Don’t Take Hiring the Right Sales People for Granted

Selling is a skill that not everyone has. Though a person can theoretically be trained to become a stellar salesman, there are some who cannot manage to close a deal no matter how many sales training courses they attend. There certainly does seem to be an invisible “something” that all good salespeople possess. Whether it’s an ability to read people, an instinct for knowing when to strike a deal, or something else, when you find the right sales person for your company, don’t let them go.

The Risks of Hiring the Wrong Salesperson

A salesperson goes out into the world and represents your company. When they meet with a potential customer, that customer unconsciously assumes that the salesman standing in front of them is representative of the people in the rest of your company. That’s one reason why you shouldn’t take the hiring of salesmen lightly.

If you hire the wrong salesperson, they can do untold damage to your business’s reputation. The repercussions may not be felt immediately, but they will come to light eventually. Poor salespeople come in different varieties, but here are some examples of how salesmen can go wrong:

  • Being disrespectful to your customers
  • Giving out wrong or inaccurate information about your products or services
  • Making cavalier promises or guarantees that aren’t backed by your company
  • Fabricating lies in order to make a sale
  • Breaking the law in order to get in the door of potential clients
  • Dressing in a sexual or suggestive manner
  • Using sexual manipulation in order to make a sale

If your salespeople are guilty of one or more of the above, they could be exposing your company to the potential for lawsuits and more.

Being Open to Different Kinds of Salespeople

Not everyone will go about making a sale in the same way, so you do have to be open to different approaches when it comes to making a sale, as long as it doesn’t resemble the methods mentioned above. For example, a new trend has evolved in sales training that incorporates the use of humor to engage attendees. Do humor and sales training go together? They might for some people. Many people respond to humor, and if your salesman utilizes clean humor to make a sale, it just might work for him. Others won’t appreciate the use of humor when they’re having a business discussion. The ideal situation would be to match the salesperson with the client. If you have a salesperson who makes most of their deals over a game of golf or at the bar, you can accommodate them as long as the client is responsive to it.

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Are You Building Long-Term Employee Relationships?

If you’re looking for ways to build long-term relationships with your employees, retirement plans may be one method. Retirement plans are so attractive to employees that they are typically mentioned as part of the benefits package. Encouraging your employees to save for retirement helps build loyalty and commitment to your small business. Here’s how.

You’re Invested in Them

When you offer an attractive retirement plan to your employees, it signifies that you’re invested in them in a long-term way. The retirement plan doesn’t even have to be the best one on the planet. Its very existence communicates that you’re committed to the financial stability of the employee, and that you recognize their financial needs. If you choose not to offer any kind of retirement plan, you’re basically saying you don’t care one way or the other where they stand in later years; and that won’t garner any kind of employee loyalty.

Your Business is Sound

Offering a retirement plan of any kind to your employees indicates that your business is sound and legitimate. Employees will, quite rightly, assume that if you’ve taken the trouble to investigate various retirement plans and come up with one that is affordable to you and advantageous for them, you must be doing all right with the business. Your stability as a business is important to any employee who is seeking long-term employment. Basically, your retirement plan says long-term, and it will attract long-term employees. If you’re looking for 3 ways to build a retirement plan that grows, read more here.

You Care About Their Family

You don’t have to have the employee’s family over for dinner at your house to show you care. A retirement plan shows that you care about family values. It’s just one of those things that goes along with families, swing sets, and mom’s apple pie. In the past, companies had pension funds to take care of their employees and their families. Now it’s your turn as a small business owner to take care of employees and their families with a sound retirement plan. It’s the way things work in this country. Bosses take care of their extended family—their employees. If you think it isn’t true, watch your employee’s face light up when you tell them about the great retirement plan you are offering them.

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Managers Need to Formulate a Strategy

Busy managers are like busy mothers. They get it from the top (spouses, in-laws, teachers) and they get it from the bottom (kids). Just like time-strapped mothers, busy managers are ground zero for everybody’s problems, including supervisors, owners, employees and even customers. Think about it. No irate customer ever says to a surly employee, “I want to speak to your colleague!”

Moms Have All the Answers

Well, moms may not have all the answers, but they have all the answers to a busy manager’s problems. If busy managers want to stay focused and in control amid all their responsibilities, taking cues from busy moms is a good place to start.

Let Them Eat Cake

When the kids are inconsolable after a loss of a big game, moms know just what to do. Whip out the cake mix. Nothing makes a kid smile faster than a waft of chocolate cake baking in the oven.

Beleaguered managers trying to placate dissatisfied customers so they can get on with their day need to adopt the same strategy. Pull out the treats and lay on the icing. Everybody likes “free.” Simply commiserating with the customer’s trouble and quickly opening up the candy jar (of free products, services, etc.) will turn an unhappy customer into one willing to take the treat and run.

Teach Them to Fish

Even busy moms secretly love to be needed. The sweet sound of, “Honey, where’s my tie?” or “Mom, have you seen my hamster?” is enough to melt a mom’s heart. But she’s also smart enough to give her needy family enough tools so she can hide in the tub with a juicy novel when necessary. Show me a mom with a new bottle of bath bubbles and I’ll show you a kid with a new hamster cage.

Busy managers need to empower their staff to make decisions independently when the manager is not around or can’t be disturbed. Teaching decision-making skills to underlings not only frees up the manager’s time so they aren’t pestered by small nuisances, but it helps to bolster employees’ morale and sense of worth in the workplace. (This sense of worth, by the way, has been scientifically proven to enhance employee engagement in the workplace.) This is not delegation. This is empowerment on a deep and meaningful scale that can lead to higher productivity levels in the department for which the manager can take partial credit, along with their staff.

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Zero In On Social Media Marketing for Better Business

According to a recent study conducted by LinkedIn, 94% of businesses use social media to market their business. Of those, 75% report that they’ve successfully gained new customers through social media outlets. With such impressive statistics, it’s impossible to ignore social media marketing for your small business concerns. To zero in on social media marketing for better business, try these helpful hints.

Be Focused

There are many social media outlets that may claim your company attention when it comes to marketing. But only one or two can really drive paying customers to your door. Evaluate the social media outlets as compared to the kind of business you run, and the type of customer you want to attract. There is lots of data available regarding what demographic visits which social media outlets. For example, a simple keyword search for Pinterest demographics will yield lots of data about their site visitors. Once you’ve found a match between a certain social media’s visitors and your target customer, you can begin to focus your efforts on that site. That’s not to say that you should ignore the other outlets; only that you should focus your primary efforts on that one site.

Be Engaged

Many business make the mistake of failing to engage with their followers on social media. Don’t let this be you. When you post something and receive comments, make sure you comment back every once in a while to let them know you’re reading their comments. Better yet, post things that ask a question or require involvement with your company website. These types of postings will bring people in and get them involved, especially if they’re fun postings like quizzes, contests, or things that ask their opinion on topics related to your business.

Integrate Text Messages With Social

Text messaging is increasingly popular among users of mobile devices. If you can start to integrate text messages with your social media marketing campaign, you’ll be riding the train of innovation. The 5 benefits of integrating your text message and social media marketing are that you can reach more people, bring in bigger crowds for events, have attendees check in, engage invitees at the even itself, and grow your overall subscriber list. That’s pretty powerful stuff for an application that started out with such humble beginnings.

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Picture Better Internal Marketing and Branding

As any company owner knows, employee meetings are key to disseminating information, implementing new projects, and bringing everybody up to speed on ongoing projects. Meetings are also necessary for public companies that need to open the company to shareholders, companies of all kinds that have a board of directors, and much more. Even with the proliferation of collaborative software that make it easier for workers in the field to team up with colleagues online, in-person meetings will never lose their place in the corporate environment.

 

Maximize Meeting Value With Film

One of the best ways to get the most from your meetings is to film them. This may be an unusual concept if your company has never considered filming meetings before. But there are many benefits to filming company meetings. Filming corporate meetings for internal marketing and branding makes a lot of sense. Following are just some of the ways that video can enhance the value of your company meetings.

Gain Transparency With Film

When your company films company meetings, you gain corporate transparency. Anyone who’s interested, or who you grant access to, can view the film and see behind the closed doors of your company culture. This is a powerful tool in this era of transparency. Imagine how your company can gain customers’ trust when you publish one or more of your company meetings on your business social media pages.

Film as a Legal Tool

Company meetings tools can serve as an effective legal tool in the case of litigation against your company. Though this isn’t a good reason to film company meetings, the film being in existence could still serve as proof against possible prosecution, if the need ever arose. For example, you could prove where an idea for a product originated, that an employee was not abusive (or was), and as general proof of the overall company culture.

Film as a Sharing Tool

Video of company meetings could be used as a way to share information to those who were unable to attend the meeting in person. If an employee was out of town during the meeting, they could still either stream it or download the file for viewing at a later date. This would allow them to stay in the loop with more information than any meeting notes could convey.

Film as a Training Tool

Filmed company meetings could be included as part of a training package for new employees. Trainees could get a better sense of projects that the company is currently working on, who the players are, and how meetings are traditionally run at your company.

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Don’t Fall Behind on Collecting Customer Funds

It’s essential to have positive cash flow in your business. Cash flow impacts your small business success in several ways including your business credit score, your ability to get a business loan, and the day to day functioning of your business. To keep your accounting records in the black, learn how to stay on top of money owed to your business.

Side Effects If You Fail To Collect Money Owed To You

One way that poor debt collection practices can negatively affect your business is your credit score. Your business credit score is partially calculated by a determination of the ratio of business income compared to your business debt. When the ratio become heavily tipped on the side of debt versus income, as it would be when you’re not collecting money owed to your business, your business credit score drops.

Another side effect of failing to collect debt on a timely basis is an inability to get a business loan. Loan officers want to see that you have a consistent and positive cash flow coming into your business coffers. If you have too much money in your accounts receivable column compared to your bottom line, this can indicate to the loan officer that you aren’t well equipped to handle your finances. Banks aren’t to eager to lend to people who don’t know how to handle their money.

Finally, failing to adequately collect money that is owed to your business can negatively and dramatically affect the day-to-day functioning of your business. As a business owner, you know that you have certain recurring expenses related to running your business. Maybe you have to pay for daily food deliveries, daily fresh flower deliveries or for your chef’s morning purchases from the fresh market downtown. Whatever those daily expenses are, you won’t be able to make them without positive cash flow.

How can you improve your accounting tactics to stay in the black and not dip into the red?

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Your Business Website Approach Matters

Just as you would carefully design a brick and mortar retail store to maximize your customers’ experience, your business website approach matters. Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when it comes to your small business website.

DON’T put up walls of text. People don’t like to look at gigantic blocks of text, and walls of text are hard to read.

DO break up text into smaller sections. The use of subheaders and bullet lists makes your website scannable and reader-friendly. For a great example of this, see “5 Ways a Website Can Boost Your Home Inspection Business.”

DON’T pack too much on any one webpage. Each web page should be dedicated primarily to one idea, though it’s acceptable to use sidebars for secondary content on any page.

DO keep plenty of whitespace on your web pages. White space gives site visitor a break from all the content on your site, and allows for a better flow of design.

DON’T feel you have to write up all the information you have to offer customers. Making your site visitors read long involved text to gather complex information can be off-putting.

DO use infographics to convey complicated or complex ideas. Infographics incorporate the use of short text and images to give visitors a quick way to gather all the information they need.

DON’T rely solely on words or infographics to decorate your site.

DO include plenty of images to add interest and visual eye candy to your site. Make your site nice to look at, in the same way that you would want to make your brick and mortar store nice to look at.

DON’T let your site visitors wander around like lost travelers in a desert. When visitors can’t quickly find what they are seeking, they may just leave, thinking it’s not there, or that they don’t have to time to search for it.

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Take Technology to New Heights for Employee Productivity

According to a recent study conducted by Rypple, a human resources research firm, employees spend part of their workdays wasting time in four ways: trying to contact leads or fellow employees, seeking needed information about the company or next steps, repeating communications, and trying to organize meetings. Following are some answers that technology offers to combat these most common obstacles to employee productivity.

Trying to Contact Leads or Fellow Employees

Imagine if you had a giant list of people that you needed to contact each workday. You knew that your entire livelihood depended on getting in touch with those people. You also knew that if you failed, your paycheck would reflect that failure. Now imagine that every time you try to reach one of those people, you end up nowhere. You leave messages, but no one calls you back. You’re not even sure if you’re calling the right number or emailing the right address. You have no way of knowing if the other person is even getting your messages.

You would feel frustrated, right? You would feel like you’re spinning your wheels at work and getting no where. Eventually, you might feel that you’re not contributing to the company where you work, and that you’re not valuable. Your morale would suffer.

That’s what your employees can end up feeling when you offer them no way to manage communication with leads or colleagues. If you are serious about wanting to help your employees be more productive, read “Want to Help End Users Increase Employee Productivity? Unified Communications is the Solution!” There, you will find a comprehensive solution to the problem of employee non-productivity.

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Are You Protecting Customer Data Or Exposing It?

In 2014, Bell Canada was hacked and over 22,000 of its small business companies had their passwords, usernames and other sensitive information stolen. When a company as large as Bell Canada is hacked, it’s time to sit up and take notice. After all, if a company like them, with deep pickets and supposed access to the best security systems available, can be victimized in this manner, where does that leave the rest of us?

Companies like yours that collect private customer data, even if you’re using private data for the benefit of the public, need to be vigilant about protecting customer data and not exposing it to criminals. So how can you be sure you’re protecting sensitive data to the best of your ability?

 

Assign Security Levels to Employees

Take a page from the military and assign security levels to employees. Not everyone in your organization needs to have access to customer usernames, passwords, credit card information or other data. In fact, very few should have access to these things. You give your human resources manager a key to the locked filing cabinet holding employee information. Your customer data should be locked in the same way, within your organization.

To manage this, include security levels in your operating manual. Anyone below a certain level should never be able to view a customer’s private information. If a breach does occur, you’ll have a limited list of suspects to consider.

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Is Your Business Properly Planned Out?

According to Kiplinger, women-owned businesses represent one of the fastest growing facets of the economy. It makes sense. In the past decades, more women in their 30s and 40s have felt they have the confidence and competence to start business in industries like real estate, construction, transportation, IT services and more. If you’re one of the growing group of women who are planning to start your own business soon, you’ll want to make sure you have a thoroughly planned map for your business.

 

Plan Ahead

The smartest business leaders plan ahead when they make any decision related to their business. Planning for the future of your business can be as simple as leasing more warehouse space than you currently need, or it can be as bold as wooing investors for your next round of financing two years from now.

The balance point to planning ahead wisely is to assume growth, but not assume success. Any growing business is going to run into obstacles, and just like a speeding car can quickly veer off its intended trajectory, so can your business.

Don’t assume you’ll be perfectly successful with a business five times as large as it is now. To plan ahead wisely, you’re much better off assuming you’ll have five times as many problems to solve. In that way you’ll place yourself at a better vantage point to predict what those problems might be, and to put things in place now that will manage those difficulties.

Plan for Communication

One potential for major disruption for any growing business is communication. Of course it depends on what kind of business you’re running, and what kind of employee communication you need, but communication in some form is going to be key.

If your sales team will be on the road, you’ll need a mobile communication system that can be scaled to fit as your business grows. If your team will be logging onto your intranet from locations across the country or around the globe, you’ll need a collaborative software solution that can be updated in real time, so team members can move projects forward from wherever they are. If your company will be storing sensitive business or public data, you’ll need a secure IT solution that provides two or three stage authentication practices, and a manager who can ensure that you’re adhering to state and federal regulations regarding data security.