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Choosing The Right CRM: 5 Non-Negotiable Conditions

With so many CRMs on the market today, choosing the right one for your business is an overwhelming task, especially when you don’t have a clue what to look for.

Before you flip heads or tails or take Barbara’s advice on the latest and greatest CRM, take 5 minutes to read this article.

I’ll be glad that you did because it could mean the difference between scaling your business or maintaining status quo.

The right CRM will help you determine who will buy and when, reducing the anxiety and uncertainty of selling. The last thing you want to do is pick a CRM you don’t use or feel trapped in. Avoid the frustrations and expense of choosing the wrong CRM by making sure it meet my 5 non-negotiable conditions.

 1: Review the customer support plan

Purchasing a CRM is a long-term commitment. All the time and effort you put into learning and entering precious customer data takes work so face it; you’re basically putting a ring on it. Should something go wrong with your CRM, who would you contact and how would it be resolved? Some people are perfectly fine with training videos and FAQ blogs. Whatever level of support you’re good with, know what it is and be prepared to walk away from a CRM that doesn’t provide the support you need.

2: Integration capability

 Not every CRM that looks good is good for you! No matter how robust a CRM is, if it doesn’t integrate with other programs run; run fast and don’t look back. CRMs that don’t play nicely with other programs limit your ability to coordinate data with systems you currently use or want to use in the future.  Look for CRMs that can integrate with calendars, email, project management software and Zapier.

3: Mobility

We live in a fast-pace world that requires us to have access to client information while in the field. Some assume all cloud base CRMs have this capability, but you never know. Some systems require that you have a specific web browser, are not mobile responsive, etc. I know it sounds crazy, but you don’t want any surprises so just check to be sure.

 4: Look for a CRM That will scale with your business

If you’re investing in a CRM, find one that can scale with your business. I know entrepreneurs who settle for anything cheap out of convenience then grow increasingly frustrated when they have find something different. There’s a lot of time invested in learning and customizing CRM. Switching to a new system can feel as torturous as getting a divorce!  No matter your budget think long term and take time to date a few CRMs before making the commitment. 

5: Contact management features

If you believe that data entry is a time suck then this step is definitely for you. Data entry and time spent searching for administrative “stuff ” doesn’t add direct value to your business. It’s not a profitable way to spend your time so if disorganization is slowing down your productivity, look for CRMs with features like card scanner, email tracking, follow-up and  reminders. Investing in a CRM that has at least three contact management features will help you organize your business, increase consistency and be more productive.  It’ll reduce distractions so you can work on the projects that matter.

If this blog feels like water in the desert for you, register for my free webinar May 15th!

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What is Customer Relationship Management CRM?

When I started my business, I didn’t know anything about anything. All I knew was that networking was essential to my business success (Not that I knew how to network, but that’s a different story). So I hit up all the free networking events I could. It wasn’t long before I accumulated business cards and had to figure out what to do them.

As the business cards grew, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was an electronic program I could use to help me sort and track my connections? A program that could help me track sales or something to remind me when to follow up and stay organized?”

As it turns out, there is such a system. It’s called a CRM

CRM is an acronym for Customer Relationship Management. It’s a series of systems companies use to manage their business relationships. These systems are bundled together in one software for your convenience.

Think of your local cable company. They have a series of systems that they bundle together for your entertainment needs. They combine internet, cable and telephone services into one plan for your convenience.

CRMs operate in similar way as they combine multiple systems and house them on 1 platform to help manage your business relationships. Each system is made up of different functions for easier relationship management.

So what systems make up a CRM?

There are four main systems to a CRM. Some software platforms have features from all four, while others have features from two or three systems.   Functions from at least two systems are considered CRMs. I’ll list and briefly explain the four systems.

Contact Management:

Are you looking for a program to track conversations and connections? Do you need software that segments clients, import contacts and delivers newsletters to your people? Contact management systems automate data entry, appointment scheduling, and organize your contacts to deliver personalized communications to your clients. If you’re relationship focused, look for a CRM that specializes in contact management.  These CRMs are usually the least expensive in price.

Conversational Management:

Do you have a team heavily involved with the sales process?  Do you make decisions about clients as a team and need a system that includes an area to house group conversations? A conversation management CRM will include features that create transparency for your team.

Sales and Leads

Are you focused on sales goals? Do you need a way to track sales conversions and pipelines? Project management tools, lead scoring, and close rates are all features you’ll need to meet your goals. Sales and Leads CRMs are great for increasing sales by delivering data analysis and automating your sales process.

Marketing Automation:

Are you focused on sales funnels and email marketing? Maybe you need landing pages and opt-in widgets? Marketing automation CRMs are the most expensive and robust. They are great for increasing your online presence.

CRMs have been around since the 70s and companies use them to scale their business by increasing productivity, streamlining sales, improving client retention, etc. The -ways in which  a CRM can improve business are plentiful. In fact, those who successfully implement a CRM see revenue increases between 16%-1,000% (smallbizcrm)

No matter where you are in your business, using a CRM will drastically improve your business, saving time and increasing revenue.

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What To Do With The Business Cards You Collect

Your networking efforts paid off handsomely and now you have a collection of business cards. Now what? What do you do with all the business cards you have?

Some entrepreneurs avoid business card pile-up by entering new contacts into their database in a timely manner. Others let new contacts sit their desks for days, growing in mass and invade precious work space.

As disorganization adds to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, this is the last thing you want to do.

When you do nothing with your new contacts, you forget who you spoke with or why you have their card, the value of the contact is lost and with it possible opportunities.

This happens to all of us at first, but once you know better, you do better.

Getting your contacts organized is the first step in creating a follow-up process that produces consistent revenue.

Whether you hate data entry, or don’t have a CRM, designing a simple process to organize your contacts is possible.

Below is a 5 -step process I use to organize business cards and follow-up with new contacts.

  1. Rank each business card from 1 to 10. (during or immediately after event)

Cards ranked 1-4 are cold leads, there’s little to no connection, or you don’t know how the connection would benefit.  Rankings 5-7 are warm leads, there’s opportunity for collaboration or partnership, or they’re a great connection to someone in your network. Business cards ranked 8-10 are hot leads, great potential for ideal strategic partner, and great connection. Ranking your business cards helps to prioritize your follow up.  It’s important to connect with everyone who gave you a business card but make sure you contact those with high ranking cards first. 

  1. Right a word or phrase to recall the conversation. (during or immediately after event)

This is a common tip because IT WORKS. Write something that will jog your memory when entering notes into your CRM later. Recall information about the conversation as to why you should stay connected. This could be business or personal.

  1. Follow up in 24-48hrs

Send a quick email or voicemail summarizing your encounter and make your request.   Your request could be confirming the next step, asking for a one on one, sending useful information and links, making introductions, etc. Be clear about why you’re contacting them and what want.

  1. Discard business cards of those who don’t respond.

After 3 attempts to connect, if there’s no response, recycle the card. As your CRM is premium real estate, storing dead leads can cost extra time and resources. For instance, CRM systems have plans based on features and the amount of contacts you have, and your SEO rating and be negatively impacted based on email open rates. You can decide on the number of attempts and the frequency of touch points before eliminating contacts but do remove them from your contact list if non-responsive. This will save time and money.

  1. Enter contacts & notes in database/CRM

Once you receive a response, add them to your database/ CRM. Add notes and add tags such as warm list, hot list, etc. Following this method will reduce data entry time and build a high quality database of leads.

THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG!
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What The Tech? Top 3 Questions To Ask When Investing in Technology

Are you feeling overwhelmed with the latest tech talk?

If you’re anything like me, technology doesn’t get your go. In fact, it’s a little overrated.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars and time experimenting with software, equipment and online courses to discover there’s a lot of mediocre products out there.

Not to mention, purchased items I have yet to use.

Sound familiar, right?

I gained tons of wisdom that I’ll share with you so you can avoid costly mistakes.

Before you invest in technology ask yourself,

Will you actually use it?

Many times we run out to buy the latest tech because of the perceived benefits. Little consideration is given to the time and practice it’ll take to learn it. To implement a program, software, or equipment takes more time than we realize because new habits must be developed. Is it user friendly? Is support included? Are there additional fees? Any tech that will drastically change the way you work is not for you no matter how awesome the benefits are.

What problems do you want to solve?

Are you having issues with workflow, customer engagement, or sales? Identifying the root causes of issues will eliminate a lot of headaches. How many times have you purchased a solution that only addressed the symptom? Diagnosing problems is 80% of the work so take the time to identify the real problem before shopping for a solution.

Does it align with your philosophy?

How you run your business must be aligned with your why. If you’re an entrepreneur that’s big on building relationships, your communication methods shouldn’t heavily rely on email and social media. Doing so will be a breech of integrity and you’ll lose trust from prospects.

Tech you should invest in.

Technology is meant to compliment your work and make doing business manageable. It can never replace the human element. Software that helps with the back-end of your business like project management, velocity, and finance, will save money and minimize human error. Software such as CRMs and email automation handles the front-end of your business, where you engage prospects and clients. Using tech that assist with the front-end of your business will help increase revenue.

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What You Should Know About Chatbots


If you’ve heard talk about chatbots and are wondering what they are, you’re not alone. As the online world is constantly changing, it’s hard to keep up at times.
Chatbots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence.

Huh?

Like Amazon’s Alexa and iOS-Siri, chatbots act as an online concierge in text form. They can help customers search for a product, answer customer support questions, check the weather forecast, etc. By using artificial intelligence, chatbot programs learn your preferences to provide notifications, search information upon request, or hold conversations with you.

This sounds cool and creepy at the same time (two words, Minority Report).

Time is a premium for busy people and who isn’t busy? We search for ways to simplify and enrich our lives. Chatbot programs are playing a major role in helping us manage daily routines, or are they (Hear from Facebook’s Vice President of Messaging Products David Marcus)?

Companies cash in on the benefits too since chatbots can improve customer experience, simplify customer support, save time and money.
Yet the boundaries of privacy continues to fade as convenience is given more importance.

Why are chatbots a big deal?

Besides all the benefits chatbot programs have to offer, data has shown that more people spend time on messaging apps than on social networking sites. In other words, people want to connect with friends in a private and personal way.

As a result, companies are forced to find new ways to reach their targeted audience. With chatbots companies can engage customers in a human way with little interruption of their daily routine.

No matter the concerns about artificial intelligence and it’s uses, this gravy train ain’t stopping.

As a business owner and consumer, I definitely see the advantages of using chatbots. As explained in the article, The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Chatbots By Matt Schlicht. Chatbots could replace apps and even websites in the near future. All business owners should know about this technology and how it can impact their industry.

If you’re interested in exploring Messenger’s chatbot platform click here.

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Want To Attract New Clients? Leverage Your Relationships

If you wanted to increase the number of new clients you served, what tactics would you use?

Would you increase marketing efforts, do more prospecting, or discount offerings to existing clients?

Most business owners would do at least 1 or all 3 of the tactics listed above. Yet each tactic comes with a hefty price tag. There’s a smarter way to increase your clients and it starts with your existing client base.

Savvy leaders leverage relationships to attract new clients. Do you?

In today’s modern world of internet networking, business owners assume electronic communications is all you need to keep your clients engaged.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Good business leaders understand the power of personal connection and use other methods of communication to nurture relationships.

With just a few tweaks to your communications strategy, you can leverage your existing client base to generate new clients

1. Reconnect with past clients, vendors, and associates. I get it, we all have contacts that have fallen through the cracks. More than likely, they’ve thought about you and wondered, so reconnect. If you’re embarrassed because you haven’t kept in touch, admit it. Acknowledge your guilt, apologize, and commit to consistent communication.

2. Identify the rock stars. Not every client deserve personal attention but your rock stars do. Those that have referred people deserve more than a thank you email. They deserve a bouquet of flowers, a gift card, or small appreciation gift. By acknowledging their efforts with a small gift, you’ll motivate them to continue referring clients to you.

3. Commit to good content. If you send e-newsletters, make sure it’s worthwhile to read. Emailing coupons and offerings shouldn’t be the only content they receive. Mix it up, entertain, inform, and uplift.

4. Connect on a human level. Putting relationships first sounds great but are you walking the talk? Do right by your clients by serving them on a personal level. What are their wants beyond the services you provide?

 

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Why Unhappy Customers Cost More Than You Think


As customers, we’ve all experienced lousy products and services. Most of us shrug it off and vow never to buy from that company again. Yet there’s a special few who go the extra mile in getting their revenge.

If you’ve shared your bad experience with others, complained to the company, or gave a bad review on social media you’re part of that special few.

Sure, at one time or another, we’re all been part of that group.

Do you know how much money you’re costing companies every time you write a bad review, or call customer service to complain?

To put bluntly, you’re costing them ALOT!

As consumers, this may sound like justice being served, but if you’re a business owner, you should be concerned and here’s why.

 Unhappy customers create a domino effect of revenue loss.

Companies lose much more then life time revenue. In Fred Richfield’s book The Ultimate Question 2.0, Fred explains the domino effect unhappy customers (detractors) create which results in huge revenue loss.

How can a detractor create a domino effect of revenue loss?

The unhappy customer takes their anger out on your frontline staff creating low morale. Dealing with 1 or 2 disgruntled customers is common place. Yet, as the number of detractors grow, the greater the impact on company morale and job satisfaction. The once serene workplace turns into a negative work environment which results in talented staff quitting.

Employee turnover is an expensive problem.
A Huffington Post article titled, How Much Does Employee Turnover Really Cost, by Jack Altman, states the cost of losing an employee is 1.5-2.0x an employee’s annual salary.

Darn you unhappy customers!

In addition, detractors impact revenue by bad mouthing your company. If your company’s brand isn’t well establish this could spell disaster, especially if you lack enough social proof to overcome negative reviews. For a prospect to consider your services, it could take 5 to 10 positive comments for every negative comment made.

Ouch!

To truly know how much unhappy customers are costing your business, calculate the potential revenue of a lifetime customer, plus the cost of loss staff, plus the loss of prospects and referrals.  Multiply this number by each detractor and that’s how much revenue your company is losing.

Yes, it’s a big number and why customer relationships are so important.  Customers can be your best salesforce, or your worse critic.

In essence, unhappy customers can put you out of business.

So moral of the story, do right by your customers!

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How To Optimize YOUR Brain Power & Take Massive Action

If you created your 2018 Business Success Plan or are working on it, chances are your plan will call for massive action.

We optimize our resources for efficiency and value. Why not optimize the most powerful asset available to us, our brain?

Most entrepreneurs buy in to the latest trend of hustling and overlook the importance of enhancing our brain power. Yet, when it comes to taking massive action, providing your brain what it needs to deliver peak performance wins hands down.

Experienced business owners understand how their brains operate and work with it to optimize results. Do you?

What do you need to know about your brain for peak performance?

We’ve all experienced the auto pilot effect.

For example, arriving home with few memories of the mechanical process of driving there, or our daily morning routine. When we repeatedly do something, it becomes second nature.

When you form habits they become part of our subconscious, or long-term memory. Using less energy, you perform habitual activities without thinking about them. Learning something new, or solving complex problems requires more energy.
You have to think about what you’re doing because it’s stored as a short-term memory.

The goal for brain optimization is 3-fold; to transition vital information from short -term to long- term as quickly as possible, reserve energy, and restore energy reserves when depleted.

8 way to Optimize Your Brain Power

1. Empty your brain of to-do lists and ideas. Keep a notepad with you so you can jot down ideas when they come and use technology to create to-do lists. As David Allen stated in his book Getting Things Done, “Your brain is for having ideas, not storing them.”

2. Practice makes mastery. Move essential information and knowledge from short-term memory to long-term through practice and reinforcement. Once in long-term memory, you expend less energy.

3. Use pictures and music to remember information. Did you know that long-term memories are stored in the emotional brain? Linking information with music and pictures will enhance your memory.

4. Reserve decisions making energies. Use your energy to make important decisions. Energy used to decide what to eat can be used elsewhere. Decide on breakfast once and have the same thing for the next week or month.

5. Work on complex tasks during peak brain times. Do you know what time of day you’re the most alert and focused? Are mornings the best time for you? Maybe you prefer the afternoons or evenings. If you don’t know, experiment and find the time of day you’re laser focused. Tasks the involve planning, brainstorming, or tasks you don’t want to do should be worked on during your peak time. FYI, it’s normal to have more than 1 peak time.

6. Rest and recover. When work becomes challenging, give yourself a break for your brain to recover. Allow at least 15 minutes. If you’re feeling stuck and can’t find the answer, walk away and allow your brain to relax. You’ll find your brain will give you an answer when you least expect it.

7. Stay nourished. Avoid skipping meals and stay hydrated to restore energy.

8. One thing at a time. Multitasking is a huge energy drainer. Avoid distractions and focus on one task for a determined time period.

BONUS: Have yet to create your 2018 Business Success Plan? Tap here to learn how to get started!

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Rookie Mistake: Awkward Sales Response

I enjoy networking. It’s one of many reasons I’m self-employed. Connecting with business owners is exhilarating. Until recently, I haven’t had to deal with being hit on. Either I’m completely oblivious when someone is flirting, or I assume it’s how some people build rapport. A week ago, I had an awkward encounter which  has given me reason to be more aware.

A prospect I met on a networking website wanted to start a referral program for his home improvement business. We discussed his needs and products options over the course of 3 months. He was very personable and we had a good connection.

While attempting to call a friend, I accidently dialed his number. Expecting a woman’s voice to answer, I quickly replied that I had the wrong phone number and hung up. After a few minutes, I realized who I called and that’s when I received a text from the prospect.

The text read, “I kinda wish you didn’t have the wrong number.”

Tickled about the situation, I immediately called the prospect back and jokingly explained what happened. We laughed and during our conversation,  he commented on the sexiness of my voice in a playful manner.

I laughed it off and didn’t think anything of it. He knew I had a boyfriend (at least I mentioned it before). We agreed to schedule a meeting for the following week.
Confident I would close him at our meeting, I began prepping paper work.

Finally!

All the time spent following up was paying off.

During the next few days, we scheduled an evening meeting via text at a local pub grill.

Prospect: “Is 6pm ok with you?”
Me: “Yes”
Prospect: “Cool, since it’ll be coming from work, could we get dinner?”
Me: “sure.”
Prospect: “Great it’s a date!”

Ummm wait, what? Let’s rewind this…. Personable guy, great business connection, thinks my voice is sexy, it’s date??
Oh no!

The feeling of uneasiness started to creep in. How should I reply? Should I brush it off? No, I gotta say something. I started to feel like a lady of the night.
Besides, if I kept this from Ryan, I would feel guilty.
Dang it!
I really want the sale. Should I risk losing the sale?
I completely over thought the situation and my conscience got the best of me.

I replied, “Well it’s more like a dinner meeting.”
Prospect: “When I said it’s a date, I didn’t mean a romantic date. I meant a date on the calendar.”
Like a rookie, I replied with a fist pump emoji.

Although my response was awkward, I was relieved. If it’s a misunderstanding, we can easily sweep this under the rug and continue the sales process.

To make a long story short, we didn’t meet. The prospect stood me up and never replied to my voicemail or text.
Yes, I lost the sale, but I wasn’t upset.

If he truly had no romantic intentions, he would have met with me, right?

I despite the rookie mistakes I’m pleased that I stood up for myself when I felt uncomfortable. Of course I could have used more tact, but practice makes mastery!

Have you ever experienced a similar situation? What did you do? I’d love to hear from you!

                                                                                  THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG!
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Purpose Revealed: Serving Entrepreneurs

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve gone off script with the last few posts and you may be wondering,”What the heck is going on?”

I’ve written about travel for several months and now you see posts about business and self-improvement.
Confusing right?

First, I’d like to apologize for the confusion.

The last thing I want to do is confuse my readers. I enjoy travel and believe in all the benefits it has to offer I’ve uncovered my true passion, helping entrepreneurs.

You know that feeling of complete bliss get after doing something you truly enjoy?

Well that’s the feeling I get when I serve entrepreneurs.

It’s time to accept my calling and share my wisdom with the world.

As a small business owner, I understand the challenges we face wearing multiple hats. We work countless hours marketing, serving others, and improving our business.

My entrepreneurial journey has been filled with triumphs and mistakes, Mount Everest peak highs and deep ditch valleys lows. Yet, through it all, I’m stronger, more confident.

I’ve spent countless hours prospecting, and feeding the marketing beast and almost depleted my resources. If I knew what I know now, I could have saved thousands of dollars and be further along in my business.

I want to share what I’ve learned with so entrepreneurs can avoid the same mistakes I’ve made.

I want your business journey be less tumultuous, and more fulfilling.

I’m committed to helping small business owners create relationship focused marketing strategies that are aligned with their branding and lifestyle.

We all know relationships are key to living a fulfilled life. It turns out the same is true for building a strong, sustainable business. There is a trend of hacking business relationships and it’s costing entrepreneurs money!

What if you could turn key clients into permanent referral sources? How much time and money would you save? How much money would you earn? It’s time to work smart not hard!

Future posts will focus on my passion and I ask for your patience as I transition. I’ll continue to write about travel as it relates to business and still include hot vacation deals from time to time.

If my new focus doesn’t interest you, no hard feelings. Share this posts with someone who would benefit from the information. If you’re a service provider and you’re tired of feeding the marketing beast, than stay tune for future posts.

Thanks for your understanding!

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