As a small business owner, it’s no secret that to run a successful business you have to wear many hats – sales, marketing, customer service, bookkeeping, HR and more! Many business owners struggle to maintain steady, scalable growth as they struggle to find the time to balance their workload and focus on areas which will allow their business to grow. Whether you’re an individual or have a small team behind you, these challenges present themselves at almost every stage of growth. We’ve put together some quick wins aimed at saving you time, allowing you to focus on growing or maintaining your business.
Save time dealing with sales and prospects
The lifeblood of every business is sales. It’s considered to be the most important element of any business as, without sales, there is no business. Regardless of your business, sales and lead generation can be incredibly time-consuming. No business will have a 100% conversion rate, which means that a good percentage of the quotations and pre-sales work you’re doing is taking up valuable time. With every industry, there are always going to be leads which don’t progress to sales and window shoppers who perhaps never had any intent to purchase from you in the first place. The key is to ensure that each potential lead is handled efficiently and with enough advice and guidance that they preference your business over your competitors, without spending too much time. Many business owners will spend more time on a sales call or consultation than they care to admit. Below are some suggestions on how you can streamline your sales process:
- Use pre-written template responses to common email queries
- Implement an FAQs section on your website which you can direct potential customers to (this is great for your website’s search engine optimisation and helps you look more established too!)
- Reduce back and forth when trying to schedule a call or an appointment by using a low-cost tool such as Calendly.
- If you send quotes or proposals via Word Document or even by hand, consider using an online tool like Proposify. In a few simple steps, you can create a proposal template which is all pre-formatted. If you’re regularly quoting, not only does this look more professional, but it’s a huge time saver!
Improve customer communication methods and set expectations
Do emails and calls from customers chasing progress or an update give you sleepless nights? If so, you’re probably working reactively instead of proactively. When you’re under pressure to meet tight deadlines and you’re trying to juggle multiple projects, these types of emails from clients often add to the stress and can even result in work taking longer. The key is to ensure that your customers understand your process for work and expectations are set in advance. For example, if you run a landscaping business, provide dates of when materials will be arriving, the days which labourers will be working, when a final review of the work will be conducted and when they will receive notification that the project is complete. Consider giving yourself or your team some extra time in the event something runs behind schedule. If overrunning is particularly common in your industry, provide information on what happens if you’re running behind. You may find the easiest way to do this is to create a simple document which outlines the process – you can then attach this to an email.
During your project or service, pre-schedule some templated emails to provide an update on the project. The update doesn’t have to be lengthy, just a simple email which shows the customer you’re on top of their work.
Particularly when the business owner is working in the day to day tasks of the business, unexpected calls, whether from existing customers or new sales, can interrupt the flow of your work. If you’re not in a position to hire a member of staff, take a look at some call answering services such as Allday PA or Money Penny. These services allow you to redirect your calls straight to their call centre instead of answering. They’ll professionally greet your caller with your company name or pre-set message. Most cost around £1 per minute, but if you request for the call agent simply to gather the basic information such as name, telephone, email and their query, it’s likely only to cost a few pounds. You can then call the person back at a time which suits you, without being distracted.
In addition to this, you may wish to set up a telephone switchboard with some pre-defined options. Most VOIP services offer this as an addon and sometimes include them within your package. By doing this, you can disable calls which are out of hours and use a message to request that the caller sends an email, leaves a voicemail or calls back the next day. More advanced options will allow you to set various options which you could use to answer some pre-recorded FAQs.
In conclusion, with technology forever improving, it’s important as a business to stay ahead of the curve. Technology and software may seem daunting to some, but many solutions nowadays are built to be simple to use and intuitive and by adopting new software, you can save considerable time, money and effort. Failing to adopt change or improving your processes will leave you open to losing market share to your competitors.