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Small Business Software Report 2017

Small Business has remained one of my many passions. How they do more with less. How they survive the hard times by trying to save in the good times. How they build long relasting relatonships that last for many years and are part friendship part making money, and a whole lot of fun.

This sounds like the leading headline of why you should be working at Facebook or something, but in fact small business are the true innovators.

The problem is they are a market underserved, as far as Enterprise Software goes. Enterprise software is the software that manages your Customers, Sales, leads, contacts, etc. The term Enterprise refers mainly to large enterprises that have millions to spend and spend years with a huge team of software developers, and more often than not end in lack of use or total failure.

Fastforward to 2017 and a lot has happened in a few short years. Connecting with customers through new mediums such as Social has first mover advantes but wrought with pitfall. Email marketing is a good idea when done well, but then again a horrible disaster resulting in your email getting blocked if you send out spam or unsolicited email. Cold calling is dead I hear. Remember the days when you opened your mailbox and it was filled with unsolicited mail? The days when cold callers would call right at dinner time?

So what are companies doing to get more customers, better relationships with existing clients and getting that repeat business and those referrals?

As it turns out, the old is now the new, but with a better focus on serving the customer well.

The idea is to get more phone call time with the customer, or to communicate via email if they are not ready to speak with you yet.

To achieve this in today's competitive world, this means the following as a minimum:

You must have a self-service website that allows them to interact with you on their time.

You need to get back to them as soon as they sign up. You build a web form that you paste on landing pages, social pages, in your email campaigns, on your website, blog, etc, and when someone fills out the form it creates the lead in the CRM database and then it sends them an email thanking them for signing up and routes the lead to the right person base on customizable rules. The ritht employee gets alerted so they know to research the customer and call them up now. If they signed up now, they are available now so time is of the essence to get them on the phone.

You need to do your research on them before you call them. They have done their research before calling you and know all your competitors that they like and what they like and dislike about them and about you. Don't take a knife to a gun fight. Do some research on or or through the CRM vendor to lookup who they are and read their website before calling them and going in it cold. Everybody is busy so don't waste their time on the phone and not deliver value in that phone call.

You need to send them emails on a timely basis to nurture them from lead to cash. You can build web forms so that after they signup and submit the form, it gets saved into the CRM database automatically, and you can build a schedule in the CRM to send out the right email template at the right time in the Sales process so as to automate the sending of the right information to make the right decision, and to set up a call to discuss the documents you just sent them. Build cusomized workflow rules that trigger on a timed basis, or when a specific action is taken, so it sends the right email at the right time and lets you focus on fixing the problem or getting the right information as fast as possible and setup a followup call to discuss the results.

You need to differentiate your product from the rest. Often times this comes from understanding what the market wants by giving them a free trial of some sort. Give them a chance to signup and have you call them back. Speak with them on the phone or using Gotomeeting or other online meeting software to learn what the market needs ritht now, who are your competition and what they are up to, the changes in pricing, offerings, new entrants and consolidations. These conversations will help you differentiate yourself and then make differentiating yourself your prime goal to the point where you have your own market of customers and leads to choose the right projects for you. A good balance of profit, risk and fun comes from being able to decide on the ritht projects for you, and in turn for your customers. Because if you can figure out how it is good for your and good for the customer and have a differentiated product, then the world is your oyster as they say...

You need intelligent call lists (TM) that queue up who to call next so that you are following up with the right people at the right times, armed with the right information. Intelligent call lists are fully customizable to be tuned to each individual business. There is also a base case ranking system that will list callers in a priority list for calling, built into any report, so that you can select some or all of them and click the "Dial Now" button to begin dialing. The CRM dials them one at a time but allowing you to leave pre-recorded voicemails so that when they are busy you are letting them know you are looking to speak to discuss the latest. Some examples of the data points that Intelligent Call Lists software uses to rank the followup calls are as follows:

You need to do some Content marketing from your site and other publishing mediums to show you know your market, what is your value, what are your differentiators, why you are the best choice above your competitors and for what type of customer. This content will have a link back to a landing page with a web form for them to signup for more information on the topics discussed in the content. This web form and content is re-purposed (not just copied and pasted but really made well for each medium) and published on your website, blog, postcards, landing pages, Social posts, Facebook & Linkedin & Twitter pages, etc. On the landing page they will fill out the web form and submit it, alerting you and sending them timely info from the CRM system.

You need real time alerts, based on your customized workflow rules that keep you in touch via your email inbox so you can respond from anywhere, anytime with pre-written templates that you can quickly adjust to the situation and send off from your computer, phone, tablet, etc.

Try to be innovative to make your product easier to use. You can experiment with A/B testing in the CRM to track different promotions, pricing models, service ovverings, Ideas, offerings, Opportunities that come from the new mindset of continous innovation to make something more easy to consume. It is a life long process as needs of the market change. Once you have distilled what works and what doesn't, then use these ideas of what you learned and make that the focal point of your marketing message in your various campaigns. You will be timely and relevant if you track the customer response to your crazy ideas in the CRM before committing to them in public.

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