Category Archives: CRM

Entrepreneurs Zoho CRM

Entrepreneurs! Are You Aware of the Latest Offerings from Zoho CRM?

Forget what you think you know about CRM programs. It’s time for you to rethink the entire idea that you’ve been holding onto for years now. You know, that they’re too expensive, too complicated, and not useful enough to justify tackling those challenges. It’s just not true anymore. I understand why you think that way, but until you’ve seen the latest software package that Zoho CRM has been rolling out it’s simply misguided. Allow me to enlighten you a bit.

While I remain a raving Salesforce fan, I’m not going to suggest you take on a CRM program of that magnitude (unless your enterprise fits a certain set of criteria). I still love HubSpot as well but will save that for another post. Right now, I’m here to inform you about the crazy new suite from Zoho that you must at least take a few minutes to check out. If you’re a solo entrepreneur/freelancer, or you have all the way up to 25 employees it will help revolutionize and scale your business like crazy.

Now I was already geeking out a couple months ago when they launched Zoho One. But then they went ahead and added too more applications the other day which literally blew my mind. Zoho Flow “automates business workflows by connecting your apps. You can build smart integrations to break the information silos in your business.” This works for both internal Zoho apps and external ones as well, think Zapier or IFTTT. The other is Zoho PageSense, which is “the Complete A/B Testing and Website Optimization Software. Get ready to increase website conversions and skyrocket your revenue.”

Now, for transparency purposes I must inform you that a large part of my business is built around assisting companies of all sizes and industries to build and implement CRM programs like these. BUT, I legitimately use this one for my own business. It not only has helped me to get better organized with project management and more efficient and streamlined from an operations perspective but leveraging it has tangibly helped me to grow the revenue of my business significantly as well. I’m all about automating as much as possible and these new features allow you to do just that.

If you want to explore what incorporating a CRM program would look like for your business, reach out to me and I’d be thrilled to assist. Whether it’s Zoho or one of the many other incredible programs out there, we can certainly get you on the right track to implementing it correctly to start demonstrating ROI asap.

Before moving forward, to get a better idea of what all they have to offer, take a look at how they articulate it:

Zoho One is a revolutionary all-in-one suite to run your entire business—an unprecedented 35+ integrated applications on one account, with complete administrative control—for a price that will change the way you think about buying software.

Zoho One includes applications with complementary mobile apps so you can run your entire business on one suite. This is the real deal here: You’re getting full-featured, enterprise editions of the entire Zoho suite. That means being able to reach customers, grow sales, balance your books, and work in productive and collaborative ways from any device—all with a single login and password.

Zoho One connects your sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, and more, while also giving you contextual integrations to communicate and collaborate with colleagues, customers, and vendors. With an integrated suite like Zoho One, you’ll always have the right information in the right places, empowering your employees to do great work. Traditionally, this has required an astronomical IT budget and an army of consultants to force everything together. Zoho One makes all that cost and complexity a thing of the past.

Zoho One is enhanced by Zoho’s growing developer ecosystem, marketplace extensions, and global partner network. We’ve made Zoho One extendable so our technology partners can customize our applications to meet your unique needs, across a broad set of industries. These custom apps and extensions of our already powerful applications are made available to you through our Marketplace. Meanwhile, our 1,000+ implementation and training partners are available to help you locally as needs arise.

2018 Call to Action

Happy New Year! I’ll save you the “new year new me/new year new you” talk (even though I’m always a sucker for self-improvement) and get straight to the point. You already know this is going to be your best year yet or you wouldn’t be reading this. And you KNOW it’s going to be my best year yet too. Now for the important part, HOW are we going to do that? This is OUR call to action!

Now I’m not some business guru, I’m still closer to the beginning of my come up, building the foundation of my future empire just like most of you. But I often have people reach out to me beginning with something along the lines of, “I’ve been meaning to reach out to you.” Or “I’ve been following/keeping tabs on you for months now and planning to hit you up.”

The reasons and motivations usually vary, it could be about entrepreneurship, marketing, CRMaugmented reality, blockchain/cryptocurrency, etc. My point in all this is to explicitly say, THIS is your invitation to reach out to me. Don’t wait another 3 months until your life gets less complicated (it won’t) or less busy (it won’t) before doing it. Now is as good a time as any.

It’s obvious we’re all ambitious people grinding our asses off to continue building our businesses and to add more value to our clients and prospects. If there’s a way we can help each other to do just that it’s very much worth at least a conversation.

Further, even if you’re not ready just yet, there’s a good chance I’ll be reaching out to you soon regardless. I will always make sure there’s something valuable tied to it though. But in 2018 I truly want to connect people in a way that helps them grow their businesses and networks. People ask me to make introductions/referrals to professionals in my network often. If it’s a connection that doesn’t make sense to you, you are more than welcome to say no thanks (or ignore it like some do). But keep in mind that on the flip side I’d probably make the intro for you too.

When the dust settles this time next year we’ll all have just got done celebrating the best year of our professional lives and strategizing on how to make 2019 even better. As my boy Tony Robbins says, “If you want to take the island, burn the boats!” I’m ALL IN on 2018 and I know you are too, so let’s get to work already and make it happen!

P.S. I’m always looking for new clients, investors, partners/collaborators, etc. so if there’s someone you think it would make sense for me to talk to please don’t hesitate to answer the call to action!

CRM Revisited (Again): It Should be Your #1 2018 Priority

I’ve been harping on the importance of CRM programs for about a decade now (here’s the last time), yet it still hasn’t caught on the way it should. This is the year that changes. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Not only are they cheaper, but the functionality and value has simultaneously increased dramatically. Now, you can even get basic versions of a CRM program for free. It’s why acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for every business, regardless of industry or target market, if you’re looking to increase revenue.

Whether you work for a large and complex company, or if you’re an independent freelancer, or if you’re a sales mercenary who is compensated by getting to “eat what you kill,” there is a CRM program out there for you. Regardless of your budget (or lack thereof), you can customize the level of sophistication of your CRM program, as they all have various subscription levels. Further, there was recently an absolutely game changing announcement from one of my CRM platform preferences (and the one I personally use for my business).

Zoho One – An Operating System for Business

“Zoho One is a broad and cohesive set of applications that work collectively to run an entire business on the cloud. It includes more than 35 web applications and an equal number of mobile apps—under a single sign-on, with centralized administration and provisioning—making it a true operating system for any business. While each application punches above its weight against the competition, collectively they deliver a knockout punch.

With Zoho One, we’ve put together all the applications a company needs to acquire and serve its customers (marketing, sales, and support apps); run its operations (finance, recruiting, and HR apps); and provide all the tools for its employees to work collaboratively and get their work done (office suite, mail, personal productivity, and collaboration apps). Almost any company has these same needs. With Creator, our drag-and-drop app builder, customers can even build custom apps for unique business needs—like logistics scheduling—and put them under the same umbrella that forms the single operating system for their business.

Zoho One is available at $30 a month—or just about a dollar a day, per employee. ($35 if you pay on a month-to-month basis).”

While WIMS, Inc. is platform agnostic (we work with all of them, including Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, and Insightly among others) it’s getting more difficult not to refer my clients and prospects straight to Zoho right now. There are of course exceptions, but they’ve built something special, particularly for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Now, back to the more general CRM theme.

They all integrate with your email provider of choice, along with most social media channels, so tracking communications is easy (and automated). There are an incredible number of third-party add-ons you can incorporate depending on how robust your operations processes are to add additional functionality too.

Most importantly however, is that the ROI (return on investment) will more than make up for the expense.

CRMs help you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close. Further, the more accurate data you have about your sales cycle, the more deeply you can analyze it to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

While implementing a CRM program can be a significant commitment initially, if you do it right, the benefit to your business is invaluable. With just over two months left in 2017, now is the perfect time to start planning and conduct your due diligence to start 2018 with yet another New Year’s resolution.

We’re here to help if you need it!

It’s Q4: Finish Like a Savage & Prepare for 2018 Domination!

There’s something about Q4 that is always exhilarating to me. Knowing that “the game” is coming to an end, each and every play is more significant, there’s less margin for error. Perform well during this time and you can make up for a lot of previous mistakes and setbacks along the way. Let up or fumble the ball, and you can destroy all the momentum you made thus far. No pressure, right?

All of this is going on while simultaneously a new game is going to begin soon thereafter. Endings are always thrilling, but so are new beginnings after all.

Despite the hectic grind I’ve been on lately, I made sure to take a little time to write up a quick “Q4 Manifesto” which is mostly for myself, but then I decided to add a few extra tips for others too, primarily applicable to your business or professional life.

  • Don’t wait for January 1st to start your New Year’s Resolutions, now’s as good a time as any. It’s a misguided practice that usually doesn’t end well anyway. You don’t need an arbitrary start date to work on self-improvement, that should be a daily practice as it is.
  • Get AGGRESSIVE – Close out ALL of those pending dream deals that have been lingering. Do much more outreach and lead generation. Don’t dwell on whether you’re annoying people or assume that they already have an expert helping them that does what you do.
  • Debrief/Reflect on the past year. What worked, what didn’t, what do you need to improve upon? Lay it all out objectively and identify opportunities to get better.
  • Strategize for 2018 now. Spend an appropriate amount of time writing out goals, sketching out project plans, be thoughtful and deliberate. But once that’s completed, start working on implementing that strategy ASAP.
  • Don’t eat and drink everything in sight just because it’s the holidays. Maintain (or in some cases start) your workout routine consistently and only indulge occasionally.
  • Enjoy time with my family and friends and BE PRESENT. Don’t spend that precious time distracted with your head in the clouds and worrying about things that are out of your control.

A few specifically for you:

  • Get and implement a CRM already! Seriously, how many times do I have to say it? If you need to spend some time asking a few questions on how to get started, reach out to me, that part is, and always will be, on the house.
  • Start a blog, a podcast, video/webinar series, whatever. Leverage content marketing to develop and enhance your brand and get your business’ name out there.
  • Finally start that business you’ve been day dreaming about for years now.
  • Or at least start working on that side hustle you’ve been planning.
  • Identify an organization you’re interested in and get involved in the community. This could be philanthropic or civic, doesn’t matter as much as simply taking action and giving back.

I’m sure there are plenty others I’m forgetting. And I will likely revisit this some more over the next few months to continue tweaking it.

What are some of your Q4 goals? What about your 2018 goals? How can I help you achieve them? Please let me know, would love to hear from you!

The Most Epic Entrepreneur Resource Guide of All Time

As the title says, I’ve set out to build “The Most Epic Entrepreneur Resource Guide of All Time.” I’ve seen and read most of them throughout the past five years plus while researching all things related to being an entrepreneur, and while there are plenty of good, even great, ones I’m working on building a better one.

The amount of time I’ve spent doing research is incredible, so hopefully I can save you a little time while on your own journey. Being an entrepreneur is hard enough as it is, so if I can make it a little easier for you I can’t ask for much more than that.

First, a disclosure, please pardon our dust while this remains under construction. But as the great Reid Hoffman says:

“If You’re Not Embarrassed By The First Version Of Your Product, You’ve Launched Too Late.”

Updates will be coming fast and furiously throughout September, with function being prioritized over form (for now). That of course is in development as well.

Everything will be broken down into sections based on specific topics related to your business, along with location specific pages for the cities that WIMS Consulting operates in for now (Charlotte, Miami, New York, San Diego/LA to start). There will be an index to help assist with where everything is located as well.

To give you an idea, so far the following pages are live despite not being complete yet.

Topics in the pipeline include (among many others):

  • Startup/New Business
  • Business Development, Lead Generation, Sales
  • Creative
  • Software/Platforms
  • Training/Education
  • Legal

In the mean time, make sure to bookmark this page and check back often.

Also, if there are topics/resources/service providers/vendors missing that you’d like me to add, please let me know!

The Industries of the PRESENT

How many times have you seen articles about the industries of the future recently? Probably more than you can remember. This is especially true if you’re a futurist nerd like myself that loves researching trends, innovative ideas, and thinking of all the potential practical applications these ideas/realities are going to have on our day-to-day lives.

Therefore, I’d like to take a slightly different approach to this one. These industries aren’t abstract concepts that are in the distant future any longer. These things are going to disrupt, improve, and turn our lives upside down within the next few years. These aren’t industries to just keep an eye on, they’re industries that I highly recommend hustling and scratching and clawing your way into immediately, before another gold mine passes you by.

If I have to listen to another person say, “If I only invested in Amazon/Google/Apple back in the day…” I’m going to lose it. Here’s your last call. Take action, or regret it later.

 

CRM – Big Data / Data Analytics – Marketing Automation

This one is a much more mature market than the other but still extremely early in the cycle of what it’s going to evolve into. I know many of you despise Salesforce.com/Microsoft Dynamics/Insert other CRM program here from a user perspective. Well I suggest getting over it, take the time to learn how to use them effectively and embrace this technology as CRM, Big Data/Data Analytics/Marketing Automation are going to continue to get more deeply involved in your day to day operations if you want to survive and thrive as a company whether you like it or not.

Nowadays it’s crucial to be able to turn vast amounts of data into insights and competitive advantages, while simultaneously improving customer service. CRM systems can increase sales by improving lead generation activities, help you design better products and services, and reduce supply chain costs. It will improve your decision-making by identifying new markets opportunities, and by improving your business processes and communication throughout your company.

You’ve had your head stuck under the sand long enough now, it’s not going away so get on board. (*Yes, my company provides these services and is partially why I started here, the other reason is that this has been around for a decade already).

 

Augmented Reality – Virtual Reality – Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning – Internet of Things

Notice how I listed AR first? Don’t get me wrong I do think there is a huge place in the market for VR and 360 videos, etc. That place is just dwarfed by the market impact that AR is going to have however. Again, industries are CURRENTLY being disrupted, and consumer/professional products and services are on the brink of mass adoption. I also lumped these together as they’re all related in a variety of ways and will supplement each other going forward.

Industries such as health care, real estate, education, military, public service, entertainment are about to be severely disrupted. Keep thinking these are all just entertainment gimmicks/Pokémon games if you must, but you’re going to wake up in a brave new world wondering what happened before you know it.

I am personally and professionally deep in this industry. I am a partner/co-founder of a company called Eolian which is a software/content development firm and systems integrator. We specialize in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). We’re currently focused on helping government and large enterprise organizations utilize these technologies for critical applications. We are also launching a product called ARRE (Augmented Reality Real Estate) this week which will blow people’s minds.

To say we’re growing like crazy would be an understatement. This industry is the next wave of computing. Think personal computers, mobile phones, and tablets, now this could, and will, easily trump them all.

 

Block Chain – Crypto Currency – Bitcoin – Ethereum – “Smart Contracts”

Many of you likely don’t really understand what these things are. I’ll give you a brief definition of each. Blockchain is a complete record of every smart contract transaction executed, all of which are stored in a public ledger (the Blockchain) created by collaborating online computers. Bitcoin is a digital currency that was the first algorithm to utilize blockchain technology and encryption techniques to generate units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, independent of any central bank. Ethereum is a public blockchain platform that powers smart contracts via apps created by developers around the globe.

Essentially these technologies will allow for cross border commerce, enable complete transparency and trust between parties in a transaction, as well as prevent currency manipulation. They aren’t just ways to buy illegal contraband via “The Silk Road 2.0” like you’ve probably read about and think is the purpose. It goes much further than that.

This is another industry I’m putting my time and money where my mouth is as I’m a partner and equity holder with a company called GNEISS. Essentially, we act as your ultimate security companion in a free market transaction. You can create, transfer, mint, burn, exchange, tax, or pay dividends to any crypto-asset or smart contract on our decentralized blockchain-powered trading platform. And this is just the beginning. Check it out and register to take a look yourself.

 

Others:

Cannabis – Marijuana

I’m sure you’re much more aware of this one as its been getting a ton of mainstream attention these days. It’s another that’s already been growing like gangbusters. I’m not fully “in” the industry just yet but working on it by helping my friends on the team of The Kush Life/Kush House get funding to continue building out their luxury retail space and product line. They’re also developing technology to help others in the space operate more efficiently and transparently. They’re based in Maine and quickly growing a reputation as New England’s leading cannabis authority.

Renewable Energy: I.e. Solar, Water, and Geothermal

While I don’t have a meaningful equity stake in a company in the solar industry (other than owning a rather insignificant couple hundred shares of a public company) I would love to get more involved in this industry from each angle. Yes, I understand the current administration isn’t a huge advocate, but it’s all about the long game.

3D Printing

This is one where I have 0 stake in currently, but will be hunting down a way to get involved in 2017. Not only will the manufacturing and distribution industries be disrupted like crazy, but also retail, and likely countless others.

 

This was a long one, but if you made it this far hopefully you will be grateful you did one day. I’ve been so deep in thought, as well as taking action to get more involved in these industries that I easily could’ve written another 10 pages.

There are plenty other industries that intrigue me as well of course, but what others are YOU excited about and going all in on? Do you disagree with any of my predictions? What steps have you taken and/or are planning to take? Would love to hear your perspective!

Start Preparing for 2016 NOW: Gain Momentum Heading Into Next Year

It’s now December 2015 (wow that’s crazy to think about!) and we have one month left in the year. While New Year Resolutions typically get all the rage around this time, this year I’ve been trying something much different so I can hit 2016 with serious momentum. Why wait to get started on getting better at a mostly arbitrary point of time?

Personally, it’s the beginning of week 7 of sticking to a legit workout/training regime. I’ve been working on improving my Spanish almost daily in the same amount of time as well. And, I just relaunched my new website and blog. Sure I could’ve waited until January 1 to begin, but why when now is the perfect time to begin getting better (or even better: yesterday).

Of course that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the holidays and indulge in the parties, family time, and especially great food and drinks. However, you should simultaneously begin planning for next year as well, both personally and professionally (this post will stick to the “professionally” part). Otherwise January 1st is going to smack you in the face with the inevitable onset of panic and regret.

Here is my list of the top 5 things to consider, plan for, and think about implementing in your business, etc. for next year. Of course there are about a million others, but for brevity’s sake (if you’re into the whole brevity thing) I’ll keep it short so you can get back to your holiday shenanigans.

  1. Rethink Money.

This may seem obvious but cash, checks, and credit cards aren’t the only way to pay for things, nor to get paid for the products and services your business provides. Electronic currency is extremely convenient and safe. For example, it’s quite common that I get paid for a project via PayPal (whether via their PayPal account or their credit card), and subsequently pay a company expense via my PayPal debit card or by transferring immediately afterwards. All this without having to deal with a bank in the middle or crazy credit card transaction fees.

There are also a ton of benefits in using Venmo, Square, Apple Pay, etc. Lastly, while it may take a little more time to yet to go mainstream, I’d also be thinking about how to implement BitCoin into your business as well.

  1. CRM & Marketing Automation

I’ve been preaching this one for years now, yet people still keep pushing it off because of the perception of extremely high costs both monetarily and in resource allocation. Sure a well implemented and administered CRM and Marketing Automation program remains a relatively expensive investment. But the cost of not utilizing these tools is even greater, and the ROI more than makes up for it.

While you may not want to admit it, your competitors most likely have a program either operational or at least in the works. Soon just having one isn’t going to be enough to remain competitive either, as economies of scale will be reached and adjustments will be made. There are approaches and methods to get a program implemented in a cost effective manner, and I’d love to be your resource to show you how.

  1. Content Marketing: Video in Particular

Content marketing includes your blog, social media posts, ebooks, how-to guides, white papers, podcasts, etc. (You do have a content marketing strategy, right?) All of these will remain extremely valuable in 2016 of course and leveraging them is still a great marketing strategy, however the one that will continue to trump them all is video. Again, this isn’t anything new, however the impact of video is going to continue growing even more. Whether you begin leveraging 6 second Vine clips, hour long webinars, or 20 minute “fireside chat” videos like my boy Gary V, you really need to think of creative ways to incorporate videos into your 2016 strategy.

I’ll admit this hasn’t been a strong suit of mine in the past either, which is why I made it my mission to partner up with an excellent team to not only deliver video services to my clients, but for my personal/WIMS, Inc. 2016 video content strategy as well.

  1. Online: Improve Mobile

You most likely already have a website, and maybe you’ve even incorporated some SEO to the back end as well. You’re absolutely set now right? Not quite. The numbers showing how many people are now solely viewing website content on their mobile devices is staggering. Fortunately, most website publishing and template companies like WordPress and Wix come with complementary mobile optimization capabilities. But if you created your website a long time ago, or if you haven’t tested your mobile site recently there may still be some issues. It’s well worth getting this right now.

Extending this further is the still growing world of mobile apps. I won’t say that you absolutely need to create an app right now for your business to survive, but if you can identify potential value in having one then it’s at least worth exploring. Costs to create them have been significantly reduced due to economies of scale and improved technique. There’s even a free tool called Yapp that allows you to build a bare-bones version of an app, and it’s definitely worth taking a look.

  1. Operations: Reduce Costs; Increase Productivity & Sales

You may think you’re already operating on a bare bones budget, and perhaps you are. But there are always areas to cut back on, especially for mid-large professional services firms. The biggest area is human resources, and by extension the overhead to support it. You may love having an in-house marketing department and beautiful office space for vanity purposes. In reality though, rather than allocating such extensive resources that aren’t very efficient you could pay for work output and space as needed, rather than 24/7 in the form of salaries, benefits and a huge office location. You can dramatically reduce costs while improving efficiency and productivity, which in turn will increase revenue and profit margins. There obviously isn’t one perfect way to go about this but it certainly worth thinking about objectively.

Hopefully you’ll find at least one or two, if not all of these insights valuable as you begin winding down the year and preparing for next year. If nothing else I hope they at least get you thinking and the wheels turning. The main thing I want to reiterate is to not forget your goals and lose focus for an entire month. There are 31 days left to do great work, crush some of your lingering goals, and hit 2016 with serious momentum. I guarantee you won’t wake up on January 1st regretting that you did.

 



Marketing Process Outsourcing

The New WIMS Inc: Putting In-House Marketing Departments on Notice

Unlike my typical blog posts, this one is certainly going to piss people off, including current and former colleagues, friends, clients, and prospects. While I usually try to avoid that, I can’t any longer as some things just need to be said. Change can be a scary and complicated thing, but there’s just a better way to do business and it’s nothing personal.

Now, the trend of outsourcing is far from a new or innovative concept. Yet companies like professional services firms continue to allocate extremely high budgets of $500,000-$1,000,000 and often much more to their in-house marketing departments. They do this despite the fact that they could spend a fraction of the cost while simultaneously getting significantly better service and results.

Regardless if you prefer to keep your team in house or to use a consulting firm, one thing is constant in either case, you need to DEMAND to see ROI. There are some advantages to keeping the team in-house I’ll admit that, but you should at least be able to make an apples to apples comparison between both approaches.

The way to do that is ROI, the objective metric that evens out all playing fields. I’ve seen many CMO’s apply the “smoke and mirrors” strategy year after year. They avoid accountability by overlooking past failures while waving the amazing, shiny new “marketing strategy” that they’re going to deploy this year. This is often just the old strategy repackaged to appear new however. CEO’s looking to avoid conflict accept it as a cost of doing business and then proceed to kick the can further down the road.

Now while there are plenty of exceptions, as there always are when dealing with people, there’s something I’ve often observed in the corporate world, I call it the “comfort theory.” Essentially, when you’re paying someone a predictable and stable salary it inherently allows most people to start cutting corners and reducing the quality of their work because they can get away with it. Not only is there a reduced quality of work, but why subsidize employee’s internet browsing time and social media addiction when you can just pay for the work that’s actually done. Besides, I doubt they’re going to give you a cut of their fantasy football winnings despite squandering hours a week of your time managing their team.

Don’t just take my word for it, conduct your own experiment and see for yourself. The next time you’re in a meeting with your marketing department demand more out of them or suggest changes, and watch the level of pushback, reluctance, and resistance you get. On the contrary call a consultant about a new project idea and watch them passionately geek out about all the possibilities.

I understand the comfort of familiarity and the status quo believe me, but is it really worth spending $50,000-100,000 on a salary for someone to just write an occasional blog post or article, blankly stare at a twitter feed, or create an occasional ad. You can get the same result or better for a tenth of the cost in many cases.

As another experiment, this Friday afternoon say around 3pm, take a walk around your building and see how empty the offices and cubicles are. The mentality of being an employee and working for your boss vs. being a client and working for your business partner can’t be compared. Working with independent contractors that need your business takes the quality of work to another level. They are mini-CEOs trying to better their lives, they’re not just punching a clock while desperately waiting to leave the office early on Friday afternoon. They’re the ones working at midnight on a Saturday because they’re hungry and ambitious.

You create the best work when you absolutely need to, like when writing a paper the night before it’s due. There’s something about having your life depending on it that generates this hyper-focus of productivity. Imagine having a team of people producing this kind of work every day because that’s how they approach their live, very deliberately.

Typical counter-arguments for in-house departments include things like, “oh but we know the brand so well,” or “what if someone urgently needs a brochure for a sales call?” It may not be a popular sentiment, but people are easily replaceable. We work with various brand guidelines all the time and pick them up very quickly. Also, I’ve seen countless desks with stacks of brochures piled high collecting dust, as much as marketers may try to convince you otherwise, your beautiful brochure is not what’s going to win you new business, relationships are.

Perhaps this post is like that old “Magician’s Greatest Secrets Revealed” show where the masked magician showed you how the tricks were really done and made a lot of magicians extremely angry. If you’re feeling that way right now I hope you take this opportunity to step your game up and prove me wrong.

Changing a decades long mindset of keeping marketing teams in-house is going to require evolution and a rebuilding process, but there’s definitely hope. It will force people to BE BETTER. Think about the Golden State Warriors a few years ago. They were very bad, but they had some decent and promising players, they stuck to their long-term plan to build their team, make a few strategic moves and then a few years later they won a championship. The metaphor is very relative in business as well.

For the sake of full transparency, this long-winded blog post has the additional goal of announcing the new WIMS, Inc. We now offer a complete suite of marketing, CRM, and business development services that are provided for literally a fraction of the total cost you’re paying for your entire marketing department. By leveraging strategic partnerships and a deep team of independent contractors we are now able to offer literally any marketing service, and to any size firm in any industry. If you’re interested in video, we can develop the content, build an entire distribution network, and even create your own online channel. If audio is your thing, we can help with the creation, publishing, and promotion of your own radio show and/or podcast. If you need a website, an ad campaign, online content creation, or social media network, whatever it is you’re looking for, we can help facilitate.

Give us a call or send us an email and we’ll be happy to provide you with a FREE consultation to see if our companies would be a good fit to work together. Part of building strong long-term relationships includes occasionally offering some free advice, which we do happily. What do you have to lose by at least evaluating whether it’s worth pursuing a potential 6-figure a year cost reduction in your marketing expenses?

CRM

CRM Revisited: It Should be Your #1 Priority Heading into 2015

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs aren’t only the future of business; they’re the present. And they aren’t just for Fortune 500 companies anymore either. Like with most technology, competition, economies of scale, and innovation have driven costs down significantly. Now, you can even get a basic version of a CRM program for free. Without a doubt, acquiring and implementing a CRM program is my #1 recommendation for businesses of all kinds looking to grow and increase revenue.

Whether you’re an independent freelancer, a sales mercenary who is compensated by getting to “eat what you kill,” or a large and complex company, there is a CRM program out there for you. Regardless of your budget (or even a lack thereof), you can customize the level of sophistication of your CRM program as they all have various subscription levels. Most integrate with your email provider of choice and have a mobile app too. Additionally there are an incredible amount of third-party add-ons you can incorporate depending on how robust your operations processes are.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like building a CRM program is a cheap and easy task, far from it in fact. So keep in mind when considering which CRM program is best for you that the cost typically exceeds that of the user license fee. They require a significant amount of time and commitment, especially in the beginning when you’re just getting started. Don’t let that deter you however, as the ROI (while seemingly intangible at first) will more than make up for it, assuming it’s implemented correctly. In fact, the average ROI of a CRM system is $5.60 for every $1 spent.

CRM systems allow you to track and store vast amounts of data about your customers and prospects. The more data you have about your sales cycle that is accurate and relevant, the more deeply you can analyze that information to gain insight that will not only help increase revenue, but ultimately help you improve:

  • Close rates,
  • Customer service and retention,
  • Length of sales cycle, and
  • Forecasting efforts and projections.

Just as important, CRMs also help you automate your sales process. The more automated your sales cycle and follow up efforts can be, the greater volume of deals your business will be able to close as opportunities will be less likely to slip between the cracks.

By now you are probably either thrilled by the amazing potential a CRM program can provide, or perhaps you’re overwhelmed by the thought of endless amounts of data. If you’re like me and skew towards the former, below is a list of the necessary things to consider before rushing into it, along with some things to keep in mind after you’re fully operational.

  1. Conduct an “audit” of existing processes and database.
  2. Clean up your existing data to avoid the dreaded trap of “garbage in/garbage out.”
  3. Code your database to more easily identify priority contacts, “ABC”.
  4. Perform a sales cycle analysis, what are the typical steps involved and the time frame?
  5. Customize CRM pages, fields, and layouts with your appropriate specifications.
  6. Training of users/administrators.
  7. Import your database and start beta testing.
  8. Integrate with your existing systems, i.e. email, QuickBooks, etc.
  9. Reporting and sales forecasting.
  10. Ongoing maintenance, monitoring, updates, and improvements.

While implementing a CRM program can be relatively time‐consuming and expensive, if you do it right, the benefit to your business is invaluable. Don’t dismiss CRMs and cloud‐computing as trends that will soon go away, otherwise your competition may have already long passed you by the time you’re ready to get on board. With just over a month left in 2014, now is the perfect time to start planning and conduct your due diligence to start 2015 with yet another resolution.