SMS Based CRM

SMS is one of the most – if not THE most – interactive and immediate communication channels available to marketers today. And SMS messages are most effective when targeted and personalized using data. SMS marketing is one of the best ways to reach consumers instantly. And the best part is that SMS reaches everyone, even those without smartphones.

You can improve your customer communication process and thus building a healthy relationship. In today’s business market, people are becoming increasingly busy and difficult to reach. With majority of customers owning a mobile phone, it is easy to maintain the communication with them.

You can integrate SMS with your CRM thus mapping the application between the two – you and your customer.
So how can SMS be integrated and worked with CRM to provide better service?

  1. Bulk SMS feature.
  2. Conduct SMS campaigns and target your potential customers.
  3. Schedule SMS and let it reach the customer accordingly.
  4. Draft SMS templates and make use of it whenever required.
  5. SMS alerts, reminders, promotion, schedules etc to customers.
  6. SMS alert to Sales Agents for following up with the customers.
  7. Order status update to customer through SMS.
  8. Service booking through SMS.
  9. Using SMS interface to update customer details by Sales Agents who are on the field.
  10. Lead generation through SMS
  11. Mobile surveys/polls

These are some of the examples where CRM and SMS together offers benefits to your company. Many such options are available which can broaden your sales strategy and improve marketing as well customer service support.

3 Steps to Retaining Existing Customers

The focus for many entrepreneurs is often on securing new customers.

While this is clearly important and warrants a strategy and associated resource, many business owners overlook the importance of retaining existing customers.

Existing customers have already spent money with your company, which means you’ve already earned their trust. In addition, if you have a good product or service, the chances are that existing customers would trust you enough to buy from you again.

According to Bain & Co. it costs anywhere from five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain a customer. They also found that increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent increases profits by between 25 percent to 95 percent.

To adapt a quote from the famous 1967 Cat Stevens song The First Cut is The Deepest: In business, the first customer is the hardest. So, once you have a customer, it is important to double down and keep that customer — or, better, increase how much that customer is spending with you

Here are three ways to encourage existing customers to do more business with you:

1. Upsell
Assuming you have a product or service that solves the problem of your target customer group, customers will likely give you the first opportunity to help them before going elsewhere. As such, you need to take advantage of that window.

One of the ways in which you can do this is through upselling them on products that complement what they have already bought from you. If they’ve already purchased an online training product from you, for example, then they might also welcome one-on-one coaching for more tailored business advice.

Typically, your upsell will be a higher-ticket item and will allow you to continue your relationship with your customer.

Some businesses intentionally sell initial products or services at a loss so they can win over a customer and gradually sell them higher-margin products.

If you’ve not already planned upsells in your business, you need to start considering what you could offer.

2. The loyalty program
A loyalty program is nothing new, but it works really well. Many of the world’s most successful businesses have been using them for year.

A good example of a loyalty program is Amazon Prime. Prime gives users two-day shipping for eligible purchases, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for $99 a year.

3. Customer service
Somehow, customer service continues to be an underestimated tactic for business growth. However, in order to make an impression, excelling in providing great customer service is the key.

In fact, poor customer service is one of the main reasons that many consumers switch suppliers leading to customer attrition.

Employing these three strategies in your business will compound growth by reducing customer acquisition costs while, at the same time, allowing you to sell a broader product set to help your customers and solve problems important to them.

Originally written by Tallat Mahmood

An Overview of Relationship Management and Why it is Important for Corporates

Introduction: Why is Relationship Management Important ?

If you are working and have a bank account, chances are that you would have heard of the term Relationship Manager who is tasked with the responsibility of attending to your banking needs as well as proactive account management.

Further, if you are working for a corporate and are either a marketing personnel or you are an important client for a corporate, chances are that you are either a relationship manager or deal with a relationship manager belonging to your vendors.

Thus, relationship management is indeed an aspect of management which has grown in importance in recent years mainly due to the intensely competitive marketplace where the Customer is the King and hence, any corporate wishing to “stay in the game” simply cannot do without relationship management.

Who is a Relationship Manager ?

Before proceeding further, it would be worthwhile to understand what Relationship Management is in the first place. Consider the Relationship Manager as a One Stop Contact Person or a Single Point of Contact for the Clients who do business with the corporates.

Before the advent of relationship management, it was often the case that clients used to “talk to” various departments in the vendor’s organization wherein their issues related to sales, marketing, service, production, design, pricing, and any general query had to be resolved by multiple people and departments instead of being “routed” through a single person.

In this scenario, one can imagine the hassles of dealing with multiple people in the vendor’s organization and the wastage of time and the inefficiency inherent in this approach.

On the other hand, imagine if you were an important customer for the corporate and you are assigned a Single Point of Contact or a Relationship Manager for all your commercial needs.

In this scenario, if the deliveries are delayed or your payment has been stuck or if the product fails the quality standards, all you have to do is simply call the Relationship Manager and talk to him or her wherein you assign the issue to them and then wait for them to call you back.

Indeed, just think of the “Synergies” in this process as you need not call marketing, finance, quality assurance, or sales separately and all you have to do is talk to the Relationship Manager. Moreover, this is not only efficient but cheaper as well as more “real time oriented” meaning that there are no lags and delays arising from coordination and miscommunication aspects.

Indeed, Relationship Management takes the art and science of sales, marketing, and customer service to an “entirely new level” by channelizing and routing the queries and concerns through a single point of contact who is the relationship manager.

What Does the Relationship Manager Do ?

Of course, this does not mean that all the queries and concerns would get addressed by the RM immediately since the RM’s job is to be the “face and the voice” that the Customers know in the vendor’s organization and once the concerns are raised, the RM would get down to work and contact the respective departments for resolution.

In cases where multiple departments are involved, the RM would also ensure that there is better coordination and communication leading to efficiencies which in turn can lead to a situation where customer satisfaction goes beyond Customer Delight and instead, can easily lead to “Customer Wow” which is the pinnacle of customer service that all corporates must aspire to.

What we are talking here is the essence of Relationship Management which based on the points raised so far indicates that Relationship Management is the “Management of End to End Customer Needs wherein the entire Customer Value Chain can be handled through a Single Point of Contact”.

Relationship Management is also Proactive leading to Synergies and Efficiencies

Having said that, Relationship Management is also proactive meaning that almost all RM’s do not stop at handling queries and concerns but also seek new business, ask for continuous feedback, meet with their clients periodically, and some who are astute become the “alter egos” for their clients meaning that they anticipate what the customer wants and give it to them even before the customer asks.

This is the result of the “synergistic” combination of Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Contact Points for the Customers that is as much New Age Business as it is about old fashioned way of the so-called “personal touch” based customer service.

Indeed, it can be said that the “wheel has come full circle” as the earlier decades management emphasized personal selling and marketing only to be superseded by automation and what we now have is the combination of technology and the “human touch” wherein customers and vendors use Big Data, Analytics, and Marketing and Sales techniques to “manage their relationships”.

Conclusion: Aspiring to be a Relationship Manager?

Finally, for all those of you who are aspiring for a career in Management and are already in the field or are graduating from business schools, it would be worthwhile to remember that ultimately, most career paths in organizations in the managerial vertical often lead to the designation and role of Relationship Management since this role requires both knowledge as well as experience in addition to exemplary people skills.

Thus, we suggest that you take this introduction as the starting point and explore the topic in detail as well as make time to talk to practicing relationship managers so that you know the expectations, pressures, as well as the pleasures of being a Relationship Manager in the Real World.

Orginally published by Management Study Guide

Strategic Planning for Salespeople

“Ready, shoot, aim.” Unfortunately, that’s the all too common description of the field salesperson’s modus operandi. In a misguided attempt to stay busy and see as many people as possible, too many salespeople subscribe to the theory that any activity is good activity.

There was a time when this was true. Customers had more time, sales was a simpler job, and any conversation with a prospect or customer was a good thing. But times have changed, and the job of the salesperson has become much more complex. The pressure on the salesperson to make good decisions about the effective use of his time has never been greater. Salespeople now must confront an overwhelming number of potential “things to do,” and that requires them to make decisions about which customers in which to invest their time, to prioritize their activities every day, and to continually choose from a menu of possible activities.

In other words, salespeople must now engage in strategic planning.

Not that this is new. There have always been salespeople who have regularly planned strategically for the effective use of their time. It’s been a characteristic of superstar salespeople and highly effective sales forces. For that small percentage that do it instinctively, or are encouraged to do so by their management, it’s as much a part of their routine as brushing their teeth in the morning.

Unfortunately, that describes the minority of salespeople and sales forces in the world. What was a practice of only the best has now become a requirement for everyone. Most salespeople have never been trained in the best practices, processes and disciplines that will set them apart from the pack. In this case, that means that most salespeople have never been exposed to the principles, processes and disciplines of effective strategic planning.

Let’s define our terms:

A strategic plan is composed of a set of measurable goals, coupled with a list of the most important, most effective things you (or your company) can do to reach those goals.

A strategic plan is not a detailed action plan. That comes later. The plan itself is often limited to no more than two or three pages. The idea is to identify the highest priority and most effective: too much detail defeats the purpose.

Strategic planning is the process of thinking about your job (or your company) in such a way so as to develop your strategic plan.

Creating a strategic plan for your company always involves a dedicated chunk of time devoted to the process. So, too for a strategic plan for a salesperson. Creating a strategic plan for your company always involves some preparation, and a gathering of the best minds in the company. So, too for a salesperson’s strategic plan: Preparation, and a melding of the ideas of the salesperson and his/her manager. Strategic planning for your company always involves the discipline to adhere to a formalized process. So too for a salesperson.

With your company, the creation of a strategic plan is often an energizing, inspiring event, from which everyone leaves optimistic and full of confidence, assured that they have identified the goals, plans and tasks that will bring them the best results. And that is exactly the benefit for a salesperson creating a strategic plan. Salespeople spring up out of the strategic planning process confident that they have identified the most effective focus for their action, that they have identified the highest priority activities. They emerge confident, focused and optimistic, ready to take on the world (or at least their customers) with renewed vigor. And that’s a good thing!

How to go about it?

Set aside, once a year, a significant amount of time dedicated to the task. I’d suggest at least a full day or two. The date of the strategic planning session should reflect the salesperson’s selling situation. Salespeople vary in their seasonal “busyness” depending on the industry to which they sell. For some, a time towards their end of their fiscal year might be in order, for others, a time at the end of their busy season. For most, a time around the Christmas holidays works best.

One of my clients brings all his salespeople into the office for a planning retreat once a year. In another, salespeople come together for an annual goal setting and strategy developing retreat. At this three-day event, they meet with their sales manager and create specific goals for the year. Then, together with the manager, they jointly develop the overall strategy for achieving those goals. If your company organizes such an event, good for you. If not, then you need to do it yourself.

Find a space where you can work virtually uninterrupted. This may take some creativity. I doubt if it’s your company office. It may be your home if you have a room in which you can seal yourself. One year, I was one of two people responsible for leading an organization. The two of us drove to a state park, climbed in the back of my old conversion van, and worked in the back of the van all day long. We were isolated and uninterrupted.

Gather the materials you’ll need: all your account folders, account profiles, your company’s goals for the year, information about key products, services, or categories, computer print-outs of last year’s sales, maps of your geographical territory, and anything else you may want to review.

Immerse yourself in the process. For the duration of the planning, don’t do anything else other than emergency tasks. You want to focus your thinking on the strategic decisions you’ll be making. Any interruption will disrupt your thinking.
Focus on what you are going to produce in this planning event – the output or result of your efforts.

You are going to create these things:

  • A set of sales goals for your territory.
  • A well-defined ABC analysis of your customers and prospects.
  • Individual goals and strategic plans for each of your key (A) accounts.
  • A basic territory plan.

Sounds arduous, and it is. But, when you spend disciplined, focused time thinking about these things in detail, you will find it to be much easier than it looks. You will prepare the best, most effective plans that you are capable of; and that will free you to implement effectively when you are in the field.

Later in the year, you won’t be tempted to head out on Monday morning without a clear plan in mind, because you have spent this time formulating the plan. And when the press of customer problems and inquiries threatens to overwhelm you and force you into becoming too reactive, you’ll be held on track by the goals and plans you created in your planning discipline.

Outcomes…

Let’s consider each of these four outcomes of your planning retreat.

A set of sales goals for your territory.
Your work should lead you to a series of sales goals for your territory. In order to get there, you must first determine the categories of goals that you are going to create. It may be that you work for a company that has already determined this, like my clients described above. If so, good for you. If not, then it will be up to you to determine your own set of categories. Depending on your unique set of products and services as well as your company’s emphasis, you may create goals for the following, most frequently used, categories:

  • Total sales
  • Total gross margin
  • Number of units
  • Total sales per product category (dollars, gross margin, or units) for each of several categories of product or service that you sell.
  • Goals for acquiring new accounts.

This is just a list of the most common sales goals. You can have a virtually unlimited variety of goals. The categories of goals are up to you, your company, and your manager.

Originally written by Dave Kahle

Three Simple Rules for Success in Sales

If you want to know what truly separates top performers in sales, then look no further than these three simple characteristics below.

These “rules” as I call them are essential for your success, and you should make it a point to incorporate and work on them every day of your professional career. If you do, you will easily rise to the top of your company and your industry. Read them over now and commit to incorporating them into your daily routine:

  1. Invest in your attitude every day. You absolutely must do everything you can do to develop, protect, and nurture a contagiously enthusiastic attitude. Now more than ever, your attitude will be the biggest determining factor affecting your success in your profession of sales. Think about all the negative people you’re going to run into today, this week and this month. Are you going to infect them with your positive, can do attitude, or are you going to get more and more negative with each phone call? IT IS UP TO YOU!!Starting this week, get into the habit of feeding your mind and attitude daily with affirmations, by listening to motivational CD’s, by reading two pages a day in a positive book, and by goal setting. If you haven’t read books like, “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield, or “Beyond Positive Thinking” by Dr. Robert Anthony, then go to Amazon and order them today.

    An all time favorite of mine is an 8 minute DVD I’ve watched over and over on my lap top called: “Finish Strong” by Dan Green and can be found at their website called “simpletruths.” That book/DVD alone will be a great investment in your attitude.

  2. Sharpen Your Sales Skills. Let’s face it – there is no room for error in today’s competitive sales environment. Sloppy sales presentations, poorly qualified leads, and just plain lazy and bad habits are going to make you miserable in your job. You must, and I mean must, learn, practice and use effective sales techniques that will allow you to identify buyers and then deliver effective presentations to close business.The Top 20% will do well because they already use effective skills and spend time getting better, but the bottom 80% are going to sink like a stone. I’d say that up to one quarter of all sales reps will lose their jobs in the next 12 months because they won’t improve enough to make it in this environment.

    What are YOU doing now to improve your skills each day?

  3. Start Listening To Your Prospects. Now more than ever, it’s crucially important that you learn how to connect with your prospects and show them you really care about what they’re going through and what their needs are. 80% of your competition is going to pitch and pitch and pitch, and this turns off the people they are trying to sell. The Top 20% take the time to understand the difficulties their prospects and clients are going through and they find ways to help them. And it all begins with listening.People are going to buy from people they like, know or trust, and the best way to build this rapport is by asking questions and actually listening to their answers.

Trust me when I tell you that these three simple rules are the bedrock of success in sales. Eighty percent of your competition won’t do these things, but if you will, you will smoke them in sales. In fact, you can become a Top 5% or even a Top 1% producer if you will just take the time to make these rules daily habits.

Remember – first we form habits and then they form us.

Originally written by Mike Brooks

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Software as a Service (SaaS) is what most people mean when they say “the Cloud.” SaaS provides a complete software solution. This software could be email management, calendaring, enterprise resouce planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), documentation management, and so on. The easiest way to think about SaaS is that it is some type of standard software package that can be used on demand and is paid for by subscription, by use, by advertising, or by sharing information (such as email addresses) of users.

Most Application Program Interfaces (APIs) are associated with SaaS Cloud Providers.

Software as a Service (SaaS) Advantages

Advantages Unique to Software as a Service (SaaS)

  • More than typical packaged software, using a SaaS provider will require you or your organization to use a “vanilla” version of the software. Minimal customization is typically offered. Sometimes being forced to use a “vanilla” version is helpful. (This can also be a disadvantage.)

Advantages Shared With Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

  • Various pricing models may allow paying only for what you use. This, for example, can allow an individual or a small organization to use sophisticated software that they could not afford if it was installed on an internal, dedicated server.
  • SaaS Cloud Providers often take into account multiple platforms: mobile, browser, and so on. If you or your organization want software that can be accessed from multiple platforms, this might be an easy way to make that happen. As part of this, SaaS Cloud Providers may also provide apps for mobile devices.
  • If you have events such as high seasonal sales activity, then the elasticity of the Cloud with SaaS might provide an opportunity.
  • The SaaS Cloud Provider may provide better security than your existing software (security—or inadequate security—can also be a disadvantage). Better security may come in part because it is critical for the SaaS Cloud Provider and is part of their main business. In-house security, on the other hand, is not usually an individual’s or a organization’s main business and, therefore, may not be as good as that offered by the SaaS Cloud Provider.
  • No need to manage the introduction of new releases of the software. This is handled by the SaaS Cloud Provider.
  • No need to provision servers. This is handled by the SaaS Cloud Provider.
  • No need to manage the underlying data center. This is handled by the SaaS Cloud Provider.
  • Usually, there is no need to manage backups. This is handled by the SaaS Cloud Provider.
  • If the SaaS Cloud Provider supports failover should the software (for example, the database management software) or the data center become unavailable, that failover is a concern of the SaaS Cloud Provider and you do not need to plan for it.

infrastructure_as_a_service_iaas

Originally written by Douglas K Barry

5 Extremely Effective Sales Cycle Acceleration Strategies

Don’t let long sales cycles slow you down. Targeted and engaging quality content, addressing buyers’ needs and carefully planned execution move deals faster and smoother.

Slow sales cycles can be a source of significant frustration for B2B marketers. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to grease the skids, so to speak, and speed up the sales process. The key to turning your sales funnel into a “slipstream” is to use a broad range of marketing techniques and tactics in order to accurately identify the right targets and supply them with the right information.

One of the most critical parts of lead acceleration is lead qualification. By qualifying leads correctly, you can focus your marketing and sales efforts on those leads that are most likely to buy. In addition, top quality content is critical. High quality content helps you to capture and retain your audience’s attention as you lead them down the funnel. By qualifying the right leads and engaging them with the right content, you can accelerate (and increase) conversions.

Listen to your audience

Where and how is your audience searching for information online to make buying decisions? What are their pain points, and how can you help soothe them? What are they talking about within their social networks? This information should drive your marketing decisions and help you define content, delivery formats and choose the right platforms to attract and engage prospects. It also enables you to segment your audience for tighter targeting.

Listen to your team

Your sales team, customer service, and even accounting or finance specialists within your organization may all have different types of interactions with prospects and customers. Their varying perspectives can augment what you learn about your audience from other sources, in ways that are entirely pertinent to your company and targets. These can help you craft the most timely, irresistible offers for prospects, regardless of their status within your funnel.

Find the right formats and channels

B2B Content Marketing Strategies

Target your content topics carefully, to appeal to different audience segments and buying stages. Deliver your content over a broad range of formats and channels, to reach more people in ways they want to receive information. Do that by studying what resonates most quickly and memorably with your hottest prospects:

  • Specific website pages
  • Blog posts
  • Social media
  • Case studies (storytelling from a B2B perspective)
  • Email campaigns
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • eBooks or whitepapers
  • Tip sheets
  • How-to demonstrations
  • Visuals, such as infographics, photos and videos

It can be especially valuable to tackle potential negatives up front – addressing objections before they are raised. This shows prospects that you are “transparent” and, more importantly, replaces concerns with confidence to buy from your company.

Do your research

Better data begets better-informed decisions – in this case more accurate targeting. Who are the people you need to reach? Where are they? Who are their influencers? Drawing from a wide spectrum of online and offline resources enables you to learn as much detail you can.

Adopting the right software can both facilitate and strengthen this process, by helping you with predictive lead scoring and segmentation. Smartly integrating automation allows your sales people to focus on the personal side of closing sales. That’s still as important as ever, because ultimately people buy from people.

Track your results

Subject your content to continuous improvement, based on your analytics. You want your funnel to flow rapidly, but you also want a continuous flow. Closely tracking and evaluating your results will show where you can improve every aspect of lead generation and nurture.

Conclusion

Well-planned strategies enable you to bring all these elements together to shorten your sales cycle. When you do that, you’ll see an improvement in sales and marketing morale. You’ll see an increase in conversion rates as well as conversion speed. And that means you can dramatically improve cash flow, strengthen your company’s position vis-à-vis competitors, and increase your company’s value to investors or other stakeholders.

Originally written byJeanne Hopkins 

A CRM success story

I’m surprised at how often companies don’t consider their customers’ needs when making decisions about technology. When we launch a new technology initiative, our first step is to ensure that everyone within our organization, especially the IT department, has a comprehensive understanding of our business strategies and customers’ needs. We accomplish that by pulling together a cross-functional team of business and IT managers.

The first step is to properly define the customer. We sell office products to businesses, and in a B2B industry such as ours, there is a tendency to consider the purchasing manager of the company with whom you have a contract as the customer. But within every customer organization there are a number of people, in many cases thousands, who order from us every day.

When you add up all contacts with these individual buyers, some of our customers interact with us 400,000 times per year.

All of our customers have specific needs. For example, we found that customers sometimes need specialized help when ordering products such as technology accessories and furniture, so we have product experts and call queues dedicated to taking those calls. Before we invest in technologies to serve different kinds of customers, it’s imperative that we have a clear understanding of their individual needs.

Turn the Focus Outside-In

Many companies make the mistake of organizing their business in terms of how they bring their products or services to their customers. The problem with that approach is that you lose sight of the customer’s perspective. You can have the most leading-edge technology available, but if it’s easier for customers to do business with one of your competitors, chances are they won’t stay with you for long.

Before planning our CRM initiative, leaders from our business strategy and IT teams mapped out every kind of contact our customers can have with our organization. Although this exercise may sound simplistic, in practice it is a very complex undertaking. For example, customers might contact a sales representative, call a customer service center, accept a delivery from one of our drivers, or order products online or via fax. In essence, we created an outside-in view of our processes.

It was important that IT staff participate in this touchpoint-mapping exercise because it gave them valuable insights into how our customers use our technology, both directly and indirectly. That helped our IT team focus on the specific technologies that would improve service to our customers and weed out those that weren’t right for our goals. For example, instead of buying a complete end-to-end CRM suite, we chose individual software applications for customer interaction and campaign management that met specific customer needs and integrated them with our existing order-processing technologies.

Develop IT Strategies for Specific Customer Needs

Once the IT department has a comprehensive understanding of how customers interact with your company, it can play a pivotal role in developing and executing business strategies. At Boise, we create cross-functional teams that pair IT leaders with our business development managers. The teams outline specific customer needs, then determine the technology strategies that will bring the best possible solutions to the customer.

Make Implementation Easy on Your Customers, Not Your Company

Don’t lose sight of your customers when implementing technology strategies. Because we applied new technology to our two largest customer channels, phone and Web, it was paramount that both remain fully functional.

To minimize the effect of the transition on our customers, the IT and business development teams outlined all of the steps in our CRM initiative and how each step could potentially affect customers. For example, one step involved cleansing and loading 2.2 million customer and contact records from multiple disparate databases into a single customer profile database. To prevent disruption to customers, this exercise was performed during nonbusiness hours.

Create a Customer-Focused Culture

The last thought I’ll leave you with is that adapting a customer-focused approach to technology in most companies requires a cultural change. IT is often viewed as a department that supports all of the other functions of a company. Unless the entire company is committed to viewing its systems from the customers’ perspective, IT will continuously be asked to support projects that meet the short-sighted goals of internal departments. As CEO, a key part of my responsibility is to make sure that the entire company understands the value of our new CRM systems and business model. I stayed very close to the work, and I personally presented our new capabilities to many of our customers.

The onus is on management to lead by example and push for a customer focus on every project. If a proposed plan isn’t right for your customers, don’t do it. Send your teams back to the drawing board to come up with a solution that will work. Your customers will reward you in the long run.

Article written by Christopher Milliken and originally published by CIO

How to Keep Your Customers Happy

Let’s accept the fact — the current market is extremely competitive and in order to survive in this hostile condition you constantly have to look for ways to engage your customers. The market has changed a great deal over the last two decades. Advent of internet and then of social media and cloud has transformed customers’ expectations completely. Today businesses have to deal with a generation of tech savvy consumers that expect the brands to be engaging and interactive to offer complete customer experience at every level.

Introduction of social web has completely changed the ways consumers used to interact with each other. Modern, social consumers are proactive in gathering and sharing information on their topics of interest. In order to engage your customers it is therefore important to understand how people are interacting with each other in the changed environment. Customers now want to interact with brands at more personal level. They want a direct approach to their problems and want the brand to deal with their issues at more personal level. Enterprises therefore need to formulate engaging business strategy that will satiate the needs of modern consumers.

However, simply having the strategy isn’t enough but it needs to be actionable to keep the customer hooked to the brand through his customer life-cycle.

Identifying the touch-point is crucial in developing a customer engagement strategy. Improving functionalities of all three areas, namely- sales, marketing and customer service, is essential in offering complete customer experience.

In this article we have discussed some ways to engage your customers and putting your customer management strategy into action.

 

  • Creating interactive platform

    Since modern customers are more about engaging into serious conversations with their favorite brands providing them with an interactive platform will keep them attached to the brand. Since they look forward to more conversational ways to engage to organizations an interactive platform will help them bond better with the brand and each other. Customer communities have become an integral part of modern customer management strategies. Communities managed through technology platform allow the brand to effectively manage customer interaction at different levels and provide a very powerful supporting for managing overall customer experience.

  • Direct engagement

    Do you know your most loyal customers? In this hard up situation when new businesses are hard to come by companies are shifting their focus to their existing customer base. Customer relations management systems are quintessential business tools to help organizations form customer engagement strategies. The CRM system can help you find your longest and oldest customers, prospective clients, and latent prospects, so that you can form appropriate strategies to engage different groups.

  • Go social

    Social media has turned into a powerful tool to engage customers in conversations. The modern customers can be described as social customers who are more involved in social media platforms for information dissemination. They expect their favorite brands to be equally active and social on social webs. They look forward to build a peer-to-peer relationship with their favorite brands on social media. CRM app can help an organization in tracking its footsteps on social sites. New and improved custom CRM solutions are designed to tap into social feeds of customers. Brands are increasingly engaging their customers on social sites through contests, promotional content, and viral videos and encouraging them to post their experiences with the brand to create fan movement.

  • Seek feedback

    Most organizations lack in the aspect of seeking feedback from their customers. Customer feedback can offer crucial insight on changing customer behavior and changing market trend. You can’t deliver improved customer experience if you do not take into account customer reaction to your strategy. When honest feedback is sought customers can go out of their ways in offering support to their favorite brands. Customer feedback can also help with product designing and manufacturing.

  • Reward loyalty

    If your customers are with you for a long time reward them appropriately with loyalty reward programs. Path breaking innovations have taken place in designing loyalty programs. You can now integrate your POS and CRM with loyalty tools to design most engaging loyalty program for your most valued customers. Most advanced customer relationship management product provides users with customer intelligence that helps brands identify its long term and most profiteering customers, customer buying trends through his customer life-cycle etc. Rewarding your most loyal customers will help you maintain a favorable picture on their minds.

  • Be proactive

    Don’t wait for your client to reach you. Rather, reach out to them in more than one ways. Improving the cases of first call resolution to customer problem will improve overall customer experience. Create exhaustive self-help interfaces wherein the customers can seek solutions for their problems by themselves.

    Orignally written by Paul Anderson

7 of the Best Sales Techniques

There are many Sales Techniques. How do you know which are the Best Sales Techniques for you to use?
 

1. Pro -Active.

Pro-active selling is going out there and finding new customers to present to. Talking to as many people as you can. It’s a numbers game. The more people you talk to the more likely you are to sell something.

This works best if you have an out going personality and find it easy to ad-lib. You need to be energetic and able to think on your feet! A chirpy upbeat personality will excel with this sales technique.

A positive attitude is a great way to increase sales.

2. Customer Led

The ‘customer led’ Sales Technique involves following your prospects lead. You wait for them to speak and then you respond in agreement. This Sales Technique is also know as Matching and Mirroring.

By being in agreement with your prospect you make them feel like you are on their side. Rather than a sales person trying to sell them something.

This Sales Technique suits those who are less assertive. A great deal of patience is required using this technique. It may take several meetings or conversations before you make your offer and sale.

However patience pays off and there is a high conversion rate using this sales technique.

In addition, refunds are low and customers tend to become lifelong customers — this is down to the early investment in the relationship.

3. Aggressive

Aggressive selling is straight to the point. Think ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, Market Stall Holders or Politicians! They have an idea or product and won’t stop until you’ve got it.

This sales technique is effective in a fast paced selling environment but it’s not for everyone and can put some prospects off completely! This sales approach is aggressive and doesn’t suit many personality types.

4. Helpful

Helpful is a much softer sales technique. The emphasis is on appearing helpful and informative rather than coming across as a sales person.

Anyone can use this technique. In fact it is currently one of THE MOST EFFECTIVE of all Sales Techniques.

In today’s society people are hungry for information. They want to make their own choices and are wary of being ‘sold to’.

Helpful selling appeals to today’s customers. Helpful selling can be adopted by any sales person. However it is only effective if used genuinely. Otherwise it can appear sly and untrustworthy, if done incorrectly.

5. Consultative

Consultative selling is very similar to helpful selling. In this case rather than ‘helping’ a prospect make an informed choice. The sales agent is acting as a consultant, an expert in a particular field.

To succeed with this Sales Technique you need to be very confident and knowledgeable in your area. You have to present an impartial viewpoint at all times.

6. Rapport Led

Building rapport is a Sales Technique that many sales professionals adopt without knowing it. Body language and rapport is a very subtle sales technique. When studied and applied effectively it will Increase Sales Results.

This Sales Technique, if studied correctly, understood and used discretely. Can be used in any industry to achieve amazing sales results. Rapport is the secret language, if you like, of the sales world.

Rapport building one of the first aspects covered in Sales Coaching.

7. Scarcity

Scarcity. People don’t like to think they are missing out. By creating scarcity for a product or service, people desire it more. Scarcity is used to drive people to take action. Scarcity uses EMOTIONAL sales to seal the deal.

Scarcity can be used effectively by almost any industry and is particularly useful in service lead businesses. Any sales rep can learn to use scarcity in their sales conversations.

Originally written by Katie Bevan