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Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.
Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.
In the age of digital everything, the average consumer’s approach to buying has been completely reimagined. No longer do consumers react favorably to the once tried and true sales models of yesteryear, when sales teams would rely almost exclusively on tactics like phone calls and conferences to facilitate transactions. These days, the sales funnel is tied much more closely to marketing – a technique that aims to build and sustain customer loyalty by creating an inviting and engaging user experience at every touch.
When it comes down to it, sales and marketing have a lot in common, perhaps most notably that both directly impact lead generation and revenue. The biggest difference, however, is that marketing is defined as the process of getting people interested in the goods and services being sold, whereas sales refers to all activities that lead up to the direct selling of those products. The most successful businesses, therefore, are the ones that understand the nuances and are open to implementing a strategy that integrates elements from both sides.
What does sales and marketing integration look like?
Sales and marketing integration starts with collaboration. When sales and marketing teams work together instead of as separate entities, the sales process becomes significantly easier for everyone from start to finish. The marketing team’s job is to ensure that the consumer is already educated in your brand – and has had several positive touches related to the brand – before ever making any sort of contact with a salesperson. This approach has been shown to make the sales process more likely to be successful and more efficient because:
Sales and Marketing Integration: A 3-Step Process
At Paradigm, we believe that both sales and marketing should operate with the same two goals in mind: brand building and maximizing ROI. Many companies are at least familiar with ROI – measuring how much has been gained or lost on an investment, relative to the amount of resources invested – because those numbers are a direct indicator of the company’s overall profitability. But brand building – and measuring the success of a brand building campaign – can be much trickier, especially for small businesses. The effort usually pays off, though, because once a strong brand building strategy has been executed, your job as a marketer or salesperson becomes easier over time.
We measure brand building by identifying and then measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which can be things like email list growth with quality leads (example: if we grow an email list by 50% but see the open rate decrease significantly, we know those were poor leads); social media mentions, follows and engagement; and website hits, time spent on the site, etc.
Once everyone is on the same page and working toward the same brand building and ROI goals, there are three steps to follow for effectively integrating your sales and marketing teams:
Sales and marketing integration is a process that takes time; it’s not going to happen overnight. But once both teams begin working together to drive home your brand and maximize ROI, you’re likely to see significant improvements in your efficiency and effectiveness at closing deals.
For more detailed tips on how to integrate your own sales and marketing teams, contact Paradigm Marketing and Design today to schedule a consultation.
If you have a website for your small business or organization, you probably feel pretty much in control of it. You can see it; you can interact with it and it even has your photo on it! But do you really control it? Let’s review the areas where control can be (and is regularly) lost:
Domain name/domain registration
If your name is John Smith and your website is johnsmith.com you probably feel pretty secure but as small business owners we often delegate tasks to support staff or outsourced help and if one of them registered the domain on your behalf and didn’t use your name – then technically you’re not in control. There have been many cases of domains being held ransom by 3rd parties who haven’t been connected to the website for years.
Also, remember that domains are only ever rented - never purchased outright. The day you stop paying the domain registration fee (or worse, you forget to pay) your domain is back on the block and up for grabs from whoever wants to get it.
Access to content management system (CMS)
Can you make changes, edits and additions freely (whenever you want) to your website? If not (or if it’s really complicated to make changes) then you’re not really in control of your site. And even if you do have access do you know whether you have FULL admin access? Without full admin rights you’re likely restricted to what you can add or change.
Web designers sometimes do this for a very good reason – they don’t want people messing up their hard work, but you may not have the same web designer forever and then it can become a real headache to get back control.
Ownership of content
It’s your website with your name all over it – surely you own all the content? Not necessarily.
When you contract with certain website providers, they take full control of your content of your website and wrap it up with proprietary software that means you can’t take it somewhere else. Many of them even copyright your material as theirs – meaning that you might not even own the material that you supplied to build the website! This includes words/text and pictures/videos – whatever is on your website.
The conditions that morph into gut-wrenching money problems and create further operational breakdowns are weak or insufficient systems for:
When public companies face challenges, they dedicate millions to consultants and taskforces, quickly addressing problems and getting back on track. When small businesses need help, there are few process improvement experts that have the skills to assist the business in addressing these foundational needs.
There are plenty of marketing resources, CPAs, HR experts, coaches and consultants for specific problems that need fixing in a closely managed business. However, few experts have the reputation and perspective, plus enough skills and experience to fix the whole operation.
Every business has problems, but many can be addressed before they disrupt the organization. Typically, privately held companies operate in a reactive environment dealing with problems as they occur. Many times, they address the same problems over and over because we don’t make policies to eliminate them. The daily rapid-fire succession of in-coming demands, many requiring snap judgements and unsettling after-thoughts, redundantly soak-up much more time than necessary.
Are your competitors, both locally and around the country, holding their own? If they are, your business certainly can do at least as well as these others are doing. And, likely could do much better if all your internal process were operating at peak potential. Making your business more proactive takes a different approach than addressing chronic troubles when they happen. If you’re tired of not operating under control, do what every franchise in America is required to do, create a robust Operations Manual. This labor and frustration saving tool requires a template, plus time, perspective and guidance.
Don’t be like so many business leaders that keep their entire operations in their heads, start creating a more robust platform right away. Optimizing systems, operating under control, having a sustainable flow of interested prospects and recurring customers, plus a workforce that is invested in the future, is what provides a business owner with more creative time, options and opportunities.
Operational sustainability requires detailed procedures and employee buy-in. Operating under control means being a better leader by communicating your objectives, reinforcing them every single day and posting metrics for all to see.
At the start, you’ll still experience tactical problems that require an immediate solution. Handle them like you always have except, once fixed add the matter to a snags list alongside the solution and store the solution under the proper heading in your new operations manual.
Operational processes include business development, operational efficiency, culture shift, and a progressive leadership function. Take the time to evaluate each platform, enlist the key players on your team and meet regularly on the most pressing topics. If it’s finding more customers, do a competitor evaluation then challenge your people on ways to improve your offering.
Look at the culture in your company. Do you regularly evaluate your employees with reviews and ideas for improvement? Does your staff really understand the goals you have for the company, how growth will take place, and what each employee’s role is in getting to your objectives? Look at absenteeism and turnover to determine why you might be losing your better players.
Find ways to optimize your operations. This includes better internal communications and interdepartmental relations. If you make stuff, find ways to do it faster, better or less expensively. If you provide services, update your protocols and customer interface to assure a satisfactory experience by all customers, every time.
Finally, examine your role. Are you a facilitator or tyrant? You may be the business expert in one or more areas of the company, but your first responsibility is to be an effective leader. Communicating goals, mentoring the team and creating a platform for operational efficiency are your core responsibilities.
Do you know a company with an afterhours sports team? On the field everyone wants to win, right? Well, a good coach can bring winning inspiration to make that winning perspective happen every day. Now, consider how you can imbed that winning spirit at 9AM every day instead of afterhours at your company.
While it doesn’t happen overnight, becoming a better leader will begin to get everyone to fully embrace your business objectives and understand their individual role in contributing to the overall goals of the organization. Being led is what employees want, they want purpose and need to experience winning. When they feel the connection, they will stretch their abilities and do more to contribute.
The foundation of it all is a proactive operating platform. You won’t have to mitigate recurring problems since the granular details in your operations manual will reflect every detail in every process. Every business can do better, most can do 20% better next year with the right direction and training.
Consider the fact that implementing change in a functioning company usually requires skills that do not reside within that organization.
Stop for a moment and think, how big would your business be, if you were still doing work with all the people you already did business with over the past five years. There is certainly a joy at the time of a new sale, but once it becomes a project it can quickly become an up-and-down roller coaster. New clients have their brains flood with dopamine during sale. But what moved from the sales process to actual project work this euphoria can quickly change to anxiety. This can even lead to the dreaded buyer’s remorse.
Do you have a system in place to deal with buyer’s remorse, or better yet prevent it all together? Salespeople build a wonderful relationship with the new client but then they hand this person off, frequently to a junior Account Manager. The salesperson disappears to hunt again, and your new client is becoming panicked after the deal is done.
Did you know that 32% of new bank customers leave in less than 12 months with 20% of them having not done a single transaction? Think of all the work that went into acquiring that client, but they’re gone during the first year. Other shocking statistics or 46% of people never go to new restaurant a second time, and 21% of customers break a cell phone contract within the first hundred days.
On average, varying based on your industry, 20% to 70% of new customers will stop doing business with you within the first six months. And yet most companies don’t track this at all. Everyone knows the cost of losing a customer includes a loss of future spend and loss of referral business. But, did you know that a customer that still working with you after six months will typically stay with your company five years.
So now you know the problem, what do you do about it? If you ask your head of marketing or sales, they can walk you logically through every step of their sales funnel. This includes everything from identification of a problem, identify needs, creating urgency, scoping the project and ultimately closing the deal. Most sales funnels have anywhere from 3 to 8 steps to move someone through. At every stage there are measures and identified corrective actions.
Why wouldn’t you also have a funnel to track client retention. Studies say a small 5% increase in customer retention yields more than 25% in profit. The reason for this is new sales have a very high cost of acquisition while existing sales have a lower sales cost and a greater profitability.
You as an organization need to look at what tools you can use to enhance new client retention.
Face-to-face in-person visits after sale or by far the most beneficial. But what do most people do is send email. Have you ever heard any new client say they wish they had more email!
Things to consider in your client retention first would be good old fashion snail mail people just don’t get the same volume of postal mail that they once did. A personalized follow-up letter targeted to the individual can be the key to success.
A second element to consider are phone conversations. It may be called a smart phone, but people seem focused on the “smart” part and forget about the “phone”. People don’t seem to know how to dial numbers on it anymore. If you simply call the client and talk to them just to see how they’re doing your retention increases dramatically.
A third and growing element is video interaction. Clients often indicated this is their preferred method because they feel the personal touch of seeing you on screen but don’t have to directly increase to the you and they can do it at their preferred schedule.
An effective combination of
If you say this does not apply in my business; think about how many of your customers used to work with someone else before they became your client. What you are doing to make sure you are not that someone else? Create a simple reoccurring plan for customer retention and watch your profits soar.
How to Protect Your Business in Divorce
Without a premarital agreement, your business could be at stake in a divorce. Here's how to minimize that risk.
According to research published in the New York Times, the U.S. divorce rate peaked at about 40 percent in the 1970s and early 1980s but has since steadily declined. While it's difficult to calculate an exact overall divorce rate due to contributing factors including age at marriage, race, socioeconomic level and religion, it's nice to know that if current trends continue, roughly 66 percent of couples will never have to endure the anguish of divorce. But that leaves 34 percent who will. Divorce isn't something we anticipate when we fall in love, get engaged and marry. As entrepreneurs, however, it is something for which we should plan. Though it's not always obvious, your assets, income and business interests are at risk during a divorce. Protecting these assets is an important step in the divorce process. If mistakes are made, it could result in serious financial and personal consequences.
If you own a business, protect your interest from the outset with a premarital agreement. Spell out your pre-existing business assets and have your spouse waive any claim in the future, regardless of the business's appreciation in value. If you are already in the process of divorce and did not execute a premarital agreement, or if you started your business during the marriage, then the business may be in play. An experienced family law advisor can develop strategies to minimize your exposure.
Start by assessing the level of your spouse's involvement in your business. A spouse who lacks involvement has a reduced claim to the business value. It is best if your spouse is not an employee, does not contribute to the business's management, and does not provide ideas or business innovation advice. If you are still in the pre-divorce stage, start to document your spouse's lack of involvement in your business.
Review your options for establishing a buy-sell agreement, corporation, LLC, or a living trust to restrict ownership and ownership transfer. If you have business partners, revise your partnership agreement to require that the other partners have the option to buy out the interests of the divorcing partner and his or her spouse. You may still have to compensate your spouse for his or her share of your business's value, but this way you can prevent your spouse from becoming part owner. Yes, that can happen.
Even if you haven't established any legal protection to secure your business interests, it helps if you have carefully established, funded, and managed your business with separate assets. Avoid co-mingling business assets with personal assets and business accounts with personal accounts. Pay yourself a market-rate salary. When you reinvest all or most of the business revenue back into the business, your spouse may claim he or she deserves the benefit of the appreciation in value.
If a business is at issue in the divorce, then a value must be placed on the business. The simplest and cheapest way to establish business value would be to agree on a number you both can live with. If you cannot agree on an arbitrary value, the next best cost-effective method is to ask the company accountant to determine the "book value" of the business.
Book value is the accounting value of the business, which usually does not reflect the true market value. The difference between market value and book value can depend on factors such as the specific industry, the nature of a company's assets and liabilities, and the company's specific attributes. If you want to assess the business's market value, you have to hire a forensic accountant. Choose an expert who can minimize the value of the business while conducting an evaluation based on standard guidelines. Once value is agreed upon, consider how to distribute it to your spouse―by cash payment, by an offset against other assets you will waive, or with installment payments.
Now let's look at the flipside. What if your spouse owns a business and you believe you should receive a share of that business's value?The advice is the same, but in reverse. Carefully document all the work, ideas and resources you contributed to the business. You may have done work for the business without drawing a paycheck, or engaged in social activities to woo clients, worked the register, created marketing materials, managed social media accounts, performed bookkeeping and recordkeeping, or made other contributions. Document everything you have done to help the business.
If you're an entrepreneur who's considering--or in the midst of--a divorce, your business can generate complicated legal issues. Choose a family law specialist with a background in business transactions to assure that your business is properly evaluated and distributed.
Rosanne DeTorres is the managing partner and co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law.
Hard Won Knowledge
Right after college I had a wonderful opportunity to work as a staff member at the Cape Eleuthera Island School in Eleuthera, Bahamas. Part of my responsibility was to serve as a faculty advisor to high school sophomores and juniors during their study abroad experience. Faculty worked alongside students in the classroom, but also during research, chores and mealtime. It was a close, tight-knit community.
One evening, as my team of students and faculty was finishing up cleaning the school kitchen after dinner, I volunteered to empty the mop bucket. I had to carry one of those familiar yellow, wheeled buckets that we all saw at school. I carried it down six cement stairs (with the mop press scraping my leg) and wheeled it along the gravel walkway to dump the dirty, gray water in the bushes. Flipflops are not recommended footwear for such a task, as I found out, tripped, nearly fell, smashed my knee on the mop press, and dumped disgusting gray water all over my legs and feet. There was only one inch of water and sand left in the bottom of the bucket by the time I made it to the bushes to dump it out.
I stood on the gravel walkway and started crying. I was a world away from home, I missed my friends and family, I was living in a house with no air conditioning and every time it rained, geckos would crawl under my kitchen door… I was feeling sorry for myself. But I pulled myself together, found my missing wet, slippery, flipflop, dumped the water and walked back into the kitchen with a tear-stained face to help my team finish up our chores and start study hall.
Later that evening, the head of school sent me a very simple email. It said, “Even when you think no one is watching, someone is always watching. You’re doing great.” Little did I know that while I was having a small breakdown over spilled mop water, the head of school was watching me out his office window.
That very simple sentence has stuck with me through my professional career. It serves as a reminder that whether we realize it or not, our bosses, co-workers and staff members are seeing the way we handle our successes and failures. It is a reminder to always bring my best when I walk in the doors to my office: my mindset, attitude and work ethic are contagious and it’s up to me whether I put out a positive or negative vibe. Remember: when you think no one is watching, someone is watching. This adage continues to serve as a reminder to always try to lead by example. It’s ok to be disappointed or frustrated, but a good leader will remember that colleagues, children, and friends are watching. Use that frustration or disappointment (and always a success!) as an opportunity to implement good problem-solving skills or turn it into a learning experience for all to share.
Increase the Odds Of Business Success
Small businesses face a host of challenges. Only a small percentage reach their fifth anniversary. Most people start out with a dream, roll the dice, and jump in feet first. You can reduce risk and increase your chances of success by taking the steps outlined below.
Plan to Succeed. A well thought out Business Plan can mitigate seven of the top ten reasons businesses fail. It allows you to organize, prioritize and shape your thoughts. It is a roadmap to the future. A Business Plan is a living document which changes periodically. When you write your thoughts down, it is easier to see the holes and to fill them before implementing. A Business Plan also allows you to share your thoughts with your advisors and employees so that everyone is on the same page.
Establish Goals. Goals help you measure success. Goals should be reasonable and a stretch to achieve. If they are too easy, the results are meaningless. Unachievable goals are counterproductive. Failure to meet them demoralizes the staff and may cause them to question the competence of the company’s leadership.
Monitor Cash Flow. Cash flow is the life-blood of business. As a business owner, you sign the checks and use the company credit card. You commit the company to spend money. When planning to spend consider Need vs. Want and Invest vs. Spend. Ask yourself, “Do I need it or do I want it?” If you want a $50,000 car when a $30,000 model will suffice, stop and think. Ask, “What’s the return on my investment?” The answer will help you make the right decision. If you need to buy raw materials that you will turn into a profitable deliverable that a customer has ordered, then do so. The question you need to answer is, “Where will I get the best return in terms of new business for the money I am investing?”
Track Your Progress. How do you know who’s winning if you don’t keep score? Determine what metrics drive your business and monitor them on a regular basis. It involves more than looking at your checkbook balance each day or running an income statement each month. You need to break down your sales process. It may include:
Our experience in developing and implementing business development plans increases your odds of success, contact us for a complementary consultation. Learn more
Please Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.
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