Monthly Archives: May 2017

Best Strategies for Better Managing Client Relationships

So much time and effort is put into acquiring clients, yet very few businesses spend the same energy nurturing existing relationships. This is unfortunate, since a current customer is much more profitable than a new one.

Relationships: The Heart of Business

We, as a business community, often try to make success too complicated. We focus on all of these little fragmented components while ignoring the one thing that matters.

“The key to business success is winning and keeping customers,” entrepreneur Steve Tobak definitively says. “And the key to winning and keeping customers is, and has always been, relationships. The world’s greatest business experts — Peter Drucker, Mark McCormack, Regis McKenna and others — have all said the same thing in one way or another.”

Sadly, entrepreneurs and business owners like to spend all of their time and energy on things like social media, productivity hacks, advertising techniques, etc. These can all be helpful little elements, but their value begins to pale when you look at them within the context of the bigger picture.

“No matter what you do for a living or aspire to become, none of those fads du jour will have a material impact on how things turn out for you or your business,” says Tobak. “But building real relationships with real people in the real world will.”

Client Relationship Management Strategies

Saying relationships are the heart of business success and actually prioritizing relationships are two totally different things. The latter takes a lot of hard work over a lengthy period of time, but there’s no better time to start than now. Here are seven client relationship management strategies to consider.

1. Respect the Client’s Time

Time is the most precious and finite resource you and your clients have. If you want to build healthier relationships, you have to respect their time. Here are a couple of ideas to help you do that:

  • Don’t just tell a client to drop by if they want to meet with you. You’ll inevitably be in the middle of something and have to make them wait. Open yourself up to clients and allow them to schedule appointments with you. There are free tools that can automate this process.
  • Small talk is definitely part of building relationships, but recognize when it’s time to talk shop. Don’t waste a client’s time. Get straight to business and you’ll be seen as respectful and self-aware.

This might seem like a really small thing, but it sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. When you extend respect, you’re telling your client that they matter to you — it doesn’t get much better than that.

2. Get Face to Face

“When things go wrong and the client knows, call. Email does not always translate circumstances or feelings well as there is no voice inflection and a client usually places more value on a phone call,” entrepreneur Marshall Zierkel suggests.

While Zierkel is right — a phone call is better than an email — there’s something that’s even better than a phone call: meeting in person. If at all possible, you should get face to face with clients — when things go right, wrong, or are otherwise indifferent. The more you’re able to be face to face with a client, the stronger your bond will grow.

3. Over Promise and Under Deliver

It’s a cliché saying, but it can’t be stressed enough: over promise and under deliver. If you make this a habit, you’ll rarely put yourself in a situation where you’ll let a client down. Instead, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of looking good — even when you barely exceed your own expectations.

4. Don’t Burn Bridges With Pettiness

How many times do you let small, petty things cost you a relationship with a client? Entrepreneur Craig Valine is one of the first to admit how dumb he used to be in this area. As he explains, there was a time where “I wouldn’t return phone calls; I wouldn’t follow-up with a referral from a client; I’d miss an appointment and not call to apologize; I wouldn’t pay my vendors on time; I’d squabble over a few dollars; or I’d act apathetic from a good deed from another.”

How many times have you let something small and petty cost you a relationship with a client? If you’re honest, burning a bridge rarely turns out to be a positive thing when you look back on a situation. Try to understand this and be willing to lose the battle in order to win the war.

5. Set Mutual Goals

Do you ever feel like you and your client are on totally different pages? Well, it’s probably because you are. You have your objectives and your client has his. The solution to this common issue is to set mutual goals from the very beginning.

As soon as you start a new project with a client, sit down together — face to face, if possible — and come up with mutual goals. This puts you both on the same page and gives you something to point to later on when challenges arise.

6. Build Credibility Over Time

It takes time to build credibility, so stop trying to make it happen overnight. So what if a client doesn’t fully trust you the first or second time you meet? You haven’t done anything to make him trust you!

Remember that trust takes years to build and can be destroyed in a matter of minutes. Be consistent and methodical in how you deal with your clients. Focus on slowly building credibility with each and every thing you do and say. With this sort of conscious precision, you’ll eventually wake up and realize that you have healthy client relationships that are defined by trust.

7. Be Transparent and Human

Stop trying to be such a polished version of yourself in front of customers. In an effort to clean yourself up, you’re actually cheapening your image and transforming yourself into someone you aren’t. They don’t want some ideal image of you. They want the real deal.

Mistakes are going to happen and it’s much better to be open about them. This proves that you’re human and, while they may be frustrated at the moment, it ultimately puts them at ease.

Some Factors That Will Drive Your Approach to Business Intelligence

Findings from a recent study by Gartner showed that the number of organizations embracing business intelligence (BI) platforms continues to grow, but more focus is being placed on business-led, agile analytics and self-service features rather than IT-led system-of-record reporting.

Overall, Gartner predicts that the global BI and analytics market will reach $18.3 in value this year, an increase of 7.3 percent over last year, and the market will grow to $22.8 billion by the end of 2020.

“Purchasing decisions continue to be influenced heavily by business executives and users who want more agility and the option for small personal and departmental deployments to prove success,” said Rita Sallam, research vice president at Gartner. “Enterprise-friendly buying models have become more critical to successful deployments.”

Modern Drivers of Business Intelligence

Many factors are driving the evolving business intelligence market. These are three worth highlighting:

Behavioral Analytics

Companies are beginning to understand the value in dissecting the behavior impulses that drive consumers to and around your website. This includes how much time they spend on individual pages, the percentage of people that leave after seeing just one page, the number of specific pages they visited, what caused them to convert, and so on.

“A trail of digital breadcrumbs to see where people have come from and where they go as it pertains to your brand is the future of business intelligence,” says Dan Schoenbaum, CEO of Cooladata, a behavioral analytics and business intelligence platform.

Businesses now more than ever are craving the tools to analyze diverse, often broad and complex, combinations of data sources. “We are able to integrate datasets from Facebook, social media, email campaigns, web traffic, mobile applications, online ad exposure, and third party applications such as Hubspot, Optimizely, Salesforce and many more — into a single, complete picture for companies. This allows them to truly see the success of behavioral analytics because they are capable of analyzing an entire customer journey, not just clicks on a website,” says Schoenbaum.

Cloud Deployments

Previous generations of business intelligence tools assisted with the cognitive awareness of clicks and page loads on the web and mobile arenas, but required a sprawling architecture that included brick-and-mortar data warehouses and separate visualization tools. This created a complicated workflow and failed to provide a full and efficient analysis of business analytics.

In fact, data warehouses still have a complicated integration process, requiring knowledge of SQL and a development team. Not to mention the separate products to build out the warehouse are a huge expense, Mixpanel for funnel analysis, Amazon Redshift data system, and Tableau for dashboarding and BI.

However, “Cloud deployments of BI and analytics platforms have the potential to reduce cost of ownership and speed time to deployment,” according to Rita Sallam, research vice president at Gartner. As digital marketing and sales become more integrated and advanced, the need for a transparent, central view of data will only continue to increase.

From a geographical standpoint, a BI 2016 industry market research shows the market for business intelligence spreading across regions from North America, Europe, Middle East, Latin America to Asia. This demonstrates that in the next few years, there’s no doubt that BI solutions will be in high demand, including the flexible and economic benefits that businesses can enjoy from cloud-based solutions.

Smart Data

For years, big data has allowed enterprises access to massive volumes of data. But as we are learning, big data is bulky, and our ability to analyze it for quick, precise decisions declines the more data we gather. An emerging solution to this is “Smart Data,” which has the potential to solve these problems and help firms adapt faster to developments, especially in industries like e-commerce.

“Businesses are starting to understand the value of the data, but they still aren’t fully leveraging it,” says Schoenbaum. “It is exciting to unlock that potential for companies all over the world. Companies need to go from collecting data to applying smart, real-time analysis. It’s what I like to call ‘Smart Data.’ Old data is less useful, but analyzing trends as they happen will provide the best value and help companies be more successful.”

Businesses that leverage innovations in the Smart Data field will ensure a competitive leg-up and their customers will gain trust as they see the brand evolving to predictive, behavioral-driven decisions based on the analysis of previous interaction.

Free Up Cash and Grow Your Business

Nearly every business that exists shares a common goal: to make more money and find financial success. You have to constantly focus on cash flow management, profitability and increase the value of your business if you want to prosper. This is why it’s vital to monitor your infrastructure and tweak it regularly. If you’re ready to grow your business, take a look at these three easy-to-implement ways you can speed up cash flow.

Try These Tips to Speed up Cash Flow

Create Incentives for Early Payments and Penalties for Late Payments

Invoicing is often a long and somewhat painful process that may require a lot of back and forth. If it’s challenging to keep your accounts paid up and you loathe having to check in when your clients are late, you might find now is the time to implement a program to reward those who pay on time and penalize those who pay late.

A good plan of attack is to apply discounts to any account paid on time or add some interest to accounts that are overdue. This will encourage payments to come your way early and immediately make a positive effect on your cash flow. This will also save a lot of time eliminating the need to check multiple times to see if the payment has been received.

Utilize Invoice Factoring

Invoice factoring companies let you turn current, unpaid invoices, into cash without adding new debt. Free up your cash to help you meet payroll, add new products and services to your offerings and extend the geographical reach of your business.

Factoring companies allow you to transform your business cash flow and will give you the access to the funds you need without worrying about invoices staying open as long as 120 days. Instead of sitting and waiting for payment, you can proceed with new work, pay employees, or buy needed supplies. Check the online Factoring Directory to help you find the best factoring that aligns with your business needs.

Improve Your Marketing

Any steps you take to make your business better will lead to better cash flow, and marketing is a key piece of this puzzle.

The reason why is because improved marketing slashes your cost-per-lead and boosts the lifetime value of your customers, reaching out to untapped markets. Plus, effective marketing is a way to make a positive first business impression.

In order to improve your marketing, you need to first figure out your areas of struggle and approach them head on. It might be time to implement content marketing if you’re having trouble building the trust of your customers. Utilize content marketing to educate your leads and improve your conversions, boosting your company’s image as a result.

If you want to upsell but aren’t sure what products you should offer, create a survey or use a third-party to help you determine what your next offering should be. Product quality is important for businesses of every size, so don’t lose focus on maintaining the quality of the current and potential goods you offer.

No business likes to deal with lack of funding. It is important to find ways to free up cash to improve your cash flow management systems. Insufficient or unsteady cash flow can prevent your business from providing the best service to your customers. Use these ways to transform your business cash flow, prepare for future growth, and position yourself to make your company better than ever.