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Apply These 4 Techniques to Improve Your Understanding of the Sales Process (INFOGRAPHIC)

Being a good salesperson is key to running a business. Even if you don’t directly deal with customers, as a business owner knowing the tools of the trade will help you better manage your employees as they look to close their next deal. A new infographic by Garret Norris, founder and CEO of Business Coaches Sydney, titled “4 Foolproof Sales Tips for the Business Owner” looks to improve your sales skills and in turn make you a better business owner. For small business owners who have to deal with all aspects of their operations, getting a better understanding of the sales process is a valuable asset. According to Norris, “To become a great business owner means that you’ll have to cultivate more than just your leadership skills — you also need to be knowledgeable about the numerous aspects that a company has so it can function correctly. Perhaps one of the most important of these is sales, and therefore, you need to become a great salesperson to become a great business owner.” Small Business Sales Tips Norris starts by recommending owners review the sales cycle. This includes becoming familiar with the seven stages of the sales cycle to better manage the process and not get overwhelmed. Once you have become familiar with the sales cycle, Norris suggests customizing the process so it fits your requirements. The next tip is to understand your audience. When you have a good understanding of who your audience is and you have identified their needs, your chances of closing the deal will increase. You have to ask the right questions and be part of an in-depth conversations so you can get more out them. When you have identified what their needs are, the next step is to focus on the relationship. While the ultimate goal is to make the sale, building a relationship which will create a long-term and loyal customer is more important. Small business owners should focus on customer retention and this requires establishing and building trust as part of the relationship. According to Norris, this requires patience and positioning. You have to…

LinkedIn Launches Pipeline Management Kit for Your Sales Team

While digital technology has improved commerce, it has also increased the complexities of the sales funnel. LinkedIn has introduced a Pipeline Management Kit for salespeople so they can remove blind spots from the modern sales process and manage the difficulties of B2B sales. LinkedIn Pipeline Management Kit The new Pipeline Management Kit is a free resource with an infographic, a video, and a 16-page digital pocket guide. And along with Sales Navigator Deals, it will make pipelines more transparent. According to LinkedIn, sales professionals can be blindsided by hidden pitfalls which derail promising prospects. These have negative outcomes for everyone involved from the marketing and sales teams to the organization as a whole. For small businesses with limited resources, identifying where the blind spots are to minimize the risks is even more important. Companies with small marketing and sales teams can ill afford to be surprised after putting in many hours of work cultivating a prospect. LinkedIn Product Marketing and Demand Manager Vivian Chan, writes in the LinkedIn Sales Blog, “On the road to closing deals in B2B sales, a similar dynamic is at play. The complexities of today’s buying cycle yield hidden pitfalls that can cause a promising engagement to veer off-course.” She then points to some disturbing statistics: 24% of anticipated deals go nowhere, 25% of sales reps may not be at the same job next year, 20% of buyers also play musical chairs annually. Chan adds, ” These realities lead to wasted time, mismatched contacts, and outdated CRM data. But like a safe driver, sales professionals can consistently check blindspots in their pipeline and minimize risk..” ? Key to Not Being Blindsided The infographic says sales teams should identify all key stakeholders to gain increased visibility of who the decision-makers are in a deal as well as recognizing any missing players. By keeping their CRM system up to date, team members can view relevant data about any deal. However, this requires a proactive and a hands-on approach to ensure information is being added, deleted or amended in a timely manner. While a CRM platform is an invaluable…

Create Raving Fans Says Birchbox Chief Customer Officer

On the occasion of a panel discussion hosted by collaboration services company, Slack, Ramon Ray interviewed Birchbox Chief Customer Officer, Amanda Tolleson, getting her insights on marketing for small businesses (video below). Her number one tip, and what Birchbox does so well, is that we need to create fans – raving fans. Small business growth comes from our current customers. Selling one customers is “easy” but getting the customer to come back again and again and refer others is so important and essential. Ask yourself, what does your brand stand for and how can we deliver an experience to our customers, way beyond the product itself. If you do this right, your brand’s products or services will become something that they care about so much more for their lives that they can’t help but tell other people about their experiences. In this way you not only have a customer but you now have a fan. How to do this? Know your customer. Find out what motivates them to buy from you and why they picked you as opposed to the competition. It doesn’t take any money to do customer research, just pick up the phone and ask five customers. Five customers is better than no customers.

Salesforce VP of Investments Shares 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Fundraising

Fundraising is a crucial & often an essential step to collect the much-needed capital or funds for growing your business. These fundraising rounds are often the key steps towards converting your business idea or prototype to a tangible & fully functional business venture. This is the means by which you can take care of most of the business operations & scaling-up costs (costs for marketing, operations, salaries of employees & other running expenses) & often run into millions of dollars for high growth companies. Hence, it is not easy to convince the investors, be it the angels, venture capitalists, banks, government organisations or your own aunt to hand over the funds to you & empower you to run your own show on their funds. While the variety & intensity of challenges in fundraising can be different & that you may have to figure out on the way, here are a list of 6 mistakes to avoid on this journey of fundraising, inspired as shared Meredith Finn Vice President at Salesforce, who leads their investments into other companies. Failure to adequately touch upon 3 key items in your pitch: Team, Product and Market Investors generally evaluate these three things (Team, Product and Market) when they take a look into a business idea for investment: TEAM – Investors consider the Team to be of utmost importance when funding a business because they believe that the Right Team can champion a business to success whereas the Wrong Team can spell disaster! It is extremely important for them to have an idea about “Who is Who” on the team & where each of the team member has his/her expertise on. The team that runs the show is a very important asset for the investors to build trust and hand over their funds to you for running your business. For example, if the team members have awesome industry, technical or domain experience relevant to the business, its easier for the investor to trust that team. Also, whether the team members are collaborative enough and have spent considerable time with each other is an important consideration…

How One SMB Gained 30 Percent More Customers by Turning to Subscriptions

The subscription business model is one of the hottest trends in commerce. Subscription e-commerce has doubled over the past five years, according to a recent report from McKinsey & Company, and roughly half of U.S. consumers have signed up for an online subscription of some nature. For businesses, this rise in popularity of online subscriptions presents an opportunity for significant growth. Capitalizing on this very trend has helped Freedom enable users to reclaim 10 million hours of their time from distracting websites.Freedom launched as a tool to block distracting content on desktop computers so internet users could concentrate on the work they set out to accomplish. As more of our work migrated online, we started seeing a significant rise in demand for the product. The way customers consumed content also began to shift with the increased adoption of mobile and tablet devices. For example, in December 2010, U.S. internet users spent a total of 543 billion minutes online, with 74 percent of that coming from desktop computers. By December 2016, usage skyrocketed to 1.50 trillion minutes, with just 31 percent of that from desktops and the remainder from smartphones and tablets. These shifts in behavior presented a strong need for us to offer multi-device functionality for customers, which called for a requirement to design pricing that was suitable for device-specific usage. With the growing adoption of subscriptions, we decided to take a plunge and make a shift to a recurring revenue business model so customers could pay us a monthly fee to block websites across multiple devices. What We Learned: The Need For a Customer-Focused Subscription Solution One of the earliest lessons we learned after making the shift to subscriptions was that under a subscription model, monthly recurring revenue is directly related to customer retention rather than one-time sales. Every member of our business began to have a role in expanding and retaining our customer base and revenue. Streamlining the subscription experience while making it easy for our team to control customer subscriptions became a priority for us. The original online payment gateway we selected to manage subscriptions was initially…

How can SMBs Think Like a Pinner and Drive Sales on Pinterest?

Back in 2010, Pinterest was a social media platform replicating the bulletin board of a college or a school, but in 2018 with more than 200 million monthly users, it has quietly risen to success as a powerful search engine and an important shopping platform.  Unlike other social media platforms such as Facebook, which primarily drives your selfie habit, Pinterest opens a sea of opportunities for the small business owners. 93% of the Pinners use the platform to plan purchases, and the platform has seen a 40% increase in the number of users over the last two years. SMBs and Pinterest – A match made in heaven For SMBs, the platform is a crucial marketing toolbox because it works as a visual discovery engine and helps the customer find what they love. In 2017, 67% of the Pinners discovered new brand or products from business content on Pinterest.  Whether you’re looking to increase the brand awareness,  drive the web traffic to your website, or drive customer engagement – Pinterest in your one-stop-destination.  The social media platform effortlessly makes the promoted content as useful as the organic content.  Furthermore, Pinterest caters to SMBs with tools to optimize results and make the most of marketing budgets. Let us understand, how the platform is lending a helping hand to the SMBs in their marketing efforts. 1) Chatbooks The SMB captures memories from social media and brings them to life, recently ran a Promoted Pin campaign and encouraged Pinners to bring their summer memories to life. The campaign was a massive success because the sales team witnessed up to 3x more clicks on their ads and 15% lower cost per clicks within the first 90 days of launching of their ads. 2) LitJoy Crate The company which is a monthly book box decided to use Pinterest’s promoted pins to drive acquisition among their audience of women aged 20-35. LitJoy Crate achieved a CPA 70% lower than their average CPA on marketing channels, acquiring new customers for only $3-$5 per customer. The sky is the limit for business using Pinterest! How to get started? The…

Paychex Survey Says Entrepreneurs Optimistic About Business Outlook, Ability to Find New Customers

Are you wondering whether now is the right time to start a business? Are customers out there? Is the economy optimistic or pessimistic? According to Paychex and their first ever Business Sentiment Report, the outlook for businesses is more positive than negative. Paychex regularly conducts polls to analyze the business climate. Their most recent poll can be found here. Paychex polled businesses with 500 or fewer employees regarding issues relating to human resources, finances, and customer relations. In the poll, respondents could answer on a scale of 1 to 100 with 1 being completely pessimistic and 100 being totally optimistic. The overall business outlook was good, except when it comes to finding employees. Paychex will continue to poll businesses on a trimester basis, with the most recent poll representing 500 randomly selected businesses for Summer 2018. These businesses were polled during the week of June 18 and June 27, 2018. The business outlook overall was 65/100. They felt that they were most optimistic about finding new customers, which was rated 69/100. Other optimistic ratings were about access to capital 62/10, capital investment opportunity 59/100, and the overall economy 60/100. In the academic world, 60/100 is a D and a below-average score. But in this poll, 60 is a good number. Of course, it is not as high as 100, but it is closer to 100 than to 1, which is why it is considered an optimistic number. In the poll, businesses in the Midwestern and Southern states were more optimistic than in other areas of the country. On the flip side, employers were not optimistic about finding new talent to fill their empty positions. They rated finding part-time or full-time employees at 31/100. Interestingly, they were notably pessimistic about finding contract or temporary employees. This rating was 16/100. There are ways to become more optimistic about finding new employees through recruitment and other “outside of the box” ideas. According to the respondents, manufacturing businesses have the most difficulty finding qualified employees. For those companies to find skilled employees, they are turning to the schools that prepare them. They are looking…

4 Ways Technology Can Save Your Small Business Money

As you run your business, you probably take numerous steps to save as much money as possible. Reusing equipment and changing the lightbulbs you use will save you small amounts of money – and every little bit helps – but it may not offer you the savings you want and need. According to Observer, 29 percent of businesses failed because they ran out of capital. This is why it’s important to turn to other effective ways that will allow you to save bigger chunks of cash and better your business at the same time. While the price of new tech is sometimes high on the front end, it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Check out these four ways technology can save your small business money.    It allows your team to work remotely It’s expensive to maintain an office, and if your employees take a couple days off when they’re sick, stuck at home for some reason or traveling, a lot of money is at stake. Technology gives your employees the opportunity to work remotely and communicate with customers and coworkers effectively. The prevalence of mobile devices and the cloud and the readily available Internet make it easier than ever for staff to work from anywhere and still earn money. And when your team is working efficiently, you’ll save money too.   It saves time The phrase “time is money” is often said, but it may never had rung so true as it does when you’re a small business owner. As you run your business, you know that the more time you spend on a project means the more money you’re spending on a project. As you upgrade your technology, like your computers or software, you’ll be able to work more efficiently. Make sure to utilize the things you can find online too. For instance, you can use the Internet to identify the least expensive options for electric and gas prices with the help of sites such as Quote My Energy. Do what you can to save yourself time and money.   It allows…

International Expansion the Right Way

Starting a business in one’s own country can be a daunting task. It often involves piles of paperwork and navigating hundreds of unfamiliar processes to get the permits you need. Once your business is established and running successfully, though, your eyes may look to other horizons—AKA new markets. These markets provide an opportunity to reach a new and wider customer base. Reaching those customers, however, and selling to them can be hard work. No matter where you decide to set up shop, expanding internationally can be confusing and complicated. However, there are a few things you can do to smooth the process before opening your doors—or your website—to international consumers. 1. Know why you’re expanding your business Aside from the possibility of generating more revenue from exposing your product to new customers, really think about why you’re expanding your business internationally. Despite the fact that you’ve never marketed your product there, are you seeing demand from the country you’re targeting? This could include traffic to your website from other areas or purchases from other countries. 2. Have an international business plan Don’t assume that the business plan you used to start your company in the U.S. will get your international business off the ground. In fact—other than your stellar product—you should act like you’re building your organization from the ground up. Get familiar with commerce and business laws in your new target country. Understand the processes you’ll have to go through to open your doors or start selling your product to locals. Even if the consumers in a specific market seem like a good fit for your product, weigh the costs of setting your company up in a new country against the potential revenue.  3. Learn about the culture of the country you want to expand to Along with a localized business plan, it’s important to understand cultural norms and nuances of your new territory. You’re selling your product or service to people, and successful selling requires understanding their wants and needs, and how they go about their days. Conduct research on your target market’s social and business cultures across…

How to Build a Successful E-commerce Website

Over the past several years, the number of businesses proliferating their online presence is astonishing. It’s estimated that in the U.S. and Canada alone, there are approximately 1.3 million e-commerce sites. Given the rapid growth of online storefronts, how is someone with no prior experience supposed to create a website that cuts through sales and develops a loyal following? As the backbone of some of the most successful e-commerce sites out there, the Weebly team has prepared a list of best practices that can help any online store drive repeat business. Create A Unique Design and Layout The key to starting is shedding the long to-do list and beginning with a solid framework. A creative site domain, an attention-grabbing picture, and “coming soon” text are good starting points to start generating momentum. Once that’s done, find a color palette that reflects the look and feel of your offline brand touchpoints. Your website should have the same look and feel as your Instagram feed, store, packaging, and any place potential customers interact with your brand. When considering site design, less is more. Maintain a clear call to action and direct your visitors to where you want them to go. While you will feel compelled to fit everything on one screen, drop-down menus and white space can be instrumental in designing a beautiful and engaging online platform. Remember that consistency is key: fonts, colors and style should feel the same throughout. Be a Picture Perfectionist Once products are available to promote online, it’s critical to integrate product and lifestyle photography that accurately represents products’ features and how they will be used by the people purchasing them. Gifs and video have become increasingly popular, as they are more likely to draw attention. Try adding a video that showcases your best work or a behind-the-scenes tour of your latest photo shoot and creative process. Another key design component is making sure your products look just as good on mobile devices as they do on a laptop. Close to 60% of all traffic to a Weebly site is coming from smartphones, which is why our…

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