Can you as a SMEs compete with Corporate’s? Here is a Guide on how increase your sales, have life balance and make more profits.
The biggest difference between SMEs and Corporate’s is that they generally have more people to give more smarts to using their data and leverage that they have to enable them to increase sales.
Learning how to realistically harness your data will lead you to increase sales that can bring you in excellent profits. I state this with specific experience.
I have created and assisted many building industry related company, from SME to corporate’s. What I write here is a guide for SME’s based these companies actual experience. Now, I won’t name the companies how have been less successful, but I will later name the company, that I know is successfully harnessing their data and really making it work for them to increase sales, profits and managing their business better.
About 5 years ago, I met 2 companies that created outdoor verandas, pergolas – that style of item for home owners. Through their introduction I then did work for Bluescope Steel. All 3 companies had data and all 3 companies were looking at leveraging their data. So what did they do, that made one company really stand out from the others that was not a corporate.
With the corporate company, Bluescope steel, their marketing division had decided to create a loyalty program to get builders to purchase more products from them. They used their data to increase sales with a loyalty program. This loyalty program planned to give some nice bonuses to the builders that repeat purchased from them. So a smart idea, that had, marketing people, sales people and finally IT people involved in preparing this process. Finally they had administration that managed and maintained the idea. So a lot of staff and money for a simple idea to be implemented. Rather hard for the average SME to challenge – or is it?
This blog is really a guide for SME’s so the 2 SMEs I refer to are real live companies. I will refer to them as SME1 and SME2. SME1 eventually went out of business, SME2 is growing and getting stronger every day in every way, from Sales, Quality, and Service and of course profits. I will review the main data groups that they collect.
Increase Sales with Accounting Data.
Both SME’s in the case used MYOB Premier. Both SMEs had the ability to refer and look at their data via the MS Office tools. So what was different. SME1. Used MYOB to record and store accounts. SME2. Used MYOB to record and store accounts – plus made the accounts and interactive part of his sales process. For example, the accounts directly linked to his sales database, and showed when a person paid, amount paid, values, costs of sales. Plus, if this client was a good client – they used this data to consider “on selling” other options to this client, and to get further referrals from this client. The ability to harness accounting data is not limited to MYOB, in fact, this same function I have used with Xero, Sage, and Quick Books.
Increase Sales with Referral Data
Both SME’s asked for referrals when with a client. SME1, wrote this down in his note book and when and if he could, he has someone attempt to follow these up. SME2, really harnessed their data again, they turned every single prospect into a micro sales person. They did this by sending every single prospect their own Business card sized referral card. This card the client could then give to friends as well as suggest referrals that were immediately entered into their personalized CRM that the manager over viewed and watched. Making sure that people were contacted in a timely manner and the valuable referrals were followed whilst the lead was “Hot”.
Increase Sales with Trade Show Data
Both clients also had exhibitions at trade shows. Both collected data. SME2 had his office staff call the referrals post the trade show, and attempt to set up appointments. He hoped that they got appointments from most of these people, but he had no idea how many he got, how many appointments he got or even how long after the show that these people were contacted. He had no idea how many he lost. SME2 however, entered all his leads immediately via his IPad, had his office staff contact them within a 48 hour period, and had sales people out to communicate. He made sure quotes were timely, and costed correctly. He had procedures and standards for every step of the way, and his reporting told him exactly which sales people were succeeding or not, and to make sure that he got the most out of his sales leads.
Increase Sales with Rectification Process (Complaints)
We all have them. The way we handle these situations shows the quality of the company. SME1 gave the manager the complaints to deal with directly. SME2, has a data based rectification process, that every call, review, call back, photos etc. is recorded. When this began there were a few cases to be cared for, however the open cases at my last check were zero, and it seemed that each case that was raised was less in quantity and less in time to resolution. Having a clear process that could be tracked was definitely working for SME2, plus it seemed from report review, quite a few referrals came out of the clients that did have a complaint that was quickly and appropriately resolved.
Increase Sales with Phone Data
SME1 had gone out of business before he could cost effectively consider using this technology. SME2 however had grown and now automatically integrates the phone call in data. So if the phone rings, the database immediately opens up that phone numbers client information. This is increasing their efficiency, personal service and giving the client a much better service than previously. Plus the manager now knows of all phone numbers of new prospects so sales and leads can’t be lost.
What’s new for SME2?
Well SME2 is discussing other tools that will harness their data. Only a week ago, we discussed more mobile version of data access to assist with QA, servicing, staged photos etc. The tool we reviewed was CRM-Map.com, as this is a google maps database interface tool that allows the storage of files and photos and is not operating system dependent.
So as you can see, SME2 really did harness their data to increase sales. SME1 has since closed his doors. So you are probably wanting to know who the SME2 is – the company I have discussed here is Utter Gutters.
Utter Gutters is a fabulous SA based company, with fantastic caring, diligent staff. The management and growth of this company that I have been able to actively watch and participate in a small way as Accede Holdings Pty Ltd. The instigator of this growth, is not myself, but the owner of Utter Gutters. I have been privileged to be a part of the team that has acted on his initiative, and been able to watch as he led his company to increase sales by harnessing their data.
Here in Adelaide, South Australia, we have survived an unbelievable heatwave. For many companies this means, tools down. It costs more, staff are lethargic, and customers are just not coming in. However, for others it is a boom time. It all seems that we all want the almighty dollar. Employees want security, safety and a fair pay. In addition, government want more taxes, union want more amenities and companies want more profits. Getting a balance is really the trick. Also surviving from GFC, extreme weather and an aging population. So how can we achieve this balance?
It comes down to a simple, but true adage “Work Smarter, not Harder”
Technology is doing a lot of this for us. Here are some examples:
- Online Shopping – We don’t have to go outside and spend hours to shop.
- Virtual Offices – We have all heard of and in occasions like this, allowing people to work from the comfort of their homes, reduces risks with travel (many angry hot road users), errors and even loads on the systems at work. So businesses that can offer virtual office work, should really encourage this during very difficult times.
- Information on the web – It’s so often that people can get the information they need by researching on the web. Staff should keep directing them to their websites and make sure their websites are up to date.
- Databases – What a difference can databases make? HUGE. Databases enables online shopping, paying bills, booking trips, accommodation etc. Databases can also allow people to work virtually. You just need to have yours up to date. Plus, databases can save a huge amount of wasted human resource – hence working smarter.
- E Conferencing – Having meetings online, over the phone, via conferencing calls saves a lot of time, travel and resource. This is really getting smarter.
- Social Media – using this to give you advantages.
This is a tough time for many businesses. This heatwave and the effect it has can mean the end of the line. This could be due to age, health, profits or a range of reasons. Howeverfor most businesses, they can reduce risk, costs and in increase profits by just working smarter. We need to stop being afraid of IT, and start making it work for you. This may sound normal, but from my practical experience – this just does not happen at all.
Only last week, I wrote a Web to MYOB Automatic integration routine. I then asked the client if they knew of anyone that may use any of our other products, such as an automatic service provider. This client had already saved 2.5 days of manual labour with this integration function. He is now looking at the service provider solution and if implemented, this should save him not only loss of time, written off back debts – but 3 staff peoples jobs that can be deployed in other areas to increase business. This is working smarter, not harder. In this case, my new client did not even realise what I was discussing was possible.
If you have not done so, get someone to review how you use your IT. Review where your money is spent, and don’t forget – Ask Questions. This is the answer to getting a balance, reducing risk for all, and bringing peace of mind to all.
Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.