By Victoria Dyke on Thu 10 April 2014 in CRM
We meet loads of different SMEs, in loads of different industries. Unsurprisingly, the more SMEs we meet, the clearer the similarities in business operations become.
Below are our top 6 tips to help improve business efficiency that we think everyone can put into practice:
- Re-evaluate your business process systems – have you outgrown your current business system?
Have you ever felt that you are outgrowing your current business systems, or are still using excel to manage your reporting and business processes? Then this point is for you. You may even find that your current processes are working for now, but have you considered what will happen as you grow? An excel spreadsheet might be ok for 2 or 3 people in a department but as you reach 5-10+ it becomes inefficient. The ‘excel problem’ has had a lot of discussion amongst SMEs. But without a doubt the most common issues we hear are a result of bad quality, out of date, data. The manual updating of data in excel has often lead to: duplicate copies stored on individual machines, inaccurate and doctored information (to boost activity figures) and reports built to paint a rosy (not accurate) picture. Plus, most reports built on excel formulas have become stale, especially as current processes are outgrown.
- Bring customer and business information sources into one place
Storing all of your information in one place will help you to collate one piece of accurate information in seconds. For example, imagine trying to build a marketing list based on customers who purchased product X from you 12 months ago (you would need that from accounts), filtering your data to create a good list (information stored by marketing or sales), and then passing leads to your sales team (probably another list of active leads). That is a lot of running around for one task, that could be easily created if all stored in one centralised database.
- Connect your accounts system with customer information to avoid re-keying and lessen the admin headache
Undoubtedly the most up-to-date customer information you have is stored in your accounts system. Plus, it’s usually the most valuable. Individual customer information such as, special pricing, credit limits and invoicing details will help you give your customers the personal experience they crave. This customer information (such as customer purchasing history) can then be used to increase sales and relevant communications.
The time taken to rekey information into multiple systems is high and has loads of room for human error. Linking your systems so they update each other will easily save you time and lessen the admin mistakes, altogether making you more efficient.
- Keep track of your potential customers
Sales teams are known for avoiding as much admin as possible. They want the quickest and easiest way to hit target, which in truth is what management want too. But, without a simple way of monitoring your pipeline some potential opportunities may slip through unnoticed. It is important to keep track of your potential customers buying process and understand what information has been sent at each stage. This means informed decisions can be made at the point of close. Holding this all in one place will make it easy to update and keep track of pipelines.
- Enhance sales force professionalism by having relevant information to hand wherever they are
Empowering your employees with key information will only enhance their performance and your company’s reputation. Accessing customer specific information whilst on site could be the difference between closing a sale, renewing a contract or losing the opportunity. More accessibility can even give employees the ability to process orders remotely, increasing productivity whilst on the road.
- Add a fully integrated online sales channel
2014 has seen a massive increase in online activity, in particular B2B online sales. To successfully sell online in B2B you will need to provide customers with relevant information (such as special pricing, credit limits and stock availability) all of which is stored in your back-office accounts. Link your accounts information to your website and you can provide up-to-date information online with orders confirmed straight into your accounts – no need for re-keying.
So, your current processes might be fine for now, but if you’re starting to notice any of the above, or it sounds familiar, fine is not going to be fine for long.