Finding Your Most Profitable Customers

Not all customers have equal value to your organisation. The 80/20 rule – that 80 percent of your sales come from the top 20 percent of your customers – applies to most small businesses. Identifying that top 20 percent will allow you to focus your marketing programmes on the customers who REALLY drive your company’s profitability, as well as identifying customers who may simply return so little as to be not worthwhile keeping. But what is a ‘profitable’ customer and how do you identify them?  Continue reading

Why Isn’t Your Sales Team Out There Selling?

It’s not uncommon in businesses that have a salesperson or a sales team to find the manager complaining about them “not doing enough selling”. Well, what are they doing? Studies show that the salespersons job often involves a lot of things besides getting out there and selling. A study of salespeople in the insurance industry found that the amount of time they spent actually selling during a 40-hour business week was a paltry 6 ½ hours, or less than 20% of their total hours worked. The rest of the time they were filling out paperwork and complying with other administrative requirements.

This situation repeats itself in many other industries. Salespeople are now doing much more than selling and the percentage of their time spent selling is decreasing. If you are concerned that not enough selling is getting done, don’t start by criticising the salesperson. Instead, take a serious look at your sales team’s responsibilities and what you’re asking of them in the way of non-selling activities.

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Traditionally most measures of a firm’s success was linked to tangible assets, e.g. factories, inventory etc. We now recognise that the nature of competition has changed and there is much more focus on the value creation of tangible assets such as knowledge resources, which rival companies cannot easily comprehend, evaluate, and imitate.

To survive and thrive in the face of increasingly radical discontinuous change, businesses need to rely not only on the data processing capacity of IT, but also on the creativity and innovation of people insides and outside the organisation. Today knowledge has been recognised as one of the most important resources for success of companies’ objectives, and is a critical organisational asset. The knowledge has to be transferred across their network, may it be global, internal or external in order to survive and succeed in a competitive world.   Continue reading

Cultivating Strategic Alliances For Your Small Business

Looking for a smart way to grow your small business? Strategic alliances are a good place to begin. The SME entrepreneur who invests in strategic alliances will most likely find it a reliable way of consolidating or improving on their market position. As with all business plans, there are some rules to keep in mind when trying to gain maximum benefit from your strategic alliances.

Communication should be your foremost consideration. While it isn’t necessary that each member of a strategic alliance have exactly the same objectives, each should still be committed to a common outcome. To make sure that you and your business alliance partner share similar goals it is important to be honest from the outset. That is, be frank about what you hope to achieve from the alliance, and what you can provide to make sure your partner’s needs are met.
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E-Marketing Your Small Business

E-Marketing offers you the chance to reach customers and clients at a relatively low cost and in a range of formats. E-Marketing may involve the use of emails, electronic newsletters, e-zines and website banner advertising. It may also involve participation in online discussion groups or PR activities. Used in conjunction with each other, e-marketing strategies can provide a well-rounded and persuasive marketing mix.

Emails offer the simplest and most direct method of e-marketing. Marketing emails cost only a matter of cents on average, so they are one of the most economical marketing tools around. Unfortunately, they can also be a hit-and-miss marketing tactic, as consumers may open as few as 2 percent of unsolicited emails.

The key to successful email marketing is to work from an opt-in list. It’s possible to buy opt-in lists, but you can generate your own by having an opt-in box on your website. If you have a well-designed site that contains useful features, then visitors may well feel like hearing more from you. People will be more willing to sign up if you have a link to your privacy policy prominently displayed on your website.
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How To Get More Online Customers

If the telephone is the front line of business-to-business, customer-to-business, and business-to-customer interaction, then email might be described as the rearguard action.

There’s no point in winning the battle if you’re then clobbered from behind. Yet that’s just what many businesses are allowing to happen through their email dealings.

They’ve got face-to-face customer service down pat. They’ve trained their team members in customer-friendly telephone techniques. They’ve got a great product with wonderful after sales service – and atrocious email response times.

With the growth of mobile internet and wireless services, more people are sending emails and expecting replies in email, and their number is likely to grow exponentially within the next few years.

Yet many business owners still seem to treat the Internet and email as a kind of ‘exotic add-on’ to their business rather than as a vital part of everyday communication with customers.

Where a telephone response is usually immediate or at least forthcoming the same day, a response by email invariably takes well over 24 hours.  Continue reading

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