Sales Prospecting: Why you should LOVE your CRM

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Mark Hunter over at thesaleshunter.com has an interesting post titled “Why I hate CRM systems for Sales Prospecting

The reason is simple — far too many salespeople either blame their CRM system for being so complicated that it prevents them from doing what they need to be doing. Or they use the lack of a CRM system as an excuse for not doing anything.

At Zoho, we’ve always understood this challenge. As a sales rep, your CRM system should work for you and not against you.

Which is why we’ve redesigned our CRM with a focus on simplicity and ease of use. Our main aim is to create a CRM that helps sales reps minimize the time that they spend within the CRM system. So that they can maximize the time they spend on actual selling.

Of course, we’re constantly evolving the CRM interface towards achieving this aim.  And it really helps when we get feedback from our customers, telling us whether we’re on the right track.

 

 

Adam Stone, CEO of D-Tools talks about how Zoho CRM helped him automate the entire sales process at his company.

And yet, of course, there’s more to CRM than just software. While we’re happy to take care of the software aspect of it, trying to ensure simplicity and ease of use, there’s a lot more that you can do at your end, to make CRM work for you.

Hiring freeze? Consider the part-time solution

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This is a guest post by Craig Keolanui of SmBizSuccessTeam. To read more from Craig, visit his blog.

Today’s slowly moving economy has made many small business owners have second thoughts about hiring any new help. Many businesses are starting to experience more growth, which inadvertently puts extra stress on an already thin staff. Following over two years of adjustments, staffing levels are at all time lows and many businesses are now finally starting to look for some relief.

Part-time help makes sense. If your company has experienced slow growth, you might remain fearful about the effect hiring will have on your bottom line. Adding part-time help can alleviate some of that stress by helping out where needed without adding the extra cost of a full-timer to your payroll.

  • Part-time help allows you to plug holes in the schedule and gives added flexibility.
  • Part-time help is cheaper in State and Federal taxes and benefits.
  • Part-time help usually costs less per hour.
  • Just like using a temp, you can always offer a part-time person a full-time position if they work out and your business keeps growing.
  • There has never been a better time to find highly qualified applicants in the part-time workforce pool.

Part-time employees are no longer minimum wage misfits. There are many things to worry about when considering part-time employees, but rest them aside and watch as the part-time workforce continues to evolve.

  • Many part-time employees are more experienced and educated. Many American workers have been displaced from careers (experience); and others are going to school in order to broaden employment opportunities (more education). This leaves a workforce that is highly skilled and willing to accept part-time work.
  • Part-time employees are willing to give more than the job requires, if they see room for advancement. Many qualified applicants are willing to do whatever it takes to get a foot in the door. Why not let that door be yours? Part-time employees care and many treat a part-time job as full-time and continue to work or think about work after hours.
  • Part-time employees typically accept lower wages in order to fit the job into their current schedule. Providing a flexible schedule is a great exchange for an out-of-work professional to take a part-time job that offers less than their profession would normally pay.

What about going with a temp? Everyone knows temporary help can get you through the extra work load without the worry of adding a permanent salary. However, it is costly and you can avoid the frequent learning curve required with temps. Save the commission you’d be paying and hire part-timers with different specialties, so you can get the best for less.

Either way you look at it, part-time help can no longer be ignored and should be revisited. There are plenty of professionals out there chomping at the bit to just get the opportunity to get in your door. Now is the right time to consider letting one of them in.

Do you know who your customers are?

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This is a guest post by Sandra Faleris of SmBizSuccessTeam. To read more from Sandra, visit her blog.

Used to be customer demographics led marketing departments’ strategies. Mass media filled the bill for just about any retail-oriented small business that had a decent-size advertising budget. Vertical publications used to be one of the few vehicles with which business-to-business companies could reach their targets.

It was a shotgun approach but didn’t require “keeping up with the Zuckerbergs, Brins, Pages or Hoffmans”. These days, social media and online advertising can more directly reach your target audience, depending on who they are.

Yet, there are still oodles of customers who are dying to spend their money with companies that answer their phones and offer the personal touch during their purchase.

Loyalty has slipped in place of value. Value means different things to different ages and walks of life. Some might think ‘speed and price’ equals value. Others might equate a long-winded sales approach as “top-notch customer service”. There are also those who want “quality over price” and, of course, those who want “quality and price”.

Now, more than ever before, it is important to know who your customers are and how they, specifically, define value. According to statistics gathered from Facebook by Advertising Age*, the largest group of Facebook users are between the ages of 21-24 yrs. (17.5% male, 16.6% female), followed by the 35-44 age group (15.3% male, 15.4% female). The smallest group of users was the 64+ (4.5% male, 4.8% female), followed by the 55-63 group (5.5% male, 7.2% female).

Text messaging and the use of cell phone statistics are similar to that of Facebook users. Young adults are the most avid text users by a wide margin. Cell owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day. (Source: www.pewinternet.org)

It is important to determine the age group of your current and prospective customers. Advertising, marketing and branding efforts need to match the media habits of your target audience to get the biggest bank for the buck.

Knowing who your customers are and what they expect will become increasingly important to the success of your business. So if you don’t know social media and your customers are over 50+ years of age, your strategy should remain with mass media, direct mail and promotions. This group’s definition of value is likely to be within the “quality plus price” category, which may mean they want severe discounting on quality goods/services.

If your customers are in the demographic groups that are in the highest ‘user’ groups for Facebook, mobile use and texting, then you better jump on the Internet and get educated. This groups’ idea of value is likely to be “speed and price”, so the use of mobile marketing and social media that catches them when they’re ready to buy, might be the best route.

The bottom line is that the more you know about the demographics and psychographics of your customer, the easier it will be to understand their idea of value which will help attract and garner a new stable of users.

It’s a long and ever-changing lesson on marketing in the 21st century, but worth the education.

No employee left behind: When an employee is struggling

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This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.

Take a look at your last auto repair receipt. What makes up the majority of the cost of the repair? Labor. You don’t need to ask an accountant what is often the largest expense on an income statement. Labor. Why is labor so costly? Because it’s the most valuable asset your business has.

Finding the right staff and keeping them happy and productive is one of your greatest challenges as a business owner. Your staff have an impact on your company’s image, profitability, ability to meet project deadlines and level of customer satisfaction. But their performance is also dependent on your management skills, so when an employee’s performance is suffering, ask yourself first “Could the problem be me?”

Micromanaging. Why does this sabotage productivity? Because all your employees want to feel recognized for their talents and trusted in their abilities to accomplish their tasks. When you micromanage, you’re sending the message that you aren’t confident in your staff’s capabilities. If that’s the case, why did you hire them in the first place? By implying that you have such low expectations of your staff, you’re taking away their opportunity to shine. Allow your staff to show you why you hired them by letting them do what they do best.

Lack of direction. If you find that your staff aren’t doing their work, maybe it’s because they don’t know what to do or don’t have enough to do. When you make sure they understand what work is their responsibility, when it needs to be done, and why it’s important, you’re giving your staff a sense of purpose. Check in with them during a short daily or weekly meeting to assign tasks, prioritize continuing projects and hear their progress.

Not enough communication. Rumors are often at the root of low morale. If your staff aren’t hearing the news from you first about what’s really happening, they can only guess. Don’t provide an opportunity for rumors to fester and create discontent: nip rumors in the bud by showing your staff that you’ll always be upfront and honest with them. After all, your staff are invested in your company almost as much as you–their livelihoods are dependent on it. Let them know before anyone else about major developments and involve them in making important decisions.

No positive reinforcement. It’s your responsibility to keep your staff motivated. What’s the best way to motivate them? Bring out their competitive side with contests and coveted prizes? Offer a carrot with a performance bonus? Foster ambition with promotion opportunities? It certainly won’t hurt to try any or all of those options. Or it could be as simple as making a point to regularly let your staff know that they’re doing good work and you appreciate them.

If an employee is underperforming, look to yourself first to find out the cause. Since every employee is a valuable asset to your company, are you doing enough to make sure no employee is left behind?

Zoho Invoice Android App Update: Expense Categories Introduced!

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We’ve got some good news for Zoho Invoice android app users. You can now add, delete and modify ‘Expense Categories’ right from your android phone. It’s simple, smooth and you are going to love not having to turn to the web app each time you add an expense.

Add Expense Category in Android App

If you want to edit a category name or description, just long press (touch it and hold it for a moment) the category name and the action mode is displayed.

Edit Expense Category in Zoho Invoice android app

Next time you want to track your expenses on the go, all you need to do is take out your awesome phone and turn to our android invoicing app. You can categorize your expenses, choose the currency, add tax , enter amount and bill it to your client.

Go ahead and update your android app to the latest 1.6.2 version in Google Play. Check it out and drop us your feedback right below in the comment section.

Zoho CRM Analytics Add-on: Compare Sales Rep Performance Against Set Sales Targets

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Ever since we announced the Advanced Analytics Add-on for Zoho CRM‘s Enterprise Edition users, the response has been enthusiastic. We have had a good many requests – for opening up the add-on for Zoho CRM’s Professional Edition users and to sync up more CRM modules. All would be available in good time :)

We have had requests for particular types of reports as well, one of the oft requested being the Sales Target report. A Sales Target or Quota report compares a sales person’s set sales target vs the sales actually achieved. The below slide show explains how this can be done easily using the Zoho Reports Advanced Analytics Add-on for Zoho CRM.

Try creating the Sales Target report in your account and post your thoughts of how it went. We will be back with more.

Import Bank Statements into Zoho Books in 3 Quick Steps

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In our last post, we had announced feeds from more than 2000 banks in Zoho Books and we’ve been getting some great feedback from our customers. For those who still haven’t been able to enjoy the benefits of automatic bank feeds, you can still reduce data entry to a considerable extent by importing your bank statements directly into our accounting software.

All you have to do is ‘Select’, ‘Map’ and ‘Import.’
Import Bank Statements in accounting softwareSelect: Your first step, requires you to select the ‘statement’. Begin your journey by getting hold of an electronic format of your bank or credit card statement (CSV or TSV file) and feed it into Zoho Books. Choose your preferred amount column format, so your withdrawals and deposits may be arranged by Zoho Books in the right manner.

Map: Your next pit stop is the ‘Map Fields‘. Here you get to match the bank statement column headers to Zoho Books headers. If you plan to import statements frequently, then a quick tip to save time would be to click on ‘save your selection’ as shown in the image below. Next time you import, fields will be automatically mapped.

 

Save selection while mapping fields

Import: Your final step in this short journey ends with Zoho Books letting you know if the mission was accomplished, by giving you an import summary. Once you click the ‘Import’ button, all your transactions will be available in Zoho Book.

Take a look at out help document for more information on importing statements. This feature considerably reduces the time to reconcile your bank and credit card accounts. We hope you like it. Send us your feedback in the comment section below.