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4 Ways to Entice More Online Purchases

One of the greatest thing about the web is that it has opened so many doors for businesses of any size to increase their sales nationwide – even globally. But the whole “if you build it, they will come” theory isn’t necessarily going to have your customers knocking down your cyber walls to give you their hard earned money. There are certain things you must do to improve your online sales. Good news! We’ve got a few helpful tips to get you started…

Create demand, even if there isn’t much. Think about Amazon. How many times have you added an item to your cart only to see a little indicator that says “only X left in stock”? Strategies like this give the impression to the customer that they must act now or they’ll miss out on the item or sale price, and it’s something that you can leverage as well to improve the chances of closing the deal with your online customers.

Don’t just tell them – show them. Quality content is great, and the better you describe your inventory, the better. That said, research has shown that using video to relay product information is much more effective if pushing a maybe to a yes when it comes to sales. Get creative and put yourself in your customers’ shoes to figure out what type of video marketing would get the best results, such as product demos or helpful how-to’s.

Leverage reviews and feedback. You can shout to the rooftops how fantastic your products are, but when it comes from your customers who have actually bought and used your products, it’s much more powerful. Let your satisfied and loyal customers do your marketing for you by providing them with the opportunity and encouraging them to complete surveys and write reviews. You can then leverage those good reviews by sprinkling them throughout your website to encourage new prospects to buy from you.

Use upselling and/or cross-selling techniques to give buyers more options. Set up your site so that when your customers are shopping, they’ll see either a similar product that is of higher quality and slightly more expensive (upselling) or they’ll see another product that complements the product they’re considering buying (cross-selling). Both of these techniques can boost sales in some instances, so it’s worth a shot!

With the technology available today, the possibilities for businesses of any size to market online are virtually limitless. Doing so successfully, however, takes some work. By employing these techniques, you’ll have a much better chance of grabbing those online sales and increasing your bottom line exponentially. What are you waiting for? Get out there and get selling!

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 1:59 PM

4 Easy Ways to Get Feedback from Your Customers

One of the most powerful ways to develop stellar customer service for your business is by gathering feedback from those you’ve already worked with. This can help you to determine what things you are doing right, and identify areas that may need a little more work. So how does one go about gathering this important information from their customers? Here are 4 simple ways that you can encourage your customers to provide you with valuable feedback.

Offer them something in return. It’s always easier to garner responses when you offer an incentive. Offer customers a discount, giveaway or entry into a contest in exchange for sharing their opinions and sharing information about their experience. Not only will this tactic work for honing your marketing and customer service strategies, but it can also encourage repeat business. 

Use QR codes. By now you’ve probably noticed those odd looking little boxes of black squiggly code showing up on everything from print ads to business cards. These are like modern day bar codes that can be programmed to contain just about anything – including feedback surveys. All your customers will need to do is scan the QR code with their smartphone and they’ll be able to instantly provide feedback. It doesn’t get any easier than that! (Check out Kaywa for an easy, free way to generate your own QR codes.)

Go mobile. There’s no doubt about it – mobile and smartphone usage is only going to continue to increase, so you might as well take advantage. Make it easy for your customers to share their feedback via their mobile device. As a bonus, when a survey can be completed right away following the service, there is a much greater rate of participation. Make it easy and make it instant.

Let them text it! Not only is SMS text messaging a great tool for gathering instant feedback, but it’s also a great way to manage customer service complaints in a timely manner. Check with your phone system provider to see if they offer inbound SMS as a feature (we know someone who does!), and put it to use. 
Listening to your customers is critical to the ongoing success of your business. By following these tips, you’ll be able to start gathering valuable feedback and turning that feedback into better service and improved future sales.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 12:48 PM

7 Tips for Working with Slow Paying Customers

It’s hard enough to stay in business these days without having to worry about slow paying customers. But, unfortunately, most of us have them so it’s something we have to grin and bear. The good news is there are a few ways you can entice these procrastinators to stop dragging their feet and pay in a timelier manner, improving cash flow for your organization. Here are 7 tips for effectively dealing with slow paying customers. 

Clearly communicate your terms. If you expect payment upon receipt, or net 10, etc. – make sure your customers understand this requirement by clearly stating it in writing on each and every invoice. That way there’s no question of when payment is due.

Stay on top of sending invoices. As soon as the job is done or the product is shipped, send your invoice. You can’t hold your customers accountable for paying late if they’re not getting billed in a timely manner.

Itemize. Make sure that every item or service you are billing for is clearly noted on your invoice to avoid any confusion. Assign item numbers and use detailed descriptions. The more information you provide, the less likely you’ll be to have a customer delay paying because they’re unclear as to what they’re being billed for. 

Understand their requirements. Depending on the size of the company you’re dealing with, they may have several of their own requirements in order to process timely invoice payments. Ask upfront what is required on their end for speedy processing, such as P.O.’s or other documentation that you can arrange on your end so that all requirements are met in the first shot.

Establish relationships. A great way to ensure timely payments is to get to know the person on the other end of that remittance check. Learn who the Accounts Payable contacts are in each of the firms that you do business with and make it a point to establish relationships with them. 

Implement a late fee policy. If you’re really having problems getting people to pay on time, it can be an added incentive when you implement and enforce late payment fees. Just be sure that this policy is clearly communicated upfront, otherwise you won’t be able to enforce it.

Pick up the phone. Never underestimate the power of a personal touch, especially when it comes to collecting a debt. Instead of sending another invoice, try picking up the phone and calling to inquire on when payment will be made. This is where the whole “establishing relationships” comes in handy, as well. If you know who cuts the checks, you’ll know who to ask for when they’re late.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 4:18 PM

How to Successfully Sell Complementary Products

You don’t have to be a marketing genius to know that placing one product next to something else that it can be used with can mean a boost in sales. It just makes sense – if a customer has already made the purchasing decision for one product, why not entice them to buy something complementary at the same time. But as much as the concept seems like a no-brainer, there is a certain strategy that is needed if it is to be carried out successfully. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Offer the second product for a discount. If a customer knows that by purchasing one thing, they can get a second similar product for a lower price, it could be just enough to entice them over the edge. It can also help you avoid the “I’ll buy this one now, and the other one later” dilemma by making it worthwhile for your customers to buy everything in one shot.

Clearly communicate the value of the second product. To really drive that second sale, you have to clearly deliver the message that it’s valuable and a “must have”. Encourage your sales staff to mention the add-on and tout its value in terms of the first product. The more you push this message, the better results you’ll get.

Give the offer a level of urgency. It’s probably the oldest tactic in the book, but it’s highly effective. When you provide a sense of urgency with your complementary offer (i.e. “Today Only: Buy A, Get B for 50% Off!”) you force your customers to make an immediate buying decision. When they don’t have the option to go home and think it over before pulling the trigger, they’re more apt to bite the bullet and make the purchase just to take advantage of the deal.

Offer more than one complementary product. If one add-on item is good, it only stands to reason that two is better, right? If possible, offer two additional products to go with your main sale to make it that much more of a bargain.

Keep it relevant. As long as the complementary product you’re offering makes sense as an add-on, even if your customer doesn’t purchase it, they’ll understand the reason behind the push to sell it. If you try to push something irrelevant, on the other hand, you risk ruining relationships with your customers altogether. Keep it related and you’ll have a much better response.

Selling complementary products can be a great way to boost sales, but it has to be done right for it to really be effective. Follow these tips and you’ll have a good chance of capitalizing on this powerful marketing strategy.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 7:51 PM

Are You Communicating Securely? 6 Tips to Keep Your Conversations Safe

In an age where cloud computing and mobile communications are becoming the norm, rather than the exception, how can you know that the information you’re sharing on a daily basis is really secure? It’s particularly important for businesses that deal with sensitive data, such as customer contact information and payment methods, that the highest level of security be consistently achieved. Here are a few helpful tips to help you keep that important data safe.

Understand the Law – Depending on the industry you work in, there may be specific laws and regulations set forth that govern how communications should be handled. Understanding these laws will help keep you out of trouble and provide the foundation upon which you can build your internal communication policy.

Establish Clear Policies – Develop a plan for how sensitive communications will be kept safe, solidify it and make sure it is clearly communicated to everyone who works for you. Include it in employee handbooks, if you have them, or as part of the on-boarding process for new employees. The more you hammer the point home, the higher level of compliance you’ll experience among your team.

Always Use Encryption – It’s easy, it’s free – in fact, in most cases it’s free. There’s really no excuse for you to ever be sending sensitive data without encrypting it for security purposes first.

Be Careful with Cellphone Use – In such a mobile society, it’s no surprise that more and more people are moving away from landlines and relying solely on cell phones for their communications. Just remember, though, that cell phones are not fully secure, so be careful not to say anything sensitive that you wouldn’t feel comfortable getting out there.

Enforce the Use of Strong Passwords – You might be surprised to know how many people fail to use caution when they create passwords (i.e. using “password” or “12345”). Make it clear to your employees that they should be carefully choosing passwords that would be difficult to compromise. Set your systems to only accept alphanumerical passwords of a certain length for better security.

Keep Important Data Under Lock and Key – Whether it’s your servers for your electronic data or your paperwork for the physical information that is sensitive, make sure that it is always kept safe, under lock and key, and be extremely careful about who you grant access to. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 6:17 PM