4 min read

The Top 5 Best Complaints from a Sales Team

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Nobody likes hearing sales complaints but handled well, they’re a great indicator of how your team’s performing – and how you could improve it.

Let’s face it, sales people don’t have the easiest of jobs. How many times have you had to deal with sales complaints about cold leads and phone numbers that don’t provide any results?

This blog lists some of the big sales complaints from salespeople. While some complaints may seem insignificant, there is a serious side: happy salespeople are productive salespeople. Remember: complaints are your friend. A complaint from your sales team is a trouble ticket that shows you where your process needs tweaking.

#1: “But my phone day’s Tuesday!”

Having a weekly plan of activity can be a good thing: leads prospecting on Monday, phoning on Tuesday, appointments on Wednesday and so on. But what if your prospects don’t follow the same schedule? What if they’re always in on Monday but Tuesday is used for travel?

If your team members work in patterns, is there any way you could work with their preferences? For a large enough database, yes. Many CRM applications can slice analytical data.

Suppose you discovered that the engineering sector tends to answer its phones on Fridays, while IT workers prefer Wednesdays? Armed with such insight, assigning leads becomes an exercise in increasing productivity and satisfying both staff and customers.

#2: “I’ve already made my targets this month.”

Studies show a marked slowdown in activity, per head, once targets are hit. If a big sale on the 15th takes Fred over his goals, he’ll tend to slacken off for the rest of the month.

Very often, this is tied to commission structures. Some sales departments limit the total commission pot, or reduce the percentage above a certain sales volume. Neither of these are exactly an incentive for your salesperson working the phones, although it limits your risk on paper.

There’s the clue: on paper. What else looks good on paper? A good CRM consultant can set up your purchase funnels and conversion probabilities to show you where increasing commission rates might be a good idea. For example, a 3% commission for the first £50,000 in sales each month might be worth upping to 5% after that level is reached, if it’d deliver an extra £35,000 in turnover.

#3: “But I’ve already sent him an email!”

As time goes on, you’ve probably heard sales complaints about how Generation Y (let alone Z) is harder to reach by phone. (In the mobile world, usage of voice minutes is actually going down.) Many salespeople think an email is just as good.

Today’s sales are made via a variety of contact touchpoints, building trust in bits and pieces over time. Here’s the thing: Customer Relationship Management applications that connect different channels (like phone, email and SMS) can show you which sequences work best.

So take your salespeople aside and show them the sequence of contacts that tends to produce results most often. Perhaps the first touch is indeed an email, but in 70% of successful sales, they received a phone call within 24 hours. Your salespeople may even have kept a cold lead warm by sending them a text message every two weeks.

#4: “That list’s been done to death.”

When your list has been contacted over and over again, it becomes a common sales complaint that there’s no life left in it. But studies demonstrate that an “old” but well-targeted list pulls far better than a fresh but untested one.

If a lead has stalled, it may be your customer journey that’s missing a few stages. Your CRM dashboard may be able to show you where the pinch-points are – and what actions (perhaps a new script, a side offer) can get the funnel moving again. Getting together with your marketing team may generate some ideas.

#5: “If I make those calls, I’ll have to put them on CRM.”

Last comes the real buzzkill – and it’s valid. If your CRM system makes it hard to add names or contact reports, wouldn’t you be tempted to “store up” notes to add later instead of keeping records updated in real-time?

This one plays hell with your weekly reports. So look at how people really use CRM, and redesign your dashboard and processes to make it easier for them. (Difficulty of use is a prime reason many CRM implementations fail.)

So for an antidote to all the complaints, remember: CRM serves your people, not the other way around.

Takeaways:

Counteract your sales team’s complaints with these important points:

  • If your salespeople have patterns, see if there’s advantage in working with them.
  • Offer incentive schemes to make things better for everyone.
  • Show your salespeople the sequence that leads to a sale, not just the script.
  • Sales people respond to hard data. To change behaviour, always back up with evidence.
  • Updating CRM should be seen as a core part of sales success.

Discover how to keep your sales team happy by increasing the potential for profits. Download The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling

Up-selling-cross-selling

3 min read

5 High-ROI Marketing Tools That Rescue the Customer Journey

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Only 2% of customers buy on their first visit – these marketing tools will get them to complete the customer journey.

Let’s be honest. It’s very rare that you visit a website and want to buy something straight away. A customer journey just doesn’t happen that quickly.

Most of us simply want to browse. Only 2% of people who visit an online shop make a purchase on their first visit. That’s even lower for considered, high value purchases or B2B services.

The problem that we face as marketers is losing these visitors, and having dead customer journeys. Our challenge is to get details from our website visitors, so that we can retarget them, nurture them and make those sales. Thankfully there are a few tools that we can use to bridge that gap so we can reach our targets.

1. Email collection pop-up

Business and internet marketing blogger Matthew Woodward found that his conversion rate of collecting emails increased 44% with these types of pop-ups. Padiact is a particularly useful tool as it feeds into all the major ESPs. It means you can capture details to target potential customers with a nurture campaign and your newsletters, encouraging their customer journey to last longer.

2. Live chat (excellent in high value sales)

The thing with high-value, complex sales is that customers often have several pain-points and lots of questions. If you offer a chance for people to ask questions, and get them answered almost instantly, you can win their loyalty and details. Live chat is perfect for picking up customers directly from your site, who may have disappeared forever because that page didn’t answer their questions. Live chat solutions can help you to retain your customers and help them along their customer journey.

3. Cut downtime and slow-loading websites

Slow-loading websites cost online retailers £1.73 billion per year. 38% of UK shoppers said that they abandon websites or apps that take more than 10 seconds to load. That’s even higher on mobile devices where 74% of customers said they abandon sites that take more than five seconds to load.

To stop needlessly losing customers, it’s important to ensure your website is always spic, span and speedy! MonitorHub notifies admins if the site becomes slow. This means that your technicians can fix any slow-hosting problems and cut website abandonment. You can also change your website’s design to speed up loading.

4. Exit-intent offers

Many customers abandon purchases before leaving a site. If you can capture their details, and make them a special offer before they leave – then you have a better chance of them becoming a customer. That’s the aim of Picreel, a tool that monitors mouse movements to look for signs that a visitor is about to close a window. Then when a customer is about to leave, they suddenly have the option to leave their email address and get a discount. This is perfect for e-commerce sites.

5. Remarketing

Some find it creepy, some find it powerful, But there’s no denying that retargeted ads are effective. Retargeting boosts ad response rates by 400% and improved conversion rates for Kimberly-Clark by over 50%.

For e-commerce companies, Adroll is one of the leaders in the space. For B2B businesses, Resonance lets you retarget customers with a content funnel.
You’re always going to lose some website visitors along the way. But if you can use these tools to engage them and extend their customer journey, you can reap the rewards.

Now you’ve got customers, you need to  make the most of those relationships! Download your free eGuide: The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling to maximise your returns.

Up-selling-cross-selling

3 min read

How technology can improve customer service

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Using various digital technologies in your business is a great way to build relationships with customers.

Of course, the internet is perhaps the most popular form of technological engagement. It’s quick, globally accessible and can convey information in an instant. But customers may soon become tired of the same techniques and using the same methods as other competitors isn’t really an effective way of attracting a new customer base.

It’s important to incorporate new methods to enhance customer service, so that you appeal to a wider audience while still retaining your existing customers and brand loyalty.

Investing in other technologies, such as customer relationship management (CRM) or contact centre system software, can deliver a hassle-free experience across a multitude of channels directly to your customer.

Customer service and CRM

CRM is a strategy employed by businesses to manage all interactions made with existing and prospective customers. This includes being able to keep a record of important factors such as: pending invoices, the customer’s transaction history, the status of their orders, all of their previous transactions with you, and even the opportunity to see their social media interactions with and about you.

According to Bob Thompson, chief executive at Customer Think: “Successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price – but as a differentiator.

“If your competitors are doing the same thing you are (as they generally are), product and price won’t give you a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage.

“But if you can get an edge based on how customers feel about your company, it’s a much stickier, sustainable relationship over the long haul.”

The benefits of CRM for customer service

Investing in CRM strategies not only helps to build an established relationship between business and customer, but it can bring a great number of benefits to your business directly. For instance, CRM:

  • Improves products and services.
  • Increases revenue and referrals from current customers.
  • Enables you to secure more deals.
  • Optimises your overall performance.

Using CRM will lead to happier customers, which in turn will encourage them to spend more on products and services. By maintaining a solid relationship with customers, they will be more inclined to revisit. In a satisfaction survey conducted by Customer Thermometer, it was found that repeat customers spend 33 per cent more than new ones.

Other ways of improving customer service

Although CRM is one of the most useful technological advances for customer service, there are other factors that should be considered in order to improve this further.

One way of doing so is by responding to customers quickly. As well as making your contact details clearly visible on each page of your website, using a company social media account – such as Facebook and Twitter – could also be efficient. Customers contacting you on the go may turn to social media as a main form of contact rather than searching through numerous pages online to find your contact details.

Not only do social media accounts enable quicker responses, but they enhance the online presence of a business, meaning customers will be able to access a service through a number of different mediums.

Of course, customers are the main priority for most companies, but it is important to not lose sight of the significance of employees. Make sure they have been given the essential training and basic knowledge about how to handle customer queries effectively.

If you’re planning to invest in CRM, the conditions need to be right for it to succeed. Read our white paper to learn how to optimise your system.
Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Customer service ‘really counts in banking sector’

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Banks that provide current accounts have been urged to ensure customers get the standard of service they demand and expect.

According to research by MoneySavingExpert.com, First Direct is once again the best performing company in the sector when it comes to offering top quality customer service.

Indeed, the survey found that 92 per cent of people who have accounts with the institution believe it offers “great” service, which means it retains its position at the top of the list for another year.

This put it well ahead of the likes of Santander, TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC.

Guy Anker, managing editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, observed: “With current accounts, customer service really counts.

“Whether you bank online or in-brand, this is the one financial product you do genuinely have a real day-to-day interaction with.”

Mr Anker noted that some organisations are managing to provide good customer service alongside innovative accounts.

Santander, for instance, was praised for managing to move from the foot of the table two years ago to a higher position this time around.

However, he said many of the traditional giant high street banks performed poorly in the survey, with more than half of account holders with the country’s four biggest institutions saying the service they get is either okay or poor.

“That should be seen as a stark warning that the big banks risk losing customers if they don’t raise their game,” Mr Anker commented.

Investing in customer service and engagement could be critically important for the major institutions because the process of switching accounts is much simpler than it used to be.

In fact, Mr Anker said the process is now “easier than ever”, with all direct debits and standing orders able to be moved within seven working days.

As a result, being complacent about the issue of customer service at a time when the banking sector is becoming increasingly competitive could be counterproductive for institutions that want to be seen in a more positive light.

Click here to learn more about how CRM can drive up customer engagement levels through the use of mobile, social and more.
Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Consumer trust a valuable commodity

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Winning the trust of consumers could be a hugely valuable way for brands to make inroads in their respective industries.

According to Nick Turner, consumer business digital lead at Deloitte, only 12 per cent of consumers consider service providers their most trusted source of information.

By contrast, nearly two-thirds value the opinions of friends, relatives and fellow consumers, with lots of people reading reviews written by other members of the public, Travolution reports.

"Many consumers turn to independent sources to access information," Mr Turner observed.

"This presents a real risk for businesses as they have less control over the information being circulated and used by consumers to make decisions."

He suggested this may be partly down to the recent financial crisis, as this led to people developing "recessionary behaviours, such as being more selective". Think about it this way: would you not want to make the most of your money if you suddenly had much less to spend?

Mr Turner said this means their expectations of brands have grown, while some have become increasingly sceptical about the ability of firms to deliver on what they promise.

"A gap is emerging between consumer expectations and businesses' ability to meet them," he remarked.

This means firms need to make customer engagement a priority, so they can build a loyal and trusting core consumer base.

If this effort is successful, many of these individuals might be willing to talk up a brand on online forums, review sites and social media platforms.

Otherwise, trusted sources of information might be dominated by positive reviews of rival firms and negative remarks from dissatisfied customers.

"Social media is often used as a tool to make a complaint and demonstrates how strong engagement and good service can lead to positive word of mouth," Mr Turner commented.

He pointed out that more than eight in ten people check ratings and read reviews of brands, while more than a third actively contribute to web-based forums and make comments on people's blogs.

Mr Turner added that around one in ten consumers can be classed as a "genuine content creator", which means they run their own blog or website.
 
Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Customer contact ‘can’t just be good some of the time’

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For most business service providers, establishing a strong relationship with customers is their main priority.

But with thousands of companies all striving for the same goal, competing in an 'omni-channel world' is perhaps the largest obstacle to overcome. However, once this is accomplished, it stands as an important measure in enhancing brand loyalty and the retention of customers, the International Quality and Productivity Center reports.

It's true that an overall successful customer experience involves the service provider ensuring the demands of the end user are reached and that they are left feeling satisfied, but there are other contributing factors to consider.

Businesses need to think of ways in which they can exceed customer expectations, all the while making sure they have trained members of staff across every channel who will be able to do so.

Nicholas Turner, research director for the Customer Management Exchange Network, said: "Customer expectations have increased dramatically in a drastically short space of time, leaving many companies struggling to cope with growing consumer demands.

"Rapid advancements in technology and the growing use of social media have also come hurtling into our lives and have changed the way in which consumers access information, making them more powerful than ever before."

Companies with Facebook and Twitter accounts can communicate with customers and attend to their needs and queries much quicker than when composing an email. This could be particularly beneficial when reaching customers who are on the go and perhaps don't have access to their email accounts.

In a whitepaper titled Competing on the Customer Experience in an Omni-Channel World, Brian Cantor, vice chancellor at the University of Bradford, discusses five ways in which a business can achieve successful social media customer service. He advises companies to:

  • Create an online presence across all channels relevant to your target customer.
  • Make customer responses more personalised.
  • Reward loyal customers and brand advocates.
  • Urgently respond to all social inquiries – even if the customer appears unhappy or disgruntled.
  • Direct interactions to private or different channels when necessary.

Businesses need to start pushing customer contact boundaries and make positive improvements in order to achieve an outstanding level of customer service.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Modern retailers ‘must organise business around customers’

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Retailers that wish to thrive in the 21st century have been urged to make sure customers are placed at the heart of their business strategy.

According to Holly Ripper, managing partner of Green Cave People, several leading organisations are "seamlessly blending" their physical outlets and digital platforms.

For instance, she said Lloyds, M&S and Argos have taken steps such as using apps and social networking sites to incentivise people into going to their stores, The Drum reports.

However, Ms Ripper stated that if retailers are adopting an omni-channel approach, they need to introduce new organisational designs, processes and metrics.

"It means organising your business around your customer," she commented.

Retailers were also encouraged to have a "powerful and emotive story" that brings their brand to life, as customer shopping activities are being fragmented across a growing number of channels.

Ms Ripper said these stories could focus on the strengths of each individual channel. Therefore, companies with high street outlets could push their unique features such as the shopping environment they offer and an in-store experience that cannot be enjoyed via the internet.

Nick Adams, head of digital development at Mindshare UK, added that multi-channel retailers have been at the "epicentre of some of the most challenging and exciting developments in marketing" over the last few years.

For instance, he noted that some companies have experimented with methods such as social commerce models and in-store mobile beacons.

Mr Adams said this has led to the lines between digital and physical channels becoming increasingly blurred.

As a result, he believes retailers that are active across multiple platforms must make sure they are all working in harmony.

"The need for truly integrated cross-disciplinary thinking is more important than ever," Mr Adams commented.

He added that the emergence of ecommerce in the last decade or so has had a significant impact on the nature of digital advertising and marketing.

Download our free white paper to learn more about how CRM can drive up customer engagement levels through the use of mobile, social and more.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Word-of-mouth referrals ‘your ultimate marketing campaign’

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Encouraging happy customers to share their experiences with others can be the best way to promote a brand, an expert has noted.

According to Joe Hirsch, chief executive of YellowHammer, word-of-mouth referrals are the "ultimate marketing campaign" for an organisation.

However, he told B2B Marketing that they can only reach this point if they consistently provide value to clients and give them a top-quality service offering.

Mr Hirsch pointed out that gaining new clients is "just one part of the equation", as time and resources also need to be put towards keeping them.

This, he said, is because it is likely that another company provides similar products or services and does it just as well or maybe even better – and possibly at a lower cost.

Businesses were advised that if they want to win word-of-mouth referrals, they cannot "settle for the dollar value". Instead, their focus "needs to shift to the business value that yields more long-term results". Sure, saving your customers a few pounds is nice but it shows it also takes a real commitment to the mutual relationship.

"If your clients won't go to bat for your quality, your quality simply isn't good enough," Mr Hirsch commented.

Nevertheless, he said there are ways in which organisations can ensure they provide good value to clients.

For instance, Mr Hirsch stated that they can set realistic targets and expectations when they are constructing a narrative for their clients. As a result, they will be in a position where they can "beat the numbers" rather than fall below what was expected of them.

Mr Hirsch also suggested that brands align their interests with those of their clients and communicate openly with them. He argued that being honest and straightforward about how their budget is being used can help to build trust between the two parties.

"If you care about your clients, they’ll care about you," he remarked. As 2015 rolls out, this couldn’t be more true. Customer loyalty and word-of-mouth were not as important when access to information wasn’t as easy as it is today. Of course, it does take a lot more time and effort to win your customer’s trust, but in the end, when your customers take care of your marketing for you, it starts paying off.

Mr Hirsch added that businesses need to define their leadership and each person's respective roles, so it is obvious to everybody who is responsible for what.

Customer engagement white paper

3 min read

Businesses ‘using neuroscience to better understand customer behaviour’

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Neuroscience is becoming increasingly important to businesses who want to gain a better insight into their customers and how they think.

Understanding a target audience has always been a critical part of establishing strong customer relationships and providing a relevant service that fits people's needs and preferences.

As a result, many firms take steps such as setting up focus groups, measuring website analytics and using software to identify patterns and trends in the customer data they have already collected.

However, awareness of neuroscience has risen a great deal in recent years and some companies believe this discipline offers the key to gaining an even deeper understanding of the people they want to both attract and retain.

Keith Glasspoole, client programme leader at Ipsos MORI, believes it can be simple for firms to embrace this approach as part of their existing data collection strategy, Marketing Week reports.

For instance, he said facial coding could be used if a person filling in an online survey has a webcam, while test participants could be asked to wear biometric devices that measure their responses to different forms of marketing.

This would mean that companies are able to see what stimuli provoke the strongest reaction and which approaches are less successful at engaging with the customer.

"Advertising is an emotive topic in client companies," Mr Glasspoole remarked.

"It's a big, important investment and something that lots of people in the company have an opinion about.

"Neuroscience helps to take some of the subjectivity out of that discussion."

Stronger insights

US-based company Kimberly-Clark is among the firms that are taking advantage of Ipsos MORI's expertise in this area.

Clive Sirkin, global chief marketing officer at the firm, insisted that neuroscience is better than more traditional means of research, as it provides stronger insights into their behaviour, whereas alternatives such as surveys are based on a person's rational and conscious reactions.

John Humphrey, director of analytics, insights and consumer services at Kimberly-Clark, acknowledged that steps such as scrapping traditional focus groups would be shocking to many market researchers, particularly those who are keen to maintain the status quo.

This, he said, means that moving forwards in this way "requires a big mindset change" in order to get behind this new approach.

However, Mr Humphrey stressed that using neuroscience has many advantages, from producing clearly visible results on each project to generating richer insights and a better understanding of people's behaviour.

He said these findings can often act as a confirmation for marketers about the reaction some promotional content might provoke, which may in turn enable them to act upon new ideas more quickly than they could have done otherwise.

"Areas like psychology and anthropology are going to become much more important," he commented.

Disconnect?

As is to be expected when a new approach to an important function encroaches on the mainstream, there has been some criticism of the notion of using neuroscience to engage with customers.

For instance, some have questioned whether the findings can have a genuine influence on how a company goes about marketing to a certain audience.

However, one expert believes that any possible disconnect between marketers and neuroscientists can easily be addressed.

Professor of neuroscience at University College London Beau Lotto stated that marketers and neuroscientists could work together on controlled tests in which people participate knowingly.

He pointed out that when brands use traditional methods of gathering information, they tend to focus on issues such as who, what and where.

However, Professor Lotto noted that by bringing in neuroscience to gain more insights into people's thinking and motivations, questions relating to why they act a certain way can also be answered.

"Once you understand that, you can apply it to any context," he said.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

How can brands improve digital engagement?

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Brands should take care not to assume that consumers will automatically engage with content placed on the internet.

It is important to ensure content is attractive enough to encourage people to view it and then share it with others.

This includes developing a clear understanding of different customer groups and of assessing results in a way that moves beyond simple click-through rates and behavioural metrics to assess attitudinal data as well.

Improving digital engagement can take a number of forms and businesses can work with technology such as customer relationship management (CRM) software to boost their understanding of different groups of consumers.

As Millward Brown client director Leonie Gates-Sumner wrote recently in Marketing Magazine, "too many brands still believe that content put online will automatically go viral". However, she explains this rarely happens organically, with monitoring and measuring owned, earned and paid content essential to understand how successes is made.

CRM software can assist with better measurement and understanding of how to enhance digital engagement by automating some elements of the marketing process and delivering comprehensive and accurate data.

According to Ms Gates-Sumner, the phrase "what gets measured gets done" applies particularly to digital marketing, with vast scope for measuring data and improving the effectiveness of customer engagement strategies.

However, the media and communications specialist added brand strategy can be distorted by myths regarding digital measurement and it is important to get the process of evaluating results right so that potential successes are not undermined.

The article highlights the differences between TV and online marketing and the expectations consumers have of online content, as well as the importance of having clearly articulated goals when it comes to a web presence in order to maximise brand impact. As years come and go, customers demand more and more consistency across all your digital channels. Having a clear strategy should be your first step to achieving this goal.

Establishing objectives and measuring outcomes in order to evaluate success "is vital to deliver significant return on your digital investments", the expert claims, pointing out it is essential to assess the creative strength of online content and adapt it for the medium.

Digital engagement is becoming more important than ever, with social CRM now an accepted norm with consumers and companies looking for new ways to understand their social media audience and encourage them to interact more fully with brands on the internet.

Click here to learn more about how CRM can drive up customer engagement levels through the use of mobile, social and more.

Customer engagement white paper