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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7 Ways to Boost Your Sales Success

There are a number of things you can do to help boost your overall success. You can start by following these 7 tips:

1. Quality over Quantity

Sales is not always about the numbers, as some people would argue. The point of sales is to create quality conversations with prospective clients. Those that thrive in sales have qualification criteria and try not to waste their time on people that are at too low a level, companies that won’t benefit from their products/services, or buyers that don’t have the money to make the deal happen. Successful sales people work to find out this information early on, so they could focus on the files that matter.

2. Always have a Next Step

Never leave a sales meeting with a client without a solid next step that both of you agree to.  Often times you will hear objections such as “just email me a few times that will work and we’ll put it on the schedule.” In most cases this does not work and takes you out of the driver’s seat.  Sales people find themselves chasing after clients days after writing the email and playing broken telephone, making the sales pitch highly unproductive in the process. The next step should always be tentatively set. Remind the prospect that if they wish to cancel, they could call you to arrange another time.

REMEMBER: When a prospect makes a commitment on the spot, they are much more likely to follow through.

3. Ask, listen, and act.

These three words define sales success. Your questions must be creative, planned, and purposeful. Your listening skills must be well-developed, showing the prospect that you are keen on meeting their needs and making them your success story. You must then respond and take action while proving that you listened to them and want their business.

4. Develop an attitude

Your attitude can only be controlled by you; no one else can do it for you. Conquer your fears and face them head on. Eliminate any vocabulary that will limit your success and develop an attitude that will help you climb the corporate ladder. Remember, your thought habits control your commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, resilience, happiness, and confidence. With time and effort, you can become the person you want to be.

5. Pace yourself

Prospecting is a very time-consuming and arduous task. Allocate a specific amount of time each day (week?) and keep to the schedule. It is always easy to put something ahead of the prospecting activity but make an appointment with yourself and don’t break it.

6. Commit to Lifelong Learning

Commit yourself to lifelong learning. Read, listen to audio programs, attend seminars, and never forget that the most valuable asset you will ever have is your mind. As you continue to learn, you will eventually become the one of the most valuable salespeople in your industry. The more knowledge you obtain that can be applied to practical purposes, the greater will be your rewards.

7. Shorten Meetings

Try scheduling short, 15 minute meetings with prospects. This will help you have more productive and effective meetings. It will also compel prospects to come and talk, especially when they have busy schedules and almost never time.

 

Carmel Vision, a Toronto based CRM software development company, is focused on delivering a powerful management infrastructure that is designed to collect, search, and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in a typical office. We understand and listen to all of our customers’ needs and strive to give excellent quality at affordable prices.

Our flagship product, InfoFlo – is a central management system specifically designed to combat one of the biggest technical challenges facing any professional organization, how to efficiently organize, archive, filter and search the vital information that bombards our desktops on a daily basis. Our infrastructure allows all office activities to coexist together under one umbrella, making all critical information readily available at your fingertips.
All interested parties are welcome to download a free trial version of our CRM application.

No credit cards and long term commitments are required. Click here to download free trial.

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How to Become an Influencer on LinkedIn by Publishing Long Form Posts

Do you post long –form content   on LinkedIn? Are you wondering how the publishing platform can help you generate business?  Long-form post publishing on LinkedIn is a rewarding opportunity all businesses looking to social lead generation for increasing sales should take advantage of. Over half of the best performing posts are written by everyday people and 45% of readers are in the upper ranks of your industry, which means CEOs, owners, CFOs etc.

 

Why Publish on LinkedIn: 5 Compelling Reasons

  1. Be viewed as a thought leader in your market or nice.
  2. Reinforce your existing relationships with customers and prospects.
  3. Generate new leads.
  4. Grow your network of connections and followers.
  5. Increase reach and visibility of your content marketing initiatives.

 

Post Frequency

Post frequency is not nearly as important as user engagement and catchy headlines. The latter two factors will get you promoted on LinkedIn Pulse channels, which will increase the credibility and visibility of posts you write.  Individuals who read your posts have the option of liking them and following your account for future updates. If you disappear or stop writing for an extended period of time, your followers may choose to unfollow you. If you start losing a heft amount of followers, you’ll need to reevaluate your strategy. Always be testing!

 

Post Length

The recommended length of posts is 400-600 words. I usually say that the sky is time limit. The more words you have, the more chances you’ll have of being found via search on social media channels and search engines like Google and Bing. Content is king! I thereby aim for 1,000+ words and try to incorporate bullet points, infographics, listicles etc.

 

How to Read Other LinkedIn Writers’ Posts

When you visit the Pulse page, you’ll see all of the influencer posts, plus all of the news that comes in from outside sources. This is where you can customize and choose the channels you want to follow. Now there is also a tab within Pulse for All Publishers.

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8 Productivity Hacks To Kickstart the New Year

A new year means a fresh start for everyone. Wipe your slate clean and start over with these 8 productivity hacks for a more productive 2016:

Tip #1:

Know exactly what you don’t do. Keep a “NO THANKS” list. Over time, this list should grow.  This will not only help you manage your time wisely, but will allow you to delegate tasks to more able individuals. Team Work is the key to a productive 2016!

 

Tip #2:

Define your Most Important Tasks (MITs) by identifying 3-5 things you must accomplish each day. You will improve your overall performance because you can’t focus on your important tasks if you don’t know what’s important.

 

Tip #3:

Author Alfred Montapert once said, “Don’t confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but doesn’t make any progress.” This year, redefine productivity. It’s not about how much you get done, it’s about the impact you’re having.

 

Tip #4:

Upon deciding to do something, stay committed and give it your all! Plan and then execute and then plan again and execute again.

 

Tip #5:

Commit to never multitask ever again. We live in a multi-tab, multiple device, multi –screen world, but none of it is truly good for our productivity levels. Working on one thing at a time will make you faster and less apt to make mistakes.

 

Tip #6:

Eliminate in-person meetings even if it’s only for one day of the week. Opt to have all meetings online. You’ll be surprised as to how much gets done when you don’t have to fragment your day into multiple pieces so you could attend various meetings.

 

Tip #7:

Keep your workspace clean. Decide on a day of the month to be the one when you clean off your desk. Every clutter on your desk can serve as a distraction.

 

Tip #8:

Some people find that unless they schedule “easy going” things, they will never become productive in their work etiquette. I’m not only talking about trips to Paris or London or a 1-week long cruise, I’m talking about the little things: a walk in the park, a 1h/day exercise routine etc or doing a crossword every morning.

 

Very often, lack of productivity is caused by lack of resources and tools in the workplace, which would allow employees to perform their duties in the most productive ways possible. Employing an effective CRM tool will help you and your team establish and maintain better relationships with your customers….and who doesn’t like happy customers who continuously do business with you? It’s also a tool that takes a customer-centric approach to your sales and support processes by organizing data concerning your contacts, customers, and deals and making them accessible in one place.

Carmel Vision, a Toronto based CRM software development company, is focused on delivering a powerful management infrastructure that is designed to collect, search, and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in a typical office. We understand and listen to all of our customers’ needs and strive to give excellent quality at affordable prices.

Our flagship product, InfoFlo – is a central management system specifically designed to combat one of the biggest technical challenges facing any professional organization, how to efficiently organize, archive, filter and search the vital information that bombards our desktops on a daily basis. Our infrastructure allows all office activities to coexist together under one umbrella, making all critical information readily available at your fingertips.
All interested parties are welcome to download a free trial version of our CRM application.

No credit cards and long term commitments are required. Click here to download free trial.

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8 Easy-To-Implement Stress Management Tips

You can reduce unwanted stress or manage it productively by employing these 8 stress management strategies.

 

1. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is very important to the development of your emotional and physical well being. Lack of it can negatively impact your ability to manage stress, be productive, and complete daily-assigned tasks. Unfortunately, our busy schedules can make sleeping longer harder to do. If you’re finding that you are no’t able to get enough sleep during the night, do no’t underestimate the value of a power nap! That always helps!

 

2. Maintain Proper Nutrition

It is the most obvious tip on this list, but very few people follow through with it on a daily basis. A poor diet can actually make you more vulnerable to stress! While hectic schedules can make it harder to get proper nutrition, a poor diet is not unavoidable! Four most important things to remember when trying to maintain proper nutrition: 1) Don’t skip meals; 2) Drink plenty of water; 3) Exercise daily; 4) Eat more whole grains and fruits and vegetables.

 

3. Exercise Regularly

Exercise can vastly improve your physically and mentally well being and your ability to manage stress. It provides a stress release and keeps your body healthy. It also helps your body release endorphins, which boost your feelings of overall well being.

 

4. Maintain Social Support

Social support networks can help keep you healthier and happier, creating a buffer against stress. Friends and colleagues can pick you up when you’re under the weather, provide insights when you’ are befuddled, and help you have fun when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Learn how to cultivate supportive friendships and expand your social circle so you wi’ll have someone to lean on when the time comes for it.

 

5. Disconnect

Being connected 24/7 is not the answer to everything. One of the simplest ways to restore a little serenity in the midst of a hectic week is to turn off the phone and shut the lid to your laptop. Unplug your land line during and after dinner, too.

 

6. Help Others

If you notice a waiter seems dispirited, leave them a good tip. Bag your own groceries for a tired clerk. Make eye contact with everyone you meet as you go about your day. Alleviating the stress of others is the best way to alleviate your own.

 

7. Write it Down

Writing provides perspective for individuals with poor stress management skills. Fold a piece of paper in half. On the left side, list the stressors you may be able to change. On the right, list the ones you can’t. “Change what you can!” For what you cannot change, create a list of goals and people that will help you make the changes possible.

 

8. Watch Your Breathing

Most of us don’t breathe enough normally; we take shallow breaths and deprive ourselves of oxygen. Add stress to that and we can even become light-headed. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. Inhale slowly and exhale more slowly. You’ll be amazed at how relaxed you will feel!

 

 

Very often, stress is caused by lack of resources and tools in the workplace, which would allow employees to perform their duties in the most productive ways possible. Employing an effective CRM tool will help you and your team establish and maintain better relationships with your customers….and who doesn’t like happy customers who continuously do business with you? It’s also a tool that takes a customer-centric approach to your sales and support processes by organizing data concerning your contacts, customers, and deals and making them accessible in one place.

Carmel Vision, a Toronto based CRM software development company, is focused on delivering a powerful management infrastructure that is designed to collect, search, and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in a typical office. We understand and listen to all of our customers’ needs and strive to give excellent quality at affordable prices.

Our flagship product, InfoFlo – is a central management system specifically designed to combat one of the biggest technical challenges facing any professional organization, how to efficiently organize, archive, filter and search the vital information that bombards our desktops on a daily basis. Our infrastructure allows all office activities to coexist together under one umbrella, making all critical information readily available at your fingertips.
All interested parties are welcome to download a free trial version of our CRM application.

No credit cards and long term commitments are required. Click here to download free trial.

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