6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a CRM

Still using Excel to track your networking connections? That might work, to a degree -- but it isn’t scalable. You easily lose track of contacts, you miss follow ups and you can do better. Do you dream of a tool that tracks your pipeline, stores all your notes and automatically reminds you to follow up, or even does it for you?

That tool exists. Enter the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system of your dreams.

You might be thinking, “Oh, great--another piece of technology to learn.” I hear you--technology is always changing, so it’s hard to keep up. Then, there’s the risk that picking up a new tool will just add complications, rather than clarity. Let me help you out. Here are six questions to ask yourself. Take the time to answer them, and odds are you’ll find the perfect CRM for you.

  1. What is your digital culture? Take a moment to list the email service, project management software, inbox and other programs you’re using. Are you a Microsoft Brain, or do you get down with Gmail? Tools like Zapier can help make the connections seamless.
  2. What does your network look like? Make sure that your CRM will allow for different sales pipelines and tagging structure so you can store all of the necessary data. A good CRM will track not just your leads, but your strategic partners, vendors and more. Avoid systems that consider everyone to be a ‘lead’.
  3. What kinds of automation will you be using? Look at what process flows you have.  Are you automating? Where might there be opportunities to automate? Things like email messages, task assignments, and reminders are critical for lasting CRM success.
  4. What do you need to track? Priorities vary from sales pro to sales pro. Consider what you truly need to measure and track in the future. Then, check to make sure the CRM you’re considering will accommodate. Things like weighted pipelines and varied sets of activity can help make your choice easy.
  5. How much time are you willing to dedicate to your CRM? No matter what platform you choose, a CRM is only as good as the information you put into it. If as an owner you aren’t the championing your CRM as part of your culture your team will not make it a priority.
  6. At the end of the day, does this make my business better? Simply put, if the answer is “no,” time to consider another CRM.

Now that you have been able to narrow the field by asking these questions, it’s time to take that new CRM out for a spin. Take advantage of a free trial to see how you like the interface. Once you settle on a perfect match, customize it.

Intimidated by the thought of putting together a sales process, automation, and contact structure? You’re not alone. It can seem even more daunting than choosing the CRM., Contact @revenue to get started.


The Impact of Values on Small Business

Value Statements, mission statements, retreats, and branding exercises are often considered luxuries that small business owners will simply slide off of their radar. After all, there are so many more important things to do, right?!?

The short answer is, yes. There are many important things to do. Until there is a crisis, conflict….or even a client interaction. Then, this collective verbalization of what is important to us, what we strive for, and what we can expect from our leaders and peers becomes the foundation for success.

There are always metrics that are analytically trackable: sales, financials, all the numbers, right? But when it comes to measuring the alignment of organizational values in a small business what are you supposed to look for?

Here it comes….feelings.

OH, YOU KNOW HOW I LOVE TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS!

Check in with your team, and at different times:

To understand the adoption of values in your business it’s critical to check in with your team and learn if what you thought would be important about your values is resonating with them. As a leader, when you set the values for your org you set them through one filter - yours. But your values, have no guarantee of aligning with the person across the table. When we asked our new admin, who had been with us for about 90 days, Song said, “The concept of professional love was completely new to me. very few of my past employers have been as kind and invested in me and my goals in life, not just professionally but personally as well.”

Wow. After 90 days one of our team members knew that we cared about her as a whole person. Professional Love. Check.

When we asked another team member how he was impacted, Ben’s response was, “I am excited about the creativity that I have experienced with how @revenue works with clients. Developing ways to creatively collaborate with clients fuels innovation and brings excitement to the marketing strategies that we provide.”
This felt like a completely different view of the same question, but it gave us an understanding of how he was absorbing what we thought we were communicating clearly.

Having those conversations and getting feedback gives you a place to open yourself to getting better. Speaking better. Professionally loving them better. So what is the impact of those values? They are a measuring stick for the leadership of your organization and an opportunity to openly communicate over more than just ‘is the task complete?'.

The deeper the understanding and engagement your team has around your values sets the tone for how they care for and communicate with your clients. Give them something to believe in...and then believe in them.

We would love it if you would share your organization’s values with us! Visit us on Facebook or LinkedIn and share your vision - we are all ears!


Tools for Business Development

If you have any responsibility for developing business, you know how time-consuming and taxing it can be. Following up after events, the back and forth it takes to schedule meetings and keeping track of it all can leave your schedule packed and your energy drained. Let’s face it, this is a full-time job for some, but busy business owners have a multitude of other responsibilities. That’s why @revenue is here to give you the best tools in the industry to make your business development efforts not only work more efficiently but also to work more effectively! Check out a couple of our favorites that we have tried, tested and proven to be the best for busy business owners.

EatNGage.
Looking to really wow prospects or find a good excuse to get in front of them? How about you buy them lunch! EatNGage offers an efficient all-inclusive engagement platform that will schedule lunch with your prospects… virtually. Food is delivered and your meeting is done through web conferencing so no one has to leave their desks. You save tons of travel time and your leads have a great new reason to take that meeting. Plus EatNGage offers automated reminders, build in video conferencing and email tracking.

Insightly.
We all know that relationships are the key to business success but how do you manage them all? Enter your Customer Relationship Manager, and for the @revenue team, that means Insightly! Never miss a birthday, followup or forgotten lead with this robust CRM. Build deeper customer relationships and grow your business faster with this all-inclusive tool to organize, document and track your communication. With a handy Gmail plugin and a robust mobile application, Insightly keeps you connected and informed however you work.

Grammarly.
Nothing is worse than when you make a simple grammar mistake in your email. It can mean the difference between getting the appointment and the cold shoulder. More than spell check, Grammarly uses context to ensure that even your typos get the extra eyes they need. Make sure every email and piece of writing is perfect and worth a response.

Mix Max.
The newest tool the @revenue team has adopted is already cutting our correspondence time in HALF! With MixMax you are able to quickly schedule meetings, track your email activity, design followup automations and use templates all at your fingertips. It is every salesperson dream as it not only has a ton of cool features, but it also works right in your Gmail.

Remember all these slick tools and fancy apps won’t help if you aren’t able to build solid relationships. If you are still looking for more business development skills, come to join @reveue at our next Executive Brief. Learn how to strengthen your business development efforts with our relationship-focused sales process.


Your Values, Your Business. Yes, You Can Build A Dream Business Based On What You Value Most.

When we begin a conversation with a client, we’ll typically ask: “What type of business do you think is right for you?”

Mind you, it’s not that we expect that individual to have everything figured out. Some people may know what they want, but may not look at the reality that accompanies that. Others aren’t sure at all but do know they want to control their own destiny. No matter where you’re coming in, we’ll typically take a more introspective approach and encourage you to ask deeper questions internally about your lifestyle before choosing a business.

Now, why do you think we would be so interested in what you value and the life you want to have? Yes, these are important but what does that have to do with owning a business?

Know The Business Behind The Business

Think about this: If you’re going to be a successful owner, you’re going to be heavily involved in that business for at least the next 10 years and probably more. If the organization doesn’t match up with your values and lifestyle, you may have some buyer’s remorse.

To illustrate how buyer’s remorse could happen, let’s say that you’re intensely passionate about a product or service – we’ll use dogs as an example. Since you have such a love of dogs, you figure that owning a pet store franchise is your true calling.

Sounds like a terrific fit, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

You may have a love of animals, but we still have to talk about what you will be doing as a business owner. In this case, you may be spending a great deal of time involved with inventory management, stocking shelves and a host of other responsibilities that take you away from playing with the puppies.

Doing what you love has to align with business responsibilities, which makes it crucial to take a hard look at each franchise opportunity to ensure your perception meets reality. This involves a series of deep questions that can force you to give careful consideration to why you want to become an owner and what you want out of the business. Because once you’ve addressed these questions, you’re ready to pursue an opportunity on your terms, based on what you value most.

4 Deep Questions Before You “Jump”

  • What are your strengths?
    When you think back to times in your career where you’ve been promoted, why was that? How did that happen? Was there something about that type of work that energized you?
  • What type of work environment and style do you prefer?
    Do you like working with people or independently? Are you a teacher? An organizer? Are you motivated by sales? Do you dread event planning? Do you believe you can thrive in a customer-facing role or do you see yourself as more of an operational leader behind the scenes?
  • What do you like to do most?
    Believe it or not, one of the areas we look to as evidence of what you enjoy is your prior education. What did you go to school for, even if it’s nothing to do with what you currently do today? That shows a degree of passion.
  • What does your family situation and schedule look like?
    Make no mistake – this is a big one. If you have a spouse and children, how would owning a business change your current situation at home? What are you willing to give up?
    Is your family on board with this commitment? There’s going to be a ramp up period to get the business running strong enough that you can pay yourself the salary that you want, including minimum expenses. It may take 12-24 months to turn a profit – are you comfortable with that? If so, is it because your spouse is working and can take some of the pressure off? Is it based on savings that you have or through an SBA loan?

You know your strengths, your work style, your greatest passion, and have a loving family that’s got your back for the next 12-24 months to pursue the next exciting chapter of your career in business ownership. That’s great – but there’s still one more vital component to your success that we can’t neglect – an outside perspective from a highly experienced franchise consultant who can help guide you to the right franchise opportunity that aligns just right with your values. That’s where organizations like On Pace and @revenue come in - we’re here for you!


How We Inspire Clients To Tackle Sales In The Office And In The Field!

Sales cannot stop once the contract gets signed!

Your sales process is part of your brand, part of your culture and the lasting impression that people take from your business. At @revenue, we know that creating a powerful process that both your sales team and your internal team can follow will allow not only for more sales but greater customer service and increased value per client!

 

If your business is ready for powerful growth, it's time we talked. 312.720.1399 x1

 


I received an email from Google about GDPR. What do I do now?

I received an email from Google about GDPR. What do I do now?

You may have recently received an email from your Google Analytics account notifying you that you need to adjust your data collection settings to comply with GDPR. Like many business owners, especially those in the US, you may have found this email a bit confusing.

What Is GDPR?

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR was created by the European Union. Its the EU’s answer on a years-old legal question about how data is used and whether individuals own the data that they create by interacting with websites online.

The courts ruled that individuals are the owners of their data, not the corporations (or websites) that collect the data. Therefore, the data must be deleted on a regular basis.

How Does GDPR affect the way I collect and retain data?

Great question. The answer will differ from business to business. The answer is rooted on whether you have clients or visitors from the EU and how you use your collected data in the course of business. For an expert recommendation on how to handle GDPR, please contact our Digital Media Specialist Harry Semerjian at harry@atrevenue.com. Don’t wait too long…Google has set a deadline of May 25th, 2018 to take action.

You can also contact us through the form below. Don't let your questions go unanswered!


Fix These Weak Spots in your Business Practices

Written By: Rebecca Berneck

We’ve noticed that most small businesses owners like yourself focus their attention on delivering their services and neglect the operations hoping things take care of themselves. Whether you’re a set-it-and-forget type or a diligent planner, the end of the year is a great time to look at your small business management practices and make certain nothing is falling through the cracks. In addition to reviewing your financial position, set aside some time to review two aspects of your business operations: bookkeeping and document management.

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping can be tedious and confusing. While it appears straightforward, (money coming in is income; money going out is an expense) properly categorizing everything can require a solid background in bookkeeping. However, with good bookkeeping, you’ll be able to generate accurate financial reports. These reports help you clearly see things like where you’re making the most money and what expenses are the highest. You’ll also get a good sense of your cashflow position, arguably the lifeblood of any business.

If your bookkeeping is messy and you can’t generate clean financial statements, then you can’t effectively plan for the future. If you’re using Excel to track your business finances, it might be time to consider upgrading to QuickBooks. And, if you’re already on QuickBooks, review your chart of accounts and your products and services list, archiving ones you don’t use anymore and combining duplicates.

Document Management

All businesses generate invoices, payment reminder letters, sales brochures, emails, balance sheets, spreadsheets, and reports; all are necessary to running your business. Small business document management refers to how you create, share, organize and store these documents for your business. With effective document management, you’ll be more efficient with your time and more consistent with your client experience.

Clean out your filing cabinet and remove documents that you no longer need on hand. You can destroy unneeded documents and rotate files you need to keep to a long-term storage solution. Like your filing cabinet, it might be time to go through your hard drive or cloud storage solution, removing files you don’t need and archiving completed projects.

If all of your documents such as receipts, bills, invoices, proposals and estimates are all over the place or crammed in shoe boxes, it’s time to consider an online document management solution. Tools such as Dropbox and Hubdoc coupled with a document scanner help you manage, organize and archive your business documents.

Lastly, if you use templates for sales emails, proposals, estimates and invoices then review them now to make certain all of the information is current and consistent across documents. While it may seem trivial, a consistent look and feel across client facing documentation instills a sense of trust in you and your business.


3 Reasons Why That Newsletter is So Important

Email marketing can do a lot for small businesses. It helps nurture new leads, drives sales, promotes products and services, and builds loyalty. Notice how I mentioned more than just sales? That’s because marketing isn’t only about the bottom line, but contributing to the bottom line. Some email messages, such as promotions, are specifically designed to drive sales, but others, such as newsletters have other important functions.

Here are 3 things email newsletters do to help your business:

1.     Keep your business top of mind. Newsletters are a great way to keep your business in the forefront of your customer’s mind by simply being there. Email is one of the most efficient and effective ways of getting your brand in front of your audience, and newsletters are a great and consistent way to get their attention.

57% of email subscribers spend

10-60 minutes browsing marketing emails during the week.

(Source: today  willChoozOn)

Yes, we get a lot of emails, but we all spend time browsing, reviewing and evaluating them. Make sure your business has visibility where your customers are spending their time.

2.     Engage your audience. Newsletters are great for customer engagement when they are full of information that customers want to read. Why would you want to engage your audience? The more engagement with your business, the more customers connect. The deeper that connection, the more likely they are to purchase.

63% of people requesting information on today will not purchase

for at least three months, and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.

(Source: Marketing Donut)

Statistics like this reminds us that the customer journey is just that – a journey. Customers need time to make purchasing decisions. By engaging your audience through the purchase decision, you have a far better chance of them ultimately buying from you.

3.     Deepen your relationship with customers. Newsletters are all about providing information to your customer. In our customer-centric environment, this communication is critical to help build the relationship. Plus, they are a great way to share your business values, differentiators and personality. Allowing your customers to learn more about you and your company improves loyalty and increases sales.

When asked which medium consumers would like to receive updates from,

90% preferred an email newsletter, while only 10% chose Facebook.

(Source: Nielsen Norman Group)

If good marketing is talking to the right audience, with the right message, at the right time, why not send a newsletter? The more connected the audience is, the more they begin to view your business less as a commodity and more as a partnership.

Newsletters are just one of the many different types of email marketing messages businesses can send. If you would like to learn more about email marketing and how it can help your business, contact our team today!