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Sales Strategy & Management

What SA Entrepreneurs are Doing Wrong

South Africa boasts great entrepreneurial spirit, but when it comes to turning great ideas into a great business, local entrepreneurs often drop the ball. So, why, SA entrepreneurs, is it so hard to do business with you?

Dylan Kohlstadt

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customer-service

Sales not meeting target?

It’s time to review your customer service.

Remember that time you really needed that service done to your car? You called to make an appointment and the voice on the other end promised to call back but never did.

Or that time the boutique was out of stock of an item you just had to have, and you watched them write your details down in that black book they all have that you suspect is used to swat flies with, because you still haven’t heard from them.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Your Ideas are Worthless Without This One Action

The myth

As South Africans, we’ve all heard with a sense of nationalistic pride how the world is so impressed by our work ethic, and how in-demand South Africans are because we have a service orientated mentality.

“I’m from a third world country,” we shout at the hapless shoe sales person, “And we have better service where I’m from.” Really?

The key to success

63% of SMEs fail within the first two years. Surely it can’t all be the economy. Is it possible that we actually suck when it comes to keeping our clients happy?

Here are eight things to implement to help improve customer experience and sales.

1. An SMS is good enough

When somebody reaches out to you via SMS, do you ask them to send you their details via email so that you ‘have them on your database‘? Or do you ignore it and think ‘if it’s important they’ll call’? An SMS is a sale waiting to happen, and you spurn it at your own cost.

2. Reply to emails and calls

I’ve lost track, and a few years I’m sure, waiting for people to get back to me when I’ve sent a query. Especially those web forms that are so popular these days. I just know I’m not going to get a response from anyone this century.

As the business owner, you should grab every lead with both hands and bend over backwards to convert those leads into sales.

3. Get a credit card machine or Snapscan

Are you a handyman, plumber, electrician, personal trainer, garden service, or any business that offers a personal service direct to the end user? And I bet you demand cash on delivery, don’t you?

Retailers without credit card machines just upset me. I have money in my pocket that I want to give you. Make it easy for me to spend with you.

At least get Snapscan – it’s super easy for customers to use and you won’t turn them away anymore, or send them searching for the closest ATM. No hassle, no fuss, and no waiting for EFTs to clear.

4. Listen to your voicemail

This is a problem a lot of us have. In this day of instant messaging, email on smartphones and the like, actually listening to your voicemail messages just seems so last decade.

Reality check: Not everybody out there is comfortable with today’s technology, and I can guarantee you that their money is as good as anybody else’s. And then don’t forget to call them back.

5. Follow up

You’ve quoted a client, and you believe you’ve met your end of the bargain. The ball is now in their court, and if you don’t hear from them again it’s because they weren’t serious clients in the first place.

Wrong! The wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the most oil, and you must remember that these people have money to spend. They want to give you their money – it’s up to you to convince them that you deserve it the most.

Follow up on your quotes and don’t let those fish get away.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Simple Money-Making Ideas for Entrepreneurs

6. eCommerce: Allow for credit cards

The user experience when you want to do an online purchase and they expect you to pay via EFT because they haven’t got credit card facilities is a deal killer.

I have never purchased anything online via EFT. Although I know many South Africans prefer EFT there are a bunch of us who don’t.

7. Don’t force loyalty

If somebody is willing to give you their business, don’t get bureaucratic on them and try to enforce unreasonable notice periods.

Good customer service is usually rewarded by good word of mouth feedback, and releasing unwilling customers from antiquated contracts will give you a really good reputation with your customers.

Remember, there’s power in giving in order to receive, so have a magnanimous view instead of a small-minded one and your business will grow accordingly.

If you follow these basic steps, your business should succeed.

 

Dylan Kohlstädt is the founder and account director of Shift ONE: outsource marketing for entrepreneurs. She has ten years marketing management experience in insurance, financial and property industries plus six years hands-on experience in online marketing involving web, mobile, SEO, CRM and Social Marketing and is considered a subject matter expert on all things digital. Visit www.shiftonedigital.com for more information.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Edward Byrne

    Oct 30, 2015 at 12:57

    So true…

  2. Edward Byrne

    Oct 30, 2015 at 12:57

    So true…

  3. Faeeza Khan

    Nov 3, 2015 at 08:12

    So true and great tips!

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Sales Strategy & Management

3 Ways You Should Use Data Science to Skyrocket Sales

This post will show you 3 ways to keep your business stable and profitable, successfully.

Olivia Ryan

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data-science

Sales business is getting harder and more competitive day after day. Both physical retail and e-commerce offer a wide variety of brands and products, which makes it more difficult for an average sales person to seal the deal with potential customers.

Sales professionals have to be clever and extremely analytical before even approaching their clients. That’s why they use data science to skyrocket business. Data science is a contemporary statistical model which seeks to provide meaningful information from large amounts of complex data.

According to the study, this type of business analytics is expected to generate almost $170 billion in 2018. If you want to keep the business stable and highly profitable, you should consider embracing data science in everyday work. This post will show you 3 ways to do it successfully.

Prospect Analysis

Data science is based on artificial intelligence that has enough analytical power to give you remarkable insights into the traits of all prospects. Using this tool, you can personalise sales negotiations so as to match the exact needs of each client individually.

For example, data science will tell you the basic demographic features like age, gender, and location. But it goes beyond that and reveals income levels, professional titles, or personal interests based on online searches. All these inputs allow you to customise offers according to client’s preferences.

Related: Can Your Marketing Team Speak Data?

At the same time, you can prioritise prospects based on company size, predicted revenue, long-term potential, industry influence, or any other feature you might consider relevant to your business. This way, you can dedicate more time to the more important prospects and increase profitability just because you know who to talk to first.

Upselling

It’s much simpler to sell products to existing customers than to attract new buyers. Data science can help you to upsell products and increase the profit using the base of loyal clients. The system is simple – data science analyses the purchasing history and the preferences of every customer and suggests complementary products. That way, you make sure that your upselling suggestions stay relevant, which not only reduces bounce rates but also strengthens the base of loyal clients.

Create Ambitious Sales Quotas

Creating sales quotas has never been an easy job. Most companies are selling dozens of products in many cities, regions, or even countries, which makes it difficult for sales managers to manually determine ambitious but realistic quotas for their agents.

It’s actually one of the biggest reasons why managers underperform and fail to meet company requirements. However, data science makes this task a lot easier because it can automatically conduct the research and decide how much is enough for every sales representative in your team.

Company Aussie Writings uses data science to make sales forecasts and here’s what they say about it: “The new business analytics model goes through huge volumes of data within minutes, detect sales trends, and gives us a good plan for each agent, product, or region. With such powerful tool at our disposal, we don’t put too much pressure on sales representatives, but we also don’t have to worry about underachievement.”

Conclusion

Data science helps businesses to analyse potential clients more comprehensively and increases the odds of keeping sales high in the long run. It’s a perfect model for entrepreneurs who want to stay competitive in the abundance of brands, products, and services.

In this post, we showed you 3 ways you should use data science to skyrocket sales. Which tip could give your company the biggest boost? Let us know in comments and don’t hesitate to ask us if you need any additional information about this topic!

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Sales Strategy & Management

5 Secrets Of Communicating Effectively With Your Customers

Richard Mukheibir

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Communicate with customers

Standup comedians take cues from their audiences and modify their material as they go along. You can use this technique to watch for cues from your customers as to how they like to be addressed by you and staff.

This might seem like a schlep when things are going crazy at the tills or in the back office but the reward is creating loyal customers. Getting their feedback can also help you build your business. Here’s how to make communicating with customers a win-win scenario for them, for you and for your staff:

1. Listen first

Rethink your relationship with your customers by remembering that they are in control of the cash, not you. Shift your attitude to acknowledge this by recognising that you would like them to buy happily and confidently from you.

Bullying them with an over-the-top sales pitch is often a fast road to customer disappointment.

Instead, take time to guide them to the product or service that suits them best.

2. Acknowledge and connect

Whether you are demonstrating a product or ringing up a sale, allow the time to pause briefly and look customers in the eye. This personal connection makes customers feel that each one of them has been acknowledged as a fellow human being and not just a cash cow.

Related: 7 Steps To Optimise Your Cycle Of Customer Service

Such simple courtesies help you build the loyalty that encourages customers to return to buy again. They also often help take the sting out a disappointment or complaint about your product or service, allowing you to deal with it constructively.

3. What happens in the back office stays in the back office

Be clear in your own mind and also make sure your staff respect the house rule of not pursuing disagreements between colleagues on the shop floor. Most customers who witness something like this tend to back off – perhaps right out of your door.

Some may even film or record it and post it on social media. That is when you realise that there is indeed such a thing as bad publicity and you risk your business’s reputation being permanently damaged.

4. Choose the words

Customers are impressed when they see the boss putting in time on the shop floor or getting involved in customer relations. You can get double value from this time by listening in to the way your staff interact with customers.

Related: See You At The Top: A Guide To Winning At Customer Service

Make notes of what is positive and negative then use them during staff training sessions to role-play the situations again and help staff develop empathetic tones, body language and responses to customers.

5. Value the feedback

Compliments make everyone glow but even criticism or a complaint is valuable to your business – it’s like free market research.

So encourage your staff not to argue with a critical customer or try to prove how wrong they are. Respect their perception of their experience and use it to improve your range of products or services and help your business thrive.

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Sales Strategy & Management

What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?

Hint: It’s neither your prospects’ ability to buy nor how great your product or service is.

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sales-growth

Have you ever analysed what really drives sales in your business? Most people tie their answer to marketing or new leads. Those can be drivers but not the main driver for small businesses.

What causes one person to shop with you for years, driving out of their way to get to you, while the guy across the street won’t set foot in your door? Typically, when I ask this question, I get feedback about how great the product and service is. When I ask why the guy across the street won’t use you, I typically get some explanation of a lack of need or ability to buy.

Those answers can all be true, but that doesn’t make any of them correct.

I have spent the last seven years studying these questions and searching for both the truth and the correct answer. Surprisingly, the right answer is far easier to understand than I thought it would be. Instead of you having to become an expert on the subject, I’ll save you years and tell you what I found.

The truth and the correct answer

If you want to drive sales growth and repeat business, it boils down to understanding and then implementing one strategy: Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals sales. Think about that statement for a minute. It is true in your personal and business life right now.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

Content builds relationships

Since the dawn of man, how did we build relationships? We create content. If I found myself to be single tomorrow and on a date, I would work to build a relationship with the person I was dating by talking to them – that is, by creating content.

In B2B sales for many years, people created content by having all the knowledge and telling sales prospects about the great features and benefits of new, amazing machines. Today, we create content for our websites and e-books, as well as for downloads or videos to post on YouTube.

Why do we do all of this? Simply put, content builds relationships. And if your customer is looking to purchase anything of significant value from you, you will first need a relationship to make that happen. Once we have a relationship, what happens?

Relationships build trust

shaking-handsMost people don’t fully trust someone they just met, regardless whether it is a business relationship or a personal one. Human nature is to give a little bit of trust and to see if someone is worth giving more trust to. In other words, make them earn it. This is why delivering, at a minimum, what you said you would is so vitally important.

This is where good customer service, the person who answers the phone or sits at the front desk, can make or break a new relationship. As the relationship continues, more and more trust is given; and if the experience remains positive, the amount of trust you get grows still more. As the trust in you grows, then what happens?

Trust equals sales

The more a person trusts you, the more they will buy from you.

One bit of good news with all the competition that is popping up is that it is super easy to stand out, because there are so many poorly run companies and untrustworthy people in the world. All you have to do is do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Also, treat people the way you’d want to be treated. Since so few will do that, it is not that hard to stand out from the pack.

Related: 3 Strategies For Closing Sales Without Picking Up The Phone

Once a person has a relationship with someone, and they always get what they expect, changing from that person or business is not easy or even desirable. Because you gave good content, you created a relationship. Through that relationship you worked hard and developed trust and now, that trust you earned turns out money through, year after year. When you have 500; 1,000; 2,000; or 5,000 of those trusting relationships, they become assets of your amazing business.

If you’ve read me before, you may have heard me say that you should use a newsletter to build a fence around your customers. They will stay longer and spend more. Well, this is what I’m talking about. Had I been more sophisticated in my understanding of how all of this works seven years ago, I would have switched out the word “newsletters” for “content.”

I tell people all the time that a newsletter isn’t a magic tool. If anyone is selling you a magic solve-all-your-problems tool, you should run very far away and very fast. A newsletter is simply a vehicle to distribute content that builds relationships. It nurtures those relationships over time. You have to respect the relationship and earn trust by delivering on your product or services. If you don’t, can’t, or won’t do that, you could deliver all the content and send all the newsletters, and it simply wouldn’t matter one bit.

How to implement this in your business

The challenge with any idea is implementation. With most ideas in business, you typically have four choices, and this one is no different.

You can do the following:

  • Do nothing. This is what most people do, which is good news for you, because it is also what most of your competitors are doing. That makes it very easy to stand out.
  • Do it yourself. Content has to be created, and maybe you’re the best person to do that right now in your company.
  • Hire an employee to do this for you. Of course, you could hire and train a content creation person and outsource editing, graphic design, etc.
  • Find a company to help you implement this strategy.

Related: The 5 Best Actions You Can Take To Improve Sales Calls

Regardless of your decision, if you want to truly grow, or if you want to beat the competitor down the street, or if you want to increase the value of your company, it starts with this strategy: Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals sales.

This leaves you with one thing to as you finish this article: Look back at the four options and make a choice.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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