Friday, 15 June 2012

Exhibition Leads - Top Tips to Improve Lead to Sales Conversions

I was talking with an exhibition stand contractor the other day and I couldn't believe it when he told me that on several occassions over the years, when breaking down his clients' stands after a major event, he had found all the visitors business cards - leads with the potential to turn into orders - left in the rubbish to be discarded! Can you believe it? Well it's true, but I'm sure that's not you.

You've just invested a great deal of time & money on a great exhibition and now the orders will start pouring in - or not. For every lead that you have gathered, business card, completed info request form, enquiry etc.,  your competitors will probably have gathered the same. Potential and existing customers are now making their decisions about which product/service they may like to purchase. To make that decision they will probably need to speak to the potential supplier - but which one? It may well be decided by the speed and professionalism of the follow up response. Make it your Company.

Tips to gain maximum conversions from leads to sales:
  1.  Enter leads onto a database
  2. Prioritise leads into existing & potential customers
  3. Allocate who will handle the follow up for each lead
  4. Acknowledge & thank every lead within 3 days of the event. 
    1. This can be by email or phone call according to priority.
    2. At this stage it doesn't need to be the sales person responsible for that lead to call as this is an acknowledgement, so involve other members of staff.
  5. Plan the acknowledgement and, if possible, include a call to action - special offer or diarised appointment for sales person
  6. If there are more leads than can be acknowledged in that timescale consider using an outsourced telemarketing company
  7. Measure the results
Make every event a great experience for your existing and potential customers, which will make more profit for you.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Events & Exhibitions - An opportunity to give great Customer Experience!

 This is your chance to showcase your business so communicate your objectives to your team. Brief them at the start of each day about:-
The products/services on display
What information they need to capture from visitors
Staff rotation to ensure that the stand is always manned
Who is the stand manager for the day/period?
Who is responsible for gathering and collating orders/information?
 Debrief at the end of each day.

This will be the first time that many potential customers have personal contact with your business. 1st impressions count and how your team act will be more important than your impressive stand. Impress on them that their behaviour and attitude are on show to prospective and existing customers as well as suppliers and competitors:-
Do they represent the image that you want your company to be recognised for?
Is it the same at the end of the day as at the beginning?
Total knowledge of products/services on offer – visitors will not be impressed if they have to wait while information sought from another member of the team
Knowledge of competitor products/services
Do they have pen & notebooks to take details?
Ask questions about the customer’s needs – people do not like to be sold to, they like to buy.
Give your visitor your undivided attention
Don’t stand in groups – it can be intimidating to new customers
Don’t email or use phones while manning the stand

Visitors have invested time and effort to attend and nearly 80% will have a plan – ensure that they are impressed with how they are treated when they visit your stand.

Paul Clayton is business management & training consultant specialising in creating high performance cultures and helping businesses to grow by improving strategic Sales & Marketing planning, Customer Experience Management (CEM) and communication.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Are soft skills really essential to business success?

Why are ‘soft skills’ – communication, building rapport, questioning & listening skills etc. - seen as nice to have and non essential when they are in fact fundamental and crucial to building strong business relationships?
If employees in all departments are not provided with these ‘soft’ skills in the stressful and pressurised world we call business, then how can we expect them to answer customer queries, identify and exploit additional sales opportunities while building those business relationships essential to the survival and prosperity of business today?
Soft skills are as important, and just as hard, as any other business skills such as sales and negotiation, and need to be learned.  Your people need to achieve effective communication, call control, building rapport, phone etiquette & techniques, problem solving, and objection handling to continually improve your business. Having a strategy to improve those skills in communication and the use of the telephone will gain you new customers, boost business with existing accounts, increase service levels from suppliers and strengthen internal team cohesion and motivation;  increased sales and profitability!

Contact the Author - Paul Clayton for more details

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Fuel Shortages Contingency Planning - Part of the Customer Experience

Do you remember the fuel shortage in 2000 when lorry drivers and farmers blockaded oil facilities and caused widespread disruption? The country almost ground to a halt. Businesses experienced problems of one sort or another including staff having difficulties getting to work, shortages of essential services and products and manufacturing slowing down due to lack of raw materials.

How is your business geared to cope with the possible shortages brought about by the threatened tanker driver strike and how will it affect your customers?

So what will you do to minimise the risk to your business and ensure that your customers are inconvenienced as little as possible? Regardless of the size of your business, putting in place contingency plans to mitigate the impact of any disruption to your business makes economic sense.

All businesses are different and it is impossible in this short article to answer the question, indeed the options may be limited but that is no reason not to plan. Take 3 possible scenarios.

1.      Manufacturing grinds to a halt due to lack of raw materials. If you are in manufacturing or supply goods to manufactures is it possible to arrange for consignment stocking to ensure that once supplies return to normal there is sufficient finished stock to cope with back orders?
2.     Communication systems, IT & Telephones, can be diverted for home use in many instances which can mean that essential workers can operate effectively without the worry of finding fuel to get to work.
3.    For businesses with external sales teams and advisors should ensure that every face-2-face meeting, where travel is involved, is essential to the business and that it cannot be handled by other communication methodology, especially the telephone.

Be prepared! Haven’t I heard that before? Let your customers know in advance about the contingency plans that you are preparing to keep their businesses running in case the strike goes ahead and ask for their comments & suggestions. This action will prove to your customers that you care about their business and value their opinions as well as their custom.

Along with protecting your business by putting in place a contingency plan what actions are you taking to develop your business at this time? The contingency plan should also include how to gain & retain business from your competitors who have not taken action. Develop your customer facing people’s skills in sales, communication, negotiation, customer service and the use of the telephone in business now.

Paul Clayton

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Is the data on your company smart phone protected?

We are all aware of the need to keep data on PC's and laptop computers protected , but are your company smart phones and tablets secure and can you guarantee that if lost or stolen the data cannot fall into the wrong hands?

European and English legislation on data and telephone compliance is there to protect consumers against misuse of data, ensuring that it is kept safe and is not used without consent.

A snapshot on some of the issues involved is freely given below.

Mobile Phone Security

Mobile phones make life very easy on the one hand, and very difficult on the other.

A study by TAXI, the magazine for the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, revealed that during a six-month period a staggering 63,135 mobile phones were mistakenly left in London cabs. If they contained customer data and information that was not secure, then their owners could find themselves in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Mobile Phone Data Security
Mobile phones are common tools of the trade now for many businesses. However, in recent years these devices have become much more sophisticated. Many have the capacity to store over one million emails, as well as contact details of an entire customer base and other sensitive information, such as word documents and spreadsheets.

Think how important the data on your mobile phone is. Be aware, too, that if your employees have a company mobile phone, they must similarly be conscious of the importance of any stored information and contact details. We strongly recommend that you look at your own mobile device security strategy, and that of your company.

As a first step you should note down your mobile device’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. This is often found underneath the battery and your mobile provider will require it when you report the loss or theft of your mobile. This should be a mandatory safety measure for all staff with company mobiles.

Action Points
Here are action points you should consider when formulating your mobile security strategy:

Enable the “Automatic Lock” function on your device, and set the lock period to the minimum time

Enable the “Require Pin” function or, if the option is available, the lock device on SIM card removal
If you use memory cards, enable the “Encrypt External Storage” option if supported by your device
Only store essential names, numbers and documents on your mobile phone
Check with your mobile provider if your device supports “Remote Wipe”, and know how to implement this
Keep your mobile provider’s number handy as they can disable your phone when you give them your IMEI
Be prepared to notify the Information Commissioner and your customers if a mobile device with customer data is lost/stolen
Further Action
There may be other things specific to your business that you need to think about, and you may need to create a mobile telephone policy and include it in your Company Handbook to ensure all staff are aware of the implications of storing data on mobile devices.

Contact the Author - Paul Clayton for more details data & telephone compliance