Blog

2015 October

The 3 Ways You Can Start Supporting Your Sales Staff

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The sales team. Their success is your success, yet so many companies do little more than offer the same standard, played out incentives to drive success. Investing in your sales team makes so much business sense, but you have to know what investments to make. Maybe let’s skip the ping pong table this year and reconsider what your sales staff actually needs from you to be successful.

Implement Workflow Queues

We run into this often. A sales team works their collective butt off to lock customers in, and then the customer is lost to poor customer care. Instead of that customer representing recurring revenue they are likely bashing your products or services. The crying shame here is that it usually isn’t a person’s or department’s fault, but rather the unfortunate outcome of a flawed process. When something is no one’s job, no one is doing it.

Workflow queues should be put into place to, well…help work flow. Consider all the steps between the sale and when the product or service are delivered. Depending on your industry, there can be dozens. Workflow queues are created to make sure that once a step is completed, an automatic queue is given to keep the process in motion with right people and information needed to get to the next step, in a transparent effective way.

Find a Sales Friendly CRM

When decision maker considers the tools, software and technology for their sales team, they don’t often hit the mark. Consider these stats from the 2011 CSO CRM Sales Effectiveness Study-Key Analysis

  • Only 19% of companies reported that increased revenues was a benefit of CRM.
  • 64.1% rate their CRM system as Somewhat Useful or Minimum/No Value in understanding consumer market.
  • 50.3% rated their CRM as Somewhat Useful or Minimum/No Value in ensuring their reps have identified key stakeholders.

You wouldn’t give a chef an Easy Bake oven, and you shouldn’t give the staff that drive the success of your organization tools that aren’t right for them. Instead of the out of the box CRM, go with a customizable option. Your company is unique, your processes are likely of your own design. Bring something to the table that complements and supports your team. The software should tailor to your team, not the other way around.

Revamp Your KPIs and Incentives

Out of date and irrelevant performance metrics have a sad way of sticking around. Be sure your KPIs are measuring the actual factors that drive success among your sales team, the rest is just plain annoying and a waste of company resources. In an earlier post on the blog, about common KPI mistakes, we learned that no more than 10 KPIs are useful, beyond that it can get hairy.

Still giving away those blenders when someone hits a sales goal? Ditch the old school incentives and find out what actually motivates your team. We’ve found the best way to find out what your team’s drivers are is to -get ready, this is very scientific- ask them! Days off, flexible work schedules and work from home time are gaining popularity, especially among Millennials. The best part? These types of incentives won’t put a dent in your budget.

These are just a few of the simple, yet effective ways you can start supporting the backbone of your company -your sales team. Help them help you by providing them with the support and motivation they need. Find out what Volano’s role in that looks like now.

Transparency as Part of Your Retention Strategy

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“Transparency in business” Yes, it’s a buzz phrase. No, it’s not a trend. At Volano, we create customized software for workflows that center around transparency. When context, accountability and responsibility are incorporated into each moving part of a workflow, something beautiful happens. You see improved efficiency, better communication and a cohesive organization that in turn produces a better product or service.

Organizational workflows are just one facet of business that transparency can touch and improve. We’re going to take a hard right here and talk about how transparency in business can drastically increase retention rates. Yeah, we build software, but we build software centered around transparency and that leaks into every aspect of our own company culture. I guess you could say we’re experts on transparency, and not simply in the capacity of workflows, but as a leadership and organizational standard.

In 2011, companies spent $45 billion on recruiting, yet 46% of new hires still left after their the first year. –Fast Company

As business owners, retention is something that most of us struggle with. Between recruiting costs, the investment in training, and then the learning curve before the employee becomes profitable, you end up investing a small fortune. While there’s no fix-all for this issue, we contend that organizational transparency is an incredibly effective place to start.

Consider these turnover cost stats from a CAP study:

 

  • 16% of annual salary for high-turnover, low-paying jobs (earning under $30,000 a year). For example, the cost to replace a $10/hour retail employee would be $3,328.
  • 20% of annual salary for mid-range positions (earning $30,000 to $50,000 a year). For example, the cost to replace a $40k manager would be $8,000.
  • Up to 213% of annual salary for highly educated executive positions. For example, the cost to replace a $100k CEO is $213,000.

 

Providing Context Gives Purpose

When employees get the big picture goals of the organization and how their individual role impacts that big picture, you’re giving them context and purpose. They can see how their role helps turn the wheel and drive success. When overarching organizational goals are shared and celebrated, employees are able to become a part of those goals and invest themselves in them.

Context in work is also known to increase the amount of discretionary effort employees give to the organization and discretionary effort is the single strongest sign of employee engagement. Context leads to engagement and engagement leads to retention. It’s really not complicated or far-fetched, it’s how humans operate. When they are given the opportunity to work toward a goal, they are more likely to do so. If they never know what that goal is, who’s to say what they’re working for -likely a paycheck, and that is not a retention strategy.

Instilling Accountability Creates Drive

Another fantastic thing that transparency brings is accountability. Sure, you might know your job, but do you have any idea what the guy behind the computer, four cubicles down does? Do you know how your job impacts his, or visa versa? Who ends up with your crap work, or who is accountable for 50% of the messed up orders that come across your desk.

When we’re held accountable to our co-workers, we are more likely to perform at the standard we would like to experience from those around us. Beyond that, when accountability is transparent, everyone is keeping everyone in check, performance reviews become more effective, and work doesn’t fall through the cracks.

Reconsider the Traditional Corporate Structure

Top-down transparency is tough; we’ve had the corporate ladder, or pyramid, whatever you want to call it, for years and for some organizations it’s not going anywhere. If you’re married to your symbols of seniority that’s fine, but consider getting rid of the idea that 90% of the information stops with the c-suite. This massive game of telephone that we’ve been playing for decades just isn’t cutting it.

Don’t conceal information, share it. Don’t decide what’s relevant or not, be thorough, give context. Don’t assume the bottom of the ladder won’t understand your vision, help them understand.

Is it even possible to be invested in an organization that doesn’t share its path, vision, goals, mission? Transparency is the key to fostering and maintaining that investment that is so crucial to retention.

The 5 Marketing Metrics You Should Know the Numbers Behind

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No matter where you go or what you read, you will have differing opinions on where your marketing resources should go, how to use keywords, or what SEO strategy you should use. Honestly, at the end of the day you have to develop the marketing strategy that works for you, your industry, and your audience. How do you find that strategy? Metrics!

You cannot improve upon what you don’t measure. You have to keep a constant finger on the pulse of your metrics. Well, that could be about 78 different metrics. We have boiled that down to the following five that we believe hold the most weight in determining the success of your marketing strategies…

-How much does it cost us to get one customer? (Customer Acquisition Cost: CAC)

Getting this number is easier than you think, but you have to be thorough and probably ready for a surprise. Start with your spend on sales plus marketing in any given duration -week, month, quarter, year, whatever. This will include overheard on these departments, salaries, incentive programs, advertising spend, commissions and bonuses. Then find out how many new customers you’ve acquired over that same time period. Divide the two numbers and there you have it, the cost behind snagging each new customer.

-How many qualified leads are we generating?

Qualified leads are more than contact information, they are potential customers that we know are in need or want of your product or service. Qualified leads pass the BANT test as explained by MVFGlobal:

Budget: do they have enough money to buy the product?

Authority: can they make a purchase decision?

Need: do they have a need that the product or service in question can fulfil

Timescale: do they have a specific time when they wish to make their purchase

-What is our conversion rate?

Tracking your conversion rates is a really simple way to measure the success of just about any online campaign, whether you’re running site ads, adwords, social media ads, or retargeting, you can set up simple trackers to measure how many people took any kind of action that started at what ad including the most important action, sales.

-What are the numbers behind our latest campaign engagement?

Campaign success isn’t just about conversions, although that is a very, very important campaign metric. Campaigns can be ideal for collecting qualified leads, getting someone to sign up for your newsletter or to download a whitepaper, click through on an ad, visit your website or follow any other CTA you’ve incorporated. These are vital engagement points that open doors and start the conversation.

-What is our CLV to CAC ratio?

We already covered what your CAC is and how to find it, now let’s cover CLV and how these two metrics work together. CLV stands for Customer Life Value and it is the total financial value of a customer over the lifetime of your relationship. Remember when we talked about the 80/20 rule, here on the blog, and how 80% of revenue typically comes from 20% of your customers? Well, the meeting of the CLV and CAC are a big part of it.

When we take into account the total life spend of that 20%, we start to think more strategically about our CAC. Instead of strategies aimed at acquiring as many customers as possible in the cheapest way, we start to consider optimizing our acquisition spend to target value rather than volume.

Marketing efforts are difficult to measure, but without the right software in place to determine the success of these campaigns, you can’t effectively manage and refine on what works. Volano can help put quantitative data to work for your marketing efforts. Combined with a little ingenuity, your marketing efforts will build greater engagement with your audience, giving them value in return for their time.

Getting Staff On Board with New Tech

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We’ve all been witness to the public outcry when Facebook changes their interface or Apple immediately releases IOS 9.2 when everyone just downloaded 9.0. People tend to get a little miffed when you mess with their routine and they tend to get a lot miffed when you mess with their tech routine. Then there are those who don’t even know what IOS means, and no, they don’t care to learn. It really doesn’t matter who you’re dealing with, most people are anti-change, especially when it comes to their tech.

Implementing a new technology at work can be work all on its own. Let’s talk about what you and other leaders can do to help the team embrace whatever type of tech you’re introducing into the work environment.

Give Context

It is ingrained in us to ask “why”, especially when we’re being asked to do something we don’t want to do. The worst thing you can do is drop a tech change bombshell and walk away. Give some context! Why is this change happening? What benefits can the employees expect? What are the benefits to the organization? How will this change their everyday routine?

Odds are, the whole point of this tech implementation is to improve upon a system or process, but that won’t be apparent right away. If you want buy-in, you have to be selling something.

Customize Training

Remember you’ll be working with people of varying interest in technology as well as experience. The more sophisticated the technology, the more customized you will need to get with your training. Some will require step by step guidance. Others might be annoyed by a lengthy, in-depth training course they don’t need.

Instead of whizzing through a one-size-fits-all training course, communicate with employees on a one-on-one basis about their specific training needs. While some might require more of your resources, you aren’t wasting time on those that can help lead the way and get the ball rolling.

Plant Ambassadors

Target your most tech-savvy go-getters and get them familiar with the technology before you introduce it to the entire team. This way, your team has several people to go to for guidance. Additionally, your ambassadors can help communicate the end goal. They can rally the team and help leaders highlight the context of the change.

Reward Buy-In

If you’ve managed to find a way to make “because we said so…” motivational, please share your secret. In the meanwhile, you’re going to need to positively reinforce your employees’ efforts. Consider gamification of the training process; making it fun, engaging, and exciting. Creating a buzz around the change with rewards is a really effective tool.

We know better than anyone how beneficial the right technology can be to an organization. The possibilities are endless, but if you don’t thoughtfully implement the technology, you run the risk of turning your employees off to the transition. Be sure to rally the troops before you task them with learning a new tool, it will pay off in the end.

What’s the Difference? Why Not Just Get a Project Management App

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It’s not rocket science; every business has at least one process. Every process consists of steps, and your team, who is spread throughout a range of departments, is responsible for those actions. Keeping information flowing well is no easy feat. That’s where Volano comes in. We take a holistic approach to workflow management, taking the time to walk through each area of your business. We discuss your expectations, challenges, and goals. We combine that knowledge with technical expertise to craft applications and system solutions that improve each step of your process, ultimately boosting workflow. In today’s blog, we want to point out some of the glaring differences between what the fine folk at Volano do and your average project management apps.

First, let’s dive into what a typical project management app does. Inevitably, project management apps are supposed to make your life easier by organizing and managing all your projects and tasks from one central spot. Sounds great, right? And it might be, but with these one-stop-shop apps you are missing out on some crucial ingredients to the process that are actually customized to your business to achieve even greater project organization and management.

Number one: transparency

Our solutions at Volano are designed to keep information flowing, building confidence across the board. Every team member wants to feel informed and every owner wants to know where projects are at any given time. With Volano, you will never have to worry about whether or not your message or task got left in the dark or put into an overstuffed inbox. This is a big problem with project management apps the rely heavily on email; it offers no transparency; have they seen the task? Do they still have it? Who is working on it?  How close to completion are they?

Number two: accuracy

When using a project management app, project managers must learn how to use a program’s major features and ensure that team members learn to use the components they need to perform their work accordingly. With that, accuracy can sometimes fall by the wayside. To truly see and communicate what works and what doesn’t, measurement is key. At Volano we create software that will identify what processes are working, and where workflow could improve. Implementing key rules and checkpoints will help you identify training opportunities—as well as lead to a better, more accurate product or service.

Number three: efficiency

Because time often equates to money in the project world, it is important for managers to manage time, resources and personal efficiency if they wish to succeed. Creating a product or providing a service over and over again that never waivers in quality and doing it efficiently, is a common challenge in any industry. Our solutions help define each step of the process, assuring quality and efficiency across the board.

Number four: accountability

Like many project management apps, they often have a learning curve that varies based on the program’s complexity. Project management software may also cause novice project managers to generate projects that are more complex than they should be which could cause problems with holding the appropriate person accountable with certain tasks. With growth often comes the challenge of accountability; balancing employee empowerment with management. Solutions from Volano are designed to support your team members while clarifying and helping to monitor information including assignments, responsibilities and deadlines.

We make software to make work flow. We bring together proven practices and technical expertise with your specific challenges and goals to improve how work flows through every area of your business. Our all-encompassing approach connects Marketing to Sales to Operations to Accounting, and to any other department within your organization. It really is that simple. If you’d like to learn more about how to make your work flow, visit us online or give us a call.