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How do I plan ahead for holiday season deliveries?

SMEs need to avoid festive season delivery bottlenecks

Shane de Beer

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We’ve experienced good orders for the holiday season, how can I ensure that they all arrive at the customers in time over this busy period? I don’t want to let any of my customers down.

Small and medium businesses would do well to plan their logistics requirements in good time to avoid getting caught up in the bottleneck of last minute deliveries as the festive season gets into full swing.

This is particularly relevant given the escalating volumes of deliveries for online fulfillment as an increasing number of companies sell their products online.

With the increasing focus on customer service excellence it is important to maintain a business as usual status and ensure deliveries arrive on time over this period.

Provide accurate information

The most important measures smaller businesses can take to ensure this happens is providing the correct information on the delivery documents. It is recommended that electronic interfaces be used where possible as this will ensure that the information is collected correctly from source and timeous delivery will take place. Further should the package need to be cleared by customs, it is advised that all customs information is correct and declared according to regulations.

Looking forward to the year ahead with the prospect of escalating costs, fiercer competition, increasing customer demands, road tolls, and the growing requirement to be more environmentally responsible, it will become increasingly important for smaller businesses to optimise their logistics processes.

On time delivery is vital

On time delivery is becoming increasingly challenging in a globalised market where the need to source and deliver products anywhere in the world is becoming the norm for businesses of all sizes.

Smaller businesses are also faced with the need to optimise their supply chain and logistics activities to provide the same level of service as their corporate competitors.

This is not easy to achieve in a fast changing global environment driven by fluctuating demand, volatile exchange rates, changing trade routes and growing customer expectations of instant gratification.

Export opportunities also come with greater exposure to risk in relation to disruptive influences like changing trade routes, interruption of supply due to man made and natural disasters, infrastructure issues, diverse and complex cross-border processes, and delays with goods passing through customs.

Agility is the SME’s competitive advantage

The more agile a smaller business is and the more innovative its approach to achieving transparency throughout its supply chain the better it will be positioned to compete in global markets.

Streamlining the logistics process is key to international competitiveness.

A smaller company’s global competitiveness may also depend on its ability to develop collaborative strategies with other supply chain entities, in some cases even with competitors.

Forming a close relationship with the right global logistics provider will also open up opportunities to be more innovative with sourcing raw materials from multiple sources anywhere in the world.

Outsourcing your logistics makes sense

The growing complexity of supply chains is also driving the trend towards outsourcing all or part of the logistics function to a specialised and trusted third party.

One of the drivers of complexity is the increasing demand for customised deliveries to suit specific requirements.

This makes it even more crucial for the logistics provider to have the supporting systems in place to provide a transparent view of the movement of goods across the supply chain, online, from anywhere, on any device.

Shane de Beer is the sales and marketing director at express courier company TNT TNT. Shane is an experienced general manager with excellent sales and marketing skills in both the FMCG and logistics/supply chain industries.

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Sales

How do I make a positive first impression with my clients?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so be sure you don’t screw it up.

Marc Pillay

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How do I make a positive first impression with my clients?

Everyone makes mistakes. Fortunately, however, they can be rectified in many cases. If the wrong amount of money is transferred, it can be reversed; if the wrong information is given, it can be corrected with a polite apology.

In business matters too, there is a ‘second chance’ that allows for an error to be straightened out and which sometimes can even be turned into an advantage. But there is one time when this is not the case: The first impression.

Making a good first impression is an opportunity that must be maximised. The old saying holds true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Research has shown that first impressions are of critical importance for three out of four buyers – that is a whopping 75%. Some aspects of your external appearance play a role here, but mostly it is what you say, how you say it and also what is conveyed non-verbally.

It’s all about tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions and body language, and it’s about capturing the mood in which the customer finds them self at that moment.

The following points can help you make a positive first impression on the customer:

  • Approach the customer attentively and with a friendly smile
  • Observe the customer – how do they respond? Are they reserved or receptive, cautious or forthcoming?
  • Take the emotionality of the customer seriously
  • Try to adjust yourself to the mood of the customer
  • Give the customer the feeling that you accept and understand them. Create common ground this way, which will leave the customer with good memories and which will shape their future relationship with you.

Do you already take all of those factors into consideration? If not, try to pay attention to them, and you will quickly see that you will have greater success with them.

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Sales

What’s the most important thing to remember when I’m interacting with a customer?

The one surprisingly simple success tactic that works every time.

Marc Pillay

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What’s the most important thing to remember when I’m interacting with a customer?

Customers want to be taken seriously. Someone who invests money does not only want to receive a product or service. It’s also important to make the customer feel appreciated and on an equal playing field with the sales person.

To do this is surprisingly simple: Address him by his name. By doing this throughout the sales conversation, not only when you greet him, your communication with him becomes much more personal and ‘warmer’.

Nothing is more unpleasant than talking to a person face to face not knowing his name – this has certainly happened to all of us at some point. But how can we possibly remember the names of all our customers?

Here are a number of tips that will help you:

  • Be truly interested in the customer and do not only pretend to pay attention
  • Carefully memorise his name during the first meeting, and write it down if necessary – it is no problem if the customer notices you doing this
  • Repeat the name from time to time during the conversation
  • Memorise the person behind the name – face, figure, voice, distinctive characteristics
  • Try to link the customer’s name to an image. Convert his name into a picture, and link objects or situations to it. The saying also applies in this case: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

You’ll see that after just a short while, the names of your customers will stick in your memory much more easily, and your customer interaction will become more promising.

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Sales

How can I make more sales?

Taking a good look at your existing sales strategy may reveal some areas for improvement.

Tim Berry

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My sales are ticking over nicely but I’d like to increase them now, as I feel that we have the capacity to meet increased demand. Can you give me any advice on how to go about growing sales?

The first thing you need to do is reassess your sales strategy and its impact on sales. Look at what’s working and what isn’t. Once you’ve done that, you can consider introducing some new sales strategies, such as finding new ways to sell more to existing customers, or even how you can find brand new customers. Perhaps you’re charging too little. And your marketing strategy could probably do with an overhaul to ensure it’s relevant in today’s marketplace.

Read the full article here.

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