These mistakes are common to many entrepreneurs:
Getting wedded to an idea and sticking with it too long. Don't marry a single idea. Remember, ideas are the currency of entrepreneurs. Play with many ideas and see which ones bring money and success.
Trying to be something other than an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs. You'll give yourself a hernia if you try to act like other people. Your difference is your strength.
Believing your own B.S. Entrepreneurs are genetically wired to be optimistic. Just don't believe everything you say to others...
Ignoring your cash position. The world (aka customers) doesn't respond to even superior products in the timeframe that you think they should. You'll need plenty of cash to sustain yourself in the meantime.
Attracting weak staff members. Not that many great employees will put up with a mercurial or childish/immature entrepreneur. If you're attracting weak people, you'll need to mature as a human being.
Confusing possibility with reality. The successful entrepreneur lives in a world of possibility but spends money in the world of reality.
Selling too hard. If you find yourself selling an idea or product too hard to too many people, perhaps it's time to listen to why they are not buying and learn from that vs. trying to become a better salesperson.
Not setting up support structures. Hire people and services to handle many of your business and personal needs. Most entrepreneurs do better when they are fully supported, even if transparently. Be responsible enough to arrange this.
Over-delegating. Many entrepreneurs over delegate tasks and accountability to others, aka dumping. Better to learn the skill of responsibility and completely turn over a task or project than assuming/hoping/needing others to come up to speed quickly enough on their own. Most people cannot.
Giving up. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed several times before doing extremely well. So, if you're failing, fail. And fail fast. And learn. And try again, with this new wisdom. Do NOT give up. Yet, do not suffer, either.
If your business isn’t making the money you expect, there's a good chance that you haven’t quite hit on a money-making niche. You’ve probably identified a targeted group of potential customers but you may not have identified a targeted group of customers who are spending money for what you’re offering.
Today, I’m going to give you a practical primer on finding a market niche. You’re going to read some of the items on this list and think that they won’t work or apply to you, but don't be so quick to dismiss them. These tips apply to everyone, in every industry. That said...
Everyone is not your ideal customer
It’s counter intuitive to think that by focusing on a smaller market you will actually make more money, but it’s true. Real money is found in targeting and identifying a market niche found inside the intersection of wants, trends and frustrations. The biggest mistake most business owners make is stopping their search for a niche too soon.
After you’ve selected a particular demographic, look at what they want. Wants are emotional desires. Wants are the reason behind the product. They go far beyond the basic benefits. For example, women who have recently gotten divorced want to feel whole again. They may be attracted to a variety of different products such as weight loss or coaching. They aren’t really buying the product; they are buying how they want to feel.
Trends are another important aspect of finding a niche. You’re looking for ideas, behaviors and products that are trending up and growing in popularity. Mobile devices are a trend. Social media is a trend. Reality TV is a trend. If you’re at a loss, just head out to a neighborhood sporting event and watch kids and families interact. What are they talking about, what products are they using? Again, don’t differentiate between B2B and consumer because these lines are fairly blurred these days.
Finally we head to the most powerful buying trigger: frustration. Frustration is a function of the frequency, intensity and duration of a circumstance or event that just irritates your customer to the point of distraction. To put these into perspective take out a piece of paper. On the top put a picture of a person that represents your target market. Draw three intersecting circles and label them wants, trends and frustrations. Then inside each circle draw icons that represent each of those elements for your audience. This will activate your brain to think differently and connect with that audience.
Use a marketer’s mindset
The first thing you will have to do is stop looking at your product or service like a consumer, and start looking at it as a marketer. Consumers get snared and engrossed by the message and don’t see beyond the purchase. Marketers are focused on understanding customers’ needs, wants and deeper desires and then delivering on those in the form of an offer. Focus on your ideal client and explore how your product or service will help them achieve those deep desires and wants. Don’t snicker. If your product is technical or industrial, remember that B2B customers are people too. Explore what your project means to them, will it help them get a promotion, be a hero, invent or develop something new? Think bigger and beyond the tangible.
Follow the money
It’s standard marketing practice to look for an empty space and fill it. But this isn’t always appropriate for every product or service. Notice car dealerships, retailers and even food trucks are most successful when they go to a place where there are lots of people already spending money. At that point, they don’t have to find an audience; they only have to stand out and attract those people who are most attracted to their offer.
Another terrific guerrilla strategy for following the money is to find everyone in that space and do an analysis of how successful they are, who they are attracting and how they are succeeding at attracting people who spend money. Notice the advertising, the headlines and the offers. Critically examine their marketing messages and the customers that are attracted to them. What is it about those messages that pull customers in?
Explore and implement a money-making model
Running your business in reactive mode eats into your profit margins. Simply making, selling and delivering a product or service isn’t enough to keep your head above water. You need to create a money-making model that attracts and moves the most profitable customers through your pipeline. Online marketers have really perfected money-making models. They’ve carefully crafted landing pages that attract specific markets, they give tons of free educational information and they’ve turned the upsell into an art. Make the time to explore and evaluate online marketing offers and then adapt those practices to your business.
Look around you
Notice that there is a persistent conversation about how bad the economy is and how there are no opportunities out there. Then acknowledge the conversation, and start looking around at the businesses that are successful. There are many, many businesses out there that are outrageously successful. If they are successful and making money, you have that opportunity as well. Take a critical marketer's look at your business and use these tips to further define your niche and develop a model that gives this audience exactly what they want and desire. You will not only build profitable sales, but you will also bring joy and satisfaction to your customers.
This Segment Is Dedicated To Two Exceptionally Bright Future Entrepreneurs: Logan & Ryan Northville MI
The world needs new entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs create jobs, lift the standard of living, usher new technology into society, and keep competition alive in the marketplace. Starting a business is difficult, and it’s crucial that the next generation has as much ammunition as possible. We are all relying on you to carry on the proud tradition of innovation.
If I could go back and give my 18 to 20 something self a bit of advice about starting out as an entrepreneur, these are the tips I’d start with:
Perseverance/Passion. Throughout the entrepreneurial journey you will at times fail. That is part of the game. Your failures are most likely to lead to success if you get involved with something you believe in. Starting a business just for its own sake will leave you directionless, burned out and ultimately, back where you started. Choose an interest that you can be passionate about. Marrying charity to traditional business models may be a great way to combine the things you – and potential consumers – care most about.
Define your market. You’ve heard this before. It’s one of the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make. Go with something that makes sense for your scope. If you’re a small startup and still a student, staying local or targeting fellow students might be the best direction. The Internet gives us almost infinite reach, but it’s vital to narrow your market down to what is realistic, and stick with those who have a reason to be interested.
Price point. Risk taking is important in any new business venture, provided that it is sensible. Consider providing your product or service at the most basic level possible (also called minimum viable product). A small investment up front can hook new customers/donations before risking more money. Your target defines the ideal price. Survey your defined market and adjust accordingly. You can always reevaluate your prices as you grow.
Be honest. This advice applies to yourself, your employees and your customers. Be honest about what you can commit to your business. It doesn’t do any good to over-extend yourself when in truth; you don’t have the cash or the hours to commit to a project. Be honest about what your partners can expect from, and what you expect in return. And be honest with clients.
Utilize, but don’t over-use, social media. Young people are always eager to jump online, and that’s not a bad thing. But it is important to think carefully before plastering marketing materials on the Internet. Social media is obviously a powerful tool. Focusing it on your business can get word out quickly and cheaply. That said, be careful not to put all of your eggs in the online basket. Experiment and measure results, then constantly evaluate and decide what is working, and what you are wasting resources on.
Don’t forget PR. Traditional and online press relations can yield coverage that has longer shelf life and costs less than advertising. Think about what makes your product new, interesting, and relevant. Then, talk to the media about it. You might get great reviews, mentions on blogs, or even appear on news segments. Many media outlets have sections dedicated to people in the community doing outstanding things. Even an article in your local/campus newspaper can be a valuable source of publicity.
Look for mentors. The beginning of any venture can be exhilarating, frustrating, liberating and terrifying all at once. Remember, although younger generations can be more tech-savvy than those who have been in business for years, there are still basic principles that are refined by experience. Many communities offer networking opportunities for entrepreneurs young and old. Take advantage of this, and you may be surprised at the wealth of knowledge your colleagues have to offer.
These tips won’t earn you certain success, but every bit of knowledge you can gather before you begin your entrepreneurial career can help you avoid serious mistakes.
Measure Your Business's Health with These Financial Ratios
Large companies use defined financial ratios to analyze the health of the organization. There are dozens of established ratios that test a variety of financial domains, including the ability to pay debt, secure stockholder funding and expand services.
Not all ratios are used by every company. Small business owners should use the following ratios that help manage day-to-day activities while still keeping an eye on growth:
This metric derives its name from the speed in which you can get out of your business. The quick ratio is cash, accounts receivable and other assets that can be quickly realized divided by your total current liabilities. This ratio tells you whether or not you can cover your debt without tapping into your inventory. It looks at a point in time for your business and determines if it is healthy at that point.
If your assets are greater than your liabilities, the quick ratio will be greater than one. Decimal ratios show that your business needs a fast infusion of cash to be strong. You may consider cashing out long-term income from things like structured settlements and annuity payments using J.G. Wentworth. If your quick ratio is more than two, this means that you have twice the capital that you need and should think about expanding your business.
The second ratio of the financial triumvirate measures the income from operations divided by the net sales. The operating income is the profit after deducting variable costs of production or service delivery. If this ratio is equal to one, then there is no cost for doing business and all of the income from sales is profit. On the other hand, if the ratio approaches zero, all of the income from sales is eaten up by producing the item. Somewhere is the middle of these two extremes is a good profit margin. This ratio only looks at operating costs and before-tax sales. It does not take into consideration after-tax effects or cash assets.
There are other profitability ratios that are more robust in their analysis and work better for larger companies, but for a small business, the operating margin ratio tells you everything you need to know about your profit. Since entrepreneurial ventures are often closely linked to the owner’s net worth, things like tax bases and fixed expenses do not fit into the mix. When we drop the kids off at school, go see a client, then come home to the office, it is useless to separate out these expenses as fixed costs. The operating margin lets us ignore these and focus only on the profitability for one service or product.
Cash Flow to Debt
Many new businesses have failed because they did not analyze their cash flow. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration cites under funding and poor cash flow as one of the main reasons a new business fails. This coverage ratio is your net income plus depreciation divided by total debt, and it is considered the best predictor of business failure. A number less than one means you cannot cover your bills without securing additional funds. A ratio greater than one but less than two is good, and anything high shows that you have surplus capital and you should start looking at investing or expanding.
A business plan is vital to the success of any enterprise. It describes all aspects of your business – what it does, the financing it has or needs, its future plans, and your strategy for making it all work.
Your business plan is useful for you and your employees, but it can also be crucial for obtaining funding, because banks and lenders may want to see one before they decide to fund your business. A basic business plan outline could include the following:
You need to be driven by a clear sense of purpose and passion. Typically, that passion comes from one of two sources: the topic of the business, or the game of business-building itself.
Why do you need passion? Simply because you’re likely to be working too hard, for too long, for too little pay with no guarantee that it’ll work out… so you need to be motivated by something intrinsic and not money-related.
If you’re going to build a startup, you’ll need a spirit of determination coupled with a high pain tolerance. You’ll need to be willing and able to learn from your mistakes – to get knocked down repeatedly, get up, dust yourself off, and move forward with renewed motivation.
People will constantly tell you your baby’s ugly, that your business won’t work. Now, you should listen carefully and be open to constructive criticism. But after a while, having the door slammed in your face repeatedly can be withering, and the best entrepreneurs learn to feed off the negativity and actually gain strength from it.
You need a strong sense of self. You can’t be threatened by being surrounded by talented, driven people. To truly succeed, you’ll need the self-confidence to surround yourself with people “who don’t look like you”… that is, people with skills, background and domain knowledge that complement your own. And check your ego at the door: you shouldn’t be too proud to make coffee for the team, empty the waste baskets, or do the bank runs.
You’ll need to develop a comfort-level with uncertainly and ambiguity. Entrepreneurs gather as much information as they can in a short period of time, and then MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!! The attitude is that it’s not going to be perfect… We only have 9% or so of the data from which to base our decision… but if we wait to have all the information, we’ll never get moving… and be mired in indecision. (Big organizations are really good at this – the mired thing – saying, We don’t have enough information, so let’s continue to study… form a committee or a task force)
On the sliding scale from “risk-averse” to “risk-seeking,” it shouldn't surprise anyone that entrepreneurs tend to be closer to the latter. But you don’t need to be a nut-case, the sort who bungee-jumps without a helmet. Smart entrepreneurs develop an intuitive ability to sniff out and mitigate startup business risk. But you know you’re going to fall down, and feel comfortable with that fact and that you’re going to learn from your failures and adjust as you go.
You’ll need the right personal financial profile to make the leap. This doesn’t mean that only the rich can be entrepreneurs. But unless and until you’ve got the personal financial ‘runway’ (ability to go without a steady paycheck and subsidized benefits) of at least 18 to 24 months (ideally longer), you might hold off on quitting your day job.
Consider launching the startup as a side-business if that’s possible, while continuing to work the 8-to-5 shift to cover the bills. Or approach your boss about going part-time. Then, once your business generating cash flow, you can dial back on your hours, or submit your resignation and go full-time with your startup.
I challenge you to find an entrepreneur running a startup four or more years old where that business doesn’t differ dramatically from the vision sketched out in their original business plan. The point is that the folks who stay on their feet are the ones who stay flexible and adjust to new information and changing circumstances.
Can you ‘pan out’ to see a compelling big vision for your business, then ‘zoom in’ and focus on near-term startup goals? Successful entrepreneurs can facilely move back and forth between these two views. They’re able to articulate the big picture, while simultaneously managing and executing to the ‘zoom-in’ picture.
Able to Sell
Whether you’re a born extrovert or introvert, as a founder/CEO, you’ll find yourself always selling. You’ll be selling your vision to prospective partners and funding sources. You’ll be selling prospective recruits on why they should quit their day jobs and join this startup they’ve never heard of. You’ll be selling your products and services (yes, you’ll probably be personally closing at least the first few sales). You’ll be selling your employees on why they should remain calm and stay with the ship when the seas inevitably get rough.
You can’t delegate evangelism.
You may not start out with a fool-proof gyroscope, but to survive as an entrepreneur, you’ll need that strong sense of perspective. How to maintain simple, clear focus. How to be at peace with, and learn from, a failure. Understanding that not all battles are worth winning, and when to walk away. Knowing that most in your startup aren’t as entrepreneurial as you – that this may be a very cool job for them, but it’s still a job. Knowing when to go home and give your loved ones a hug. When to go for a run.
While change appears to happen very quickly, trends generally take a long time to become mainstream.
Mobile computing, for example, is on the 2008 list and most of the other lists.
And it's mentioned below.
So as you look through the list, keep in mind that the future doesn't change much year to year and while the pace of change is fast, it's not as fast as we think.
Digital Transformation: Cloud computing, mobile computing, social technologies and data and analytics have matured to the point where we’re seeing a fundamental transformation in how business is conducted. Small businesses are becoming digitally savvy, increasing their efficiency, ability to serve their customers and improving their competitive position. This digital transformation will continue to accelerate in 2017 and SMBs who do not keep up with the pace of change will be increasingly disadvantaged.
Cyber Security and Data Privacy: We’ve had cyber security and data privacy in some form on our list of the top small business trends for several years. 2017 is the year we expect mainstream small businesses to recognize that cyber security and data privacy are important parts of business risk management and take steps to improve in this area.
SMB Globalization: Despite the backlash against globalization and international trade, exports by small, micro and even solopreneur businesses will continue to expand in 2017. Digital, global platforms such as Amazon, Ebay and others will continue to drive down the costs, knowledge and effort associated with exporting. Powered and enabled by these platforms, growing numbers of SMBs will access and serve buyers of goods and services around the globe.
The Million Dollar Solopreneur: We’ve borrowed this phrase from author and journalist Elaine Pofeldt, who will be releasing a book on this topic in 2017. This trend refers to the rapidly growing numbers of people choosing to use outsourcing, contingent labor and Internet services and platforms instead of traditional employees to build their businesses. We agree with Elaine that this growing trend will accelerate in 2017.
Corporations Embrace Freelancers: This year will see an inflection point in terms of major corporations embracing freelance talent. After studying and testing the use of freelancers (called “agile talent” and “contingent labor” by corporations) for several years, 2017 will see the corporate use of agile talent increase and become mainstream. This will, of course, increase the demand for independent workers.
SMBs Develop Platform Strategies: Platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, Intuit Quickbooks, etc. provide SMBs “plug-and-play” access to world class business infrastructure on a variable cost basis. These platforms provide a wide range of valuable services including access to customers, cloud computing resources, manufacturing, warehousing, shipping and even talent. Platforms have become so important that small businesses need a platform strategy. For most this will consist of identifying the best platforms to participate in and the right ecosystem role to play. These decisions will increasingly play a key role in small business success.
Business Coaches Go Mainstream: One of our most surprising (at least to us) 2016 research findings was the extent to which successful small businesses are using coaches. We knew business coaching had developed into a big business, but we had under estimated how widespread coaching had become. Due to the growing complexity of business and the rapid pace of change, coaching will become even more common as more SMBs seek help on working through complex problems quickly.
The New Better Off: This is the title of a book that describes how many are reinventing the American dream. In this new approach, bigger isn’t always better, wealth isn’t equated with happiness and experiences are more important than things. We’ve been tracking trends related to this for over a decade and we’ve seen a strong acceleration in new ways people are seeking happiness and fulfillment (Hygge being a recent example). This shift will continue to grow in 2017.
Coconut Everything: OK, this is not our trend. It comes from Whole Foods Top 10 Food Trends of 2017. Evidently pretty much any food product you can think of - natural beauty products, flours, tortillas, chips, ice creams, butters and many more – will be coconutized and join coconut oil and coconut water as popular products in 2017.
President-Elect Donald Trump: There’s a lot of speculation about how President-Elect Trump, a pro-business, anti-regulation, populist and his administration will impact small businesses. While too early to tell, it’s likely SMBs will see reduced regulatory burdens, tax cuts and a more pro-business attitude from DC. Because of the lack of specificity around potential programs, small businesses will need to pay attention to what’s going on in DC over the next year to stay on top of changes.
While mobile app development is certainly a huge industry right now, that’s actually not what we mean here. In this case, we’re talking about businesses that travel to their customers, offering their products and services wherever the customer happens to be.As we all become more and more used to having everything accessible instantly and at our convenience, businesses on the move have hit the forefront of the most profitable industries in 2016 and beyond. Check out these mobile business ideas to help you take advantage of this emerging trend:
Taking a car to the shop for simple repairs can be a challenge. After all, most of us use our cars to get from place to place! That means taking a car in for repairs often either involves a long wait at the repair shop, renting a vehicle for the day, or coordinating a ride with a friend or spouse. Unless…
While some repair jobs do require the equipment of an auto shop to complete, there are plenty of maintenance and repair services that need just a few simple tools to complete. If you’re skilled as a mechanic, consider going mobile with your services—offering oil changes, fluid refills, battery swaps, headlight repair and more right in your customer’s driveway or office parking lot.
The foodie movement continues to grow in 2016, with more and more styles of cuisine offered in unique venues. But as rent in major cities increases, it’s becoming more difficult for up-and-coming specialty food artisans to finance a brick-and-mortar location in the bustling centers of town—where their customers are most likely to be.
The answer? Food trucks! Hit the road and park yourself at local events, farmer’s markets, the local town square—wherever you’re likely to draw a crowd. The lower overhead and increased geographic versatility of a food truck means you can turn your grandma’s famous dumpling recipe or that off-the-wall dessert idea into its own thriving business.
Keep in mind that bigger, trendier cities like San Francisco, Portland, and Boston already have a pretty saturated food truck market—so you might be more successful in a smaller heartland metropolis. Food trucks also tend to have their own special set of ordinances and safety compliance standards, so contact your local health department to find out what will be required.
CAR WASH SERVICES
Who wants to drive across town to get their car washed when you could be on your couch binge-watching House of Cards? As a mobile car wash and auto detailing service, you wouldn’t only benefit from the unique value proposition of being mobile, but you’d also avoid the significant overhead and startup cost of having a physical location.
Not sure how to start your own mobile car wash service? Don’t panic! There are a variety of online wholesalers that offer auto detailing start-up kits as well as training for those interested in starting their own business in this niche industry.
If you’ve looked up from your own mobile device lately, you’ve probably noticed that most Americans these days are more than a little bit obsessed with our electronics. This widespread tech addiction means that when something goes wrong, people tend to freak out.
Enter… You! The solution for every broken iPhone screen, WiFi card, and laptop battery. And if you’re willing to travel to your customer? You’ve got an instant hit! (Because who really wants to stand around by a kiosk in the mall?)
While a mobile electronics repair business involves some overhead in the form of purchasing supplies, keeping your business mobile saves you from the high overhead cost of a physical location. That means more profit in your pocket!
As you probably know from hours spent with your grandparents, electronics that don’t seem to be working are usually actually not in need of repair. Not everyone in the world is naturally tech savvy, and when things go wrong, often the free customer phone support provided by manufacturers doesn’t exactly feel supportive.
If technology comes easily to you—and you’re a relatively patient person—then consider hitting the road, at least in your neighborhood, with mobile IT support. All you need is time, transportation, and your own know-how—so this low-overhead business model is almost pure profit.
Turning your love of fitness into a career doesn’t have to mean working for a big corporate gym—nor do you need the overhead of have your own location to train clients. Throw a few weights, bands, and yoga mats into the trunk of your car, and take your fitness show on the road!
Offer one-on-one sessions in your clients’ homes or advertise group classes at a local park or community center. Making fitness more available to your clients might just be the ticket to helping both of you achieve your goals.
In today’s ever-changing business climate, keeping your customers is important to your organization’s success. This is especially challenging for small businesses that often lack the staff and resources required to provide necessary support for current and potential customers. One solution is using a CRM system to help automate tasks and streamline sales and marketing efforts. Here we evaluate what small businesses should look for before considering a CRM system.
If you’re a small business owner, one thing is certain: You encounter change and new challenges every day. But through all of the uncertainty, there is one thing that remains consistent—the importance of keeping your customers happy. Study after study shows customers do care about them and show they’re your top priority.
This isn’t the easiest task, because satisfied customers require a lot of attention. As a small business, you may not have the time, staff, or resources to devote this amount of attention to your customer base. Therefore, it makes sense to have a system to help manage those relationships. The obvious solution is to invest in a CRM platform. CRM makes it possible to easily keep track of hundreds of thousands of individual customer preferences and histories, all while coordinating across multiple departments. In essence, CRM means happier customers, and better returns overall.
But even once you’ve decided that you may need a CRM system, you’re still left with the problem of selecting one that has all of the features you need. What should you be looking for? If you’re a small business considering CRM, it’s a good idea to put these seven features on your checklist, even before contacting CRM companies for proposals:
Software or Cloud-based?
Or, in other words, on-premise or off-premise? Perhaps the most important thing to contemplate first is exactly how much data you need to manage. Hardware has its own set of hurdles, as does software. Cloud computing eliminates having to deal with software issues, and the shared infrastructure means it works much like a utility — you pay for what you need and get automatic upgrades and more without having to install and test run everything.
Although the basic focus of every CRM is the same, each individual platform is likely to have its own distinct set of features. Much like when shopping for a car, you’ll need to research and compare the specific features of each available CRM. Your CRM should come with certain must-haves on your list. See who delivers on their promises, and what system would fit your needs. Everything from lead management and marketing automation to sales data and mobile access should be key factors at decision time.
You are a business-oriented person, which means that the question that is probably on your mind right now is this: “What’s the CRM going to cost me?” The price range for CRM extends across the entire board, and there are even CRM solutions that can be used free of charge. However, if your business needs additional features, many effective CRM plans start as low as $10 per user, per month. Once you determine your needs, you’ll be able to get a realistic picture of corresponding price points that meet your company’s budget. As with anything else, the “you get what you pay for” rule applies here. So, if you want more support and options, you should be ready to pay for it. Your business is worth it.
Most CRMs are solutions that are customizable to your needs. Customization is simply modifying or expanding the behavior of out-of-the-box functionality. It can be minor, like changing the location of a text screen, or extensive, like creating brand new applications unrelated to sales. When aligning your company with the right CRM, make sure to find out how rich the customization is to meet your needs, both today and down the road.
A CRM is an investment, and is perhaps one of the most important investments your company will make. Therefore, it’s vital to have consistent information and support at your disposal at all times. From online tools and training, to app development and 24/7 support, reliable customer service should be part of your CRM purchase.
As your business grows, the relationships you build with your customers needs to grow right along with it. Your CRM needs to have the capacity to scale to the largest of teams, and the architecture behind the service to be able to handle millions of users. You’ll want something to scale as rapidly as you require, so this is another important feature to look for.
Finally, get real feedback by considering CRM software reviews from vendors, administrators, and industry experts. Today, you’re faced with a lot of CRM options, so a review may help you narrow down your options. After discussing what makes the most sense with your team, dig into online reviews, keeping in mind that not every CRM is equal. See if important questions and concerns are addressed by the sources available.
Congratulations. You’ve considered the prerequisites for what a CRM for your business requires. After satisfying everything on your checklist, it’s time to begin a dialogue and schedule proposals with a CRM provider that can fulfill all your needs, meet your budget, and move with you through all the changes—not just today or for the next few months, but for years to come. Aligning yourself with the right CRM may be the most important business decision you’ll ever make.
All of us have competitors, whether it's someone who is pumping out a similar product, or someone who wants to snag our top job candidate. Whatever the competition, we want to win.
Highlight deficiencies by competitors. Find opportunity where competition fell short. If prospective clients share how they've been burned in the past, show proof of how your company excelled.
Offer a diverse suite of services. Don't make this so extreme to where it's tough for costumers to make an association, but make your company a one-stop shop for customers. For instance, if customers use your product or service as one part of a larger process, consider offering those other points of that process.
Offer insight. Be selfless and offer expert knowledge and suggestions. Building rapport early is key to not only facilitating communication, but building a credible reputation. Give the contact you're calling on suggestions on better options based on market intel, even if that means not taking their business because your company truly isn't the best resource for them. Deflecting that sale and giving up half a million dollars may seem crazy now, but circumstances can change and they could be a $50 million client five years down the road because of that built trust.
Understand your client's industry. Show how you fit into the prospective client's world. If they produce products, take a picture of your staff using them and send it to them. Have you bought their product as a gift for someone? Take a picture of them unwrapping it, sharing how the company is a part of a personal experience. Show them how your company can be an extension of theirs. This is just one creative way of doing that.
Don't be annoying. Picture being in their shoes and develop a sense of empathy. Would you want to receive three calls from the same person in one week? Or would a hand-written letter make more of an impact? Being respectful of a person's time and treating them like an actual human rather than a sale can go a long way. Send them a congratulations banner if they were promoted, a welcome mat if they move. Think of ways to connect past the scheduled phone calls.
Customer Experience: So while the company may be great, the reputation relies on the last transaction or interaction with the company. A reputation can be diminished if the delivery was late, if the employee was rude, or if the order was wrong and the cost wasn't covered. This bad experience can either diminish the possibility of that customer becoming a repeat, or prevent them from referring the company to their network. In the world of word-of-mouth referrals, a bad experience can cause a downward spiral...quickly.
Hire smart, nice people. In order to execute any of the above effectively, this is crucial.Be known in the marketplace as the company with the fun group of professionals who are not only intelligent and hardworking, but who are nice and empathetic...the staff that will hustle and stop at nothing to get something done. Be known as the company whose employees pick up every call, who come up with solutions before there is a problem, and who are honest when things aren't going as planned. Be known as the company with the staff everyone wants.
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