Are you still using Salesforce as just a contact manager and tracker instead of wholly a part of the sales process? Salesforce is an immensely powerful customer relationship management ecosystem that can completely revolutionise customer handling across your entire organisation leading to a more consistent customer experience and greater customer satisfaction. But it can’t do that unless you unlock its potential by populating it with data about your customers.
Probably the number one reason you aren’t using Salesforce as effectively as you could, is that you don’t know what it’s capable of. So instead of wasting money on features you don’t know existed and couldn’t use if you did get yourself some sales management training.
Salesforce gives back as much as you put into it. So, to maximise the value gained from your investment in the technology you need to start using it as the default application for any task. Many of the tasks that sales departments need to do on a daily basis are natively supported by Salesforce or you can directly link the application you need. No more copying and pasting customer data from database to email or cross-referencing to create a quotation. All that can be automated through Salesforce reducing the time spent creating sales documents and minimising the introduction of errors.
Salesforce is extremely flexible and allows you to customise it to suit your particular business. Hide away the parts that don’t interest you and bring to the front the parts that are important. Salesforce users make the most of it when they can understand what it’s telling them so don’t be afraid to tailor the experience!
We mentioned above that Salesforce is a CRM ecosystem. There is a wealth of apps that plug into Salesforce and extend its capabilities even further. From Survey Monkey to SCOTSMAN tools there’s an app that can help you make the most of Salesforce.
In an increasingly connected world there is still a place for the sales visit to reassure prospective clients that you care about them and to demonstrate your product. Keep your Salesforce CRM data to hand by installing the Salesforce1 mobile app. Record the results of the meeting instantly, before you can forget what happened or confuse them with the next client and make a decision on what to do next before heading back to base.
The huge advantage of a CRM over, say keeping your records in a filing cabinet, is that you can mine your customer data to reveal interesting insights about how your customers are responding to you. Salesforce users who successfully harness this power can tailor their sales operations to focus on the most profitable areas where sales are most likely to come from. By reading and responding to the analytics you can increase customer satisfaction, improve customer loyalty and reduce time spent per sale on closing the deal. Doesn’t that sound like good value to you?
The decision to implement a CRM is not one to be taken lightly and even a small implementation of Microsoft Dynamics can be a considerable chunk of your annual IT budget.
Which is why it is important to be using it to the fullest extent. A CRM that is used as a glorified customer database is an extremely expensive white elephant but a CRM deployed across the whole company could increase productivity, decrease errors and improve customer satisfaction.
But how do you go about getting the most from Microsoft?
Microsoft Dynamics is immensely powerful but that means you can’t expect to learn it by trial and error. It is essential that everyone in the sales process using the system is provided with sales training, both on the actual mechanics of “How do I do that?” and on the underlying methodology of “Why are we doing that?”
The only right way to run a business is the one that keeps the business alive. Whilst there are reams and reams of books and blogs telling you how to run your company you will no doubt have settled on a combination of techniques that you and your staff are happy with.
Which is why Microsoft Dynamics allows you to expand its capabilities by adding on apps. Do you use SCOTSMAN commitment measuring techniques? There’s an app for that . Do you use Social Media? Get the app to manage your social marketing. Need to monitor MailChimp? Guess what – there’s an app for that too.
Just like you’d be wasting your money buying an iPhone and only using it for phone calls you get the most out of Microsoft Dynamics when you add on apps to extend what it can offer.
Microsoft Dynamics, naturally, integrates with Office so you can automate the creation of documents without needing to leave the CRM. This has two major benefits: firstly, you can keep all your interactions with a particular client together so you can see at a glance what stage of the sales cycle you’ve reached; and secondly, you minimise errors caused by transferring data from one system to another. This reduces the amount of time your sales people are spending on admin tasks whist improving the customer experience by speeding up responses and reducing errors.
Microsoft Dynamics has a mobile interface meaning your employees can access the CRM data wherever they are. Site visits – both sales and aftersales – can be logged immediately before the rep has a chance to forget what occurred and without the possibility of errors caused during transcription of paper records. It also allows them to be familiar with all interactions between the customer and your company – even if the customer rang in with an issue after your rep left the office. Attention to detail on this scale improves the customer experience which leads to greater customer satisfaction and better customer retention.
I've been running my own business for 8 years now and there hasn't been a single moment when I have regretted giving up the 9-5 corporate drudge. Even when I have been up late at night or (more usually) up very early in the morning to fit it all in and still have time for a good family life. After all what is the point of working for yourself if you never get to see you family and give them the time and attention they deserve?
I know not everyone thinks that way as there are plenty of parents who put their jobs first and I know they won't admit it but you just have to look at the time they spend with their kids. I simply don't believe that quality time makes up for quantity time with children especially in the early years but also later on too.
So running my home based business has meant less sleep for me but hasn't compromised the very reasons I am doing this.
When I first started my business my home office was full of the products I was selling online, and the boxes in which to pack them for shipping. Eventually I outsourced the packing/shipping to a company who provided warehousing for the products but found there were simply too many products getting damaged or the wrong products being sent. I was then faced with the dilemma of where to find enough storage space to house my stock at a price I could afford and where to find reliable staff who could do a decent job packing and shipping my products – which were often large and fragile (what a combination!).
The answer was literally staring me in the face as I regularly passed a local self storage facility. What I hadn't thought of was that this was the perfect place for cheap storage because I had always associated self storage with moving house. How behind the times I was. It turns out their units were full of stuff for small online businesses and they even offered a packing service. It wasn't of course "too good to be true" and who would want that anyway as there is no such thing – because there is a cost to this service but it turned out to be cheaper than the company who were supposedly the experts at this and, more importantly for me and the reputation of my growing business, they were good, reliable packers who shipped the right thing at the right time and the damage rate was very low.
My business is now thriving and growing in a way I couldn't have imagined 8 years ago.
We all know the importance of archiving your documents and the benefits of doing so, but are there some instances where archiving shouldn’t happen?
Every day, your business generates information and data. It can be anything from petrol receipts to the information you collect when customers buy online. You have legal responsibilities to keep some of this data. However, many companies hang on to information “just in case”, a state that could lead to document archiving costing you far more money than it needs to even if you have chosen to use an offsite cheap storage unit rather than expensive office space to store the documents. It is increasingly common for small companies to make use of self storage rather than waste valuable office space for storage. The costs are generally low, especially with all the good self storage deals around but it may still be money that your business doesn't have to spend if you are storing documents that you don't need.
Knowing the law
In many ways knowing what you should not or don’t need to keep is fairly straightforward – you just need to be aware of what the law says in relation to your business sector and industry.
As a general guide, you should always keep documents, data and information relating to:
What documents you don’t need?
However, in spite of having these five points relating to documents you must keep, many businesses still hang on to information that they really don’t need. On one hand, you may think that you may need the information or document but on the other, it makes archiving documents a cumbersome and heavy process.
To help you understand whether you need the documents or not, ask yourself these four questions;
Telling a story
Your business records essentially tell the story of your business, charting its rise from humble beginnings to the thriving business that it is today. Keeping documents safe is important, and not just for the regulatory or legal reasons. Backing up data is important too but a separate activity to document archiving.
If you are unsure what to keep, for how long etc., a professional document archiving service can help.
Many extremely organised people cannot understand how disorganised people can actually manage to get any work done in a cluttered office. De-cluttering can increase productivity and efficiency as well as creating a calmer and more pleasant environment in your home office. When you clear the clutter and take control of your life you will be more productive - trust me.
Declutter Your Home Office and Become More Productive
When working from home, different people work in very different ways – some like to be extremely organised, with a filing place for everything and everything filed in its place. Others like to be surrounded by piles of work – maybe they think it makes them look busier when their partner arrives home from the daily commute. But more likely they work in a "mind-mapping" way with lots of connected pieces of information set out across their desk or even around the whole room.
The extremely organised types cannot understand how the seemingly disorganised types can actually manage to get anything done - and yet they do manage to, and often in a more creative way.
But if you are the "disorganised" type (or perhaps a better description is that you work in organised confusion) there will always be times when you lose that vital piece of paper: the important invoice, or contact details or just a scrap of paper where you noted down that brilliant new idea. That's the point when you might start to think there is some benefit to being more organised and consider decluttering your home office. Clearing space in your office can help create a less stressful environment that will lead to a more organised, clutter-free mind.
In order to embark on the arduous task of de-cluttering we need to feel motivated that a clutter-free office will be worth all the effort. If you cannot appreciate the advantages of de-cluttering then you will never do it. We also need to understand that de-cluttering is absolutely not about throwing away items that you actually need but it is about knowing the difference between the things you need and the clutter.
So avoid the excuses, aim for a less stressful working environment and just get started de-cluttering your home office – here are 7 top tips to help you: