Category: Advise Consulting LLC

Client Retention Strategy: Keeping Clients Around

What type of client retention strategy does your small business have?  Is client retention an area where you have let business be business?  If so you will want to rethink this.  Research has been done that proves it is more expensive for a company to search for new clients than it is to keep the ones they have coming back for their goods and services.  Now you are asking yourself how do you do that right?  Advertising to attract new clients is easy although expensive retention however is usually inexpensive but requires thought and often time.  That is what customers expect out of you though is to know that you are thinking of them and that you value their business.

In times when everyone is cutting back and budgets have begun to exist client retention strategy planning is growing in importance to your business.  In order to develop a plan that will work for your company you need to ask yourself one pertinent question, “What can you do as the owner of the business to keep current customers happy and coming back?”

Client Retention Strategy

  • Constant Contact:  There is an email program called constant contact that helps business owners keep in touch with clients.  This is one way to handle keeping in touch with clients but there are many others too.  It is important to look at your top clients and consider at least the top twenty five these are most likely the clients that pay to keep your business going.  Take time each season to call them and touch base.  Often these calls will lead to business as they will have some project they are working on that involves you.  Lunch dates can be very inexpensive but open the door to reaching your client on a much more personal level.
  • Keep In The Loop:  This is done by networking and attending events sponsored by local business groups.  When clients see you interacting with other clients of theirs this often send a message of goodwill which will only help in retaining customers.  Newsletters are a great way to your name and the firm in the minds of clients also.  Anything you can do to keep your name top of mind will only benefit client retention.
  • Make certain deals for only repeat clients.  Advertised special that eliminate repeat customers often turn away some.  Make sure all with all advertised special that you offer a deal for new clients as well as returning clients.
  • Good customers like to be remembered and surprised.  When out and about stop in with a tray of cookies or loaves of bread to snack on from other local small businesses.  If you see an order being processed for a client you have not talked to lately throw in a hand written note to let them know they are on your mind.
  • Make sure your records are current and that you have a full list of clients past and present.  A detailed log of contacts helps in keeping track of them and can instantly obtain their information when needed.
  • Take time to listen to your customers.  Remembering information about them and their families and their business will show that you care and our listening when they speak to you.

Communication is the key in client in retention strategies no matter what business industry you are in.  If you maintain client contact and abide my ethical business practices you are well on your way to having a client retention strategy that works for you.

Sales Strategy Planning: Adjusting For The Future

When you are thinking about anything in business the best starting point is a plan.  Sales strategy planning consists of the strategic plan you set forth in regards to sales in your business.  The climate of business is very volatile as the economy ebbs and flows through this environment which makes planning for the future ups and downs a necessity to keep your business a float.

When a company looks to sales strategy planning they must start by defining the path and approach the business plans to take in regards to the company’s resources.  This involves all aspects such as money, people, equipment and time.  In planning there are several approaches that business’s have used to define their strategic plan.  Below are two common methods used in sales strategy planning.

  • SWOT Analysis: This technique looks into examining all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved to the company. They use this information to determine the effect on the company and how the company should change to keep on track towards company goals.
  • PEST Analysis: This is a technique that looks into the political, economic, social and technological effects that are interfering with business and creates a plan based on information to encourage the company to adjust.

In the most basic terms a strategic plan is the formalized agreement from the organization for the course the business will take for future decisions.  One of these three questions if not all are dealt with when a business is developing sales strategy planning; Defining or redefining what the company does or hope to do, defining who they work for and defining how they plan on standing out from the rest of business’s.  Strategic planning helps plan for the long term.  It helps a company define who they are, who they want to be and how to get there in a three to five year span.

In order to figure out where a company is headed it needs to review where it has been.  Business’s need to explore areas that have worked and those which have fell flat.  As we have found in recent economic climates the future often takes turns we don’t expect. Business climates internationally affect American businesses so when an event affects commerce overseas business plans need tweaking.  This is the one major variable in strategic planning.  For businesses to not only survive but thrive they must learn to be guided by a plan but able to know when the plan needs to be veered from to conquer new challenges.

Companies have so many ways to help employees and clients see their vision.  Often companies will post their mission statement which explains the purpose that the firm exists.  Others find it better to relay the vision of the company to show hope and progressive thinking.  A vision statement includes what the company hopes to be viewed as in the future.  Vision statement a mission statement should be well thought of a give clear understanding of the company.  Poor vision and mission statements are those that are too broad and leave and overwhelming large gap between perception and reality.

Sales strategy planning, mission statements and vision statements are all tools that firms use to get a snapshot of the firm now and for the future.  With detailed planning and the knowledge that business will have bumps along the road that will need to be evaluated and adjusted for.

Leadership In Sales Management: Becoming A Better Leader

How do some people naturally become leaders and others just seem to follow them?  You can see this happening from the very first personal experiences children have to adults in business.  Some people seem to have a natural quality that makes people follow their lead.  Those who try to lead often find themselves failing because they lack the qualities that make a good leader.  When someone tries to hard it is often seen as pushy or bossy and then the exact opposite of what they were hoping for happens.

This often happens with my daughter and son.  She is the oldest by three and a half years which she feels gives her the expertise to lead him and tell him what to do.  What she misses in her leadership style is the ability to get something her way without directly asking for it which is what leadership in sales management is all about.

What qualities help determine if your employees will see you as a leader they respect and wish to follow?  Many times it is the silent clues that are given that bring people to want to follow your leadership in sales management.  It is the example that you set forth, the things that you do to prove that you are part of the team an active member and that you are willing to defend them but also help them when they need it.  There are many things that you can do to improve your leadership skills below are just a few examples to improve your rapport with sales team.

Leadership In Sales Management Qualities To Strive For

  • You cannot fake caring; people will sniff a rat out every time.  In order to be a good leader you really need to have empathy and compassion.  It is important to listen when your staff is talking about what matters to them and to remember it for your next encounter.  For instance a staff member has a new baby, or parent passes it is important as the leader that you step forth to show goodwill.
  • It is important in being a leader to stay a part of your team’s daily life in the office.  Go around at least once a day just to say hello.  These are the moments when your staff will feel comfortable pulling you into their cubicle to discuss the little details that bother them before they erupt into team shattering events.  For instance if Sally has an issue with Bob and the way he is managing his part of the project they are working on.  This is the time when not everyone is around that she can come and share that with you.
  • Holding meeting regularly.  You will often see this practice at major retail chains.  They bring their staff together in the meeting for a brief run down and then do a chant to get the day going quirky but effective.
  • It is also important that training that takes place for the whole team and not just certain individuals.  This shows unity as a whole.  As an effective leader hold training for your team a minimum of two times a year.  The skills they learn should help them grow as individuals and as members of your team.
  • Team building and leadership is all about making work personal.  Allow team members to set personal goals, share your goals and team goals with them as they change and are met.  Working towards a goal and achieving it is such a momentous achievement for you and them.  Share in that gory with them as well as the defeat.
  • Manners never get old and your team will be more likely to follow you when you treat them with respect.  When you thank your staff for a good job they appreciate that you noticed their efforts and that you were thankful.

Leadership in sales management has many different faces.  You will develop the right combination of qualities with experience and by asking for feedback often.  Your staff will appreciate that you value their input.  It is important as a leader you also look for ways to better yourself and to become more effective in your handling of clients and staff.

Small Business Association: Help Registering Your New Business

Opening any legal business entity these days big or small requires paperwork and a lot of it.  Even if you are just interested in expanding on what you already have you will have to look into licensing, business permits, registrations and so much more to become a legally operating business.  The small business association has laid out five steps to help entrepreneurs give their feet off the ground and running legally.  Crossing all the t’s and dotting the i’s are an important first step in learning the rules to run and compete in the small business world.

1) What type of small business structure your small business will run as?

  • Sole Proprietorship: This business structure runs under only one owner who pays income tax on profits from the business as if it is personal income.  It is the simplest business to run however you assume all the risk.
  • Partnership: This business structure runs with two or more individuals own a company.  Not only do they share equally in the risk but also the rewards of the business.
  • Corporation: This business structure is what is the most common to businesses.  A business is formed under the laws of the state and is a separate entity from the owners.  This is beneficial because the risk is shared and limited to the businesses assets and not those of individual owners.  The business has a legal existence above and beyond the owners.
  • S Corporation: This business structure is similar to a corporation but allows for certain tax benefits and allows business profit and losses to be passed on to shareholders.  There are certain rules that need to be followed with S corporations so look into those before you begin setting up this type of business.

2) Business Name Registration

In order to legally run your business under something other than your name you must register the businesses name with the government.  This will allow you to register for an employer tax id number, all licenses and permits too.  Your name is required on all documents, forms and applications that are needed to run your business.

3) How to you get a federal tax identification number?

If your business will have any employees you will need to obtain an identification number from our federal government.  If you are running a sole proprietorship and you are the only employee you may use your social security number.  You may apply for an employer identification number online or by calling the internal revenue service directly.

4) What about the state?

As with the federal government your state and local governments will have to assign your business an identification number.  Also, if you are selling any type of goods you will need to obtain a vendor license/state tax permit. Each state government has rules governing small businesses.  It is best to check with them to determine what is required.

5) Getting License and Permits

Each type of business requires different permits and licenses.  For instance, if operating a restaurant you need special food handling permits.  You must obtain specific industry permits before you open the doors for business.

The small business association provides information designed to give new business owners a look into what it is going to require just getting the business idea going.  It is not just about having a store front and claiming that you are going to sell a product.  As you can see a lot goes into the background of opening a business.  Look to other small business owners and the SBA for information on getting the wheels spinning for your new venture.