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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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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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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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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5 Tips for Improving Your Processes to Better Customer Service

Why is it that many businesses perform well some days, but do poorly the rest of the days?

At first, many businesses assume that their employees are the problem.  Businesses who assume this are almost always wrong.

Although firing some of your staff may be quite tempting at that moment, it won’t solve the bigger issue at hand. When employees are using stickies to record customer complaint and calls instead of a CRM system, then the process itself is the issue; not the employees.

Finding such businesses is not difficult. In fact, 100% of companies have some sort of process problem. Remember: Only 1 out of 25 unhappy customers complain. The rest leave and never come back. If you’ve got multiple customers complaining about the same issues, or if you’re losing more deals than you’re winning without explanation, here are some tips to help you out:

 

1. Be more transparent

Processes should be simple and transparent.  Assign ownership to every step of your process, so everyone is aware of who’s responsible for which part. By doing this, you will eliminate “that’s not my problem” from your employees’ vocabulary. This step also makes it easier for customers to address any issues they are experiencing as quickly and less painstakingly as possible.

 

2. Automate important actions to make sure your process runs smoothly

Manual tasks are time consuming. They must be performed by humans who are prone to making errors; no one is perfect. Automation frees up your time to work on items that add genuine value to the business, allowing you to be more innovative and increasing your employees’ levels of motivation. 

 

3. Provide multiple ways for your customers to reach out to you

Unfortunately, it can still be difficult for customers to get in touch with companies that they want to do business with or are already doing business with. That’s why providing different ways for customers to easily communicate directly with your business is important in today’s day and age. The goal should be that every customer should be able to contact you via phone, email, chat, social media etc.  Be transparent about the wait times for responses.

 

4. Borrow ideas from others

This does not just apply to competitors, or you’ll just be another me-too company. Be curious and open-minded about how other industries and cultures do things. Learn from them, apply and experiment, and permanently employ what works.

 

5. Evaluate your policies, processes, skills, motivations, products and services

Assess them from the customer’s viewpoint. Always keep on the lookout for ways to reinvent the wheel and improve customer experiences. Perhaps send a survey out to customers on a quarterly basis to get their input on how you can best meet their needs. You may also wish to follow-up with customers after the transaction is done to see what made them happy, what they feel should change etc.

 

Investing in an all-encompassing, affordable CRM software will go along way to repair some of the issues you are experiencing with customer service.  Download our free 30 day trial today. No deposits or commitments needed.

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7 Habits for Improving the Quality of Your Life

Are you finding yourself feeling frustrated day in and day out? Do you feel like a zombie, waking up each day to the same mundane things that seem never-ending? Has the quality of your life decreased every year, resulting in a loss of energy, vitality, and enthusiasm? Here are 7 habits to adopt in order to improve your quality of life in 1 year from now.

 

1. Read a book every month

Even if you’re relatively new to and not particularly fond of reading, you will learn a lot. Some books will disappoint you with their mediocrity, some will make you happy with a good plot and some more will have you running to the dictionary every few pages; all of them will teach you something new.

 

2. Think carefully before making a judgement

I used to be very judgmental. However, over the past year I closely thought about how unfair I have been in the past and all the things I have done because of this. Before you make a comment about someone and their actions, put yourself in their shoes and think about why they do the things they do. You’ll see them in a different light. And even if you don’t, at least you’ll puzzle over instead of making a snap judgement.

 

3. Reduce smartphone usage

If you have one, that is. If you don’t, more power to you. I cannot tell you how many times I go out with people and they stick to their smartphones. Some are Whatsapp-ing, while others are checking office e-mails and taking pictures. They’re so busy interacting with people online, they pay little attention to people around them.

 

4. Smile and talk

Greet everybody you know. Also, try to smile while you talk to people. This makes you appear approachable, and amiable.

 

5. Exude Positivity

Try being honest with yourself and others, refrain from gossip and be willing to forgive people who make mistakes because no one is perfect. As well, stop hanging around with negative people and spend more time with happy, productive, and smiling individuals.

 

6. Choose a hobby you like

It could be anything…biking, writing, exercising etc. Or go back to one you left. And keep a record of your work. As you change, your work will also change to reflect you. I like writing and I have a blog. Once in a while, I read my older entries and don’t even recognize the person who wrote them. It teaches you a lot about yourself. It shows you how far you have come, and sometimes how you need to go back to being that person in the past.

 

7. Make time for people

Make time for family. Make time for your hobby. Make time for work. And most definitely, make time for pleasure. The most valuable thing you can give to another person (and yourself) is time, which in turn will make you invaluable.

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How Useful is Role-Playing in Sales Training?

Looking to make sales training more practical and fun for new hires? Here are a few tips. As an educator and a hands-on learner, I am the type of person that has to see and experience something in order to understand it. I am sure there are many more business people who share my sentiments:

  • Record them – it’s not enough to complete the role play – you must record them. MUST. Our team went back and listened to their entire sales process from discovery to proposal – and that is where they learned the most.
  • Have each role player analyze the situation – getting multiple vantage points will help you see issues that you cannot see for yourself. It’s a great way to find your blind spots.
  • Learn with zero risk – the most important reason we do role plays at KiteDesk is that they give you the chance to learn without risking losing the deal. Our philosophy is that it is much better to learn from each other vs. learning from the market. Plus we can create situations that are more difficult then what most reps will see in the market – that way they are prepared for the worst
  • Role playing isn’t a one and done – you should make role playing a part of your regular routine. It’s one way you can continue to work together to get better.
  • They are incredibly useful – to finally answer your question – role plays are a great way to 1) see where each of your team members are at in their sales skills, 2) learn from each other, 3) due post deal reviews, 4) work on consistent messaging/process, and 5) build a culture of learning.

I direct you to read Harvard Business Review’s article entitled “Role Playing as a Sales Tool”: https://hbr.org/1987/05/role-playing-as-a-sales-training-tool. I am sure we all faced a situation where one of our employees was ill equipped to deal with customer questions and concerns. Giving them the practice during training will certainly avoid incidents like the one mentioned in the article.

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8 Prospecting Voicemail Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve all heard horrible, boring and pointless voicemails, and if you’re like me, you do one of two things. One, you delete them before they’re done, and two, you remark to yourself how the person leaving it has no tact. Here are 8 things to avoid when leaving voicemails to prospects:

 

1. Telling Lies

Pretending to have called before and spoken to someone in the office when you have not is bad practice in the business world. You will not win over customers. Instead, do some research so you have a grabber value proposition that the prospect cannot refuse.

2. You’re Missing the Point

Talking about your products, instead of finding a compelling solution to a painpoint your prospect is experience, is a sure fire way not to get a call back. Avoid this, as well!

3. Short, But Not Sweet

Leaving a message that’s too short does not give the prospect a good enough reason to call back or pick up the next time you call. Go through the 5Ws and 1 H in 1 minute or less. Focus the voicemail on what you can do to help the prospect resolve their issues.

4. Playing Hard to Get

Passively waiting for a call back will not make the prospect respect you more. You are trying to reach them and show them that what you are offering is compelling. Do not wait around for them to reach out to you. Put a follow-up action in place using a CRM tool and follow through.

5. Giving Up

Giving up after only 2 or 3 attempts. Most prospects won’t return your call until you have tried to reach them more than five times. Use your Contact Management System to track the calls you make in order to avoid bombarding them.

6. Failing to stick to one topic per voicemail message

You can’t mention every business issue or trigger event you could address. Choose one for this call. Save the others for future calls or followups.

7. No Referral Mentions

If someone referred you to the prospect, make sure to say that in the first 5 seconds of your voicemail. A prospect is more likely to call back when they know the person/business was referred to them by someone they know.

8. Lots of Stutter

Leaving a voicemail with lots of verbal pauses (like “ums” and “ahs”) makes you sound less confident, and less credible.  If you know you are nervous and may stutter, write out the script or practice what you are going to say beforehand. Review message, if applicable, before sending.

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5 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience

Customer Experience remains at the core of any enterprise’s success. Most businesses that built their enterprise from the ground up are already experts in customer experience. They have a deep understanding of their customer needs and the experience that will satiate their customers’ goals.

However, becoming an expert in customer experience is not one a time thing. It involves active customer engagement, which many businesses slip away from after 1-2 years of growth and found success. They do this by getting too caught up in the daily grind of managing a business.

Here are 5 ways to enhance the customer experience and actively engaging your customers:

 

1. Listen with a Beginner’s Mind

Develop tact for listening to your customers. The key is to adopt a beginner’s mindset. That is adopting an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions.  One way you can do that is to affirm yourself as a learner, rather than a knower, which makes you open to feedback and new perspectives. In customer service, for example, you could develop a survey that asks customers for their input on how your product/service can better their goals and exceed expectations. Repeat the survey periodically.

 

2. Schedule Periodic Reviews

Look through recent and past notes and take the time to reflect is key in order gain new insight. As you do this, pay attention to recurring comments and themes. Identify the who, what, where, when and why of each customer comment.  Bring the concerns up with the appropriate personnel and follow-up with customers once the issue has been resolved. Use your CRM tool to document your customer interactions through to the resolution.

 

3. Make People Famous

Take the time to highlight a power user in your community (with their permission, of course!) in a public way — social media, website, blog post, etc. Most people love to be publicly recognized, and giving a user a moment in the limelight is a powerful way to turn them into a brand ambassador and life-long customer.

 

4. Call Your Customers Regularly

Build a relationship with each customer. Occasionally give them a call or send them an email. As well, take notes of the things your customers say and organize each note by topics related to those comments. This will help you become proactive in resolving customer concerns and retaining customers for longer periods. A practical CRM tool can help you organize notes and enhance your customer experience.

 

5. Be Adaptive

Every customer is different. You should be able to handle surprises, sense the customer’s mood changes and adapt accordingly. This also includes a willingness to learn– providing good customer service is a continuous learning process.

 

 

 

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