CRM – What does a CRM do and is it a must have for an SME?

You’ve probably heard the term “CRM” if you are a business owner or sales manager. But what does it really mean?

CRM is an acronym that stands for Customer Relationship Management. At its most basic level, a CRM system allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them. With CRM, you can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads and sales opportunities in one central location in real time. In essence, a CRM system should present a company with a 360 degree view of their customers, with each function of the business having the data information made relevant to their particular needs. Ideally the CRM system would exist in the cloud so the information is accessible by many.
While a CRM system may not currently attract as much enthusiasm as social networking platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, any CRM system is similarly built around people and relationships. And that’s exactly the reason why it can be so valuable for a growing business.

Any business starts out with a foundation of great customer relationships. You, the vendor, connect with people who need your product, the purchasers. Yet, as your company grows, these business connections can grow to become more sophisticated and complex. So it’s no longer not just a simple transaction between the buyer and seller. You start to manage a multitude of connections, over time, within each organisation that you do business with. You need to share data and information across the various teams within your own organization who are making contact with the same customers. A CRM system can serve as the central resource to help maintain and manage the many connections that happen in a growing business.
For small businesses, a CRM system may simply help you put your data in the cloud, making it accessible in real time, across any device. But as you grow, a CRM can quickly expand to include more sophisticated features to help teams collaborate with colleagues and customers, send customised emails, gather insights from social media conversations, and get a holistic picture of your business health in real time.

These days growing businesses manage customer connections and information in a variety of ways. Some continue to rely on the traditional Rolodex or card system. Others may store information on their mobile devices. Others use Excel spreadsheets or Google documents. While that may help in the short term when you have a small team and don’t plan on scaling your business, if you want to scale for sustainable growth, it may be a good time to consider a more suitable CRM system to help you collect your vital business data into one place, make it accessible through the cloud, and then free up your time to focus on 100% customer satisfaction rather than letting valuable insights and information go unnoticed.

To ignore using a CRM process will result in you missing out on key opportunities to develop a robust information gathering process that can be used across all the functional areas of a business.

The key advantages of a CRM are:

• Management decision making is fast and responsive – improved identification of market and customer opportunities

• A CRM sales process generates higher quality leads – these can be segmented and targeted accordingly, which makes it easier to identify the ‘hot’ opportunities

• It builds an effective sales pipeline which can be automated – this is the ‘life-blood’ to sustainable growth, and helps to reduce admin and/or management time

• Helps to better identify customer needs. This improves the ability to ‘fit’ the product or service offer to those customer needs which reduces client churn

• Total seamless information available across business functions e.g. customer histories for sales team, sales history for the finance team etc. All business units can coordinate activities and process across one information platform.

Is it time to consider whether you need or are getting the most of your CRM. Missing out on the advantages it brings may compromise your ability to maintain a competitive edge.

Maybe it’s time to see how your company can harness the benefits of a better CRM process today…

Contact nuOrder to ask for Independent advice.

nuOrder Sponsor the Knutsford Beer festival

Thank you Roger @nuOrderLimited for your @KnutsfdBeerFest cask sponsorship. #beer

How (not) to sell in hard times

Do we all love to play the ‘discount game’ in hard times?

When I sell services or consulting I’ll consider offering a complimentary ‘project’ discount or offer some auxiliary free services – but the price never normally goes down from that point unless its a much bigger deal with an end of contract bonus. I would walk away otherwise.

So my approach is to add some perceived value when I present a price discount.

What about other companies?

I’ve had a few companies over and asked for some quotes on improvement work to our hall and landing at home.

One quote is nearly 50% lower than the other for an circa 80% identical product.

The representative who gave the lower price passed it across with no nervousness and just left it with us decide in our time over a week or so, including the current standard discount.

The representative who presented the much higher deal was a bit nervous and agitated (and took a few minutes to present his price on a typed letter head) when it came to presenting the price. I immediately baulked at the price and said it was over my perceived budget.

What’s happened since……

The higher deal was subsequently lowered in writing within a few days after I said it wasn’t within our budget.

I then shared my maximum budget nos with them explaining the 2nd quote was still too high and I asked for options on specification or price.

So today the representative presented a further discount and said the Directors will only give us to the end of the day to agree and pay a 35% deposit. This was still quite a lot over our budget.

So I ‘passed the porcupine’ back across by email and said my wife and I would need to consider in our own time and I asked if the Directors would keep the last price offer open (as who would ever revert to paying a higher price?!).

I find this a fascinating story in sales approach and techniques in austere times when nearly everyone expects a discount to be presented.

Comments welcome!!

Growing a business

I attended a local and exclusive networking event last week for SME Business Owners, Advisors and Entreprenuers called the K-club (

There was an excellent talk by Sarah Goulbourne from Gunnercook LLP who spoke passionately about the ‘Sea Change in Law’.

With regard to my own work as a business consultant helping SME business owners in pretty much any sector to plan and grow for the future, Sarah’s talk about how to grow a modern law firm was real music to my ears.

Sarah’s business Gunnercook is trying to demystify the client legal experience and I suspect the way law firms grow and market. Sarah simply believes that a modern law firm needs to put in place marketing and sales systems like most entrepreneurial businesses. I believe Law firms in America are even starting to offer basic services over the internet (see LawPivot!).

nuOrder believe that any businesses can put in place a tested sales and marketing system and get fantastic scalable results that can be measured for success.

I you need help doing such as thing drop us a line at nuOrder and we can help you today.


Offering exclusivity to your customers can be a great selling point and can encourage them to purchase now rather than later.

If you are able to offer your customers something that is highly valuable or rare then your customers will think that they are special and mean something to your business.

 Exclusive products and services

You may decide to include exclusive lines in your business that only you carry. These could be products or and/or services depending on your business type and what is currently in demand by your customer base.

If you hold exclusive lines of products and services your customer won’t be able to shop around for them elsewhere and hence will be obligated to return to your business if they feel it is worthwhile.

It is important to remember that it is only viable to have an exclusive line if it is profitable for the business and your customers are going to make full use of it.

 Scarcity and limits

If you regularly stock items that are rare or are difficult to come across, sharing this to your customers may help you get a sale.

If you provide limitations and rare opportunities to your customers then they are more likely to be motivated and act quickly to purchase what you have to offer. It is important that use this sales technique only when it is necessary as you don’t want your customers to be upset because they found the product at several other shops.

Clothes designers often use the scarcity or limitation technique and promote that their summer or winter lines are almost sold out and are unavailable anywhere else. This helps them to move the old stock for their new line and gain their customers attention.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Simple Tips To Reduce Errors

As business owners we know the cost of mistakes but beyond the actual cost of the error, there is the damage to our reputation that repeated mistakes will do. The value of systemising your business cannot be underestimated when it comes to contemplating the reduction in errors. However, systemisation is not a 100% guarantee that your business will be error free. While systems offer some degree of comfort, “error free” is a matter of vigilance, checking and care. Errors happen – it is a simple fact when the “human factor” is involved. However, in business, errors cost money and careless errors can also cost us our reputation and your client’s future business. To eliminate errors, we need to consider how they arise. We have grouped these into Policy – Procedure – People:

  1. Policy“: Is about errors arising from why actions are taken, for example: misinterpretation of rules or of legislation or other guidelines. These errors can have a significant impact and while the action itself may be correct, the reasoning behind it is flawed
  2. Procedure“: Is about errors that have arisen due to how actions are completed, for example: following a procedure or checklist
  3. People“: Is about any errors that have arisen because of what was done by the person completing them. These could include errors from oversight, omission or carelessness

It is common, when finding an error, for a manager to immediately look at the “People” aspect of the error. It’s the most common place for problems, has the greatest degree of risk and is the area that is the least consistent in your business. It’s a case of 3-2-1 problem solved! In fact, one of the simplest ways to reduce errors is to turn this approach on its head. Instead of looking first to who made the error, start by asking why the action was taken. This technique has taught us many lessons:

  • The right actions taken for the wrong reason highlight a gap in training and illustrate that we have not appropriately matched the person to the job. “Policy” type errors can be prevented by improving knowledge, education and conducting skilled based training on the job
  • Following the right procedure and ending up with an error highlights an out of date, redundant or flawed procedure or checklist. While a staff member offering “But I followed the process” will often raise red flags, in a transformed and systemised business, this should sound alarms, rather than be alarming. “Procedure” type errors can be prevented by regularly reviewing and updating procedures, conducting training with staff and maintaining a robust compliance regime
  • Once you have eliminated Policy and Procedure as the cause of the error, you can now consider the People aspect. People based errors can be the result of a multitude of issues, but by looking at what was done (rather than who did it) you can begin to identify gaps in training, recruitment and even in processes and checklists. In our experience, training, skills/experience, application and aptitude are at the core of People based errors

Unfortunately, none of these measures will address the impact on the client as a result of an error being made. While they will assist you in uncovering the cause of the error, effectively reducing errors is more about prevention than reactive treatment. In other words, you need to work ON your business to eliminate likely, potential and actual sources of errors in order to reduce their frequency.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

People Power

We focus so much on developing products, services, systems and policies that we can often forget about developing our employees and meeting the basics of their needs and wants. Some valuable information has been collated for you on how your employees can be the people power that you require to continue your business’s success.

Understanding Your Employees

It has been found that employees will take more interest in their work when they are encouraged and are able to share their ideas and contributions and can see them implemented. Ideally your employees just want and need:

1. to be rewarded for a job well done
2. feel involved with the business
3. feel that their contribution is valued
4. work on tasks that compliment their intelligence and fulfill their potential

Peak Performers

Give your employees encouragement and direction whenever it is needed but allow them to have control and carry out their work as they see fit. You employed them for a reason and it is usually due to their capabilities, so let them do what they need to do. Ensure you have clear and established goals and objectives that your employees understand and you will be able to ensure your employee will work to their potential.

Top Tips

Below are the 15 top tips that will help you to build your employees’ morale, meet employees’ wants and needs and improve their perception of the workforce.

1. Always relate to your employees as people and not just hired staff
2. Make sure employees see the results of their labours
3. Adjust your management style to suit individuals
4. Keep employees informed of changes at all times
5. Be clear in communicating expectations, priorities and limitations
6. Make reasonable efforts to keep jobs interesting and challenging
7. Encourage promotion from within
8. Make sure your employees are willing and able to perform what you are expecting of them, especially if there is a strict deadline or there are busy periods
9. Conduct employee performance reviews
10. Always give your employees feedback
11. Tell employees how they can get more money in their pocket
12. State clearly to your employees your management style so they understand your approach
13. Set up well understood communication lines such as meetings, etc
14. Trust your employees. If you have delegated it to them, let it go and let them do it. If they aren’t capable they shouldn’t be given the task to begin with.
15. Welcome your employees’ ideas
Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Back To Basics – Being Organised

One of the most important skills a manager can possess is the ability to be organised. Not only does your work require structured thinking, discipline and action, it also requires the ability to juggle a multitude of jobs at any one time – all with their own complexities and client expectations. Now add transformation into the mix. Actions to undertake, deadlines to meet, changes to implement etc And now there is all the normal day to day administrative work to do – performance reviews, management reporting, marketing the business, coaching the team and the list goes on.

So how do you get through all this work without working 24 hours a day? Yes, you could employ more resources or you could get back to basics and employ simple and effective organisational skills to help you work more efficiently. Being organised is not just about getting a lot of work done. It is also about creating a work environment that is conducive to clear thinking, a lower error rate and enables you to control what you do and when you do it. It is also an environment that says to a client “We are efficient, we know what we are doing and you can have complete confidence in us to do a great job”. To achieve this and enjoy control over your workspace, here are a number of tips to improve your organisational skills:

  • Use a notebook or diary to track important notes and record action items. Your memory may be excellent, but there it is no substitute to writing actions down
  • Use checklists. Yes – not only will your new checklists be essential in creating consistent quality in your business, they will help you be more organised
  • Do one thing at a time. Multitasking is a great skill, but don’t multitask when working on client jobs. Adopt the mantra “One thing at a time”
  • Plan in advance. This is about preventative maintenance and planning, NOT reacting. Plan out your week and your day to use your time most effectively
  • Use folders and colour coding. As simple as this seems, putting things in folders (and labelling them) is an excellent way to be organised. Plus, having a tidy work area can give you a sense of control
  • Avoid cutting yourself short. We have all fallen into the trap of not allowing ourselves sufficient time to get a task complete. By being organised, you will have a clear picture of your priorities and be able to make promises you can keep
  • Use “To Do” lists. Simple; easy; inexpensive. Update your list every night before going home and revisit it every morning. Create a list for your week and refine it as the week progresses
  • Co-ordinate with others. You don’t work in a vacuum so co-ordinate efforts with your team members, especially if you need their assistance to complete a job. Your last minute rush is not their problem
  • Learn the most important word “No”. Being organised means having to occasionally say “no” to new work. Practice as this is a hard lesson to implement
  • Get the lay of the land. If you are new to the business, check out where essentials items are kept, who looks after stationery, computers, printers, photocopiers etc. Knowing where things are kept will save you time trying to sort this out later
  • Keep a tidy desk. This has to be one of the most difficult organisational techniques for a manager to implement. A tidy desk does contribute to clearer thinking, helps you avoid distractions, and reduces the chance of client work being misfiled.

Investing five minutes in improving organisational skills today will pay great dividends tomorrow!

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a FREE Business Evaluation Meeting and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

7 Sure Fire Methods To Avoid Overdue Accounts

The best way to avoid collection hassles is to take preventive measures up front to ensure that accounts don’t become overdue. Below are some steps you can take to improve your receivables turnaround.

1. Don’t grant credit

It’s not always possible or practical, but some companies can be run without offering credit. Require cash or bank drafts/money orders. Ship products C.O.D. (cash on delivery), especially to new customers who don’t have a payment history with you.
2. Accept major credit cards

Make it convenient for customers to do business with you by accepting debit and credit cards. While you will pay out a small percentage of each transaction for processing, you also will get paid within days. If you follow the regulations, you won’t be liable for fraudulent charges, although the customer will have the option to withhold payment if there is a dispute about a bill.
3. Require deposits

Both service and product businesses can ask for advance payments. Product firms can ask for 50 percent payment up front and the balance on delivery, or request a deposit amount based on standards for their industry. Service businesses might want to ask for 20 to 50 percent up front, depending on the project, with remaining payments due when certain milestones are met.
4. Offer terms

Terms outline how you expect to get paid, and what interest or penalties you charge for late payment. State these clearly on your contracts and invoices because you cannot request that these terms be met if customers do not know about them beforehand. It is common to ask for one to one and a half percent per month for late payments. While this won’t net you much money, it indicates that you are serious about timely payment. You also might want to offer a discount of one percent or more for early payment as a way of speeding cash flow.
5. Get a signed agreement

Never extend credit without getting something in writing. If there’s ever a collection problem, having a signed agreement makes your case much stronger. Use a purchase order or contract that details how much a client will owe and when it will be due. Take a moment to review payment deadlines with clients and express that you expect to be paid on time. Point out the terms for late payment. Always record changes or compromises in writing.
6. Check credit

Collect the information you’ll need to run a credit check on a credit application or “new customer form.” For consumers, this data includes address and phone numbers, whether homes are owned or rented, how long at last address, and bank account and credit/charge card account numbers. For businesses, you can ask for business name, company number, names of owners/principals, address, phone number and at least three credit references. You can get credit reports from major credit reporting agencies such as Experian and Equifax.
7. Create a billing/overdue notification system

You can’t collect if you don’t know how much is owed to you and when it is due. Set up a system that alerts you to overdue accounts – most accounting software programs do this automatically. Once you have a system, make sure someone in your company is responsible for keeping it up to date.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a business evaluation and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.

Go On; Spoil Your Customers

We are often asked by clients “How can I improve my marketing?” – Often this means – “How can I get new customers?” Indeed, most businesses put most of their marketing effort – and budget – into new lead generation.

However, it’s amazing how few businesses are effectively marketing to their existing customers. Most business owners are sitting on massive untapped potential in terms of their existing client relationships.How do you unleash that potential? Try answering these questions:

  • What cross-sales, up-sales, new products/services could you offer your existing customers?
  • And when did you last let them know? In fact, when was the last time you wrote to your customers or emailed them or phoned them. And what kind of response rate did you get?

If you doubled the number of times you contacted them what would happen? One retail client used a brochure to market to his client base and generated hundreds of thousands of pounds in turnover each year from this method. The brochure was sent out once a year, in springtime. We asked him to try sending it again in autumn. Guess what happened!Play the easy game. Make sure you have a database with all your existing clients listed. And then……speak to them……pamper them……offer them special previews and promotions……ask them to tell their friends.

Remember It costs six times more to get new customers than it does to increase sales to existing customers and 64% of customers don’t purchase from your business a second time because of the perceived indifference with which they are treated.

If you want to reduce your marketing spend, or the cost of customer acquisition, reinvest your pounds into strategies that will retain your customers, so they keep buying from you. Investing in customer relationship strategies – the payback is stunning.

Get in touch and ask us to conduct a business evaluation and find out about our unique way of designing and implementing strategies to generate sustainable business improvement.