Cloud vs. On-Premise CRM: Which Will Secure Your Data Best?

Cloud vs. On-Premise CRM: Which Will Secure Your Data Best?

on-premise and cloud crm

In September, 2017, 2.5 million Americans and some 100,000 Canadians were affected by a cyberattack on Equifax databases.  The company, a consumer credit reporting agency, had known about the attack since July 29. However, it waited close to two months to report the hack to the public.

I was horrified upon hearing the news. In the past 5 years, I purchased home and car insurance, installed internet and cable TV, and leased a new car. To be eligible for all of these services, the companies I was doing business with used Equifax to check my credit score. Knowing how sensitive my information was, I expected Equifax to add more care to it.

Upon contacting Equifax and waiting 2 hours on the line I was told, “We host all our information in the cloud. Our cloud-based database was hacked into despite efforts to squash them. The only way to protect yourself is to subscribe to our free monitoring services. We will contact those affected by mail.”

Cloud vs. On-Premise CRM Debate

My experience with Equifax reignited a debate: Cloud vs. On-Premise CRM. Which one will secure my data best?  I am sure everyone by now is thinking the same thing.

Many businesses with a small IT budget and few resources feel cloud-based CRM is a far more viable option for them. That’s because the CRM system requires little to no intervention from the IT department and are hosted be the developers. The product developers own the servers, handle the updates and are responsible for the general management of the platform. If there are any issues with the system, it is the responsibility of the vendor to fix it.

On-premise CRM applications are not handled by the vendors. Upon implementation, you and your IT department take over every aspect of platform management. This means that you and your IT department intervene when networks and services are down and install the necessary software to prevent hacks.  Essentially, you are in the driver’s seat. You call the shots and you do not depend on others and their policies to ensure the safety and security of your data.

The Solution

I am finding that the majority of CRM users are switching over to on-premise CRM applications because of recent cyberattacks on large companies, such as Yahoo, Equifax and eBay, and their databases.

Any cyber attack is a service interruption and is detrimental to businesses and their clients. The only way you can be proactive in stopping them from affecting you and your operations is to switch to on-premise. You call the shots and you determine what kind of security measures you need to take to secure your client information. If something does occur, you choose the appropriate action instead of relying on someone else to take it for you.

For on-premise CRM solutions, the implementation may seem costly. However when you look at the long term benefits, the pros outweigh the cons. We market InfoFlo CRM as a program with a onetime fee of $99/user with free upgrades for life. Once implemented, the data is all yours and no additional costs will be incurred. You determine your security needs, what you want added/deleted, and who has access to your databases. You will never have to worry about someone mismanaging your sensitive data.

Download a 30 day free version of InfoFlo today. Click here to speak to a CRM implementation specialist to learn more about how our on-premise solution will work for your needs.

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How to Convert a Negative Review into a Happy Customer with a CRM Tool

No entrepreneur wants his or her customers to be unhappy. Not to mention that it is bad for business. The following are 6 proven ways to reply to upset customers and their negative reviews and potentially win them back. Having a Customer Relationship Management Tool (CRM) can significantly make the process of Online Reputation Management easier on you and your CSR staff.

 

How to Convert a Negative Review into a Happy Customer with a CRM Tool

 

1. Investigate the Review

Ask for some honest feedback from all parties involved to determine if there is truth behind the complaint. If you are using a Contact Management Tool, review all the appropriate notes and files attached to the case. Respond only when you have a clearer picture of the situation.

 

2. Sleep on It!

Ignore your impulses. Have something written down within seconds of reading the review? Sleep on it! Studies show that a period of unconscious thought leads to improved decision making. Review the message again in the morning. Have a friend or objective party review the message and revise it if necessary.

 

3. Respond!

You should always respond to the review no matter how frivolous the claims are. Use your CRM tool to customize the message and make the customer feel that their business is valued. To appear less general, online reputation management experts suggest breaking each point down and addressing them one by one using bullet points. Those seeing the review and the response will be pleased to know that you care about your customer service and go the extra mile to ensure your customers’ happiness with your product/service.

 

4. Apologize with Sincerity

You can easily deflate a tense situation with an apology. Use the LAST acronym to help guide you: Listen, Apologize, Solve, and Thank. It is essential not to skip any of these steps and to do them in the order listed when responding to a negative review.

 

5. Act as Humanly as Possible

Show empathy, communicate in a friendly tone and use your real name. And if the forum supports it, it helps to include your actual photo. That way if the reviewer has any questions they know who to approach. Most consumers will contact businesses offline to resolve the matter once and for all and give the business a chance to rewrite a wrong.

 

6. Take it Offline

If the issue is not a quick fix or involves confidential information, opt to take it offline. The best way to reach an agreement is to start a dialog in person. First, you already know the customer’s troubles and can think how you can make it better by offering compensation. And live conversation won’t let it seem bribery. Once the issue is resolved the happy consumer will most likely remove the negative review or at least revise it to include new developments.

We hope this article has provided you with some tips to consider when dealing with all types of online reviews, and how to turn any type of customer feedback into an opportunity to grow engagement and brand loyalty. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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5 Amazingly Helpful Sales Tips for Introverted Entrepreneurs

Introverted Entrepreneurs Can Sell!

Introverted entrepreneurs can be just as effective as their extroverted counterparts, if they know how to use their strengths to pitch a good deal. The most important thing to remember is to avoid the use of the same techniques as extroverts. You will only end up looking bogus and ingenuine to your prospects.

The following are 5 amazingly helpful tips for introverted entrepreneurs trying to test the sales waters. They helped me, an introverted copywriter, break free from my personal bubble and innovate by taking risks and trying new approaches. I proudly share my experiences because I feel have overcome many obstacles, including a speech impediment, to establish myself as a successful entrepreneur. I hope you can do the same in the coming months or years and take these tips to heart.

1. Be Yourself

The key to being confident in sales is knowing and owning your sales style. Think of it as your trademark. Many people have a false perception that you must be pushy, extroverted, or “salesy” in the sales department. That’s not entirely true and I am the first to admit this. You can be quiet, introverted, goofy as long as you remember to be honest, yourself, and knowledgeable about what you sell.

2. Don’t Quit on the First Try

Depending on the industry you are working in, not every customer is ready to buy your product/service the same day they call or drop in. If someone tells you they are not ready, it does not mean the deal is a dead end. You will still need to follow up. 63% of deals are closed after the fourth chat, yet 9 in 10 sales people quit after the fourth call. Those 10% are making a lot more money because they are persistent and show perseverance.

3. Speak Less, Listen More

Contrary to popular belief, the best sales staff do not have to be great talkers to close leads. The sales people who talk more end up talking about a whole lot of things that do not really address what their prospects need. As an introverted entrepreneur, you use your exceptional listening skills to listen to what someone is telling you, and gain a fuller understanding of your prospect’s situation. What I am saying, your superior listening skills will help you match products/services with customers with more accuracy.

4. Make it Personal

Connect with your prospects on a personal level. Sometimes it is the common interests, other than sales, that help you connect in ways other sales people cannot. Talk about yourself and what makes you unique. Your hobbies, your family, your love of tuna subs etc. People remember the person, not the product. Make it look like no one can question your knowledge in yourself.

5. Invest in a CRM Tool

As an introvert, developing new leads may not come naturally. Cold-calling strangers may not be your strength. Investing in a CRM tool like InfoFlo can help ease the load. InfoFlo will help you better search, sort and qualify leads, follow up on sales opportunities systematically, increase target reach rates faster, and prioritize and rationalize following activities. Click here to learn how. You may wish to download our free 30 day trial to reap the benefits immediately.

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Sales Productivity Tips: How to Earn Consumers’ Trust

Warren Buffet once said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Establishing trust between your brand and consumers is critical to retaining customers as well as acquiring new ones. Word of mouth marketing still works. Consumers still rely on review sites to determine the right fit.

Fortunately, it’s easy to build trust in a business relationship. Here are the basic rules to live by in sales.

 

The Don’ts

  • Don’t make impossible promises.
  • Don’t spam.
  • Don’t be pushy.
  • Don’t treat customers like fools.
  • Don’t cherry pick. No company has splendid reviews. Everyone has one or two things they need to improve on.
  • Don’t forget to protect customer information. Security is of high importance to customers.

 

The Do’s

  • Do reply promptly to inquiries.
  • Do genuinely listen to customers.
  • Do be transparent.
  • Do less talking and more listening.
  • Do be fair.
  • Do be honest with customers.
  • Do give customers time to think and sleep on the information.
  • Do do some giving without expecting anything in return.
  • Do stop worrying about sales so much and be honest with your customers. Your reputation is at stake.
  • Do keep a clean reputation online.
  • Do use some form of productivity software to help you manage customers and their accounts.

If we missed an important point let us know in the comment section.

It’s important to meet the needs of your customers, whether they say it explicitly or not. At the same time,  you should make sure you are setting realistic expectations. If you’re resolving an issue, be sure you direct your customers through any process and communicate regularly, thanking them for their patience and their business. Building relationships with your customers and managing their expectations takes extra time and effort, but it is rewarded by positive word-of-mouth and loyalty.

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CRM Software – Knowing Which Leads are Good for Business

It can be very tempting to look at the number of leads you have compiled and be satisfied. However, those figures can be deceiving and may eventually do nothing for your bottom line.

“More leads” does not mean that “better” sales are the only objective. You can generate hundreds of leads, but if none of them convert then you just wasted precious time and resources.

 

Not All Leads are Created Equal

A quality lead is not someone that just gives you their contact information. If they do not fit your target audience, they will most likely not convert and hinder the productivity of your staff. In economics, there is a concept called “the point of diminishing returns”. “The point of diminishing returns” refers to when the effort/resources expended becomes disproportionately high compared to the output.

Some customers are more ideal than others. This means they will spend more, purchase related products your company offers, and make referrals. How you find the ideal lead is by analyzing your existing customer base, finding the high-quality customers and documenting the attributes that make up the ideal prospect through your CRM Software. When you clearly know the leads you want to target, you increase the number of leads you close.

 

Retention over Acquisition

The best way to generate leads is to spend more on customer retention and less on the acquisitions. Studies show that only 12% of marketers focus on retention, despite the fact that it costs five times as much to acquire a new lead.

When devoting resources to existing customers to either upsell, cross-sell, or resell your efforts will be focused and have a much higher probability of converting. A recent study showed that just a 5% increase in retention spending can yield anywhere from 25 per cent to 95% in returns! This is especially true if you already started with a base of high-quality leads.
 

Quality over Quantity

It’s not about collecting as many leads as possible but rather collecting leads that are most likely to lead to a sale or stay engaged with your product/service. These leads get added to the CRM software database where future communication is much more customized and most likely stems directly from a sales representative. In this scenario, a brand would measure their spend vs the number of qualified leads that turned into sales.  The benefit that a lead would typically receive in this scenario would be a bounce-back offer towards the purchase.

 

A comprehensive CRM tool that is customized to your needs will help you distinguish between good leads and bad and assist you with retaining the current client base for longer periods. Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s better to be upfront and honest, then to make consumers purchase a product or service that they may not need. Remember: your reputation is more than the acquisition. Click here to try our CRM tool 30 day free trial.

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5 Tips to Master the Art of Cold Emailing

Prospecting either over the phone or email has changed drastically over the last two decades. In the modern world, the term is more flexible and encompasses unsolicited outreach as a whole. For some cases, dialing up a non-qualified prospect might be a good option, but in other circumstances it may not. It all depends on your industry and the target market.

1 in 50 business owners list their phone as their preferred method of contact. A long time ago, when cold callers were reaching prospective clients on their office lines,  cold calling was the best means of communication. Today, with more individuals relying on their personal smart phone devices for work, sales calls from an unknown number feel more intrusive. The ubiquity of caller ID also makes these attempts easier to screen.

If you are one of those industries that has a difficult time with cold calling, cold emailing may be the solution for you. But of course, breaking through crowded inboxes is a difficult task of its own. Social media can be effective, but here too exists a subtle balance between being useful and obnoxious. We are here to offer up practical cold emailing tips you can use today.

An effective cold email does five things. It should:

 

1. Tailor the message to the recipient

You need to do some research. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that. Personalizing your email blast means that you’ve thought about who the recipient is,  what interests them, and what products/services they may need — you’ve created a “working profile” about the recipient. I say “working profile” on purpose because it is not set in stone and should be changed frequently as the relationship evolves. This shows them you have put work into understanding them.

 

2. Validate Yourself

When we meet a stranger or get an email from them, we first want to find out who they are and why they matter. Having a connection that validates your product/service is the strongest form of social proof you can offer to prospective client you are cold emailing. If you have any direct connections, mention them. A mutual connection means you are no longer a stranger.

 

3. Keep it Short

Keep the email short and sweet – 2-4 sentences; 5 sentences at the MOST. Anything beyond 4 sentences will see your response rates decline. Include visuals, such as videos, infographics, cartoons, photographs etc. Visuals make information easy on the eyes for recipients.

 

4. Add as Many Details in Signature

Your email signature needs to include your business address, links to social media profiles, and contact information. All elements must be present to build trust and credibility with the person reading your cold email.

 

5. Include Post Scripts

Post Scripts are useful in that you can use them to ask to speak to someone else. This also serves as a way to fulfill the opt-out responsibility in your email and still keeping it personalized. A lot of people will read the P.S. before the rest of the email. A good example of something to add to post scripts is a call to action for a white paper or enewsletter.

 

Easily create professional email marketing campaigns and email templates, manage subscribers, and send to unlimited contacts all for one flat fee. Click here for more info.

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How to Make Successful Cold Calls

What do the best cold calls have in common?

3 things: persistence, charisma, and product and industry knowledge

But that’s not enough to get the prospect to listen and not to hang up.

In your description, you asked how a prospect who is guarded can trust a complete stranger. That’s a good question. And in my opinion, the answer to this question is key.

To make a successful cold call, you should not feel as if you are a stranger.

Of course, you are still technically a stranger because most probably your prospect doesn’t know who you are and what you do until you call the. But you can change the dynamics by doing any of the following:

  • Research about your prospects and personalize your call
  • Write a customized sales script
  • Find a referrer

Make sure that before you cold call, you know relevant facts about your prospect. Make sure that you have read about their company and their industry. If you know a lot about your prospects, you can ask better questions. Talk less and listen more.

And one of the best ways to not be a stranger in cold calls? Find someone that can refer you to their friends, family members etc. Referrals are a good way to earn your prospect’s trust immediately. Look for a network and ways to connect.

Most Important Cold Calling Tip

Don’t jump to memorization.

The first thing most cold callers do when presented with a script is jump straight to memorization because they do not want to be caught reading from a script word for word. Improper memorization techniques are the primary reasons sellers end up being insincere and inauthentic. An experienced actor will be the first to tell you that they read through a script several times before attempting to memorize it. This allows for thoughts, ideas and questions to develop naturally as he familiarizes himself with the content. Get the big picture of the script first and let memorization be a natural byproduct of that familiarity.

It’s quite common to think that over-practicing a script will cause you to sound phony or insincere. This belief is simply a misconception  Knowing your lines well enough so that you don’t have to struggle for the words or meaning frees you up to place your energy on delivering your message in an impactful and persuasive way.

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3 Common Issues with CRM Implementation Solved by InfoFlo

If your business is suffering from any of the following — disorganization, low ROI, high operational costs, and lack of productivity and customer service – it’s time to invest in a CRM system. Having a a tool that manages all of your customer relationships helps streamline your business, improve staff productivity, and can lead to greater revenue and growth. The following are some of the most common problems our customers faced before implementing InfoFlo CRM.

 

1. Losing or Forgetting Important Information

Disorganized information is an insidious drain on your company’s wallet. When life throws us a curveball, we tend to accumulate clutter and become disorganized, in the process. It’s happens to everyone. We become ill, a family member becomes ill, we are assigned a project that requires heavy paperwork, or our filing cabinets are running out of space.   With CRM software, you eliminate all the paper clutter by keeping everything in one digital place (a central database). When a new lead comes in, a file for that contact is automatically created and stored in a safe place for easy access at a later date.

 

2. Employees Resistant to Change

One of the main reasons why the customer relationship management (CRM) implementation failure rate continues to be high is user resistance. The predominant reasons for this are: fear of losing job to automation;  the fear of CRM being too high-tech; it delivers a blow to established work habits. Failure to convince employees of the benefits of CRM often results in passive resistance and low employee-adoption rates.  Effectively communicating the benefits of CRM to users should bolster their confidence in and comfort levels with the new system. It’s crucial to “sell” those benefits internally both before and during a CRM initiative. Companies must not only create buy-in, but must also maintain users’ enthusiasm.

The InfoFlo CRM implementation team provides comprehensive online training services to all new customers and their employees. We also provide customer support over the phone and via chat/email for issues that arise after implementation. We don’t rest until you are fully trained and satisfied with using the CRM product on your own.

 

3. Breaking the Bank

Many small business owners perceive CRM systems to be costly and overly complex.  And indeed, we’ve found some are too difficult to learn and expensive. Those CRM tools are better suited for larger corporations. Our recommendation is to shop around and make comparisons. But before you do that, we recommend you make a list of all the features you will require to run your business more proficiently. Once you’ve done that contact a few CRM companies to receive quotes on products that feature your MUSTS.

What helps us stand out from our competitors are two things: 1) one time fee and 2) free upgrades for life. We work within your budget to customize a CRM solution that works for every business size.

Check out our product comparison charts to learn more about what makes us stand out from the crowd:

InfoFlo vs. ACT! CRM

InfoFlo vs. Zoho CRM

 

If you want to find out more about what InfoFlo can do for your business, register today for your free 30 day trial. No strings attached; registration for the free trial does not necessitate credit cards, commitments or contracts.

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10 Questions to Make Testimonials Authentic

Tips for Soliciting Authentic Testimonials

Testimonials are  powerful and cost effective selling tools you can use as marketing arsenal. They will prove that you are legit. Your prospective clients will be much more inclined to do business with you if you can show examples of their peers achieving success with your help.

Here are ten questions you can ask your customers to get meaningful, authentic testimonials for your business’ products or services:

1. What made you to choose my business to assist you with your needs?

2. What were your preconceived notions about using our products/services?
3. How has you perception changed since you hired me/bought my product/service?

4. What do you like most about working with me/using the product/service?

5. Did you expect it would work as well as it did?

6. Did you have any objections/hesitations before you decide to hire us? If so, what were they? How did we overcome your hesitation?

7. What are the three biggest benefits of working with us?

8. If you were to recommend me to a colleague, friend, or business associate, how would you describe the way I provided my service to you?

9. Is there anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t yet asked about?

10. Can I share this information on our website?

If you don’t have any client testimonials on your site, it’s not too late to go out and solicit your customers for some. Use some or all of the questions noted above to increase the trust visitors have in your services and products and increase your sales dramatically!

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How to Deal with Unnecessary Disruptions and Increase Productivity

Years ago, the telephone and the occasional drop-in visitor were the main sources of interruptions for a manager. Then email came along, followed by cell phones, instant messaging, etc. Now managers are inundated with beeps and bells and ring tones. Sure there have been productivity improvements as a result of these tools. However, due to misuse and abuse, often they actually hinder productivity.

Too many managers today just blow with the wind. They may come to work with a list of things to accomplish that day, but typically the list just grows as managers drift from one interruption to the next. The only way to make a dent in their to-do lists is to put in extra hours. Extra work time breeds resentment and eventually burnout, resulting in a whole new set of problems.

Smart phones, social media, and instant messaging are not evil, and they are most certainly here to stay. They can be extremely helpful if used in the right ways. The following are a few tips to help avoid the pitfalls and improve your effectiveness.

1. Set Aside Time for Disruptions

Since you know that, sooner or later, at least one of your colleagues or customers is going to interrupt you when you’re doing something, set some time aside specifically for them and their needs.

 

2. Try to Postpone Non-Emergencies

Once you’ve identified an interruption as something that needs attention and not just a waste of time, try to postpone your involvement.  Take a moment to understand what the distraction involves. Is anyone dying? Is there a deadline being missed? If it turns out the situation is not an emergency, postpone your involvement or delegate as much of the work to somebody who is available.

 

3. Turn All Counterproductive Electronic Devices Off

Before embarking on an important task, turn everything off! This will eliminate the possibility of a distraction killing your productivity. The key is to concentrate on the work at hand.

 

4. Turn Off All Notification Devices

Resist the urge to answer your phone or email notification every time you hear a beep. Finish up what you are doing, then retrieve your voice mail or email message and act accordingly. Follow up is critical, but following up within 3 seconds is not.

 

5. Avoid Getting Swept up in Reactive Mode

It’s an easy trap to fall into. It can be quite exhilarating “fighting fires” all day. Jumping in to solve crises is rewarding and addictive. Being needed is feels good too. It’s also much easier to bop from one task to another than to take time to think, prioritize, and plan.

 

6. Divide Your Day up into Targets

Distractions are most dangerous to the person working without short-term goals. You can keep yourself out of the danger zone by setting goals throughout the workday. Make sure these targets are Smart: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

 

7. Think Before You Interrupt Another Person

This way you won’t be contributing to the problem.  By taking responsibility to minimize other’s interruptions, you can greatly improve workplace productivity.

 

Managers will always have to deal with interruptions. How they deal with them is a major factor in determining their effectiveness. In today’s world, the proliferation of interruptions caused by productivity tools has made it increasingly challenging for managers to do their jobs well. Learning how to use the tools effectively, which sometimes means turning them off, is critical to achieving success.

Minimize disruptions by investing in a customized CRM tool that fits your business needs. Download our 30-day free trial here. No credit cards and long-term commitments needed.

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