Small Business Software Solutions

When it comes to small business, it’s never enough that you have the motivation and even the expertise. It’s also not enough that you have the right core staff who can help you manage the different aspects of your enterprise. You also need good small business software, which will allow you to automate your business, speed up the entire business process, and assure more accurate and fresh data that you can utilize.

Choices for Your Business

Today, there are a lot of small business software that you can select from, each having its own distinct functions. However, because of the uniqueness of your enterprise, not all will be useful. You only need to pick those that you think will be highly essential.

To give you some idea, you can start with the following small business software:

CRM Software. This software is important for contact management. You can easily manage information that is related to your customers, such as personal information. You can also easily determine the products and services they have purchased or enquired about, which then provide you data on what sells the most and what doesn’t amongst your line. Furthermore, you can keep track of your marketing campaigns generate reports and much more.

Lead Management System. When you are looking for prospects, you need to have a dependable lead manager. A lot of them are affordable, so you can get hold of them quite easily. The lead management system can help you keep track, score, and prioritize your leads. Also, lead managers can be customized according to the needs of the business and the industry you’re in.

Accounting Software. There are various types of financial applications that you could get for your business, but you may start with the accounting software since you want to determine the actual income and expenses of your business. However, unless you have solid or at least inkling of how accounting works, it would be ideal if you can pick an accounting program that is very easy to use. To know which will suit you it is advised you read online reviews.

E-mail Platforms. E-mail will be one of the best tools your business can have. You can market products and services through it, and you can communicate with your staff. With e-mail, you may want to stick with Microsoft Outlook, but remember that your valuable customer data will be housed in multiple computers and multiple email accounts.

It is important to understand that sometimes less is more. Try to implement the minimum number of solutions as they will require expensive integration to function effectively. If possible look for 1 sales system and 1 accounting system.

Small Business Relationship Management With the Razor Sharp Edge

Strategy or technology-based solutions, small business relationship management needs all the help it can get to gain the cutting edge over competition. Businesses have to strengthen the key areas of customer marketing and sales, and they have to dare to be different in a sea of competition.

In the Name of Customer Service

What makes a business stand out? Innovative and quality products, competitive prices, and good customer service; add on time delivery of orders plus timely responses to queries and you will have it all rolled into an efficient small business customer relationship management package.

Small business customer relationship management is not purely customer information hunting. It needs all functions working in tandem to streamline marketing operations and cut cost without hurting customer service. Efficiently managed, this optimizes employee output and boost customer confidence.

CRM is therefore not about mining information data and keeping it stagnant. It’s about getting data to energize the company’s customer touch points. This way, every fact is recorded. Factors like incoming and outgoing calls, the type and cost of purchase, and billing statements are all recorded with accuracy and consistency.

The bigger challenge businesses face is building customer loyalty and getting more business from them. If you’re in business, you are aware that knowing your customers and how they relate to your business can give you an edge because you can plan your marketing strategies around this.

Small business customer relationship management can benefit greatly with this type of approach using different tools like sales administration, contact organizing, lead management, and customer preference management. All these tools work in the name of customer service to improve marketing campaigns and boost sales.

The Razor Sharp Edge

In the hustle and bustle of business competition and looking for ways to edge the others out, you might forget the appointments that have to be made or the quotes that have to be followed-up. If you can’t follow the leads because your CRM system does not have the feature, upgrade! Try having an auto roll call of leads that need to be doggedly trailed from quote to sale.

If there are lost sales, find out what’s wrong. Your small business customer relationship management strategies should include a review of the sales lost to other companies. Find out why the sale fizzled and strategize new marketing tricks that will lead your customers back to your door.

A CRM system can warn sales agents to bat for more sales. They know you can check them out anytime. You can also eliminate the problem of duplicate information that may bloat figures or sharing inaccurate information with customers.

Before you throw a marketing pitch, look at the CRM database and find out what’s with the customer and how to plan your sales pitch. It would be embarrassing to approach a customer who is nursing a grudge and the company did not make any move to solve problem. You might as well be sucked in a quicksand.

In small business customer relationship management, accuracy of information and consistency of good customer service are never compromised. These give the business the razor sharp edge – no excuses. One mistake can mark you and rebuilding your customer service reputation is not easy. But if you have consistently provided your customers with reliable service, the word will get around – word-of-mouth advertising that’s absolutely free.

Marketing Methods That Immediately Grow Your Small Business, Part 3

Joint venture arrangements are one of the fastest ways to get new customers. They work because you “borrow” the credibility, trust and customer base of another organization. Regardless of the business you are in or the products or services you offer, there already exists a number of organizations that have established relationships with your target market. The joint venture process enables you to leverage those existing relationships and, in the process, generate a flood of new customers.

There have been a number of $1,000+ courses written on this subject that include hundreds of pages and dozens of legal forms. But for most small businesses, these types of courses can be more intimidating than inspiring. I’m here to tell you that you can create lucrative joint venture relationships, easier and faster than you ever thought possible. The fact is, at its root, this method is so straightforward and so immediately effective you owe it to yourself to test it in your business.

The building blocks of this method are simple. First you must have a handle on who your target audience is. Then you create a list of potential joint venture partners. Next, you create the offer you wish to make to your target audience. Then you approach the organizations you identified as potential joint venture partners and present your case. Finally, you and your partner iron out the details of the joint venture agreement. Sound simple? It is! So let’s get to it!

Identify your target audience:

Do you know who you are marketing to? Have you already identified your target audience? This is a crucial step in the process because you must get your message into the hands of people who will respond to it. The best offer in the world will fall as flat as a pancake if you don’t get it into the hands of the right people.

One quick way to identify your target audience is to profile the top 20% of your existing customer base. A detailed customer profiling discussion is beyond the scope of this article but if you can identify the commonalities that your best customers share, you are well on the way to identifying the essential elements of your target audience. Once you have done so, it’s time to move on to the next step which is:

Identify potential joint venture partners:

In this step you first identify the types of organizations and businesses your target market already has a relationship with. For example, if your target market is golfers, your list might include golf courses, golf shops, athletic stores, golf cart manufacturers, and so on. Once you have listed the type of businesses your target prospect is likely to do business with, you can then list the organizations within each type of business.

In this phase, you develop a list of actual organizations who likely do business with your ideal prospect. By identifying the types or classes of business before the actual organizations you will find that you automatically broaden the scope of your potential joint venture partner list. Armed with your list of potential partners it is time to move on to the next step, where you:

Create the offer you want to communicate to your target audience:

As you will be making the offer through your joint venture partner(s), you will want to make your offer special. The phones won’t be ringing off the hook if all you offer is a 10% discount. You want the reader to perceive that they are getting something special as a result of their relationship with your joint venture partner. So give them something special!

Free always works (see Part 2 of this series) and so does buy one get one free. You could offer an extended guarantee or warranty, or a sizeable discount. You could offer a sneak preview of a sale or an invitation to a special event. Whatever you decide to offer, make it so special that your potential joint venture partner(s) will immediately see the value in your offer and your target market will feverishly respond to it.

Approach your potential joint venture partners with your offer:

Before approaching each partner, it’s a good idea to research a little about the way they do business. Do they endorse or promote other businesses? If so, how do they do so? What types of offers do they promote? You want to get a sense for joint venture projects they have already agreed to. Then, package your first project in a similar way.

You can approach your joint venture partners through any medium you wish. This is one area where email communications tend to be least effective. My favorite way of contacting potential joint venture partners is by phone. But some small business owners don’t have the time (or the inclination) to do a little cold calling so I also recommend that you mail your potential partners a letter highlighting the benefits of your joint venture proposition (as discussed below) for them and their customers.

About a week after mailing the letter you will receive a call from your potential partners. If not, you simply call them. By following up your letter with a phone call you can increase the effectiveness of your campaign three-fold! Best of all, there is no cold calling with this method!

Of course, if your potential partner is local and easily approachable in person, head on over and discuss your idea face to face. You’ll often leave a personal meeting with an agreement and plan securely in place.

If your potential joint venture partner has not participated in a joint venture before, be prepared to educate him or her on the process and how it creates a win-win-win result. Their customers win because they get a special deal because of their relationship with your joint venture partner, the joint venture partner wins because they benefit from the agreement (we’ll discuss this more in a moment) and you win because you get to extend your offer to more highly targeted, potential customers. This method truly creates a win-win-win result!

Ironing out the details of your agreement:

The specifics of your agreement with your potential joint venture partner will need to be defined and agreed upon. They could involve a share of the profit you receive from the sales related to their endorsement, or you could barter your product or service in exchange for their endorsement. It could be that you agree to endorse their offering to your customer base in an endorsement exchange scenario. Your options are limited only by your creativity.

You will also want to define your roles and expectations of each other. This includes any operational and financial arrangements you have made. For example, if you propose a mailing, it is best if the mailing appears to come from your joint venture partner, written on their letter head.

It may also be that your partner collects the funds from such a mailing and sends you an amount equal to the payment less their commission and you fulfill the order. The more complex the agreement, the more attention you will have to pay to operational and financial processes, roles and expectations. But this is true of any business agreement, right?

Here’s a BIG TIP when creating your proposal for your joint venture partner, make it as easy as possible for them to benefit from the project. The less they do, the better. The closer you can get to “money for nothing,” the more responsive your potential partner will be.

While I’m at it here’s another BIG TIP: make your first project a guaranteed success, pull out all the stops and make sure that everyone benefits. Put together a great offer for your target audience, reward you partner for their participation and make sure that everyone has a positive experience. Do this and your joint venture partner will be excited about the next opportunity to work with you. And as I’m sure you know, the real profit in your business comes not from the initial sale, but from repeatedly selling to your customer base. Are you with me?

What do you do now?

You get started! Schedule a 30 minute appointment with yourself (I’m serious – what gets scheduled gets done) and follow the outline I have shared with you in this article. At least get to the point where you have identified several joint venture partners. You can easily do this if you invest the time.

Remember, a joint venture doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as simple as agreeing to do a mutual exchange where you and your partner distribute each other’s business cards. Once you complete your first successful joint venture and see how effective they can be, you will be hooked! So schedule that appointment with yourself now!

Now you know the basic process for creating joint venture projects. The process is the same regardless of the scale of your project.

For those who pursue this method of marketing their small business the rewards can be great. You really can create an avalanche of new customers sales and profit in your small business with joint venture marketing. The question is will you?

Join me next time for the fourth and final installment in this series where we will discuss how you can generate thousands of dollars worth of publicity for your business, completely free of charge.

Small Business Consulting Opportunities – Be Your Own Boss

Small Business Consulting Opportunities Are Endless

In reality, anyone can become a consultant. Small business consulting opportunities today are endless. If you have an area that you are extremely knowledgeable in and you have the drive and passion for excellence, you could become a consultant.

Many of the small business consulting opportunities do not require any special training. For example, if you are really good with computers, the software they use and network security, you could become an IT business consultant. Perhaps you are very creative and knowledgeable when it comes to marketing. You know how to take a product and make it sell. You could become a marketing consultant.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when browsing the small business consulting opportunities available. The first thing to consider is the qualifications that are needed. Is the area you are considering something you could call yourself an expert in? Are you familiar with the current information that is needed? For instance, when it comes to becoming an IT consultant, you would need to be knowledgeable with all of the current computer information. Technology is constantly changing and you have to know all of the up-to-date information. Another thing you need to check on is if there are any special certifications or licenses that are needed. While some companies may not require you to have a degree in a certain area, they may require you to be certified. Organization is another key factor when researching the small business consulting opportunities. You need to make sure that you are able to handle time management and be prepared when you enter into a situation.

Small business consulting opportunities are readily available to those people who are critical thinkers. A consultant is known as a problem solver and in order to solve issues effectively and efficiently, a person has to be able to demonstrate problem solving. A consultant works side by side with the business, therefore communication is important. A successful consultant must have excellent communication skills. They also need to have leadership skills. A consultant has to lead a company to success, and in order to do this, they have to lead. When a consultant comes into a company, the people there are relying on them to take their company to the top. The consultant has to take the lead and run with it, take control of the situation.

With so many small business consulting opportunities in many different areas, pricing is very important. A consultant needs to know how to set an hourly rate if their services are used by the hour. If a company uses them on a day to day basis, then the consultant needs to know how the prices for daily rates. Some companies will need a consultant to help with projects. If this is the case, a consultant needs to know how to bill their client by the project. When a company uses a consultant on a monthly basis, then the consultant would charge a monthly retainer. A small business consultant usually makes a substantial amount of money and pricing is the key element into turning those small business consulting opportunities into a success. Many consultants will require their client to pay a deposit beforehand. There will be occasions where the consultant will pay for expenses out of their own pocket. It is important for them to know how to get reimbursement from the company they are working with.

There are many areas of business, making the small business consulting opportunities endless. A great consultant has to have knowledge, passion, and understanding. There are thousands of people who have knowledge that they didn’t even know existed. Once they tap into that knowledge, educate themselves even further and put that knowledge to use by helping others, they are considered a consultant. A business consultant is the most sought after because there are companies developing all over the world.

One of the best small business consulting opportunities is being your own boss. You can set your own hours and pay, which makes you the boss. Of course you have to work certain hours, especially when helping a company with a project, but you basically are in control of that also. You just have to determine when the project needs to be done and how many hours it will take you to complete it. In reality, you have the most control over your work schedule when you become a consultant. You set the prices you are to be paid, and if you are an expert in a certain area, it is up to you to make sure your prices are set to what your time is worth. You are in complete control!

If you would like to know more about small business consulting opportunities, you can click the link below to find out more information.