I saw this really great link today: 10 Creative Advertising Ideas from Students. I have to say, each one of them are really great concepts.
- Customers can rate all HostGator responses. Your ratings will dictate how much an employee is paid and in turn improve quality.
- Employees are prevented from grabbing the easy tickets, AKA Cherry picking.
- Employees time is no longer wasted looking at spam and replying to spam to boost their ticket count. (spam no longer exists)
- We actually have reporting on EVERYTHING we need. Tickets abandoned, ratings, actions, etc.
- We can easily review responses and ratings to improve support.
- Dozens and Dozens of features that will speed up our lives DRASTICALLY which results in tickets getting answered quicker.
Wow! They actually pay their staff based on the ratings customers give them. Impressive! Typically bonus systems aren’t tied to any real metric in particular — just overall profits, or a big sale. But in this case, each employee can actually impact their paycheck.
If you’re looking for new customers, there’s a lot of people talking about your product / marketplace on Twitter. You can now find them easier with Tweet Scan. Search for your product name or marketplace and you can them send those people a message about your product.
Twitter can also be a great way to monitor customer satisfaction. Zappos.com, the online shoe store is using Twitter to monitor customer comments. They created a whole site dedicated to watching what customers have to say. It’s online at http://twitter.zappos.com. Check it out.
They say you can see a swindler a mile away. I’m starting to believe it. Here’s how I tell if someone is planning to rip me off before I get ripped off. Caution: Take it with a grain of salt. We just had to hire a collections agent.
The five signs:
- The person will almost always gladly pay the first bill, or your deposit amount. It’s the second and third bills you need to look out for. The swindler will pay the first bill to convince you that they’re going to pay future bills. Don’t be fooled.
- The swindler almost always talks a lot. They will drop names to sound like they’re respected in the community. By talking a lot, they’ll control the conversation and put you at unease.
- Often will have very ambitious business goals along with high confidence. This is an opportune time to quiz them on their awareness of what their competitors are up to. Often they won’t know much and have very bad plans.
- Don’t assume your friend will pay you back. Your friends can go sour. I’ve had several friends who I worked with for years suddenly stop paying bills and leave me dry. Tell friends you won’t continue working until they pay you.
- If someone is planning to rip you off, they’ll ask very few questions about your pricing. They’ll barely look at your proposal/estimate and be more concerned with how quickly you can complete the project. Since they’re not planning to pay, they don’t ask the usual money questions other clients do. This is a key signal! I’ve seen it multiple times.
So what do you need to do?
Actively collect on all of your accounts. You’re in business to make money, don’t let customers go 45+ days without a phone call from you or your accounting department. Send invoices and statements regularly, you want to be invoicing customers weekly and keep your cash flow going.
For new customers, get payment up front. This will help weed out the swindlers. Just do it.
You are not a bank! If a customer asks about a payment plan, give them one with interest if you think that will encourage them to pay. Remind customers with late balances that you take credit cards (if you do).
I hope these tips will help you to never lose money from a bad customer.
In the mix of building a social network / web site community it is easy to misplace your priorities and think that just having a great blog, and an excellent way for people to contribute to the site is what it takes.
No, it takes far more than that, but also something very simple: building friendships with the people who visit your site. For a lot of companies with a commercial goal, this can be tricky. These are the sorts of relationships that are hard to establish on a 9-5 job.
For most companies, I’ve come to realize that this means hiring a “community evangelist.” Someone who’s sole responsibility is to establish a link between the site and the people who visit. It’s helping bridge that gap and converting people from simply visitors to users and then to members.
The community evangelist has many responsibilities, but foremost is helping the visitors feel like they are a part of something. Helping those people register on your site, and contribute.
If you’re interested in this subject, read this post: Understanding the Community/Evangelist Role, and profiles of a few of my Favorite Folks.
It’s obvious that some companies should have set office hours. Any time you have frequent foot traffic at a business, it just makes sense. But what about at service companies, or small businesses where only a handful of employees work?
At our company, we don’t have a set rule, but just a suggestion that you be at the office between 10 am and 3 pm. That’s a comfortable range of hours that generally assures everyone is working during the same hours every day.
But how do you feel about this? What do you do where you work?
Do set office hours force people to be more productive? Often I change my mind about this and would like to open it for discussion.
The following article was contributed by Roger A. Simpson, the 4 Minute phone man is a Telephone New Business Development Consultant and Phone coach from Phoenix, AZ.
The 4minutephoneman.com would like to share a sales and marketing tip for any sales person who picks up the phone to make a cold prospecting call. The old school approach to cold calling goes something like this.
“Hi! My name is Roger, I am from Xyz Company, and I am here to sell you something today. Get ready, we can do it all in one call if you will just listen, follow my agenda, pay attention and buy today”.
The New Business Development cold calling environment no longer allows this type of call to continue. The defense shield goes up and the call gets terminated. The average sales prospecting call lasts four minutes. The above call only lasted less than 30 seconds.
This is new information, pay attention:
- Change your way of thinking. Change your mental objective before you make your call. Change your mindset. Forget about your personal objective to make the sale, set the appointment or get a yes or no decision today.
- Think about how you can help the prospect to solve one of his business related problems.
- Learn how to shift your mindset so you can enter in to a two-way conversation with the prospect. This will help you to understand his needs.
- How can I gain his trust so he will be open to my suggestions?
- Are the products that I am offering at fit for his business?
This concept and strategy is the beginning of a process that requires more than one contact. There was no attempt to get the prospect to make a yes or no decision on the first contact.
First Contact: Introduction call: Follow the mind shift outlined in the above bullets. Test the water to find out if they could use our services. Gather information. Record names of persons who answer the phone. Ask for the key contact person if known or ask for the person handles the new business development for the company. Also get the number of employees and length of time they have been in business. The objective of this call is to open a line of communication using a Low-key approach with no high pressure.
Email the company information and give them the Web Site address. Set up a Customer Record file and record any information that will help you remember the prospective client and help him remember who you are and why you are calling. Use the information gathered to build rapport, credibility and trust. Everything you record can be used to structure follow up calls. This detailed record sets you apart from the other new business development people offering their services. This attention to detail portrays the image of being a professional. Prospective clients like to deal with professionals. They would like the have their own sales staff using these techniques.
Second Contact: Prospect receives Email with information about your company and products and how to reach the web site. Send the information out the day of your initial contact or when they give you permission to send something to them. Set up a call back file.
The reason to send something written is to be different and also get an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper in their inbox or their active follow file with information about the products that are available to them along consider with your name on it. You will be different when you actually send something and then follow up to offer any additional help.
Third Contact: The second call comes three days after the information was sent out. The objective of this call is to confirm that the person to whom the information was directed did receive it. Do light trial close to determine the level of interest. Do not give a presentation on this call. Get in and out fast and ask the decision maker to read the information and let him know you will be calling back to answer his questions. The next follow up is usually one to two weeks later depending on the interest level. The best time to schedule this call is on Thursday.
Fourth Contact: Third call is a mini presentation to probe for their needs and hot buttons. Share more information about us and what we do and find out when they can fit us into their busy work schedule.
Fifth Contact: The fourth phone call is to engage in additional two-way conversation and offering to help if the prospect needs some. Continue to keep notes on the progress.
Sixth Contact: The prospect calls you back and thinks it’s about time he had someone to stop by and have a meeting with him. Record the day, date, and time and turn in a copy of the Customer Record file to the Business Development Manager.
Seventh Contact: Review the prospects record file information with the sales consultant. The next contact with the prospective client is an extension of the telephone contact person. This helps sales consultant to prepare for the first face-to-face meeting.
Eighth Contact: Sales consultant goes out on appointment.
Roger A. Simpson, the 4 Minute phone man is a Telephone New Business Development Consultant and Phone coach. He can be reached at 602-569-7755 http://www.4minutephoneman.com Go to the how to reach us page, scroll down to the large banner and click on it to get a Free Cold Calling Help Audio Seminar. Or email Roger.
We’ve spent the last 2-3 months actively looking for new office space. We’ve finally found a new place and signed a lease. I don’t want to move, but we’re forced to due to growth and they’re going to tear our building down in ’08 to put up some condos (too bad!).
A few observations and thoughts:
We decided to get a big place and share it with two other companies. The fact that this actually worked out is amazing.
Sharing office space is a really good idea because you can share resources. It gets tricky at times though because you have to sort little problems multiple times.
The more people you have the bigger your common space can be. In our case, we will have a lobby, a kitchen, share restroom and conference room. On top of that, we have enough leftover space for a pool table (soon to be acquired).
Picking paint colors is tricky. I never want to do it again.
If anything bad happens to the office (flood, fire, etc.) we have to sort it out with 3 insurance companies. I don’t want to be there if that happens.
We probably looked at 15 office spaces.
If you’re like most web design / development shops I know, you tend to put multiple people in a small office. At least two. Well, parking is a nightmare in 90% of the places you will look at. We finally found one that has tons of parking.
I cannot believe how difficult it is to find office spaces that are available. With all of this great technology available to us, why don’t any brokers take video and post it online? It’s easy to decide if a place is even worth looking at with just a short video.
Craigslist is a very good place to search for properties. In the end though, just calling the number on signs in front of properties pays off.
If you’re looking for anything over 500 sq ft, I suggest hiring a real estate expert. We did and it paid off.
Most landlords are willing to negotiate.
A lot of landlords are very cheap.
If you’re looking at office space for multiple decision makers, I suggest taking video everywhere so you can all discuss a property later on.