid of missing a deadline. This could be an expiration date of an offer, a holiday calendar deadline or other imposed cutoff date. Dates will push consumers to take action. Note the surge of people signing up for insurance to comply with the Affordable Care Act on March 31.
  • VIP. Consumers want to be a part of “a club” that not everyone get into. Put of a gate and watch how many people want to get in. This is exactly what many buyers’ clubs like Costco do with their small membership fees. The marketing message is that the consumer will miss out on some incredible deals if they are not a member.

Fear-based marketing does not have to be all gloomy. Articulate the negative to what prospects are currently doing and provide a solution to alleviate that fear.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Is It Time to Invest in New Employees—or Is New Technology Enough?

Do you really need to hire new employees—or would new technology serve the same purpose? According to the fifth annual Brother Small Business Survey, a whopping 72 percent of small business owners believe new technology would provide a better return on their investments than hiring new employees (28 percent) this year. No wonder nearly half (49 percent) the small business owners surveyed said investing in new technology is their top priority this year.

It’s not exactly cut and dried. If you’re confused, you aren’t the only one: 63 percent of survey respondents say they often feel “overwhelmed” by the number of tech tools available to help run their companies, and struggle to keep up with knowing what technology to buy.

What are small business owners planning to buy this year? Well, 41 percent say they’re going to invest in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. About one-third will buy Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, 20 percent will buy social technologies and 15 percent say cloud services will be essential to their businesses this year.

So how do you know whether you should hire—or if buying new technology could fill the bill just as well? When debating new technology, ask yourself:

  • ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????What is the learning curve for this tool? Can you or your existing employees get up to speed quickly enough that the tool will quickly start providing a return on investment?
  • How much time will the tool save? If the amount of time it saves allows you or your employees to absorb the new tasks into your existing workday, that’s ideal. However, if the new technology will add hours to your workday, you may need to hire new staff to handle the load.
  • Will this tool create additional work or additional business? Sometimes a tech tool can work so well it creates more work. For instance, your new CRM system may create more work at first as you follow up more frequently with prospects and customers. However, eventually it should create new business, not just new work. When you implement a new tool, figure out the break-even point at which it’s generating enough new business to finance hiring a new employee. 

Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Get the Most From a Temporary Employee

??????????????????????????????????Are you using (or considering) temporary employees in your small business? Last year we told you why hiring temps can be a smart way to staff up without the hassles of hiring permanent employees. These tips will help you get the most out of your temporary employee relationships.

Welcome temporary employees on board. Too many temporary employees are met with blank stares when they arrive at a new job, then essentially ignored for the duration of their employment. Just as with any new employee, your temporary workers should receive a warm welcome to your business. (This is especially important if you think you may eventually want to hire the temp full-time.) It’s a good idea to match the temp with an employee on staff who can show him or her the ropes of company culture. Talk to your full-time employees about the importance of making sure they help the temp fit in.

Provide adequate orientation and training. Sure, a temp will come to you with knowledge of a skill, such as how to use Excel spreadsheets, code websites or operate a certain type of machinery. But that doesn’t mean he or she knows how the particular job he or she is doing at your company works. No matter how impatient you are for the temp to get to work immediately, spend some time orienting temps as to where their job fits in within the company, what the goals of the job are, and how to perform the specific duties of the job. It will be time well spent.

Take care of the proper paperwork. Just because a temporary agency is handling the temp’s payroll doesn’t mean you’re off the hook legally. Temporary employees can still file claims against your company if they feel discriminated against, harassed or if you are breaking wage and hour laws. Make sure each temporary employee reviews your employee handbook and signs a document that he or she has read and understood it. Also review your contract with the temporary agency carefully so you know what forms you need to have the temp complete, what records you’re required to keep about the person’s employment, and how long you need to maintain them after he or she leaves. By dotting all the i’s and crossing your t’s, you’ll protect yourself and your business. 


Public Speaking: 5 Tips for the Perfect Presentation

Stocksy_txp46994a3ceH3000_Small_128894You are a few weeks away from giving your first talk at a big industry conference and you’ve never been a fan of public speaking. Fear not. Study the following tips and you will be ready in no time.

Research your audience

Who will be listening to your talk? What companies will they be representing? What will they be looking to learn from your presentation? If you don’t have the answers to these questions, try asking the conference organizer for attendee demographic information, recommends Jeannine Kay, public speaking coach and owner of Giving Voice in San Francisco.

Establish your takeaways

In the process of developing your presentation, think hard about what you want your audience to talk about after the fact.  “Ask yourself what your key messages will be,” suggests Kay. “What do you want your audience to walk away with and remember?”

The best presentations impart wisdom that couldn’t otherwise be gleaned from a simple Internet search or reading an industry-specific book. Come to your talk with some original insights and have a solid idea of what actions or lessons you’d like your listeners to learn from your talk. 

Plan to interact

The most memorable presentations are those that somehow incorporate the audience, be it by way of bringing an unsuspecting conference-goer on stage or polling listeners with electronic survey consoles.

“Be authentic when you are up there; it will help you make a connection,” she says. “Speak the language that they speak, don’t talk in jargon that they may not understand. Identify a few key messages that you want to get across and talk about those messages in several different ways. Don’t overload your audience with too many concepts; they may zone out.”

While speaking, try to change things up. Don’t just stand behind a podium; instead walk around on stage or maybe even stroll down to the level of the audience. The more you interact, the more effective your presentation will be.

Practice, practice, practice

Even if you think you know your material cold, it is vitally important to practice. If you don’t, “game day” can feel a lot like “trying to get up and run a race by just putting your shoes on, but not doing any training at all,” says Kay. She recommends not only focusing on what you will say, but how you will say it. “Non-verbal communication such as what you do with your hands and your face is very important.”

Calm yourself down

Even if you have glossophobia (a fear of public speaking), there are ways to calm yourself down before you go on stage. “I frequently refer to Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk where she found that when people make themselves bigger and take up more space, it encourages people to take risks,” says Kay.

A person who is hunched over and staring at their smart phone will be less mentally prepared to stand up in front of a crowd than a person who is standing in a confident position with their arms at their side and their head held high. “When you are in front of a crowd, instead of putting your legs close together or having your arms wrapped around your torso, balance yourself on two feet with a few inches between them and don’t shrink behind the podium.”

Simultaneously, try to breathe slowly and deeply. Kay explains that when we get anxious, we tend to take shorter breaths high up in our chests. “Combat that by slowing down your breathing even before you get up there.” 


Top 10 Nextiva FAQs

fawThe Nextiva Support Team loves chatting on the phone with customers every day to help answer questions and set up devices. We researched your most frequently asked questions and compiled a list of the top 10.

Save time by finding answers to these popular topics below, or access all of our tips and videos on the Nextiva online Support Center.

  1. How do I log in to the NextOS portal?
  2. How do I set up my phone?
  3. How do I use my auto attendant?
  4. How do I program custom on-hold music?
  5. How do I set up a 3-way conference call?
  6. How do I resolve a dropped call?
  7. How do I adjust my billing information?
  8. How do I send faxes using vFAX?
  9. How do I log in to my vFAX account?
  10. How do I adjust my vFAX billing information?

Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Use Free Shipping to Make the Holiday Sale

Want to provide great customer service this holiday season (and boost your sales in the bargain)? As we head into Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday shopping season, one of the biggest motivators you can offer online shoppers is free shipping. Most major retailers offer some form of free shipping on their websites, so providing the same can help level the playing field with your bigger competitors.

Are you worried about free shipping eating into your profits? Of course, you’ll need to run the numbers and figure out what types of purchases you can safely offer free shipping for. Here are 3 ways to have the best of both worlds by providing free shipping without destroying your margins:

  1. Offer free shipping after a certain minimum purchase level is reached, such as $25, $50 or $100. You can vary the levels on different days, or send different offers to different customers based on their past purchasing behaviors. Shoppers will usually spend more than they intended in order to get the free shipping.
  2. Offer free shipping during a certain time frame. On highly competitive days, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you may need to offer free shipping just to stay in the game. (You can still set a minimum order level so you don’t end up shipping $1.95 products for free.)
  3. Offer free shipping for VIPs or members. Consider how successful Amazon has been with its Amazon Prime membership, where customers pay an annual fee to get everything shipped free. You could set up a similar program—either have customers pay an annual fee, or offer free shipping to customers whose annual purchasing stays above a certain threshold.

Make sure you clearly display cut-off dates and times for any free shipping promotions, as well as the “fine print” such as minimum order needed. Doing so will alleviate any customer frustration by preventing customers from loading up a shopping cart only to find they can’t get the items shipped free by the desired date.

Maximize your free shipping marketing potential by participating in Free Shipping Day December 18. Participating merchants guarantee free shipping by Christmas for orders placed on this day. You can learn more and sign up to be a participating merchant at the Free Shipping Day site. 

free-shipping


What Can VoIP Do For Your Business?

How can switching to a cloud-based telephone system transform your business? Our latest infographic breaks it down for you. In addition to huge cost savings and innovative features, the cloud will keep your employees more mobile and productive than ever before!

Infographic-2013-06-20

Interested in discovering a customized cloud-based communications solution for your business? We would love to chat! Contact a Nextiva account executive at 800.799.0600.

 

 


Best Practices: Buying a Business Phone System

Your company is looking to buy a new phone system and you aren’t sure where to start. I recently wrote about how to choose an online vendor for The Huffington Post, and will incorporate those tips (and add more) in this piece to help business executives looking to switch to a modern business phone service.

First, embrace the cloudguy-on-desk-phone

Gone are the days of traditional landline phone systems. Cloud-based solutions allow companies the flexibility to seamlessly forward calls to cell phones, integrate offices (without having to cross physical phone lines) and apply fixes instantaneously (no more waiting until a storm passes to get your phone service back up and running).

Establish your goals

What do you love and hate about your current phone system? What do you wish it included? Phone systems are critically important to business operations and, although it may seem like an internal problem to solve, your phone service is something that impacts all of your customers so it pays to dedicate time to choosing the right vendor for your business.

Sit down with your management team and draw up a wish list for your next phone service provider.

Research providers

There are many cloud-based phone service providers out there, so it is important to talk with your network and research the best service for your company. Try narrowing your search to two or three providers and then calling them individually. Discuss offerings with customer service agents and ask every question that comes into your head. Good customer service employees will not rush you through the call, even if you don’t intend on making a purchase.

Check references

When talking with a customer service agent, ask for the names and phone numbers of three or four clients with comparable businesses to your own. Prepare questions and ring each one. Ask technical and non-technical questions such as:

  • How long was your set up process with this vendor?
  • How is the customer service?
  • How reliable is the phone service? Could you give examples?
  • When you run into problems, how are they handled?
  • What service/package did your company purchase?

Go with your gut

After speaking with several vendors and hearing testimonials of like-minded small business owners, you will likely know which service to choose. Strongly weigh a company’s customer service practices, then go with your gut and move forward. 




 
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