The Importance of Selling to Your Existing Customers

Why Your Small Business Needs to Keep Selling to Existing Customers

Once your business makes a sale, your job is far from over. If you want to establish long-term success, you have to continue selling to those customers over and over again.

Small Business Trends spoke with Jamie Domenici, global Vice President of Customer Adoption and marketing for Salesforce at the recent Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Part of Domenici’s job at Salesforce is reaching out to customers right after they purchase to find ways to improve the experience for them.

Keep Selling to Existing Customers

Domenici said, “Our team, from the second you buy, is there for you. We send you an email, we let you know, ‘here are all of your tools, here are all of the people, here are your partners in crime, and we’re going to go on the journey with you.”

Salesforce provides a number of different ways for customers to enhance their experience once they’ve purchased the initial product. Resources include a community of peers from whom you can glean insights and the company’s learning platform Trailhead.

Though Salesforce clearly is a larger business, small businesses can still learn from this tactic. No matter what enhancements you offer, it’s important to find unique and creative ways to help your customers even further once they’ve bought from you. And that, in turn, can increase customer loyalty and improve your chances of selling to those customers again down the road.

So even if you’re just getting started selling to customers, you have to think about a long-term plan as well. How are you going to keep those customers happy so you can continue to sell to them over and over again?

Domenici said, “Once you start selling to people, you know what happens? You have customers. And you’ve got to keep them happy if you want to sell some more. So I think that thinking about the long term is really important.”

This article, “The Importance of Selling to Your Existing Customers” was first published on Small Business Trends

The Importance of Selling to Your Existing Customers

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63% of IT Pros Say They’re Underpaid, Are Your Employees Among Them?

2018 IT Career Outlook: 63% of IT Pros Say They're Underpaid, Many Will Look for New Opportunities

Your small business’s IT pros probably think they’re underpaid, according to a recent study. And that could lead to them looking for other opportunities in the coming year.

2018 IT Career Outlook

The 2018 IT Career Outlook report from IT network Spiceworks found that 63 percent of IT professionals believe they’re currently underpaid. This sentiment was even more prevalent among millennial employees, who are paid a median wage of about $50,000, compared to about $65,000 for Gen Xers.

This feeling among IT professionals could have a major negative impact on the small businesses employing them. Employees who don’t feel like they’re being compensated fairly aren’t as motivated and productive as those who are happy with their compensation. And it could even lead to those employees seeking other opportunities with more competitive pay, leading to an increase in turnover for those small businesses.

In fact, 36 percent of IT professionals said they have a positive outlook for the 2018 job market, which could be an even bigger indicator of some employees being open to moving on and seeking new opportunities.

So what can small businesses employing IT professionals do about this issue? The best way to improve sentiment about compensation is simply to increase it where possible. Of course, that’s not always realistic for every small business. But loss in productivity and increased turnover related expenses can potentially outweigh the upfront cost over time anyway. If increasing pay really isn’t an option, you can try to make your business a more appealing place to work by improving the culture, offering flexible schedules or allowing your employees to telecommute on occasion.

Overall, it’s important for small businesses to recognize the importance of IT professionals and prioritize keeping those employees happy and engaged. Salary and other inducements can certainly make a major impact on encouraging employees to stay. So if you can make improvements in those areas, you can better your chances of retaining great employees and maybe even attracting some new talent as well.

Image: Spiceworks.com

This article, “63% of IT Pros Say They’re Underpaid, Are Your Employees Among Them?” was first published on Small Business Trends

63% of IT Pros Say They’re Underpaid, Are Your Employees Among Them?

The Pence Rule Will Not Protect Your Small Business, and Could Cause More Trouble

The Pence Rule Likely Will Not Protect You or Your Small Business -- In Fact, It Could Hurt You

The rash of sexual harassment accusations across the country is raising a lot of questions.

Claims are made and in a lot of cases, employers move swiftly with knee-jerk responses. Fire first, ask questions later.

These claims are not limited to high-profile cases like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Judge Roy Moore and Sen. Al Franken. Small business may face this issue as well.

And small business owners must be wondering what they can do, if anything.

“The #metoo movement is growing daily, as high-profile celebrities, politicians, and leaders of industry get called out by alleged victims. It’s critically important for employers to react, but not overreact, to the movement,” says John Alan Doran, a partner at the law firm of Sherman & Howard. Doran has 25 years experience, including a past with discrimination litigation.

The Pence Rule

One idea being floated is known as the Pence Rule. It’s named after Vice President Mike Pence, who refuses to be in a room alone with a woman that’s not his wife. That’s not restricted to personal time, either. It includes any business meetings. Further, Pence will not be in the same room where alcohol is being served without his wife.

The Pence Rule is based on Evangelical Christian beliefs and is also called The Billy Graham Rule — because the famous evangelist was another well-known proponent.

On its face, the Pence Rule would make sense. Harassment in the workplace can’t occur if women and men aren’t allowed in the same room together. But the rule actually creates more division, potentially in an illegal way.

“What works for Billy Graham — or even Mike Pence — could get you in a lot of legal trouble. The Pence Rule does not provide any legal protection against a harassment or discrimination claim. To the contrary, it would more likely be used against you in court,” says Tom Spiggle of the Spiggle Law Firm in Washington, DC, in a LinkedIn post.

Spiggle says the Pence Rule, by definition, is discrimination against someone because of their gender. If all are equal in the workplace, there’s no reason a woman or man should be left out of any meeting simply because their gender or what another person believes.

So, for small business owners considering adopting the Pence Rule as a blanket policy to prevent sexual harassment claims or worse, think again.

“This prevents women in the workplace from getting opportunities to talk with decision-makers, provide input on important projects and handle sensitive topics. And it implicitly defines them by their sexuality, foreclosing any opportunities to be treated simply as professionals,” Spiggle adds.

If the men in your company all begin following the Pence Rule, it would likely lead to situations where only men get together to discuss important business matters. And, of course, the same would be true if you are a female small business owner who adopts a similarly discriminatory practice against your male employees.

In addition to the rule discriminating against employees based on their gender, it doesn’t prevent claims of sexual harassment or assault anyway.

For example, the rule doesn’t prevent claims of harassment online or via smartphone. And, of course, it doesn’t protect you from claims made by others of the same gender — as in the cases of high profile accusations against actors Kevin Spacey and George Takei.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The Pence Rule Will Not Protect Your Small Business, and Could Cause More Trouble” was first published on Small Business Trends

The Pence Rule Will Not Protect Your Small Business, and Could Cause More Trouble

81% of Millennials Say Business Success Means Having a Purpose, Even if it Costs Them Money

81% of Millennials Say Business Success Means Having a Purpose, Even if it Costs Them MoneyMillennials prioritize different things than past generations have when it comes to business success. In fact, 81 percent of them think that a business needs a genuine purpose that resonates with people in order to be successful, according to a recent survey from American Express and Kantar Futures.

The survey, Redefining the C-Suite: Business the Millennial Way, featured responses from more than 2,300 millennials who are leaders and managers in businesses across the U.S., U.K. and France. It featured a number of topics, ranging from personal success to the changing business landscape.

But one of the most prevalent themes seems to be how much millennials value having a purpose behind their work. Sixty-eight percent said they want to be known for making a positive difference in the world. And slightly fewer respondents, 62 percent, said they recognize the importance of maximizing shareholder value and profits.

For Millennials, Business Success Means Having a Purpose

So it seems millennials put having a genuine purpose above the ability to make as much money as possible. This can have a major impact on the future of business, and on how today’s businesses might market to millennials or manage millennial employees. In fact, 78 percent of respondents believe that their employer’s values should match their own. This could mean businesses with a social or charitable element may be more appealing for millennials. But it could also lead to even more of an emphasis on things like flexible scheduling, fair pay, family leave and other work-life balance issues. Additionally, it could mean they’ll be less likely to overlook things they don’t see as aligning with their own values in favor of a big paycheck.

Overall, this study seems to show the business landscape is on the cusp of change. It’s unlikely the majority of future businesses will simply dismiss the importance of profits altogether. But they could start to value profits and purpose on a more equal level.

Image: American Express

This article, “81% of Millennials Say Business Success Means Having a Purpose, Even if it Costs Them Money” was first published on Small Business Trends

81% of Millennials Say Business Success Means Having a Purpose, Even if it Costs Them Money

15 Tips to Get Better Gas Mileage from Your Company Vehicles

How to Get Better Gas Mileage from Company Vehicles

Vehicles can be a major expense for small businesses. Whether you need service vans to visit customers’ homes or smaller vehicles to make local deliveries, gas can take up a significant amount of your budget. Even though gas prices are constantly fluctuating, there are some little things you can do to ensure your fuel expenses remain manageable. Here are some tips to help you get the best possible gas mileage from your company vehicles.

How to Get Better Gas Mileage from Company Vehicles

Maintain a Moderate Driving Speed

Excessive speeds require excessive fuel. This doesn’t mean that you should force your employees to drive around at 15 mph. But if you set a specific maximum speed that’s reasonable given the speed limits in your area, it could help you save some money.

Take Highways When Possible

Even though it requires your drivers to drive a bit faster, highway driving helps you avoid red lights and other stops that can negatively impact your fuel economy. Just keep the highway driving to a reasonable speed.

Lay Off the Gas Pedal

Additionally, quick accelerations and sudden stops can contribute to poor fuel economy. While you might not be able to control this all the time, it’s a good idea to encourage your team to maintain steady speeds rather than constantly braking and accelerating.

Use Cruise Control

One way to keep driving speeds steady is to encourage the use of cruise control when possible.

Monitor Traffic and Construction

It’s also a good idea to avoid lengthy traffic jams whenever possible, as all that starting and stopping is terrible for your gas mileage. So download an app like Waze for your company phones so team members have an easy way to find their way around backups.

Turn Off the Engine When Stopped

If you do have to come to a stop for any length of time, due to traffic, a train or other factors, turn the engine off rather than just sitting with your food on the brake.

Use “Eco-Mode”

Most newer vehicles also have an eco-mode that automatically turns the engine off when the car stops. Enabling this feature can save you some gas money over the long run.

Get the Engine Tuned

Regular engine service can help you find any potential issues that might lead to poor fuel economy. So find a great local mechanic and make sure to take your vehicles in regularly.

Use High Quality Oil

Using quality oil, especially if your auto manufacturer recommends a specific type of oil, can also improve fuel efficiency for vehicles.

Check Your Tire Pressure Regularly

If your tires aren’t properly inflated, your vehicle has to work harder to go the same distance, meaning it needs more fuel.

Remove Excess Cargo

Driving around with heavy cargo or items outside your vehicle, like roof rack storage, can increase drag and make your engine have to work harder. So remove any items that you don’t actually need for each specific trip.

Change Your Air Filters

If your air filters are old and clogged, it can lead to backup in your engines, which means your vehicle can’t work at optimal efficiency. But getting new air filters regularly can help you avoid those issues.

Keep the AC Off

Your vehicles’ air conditioning systems need gas to operate. While it might not make a huge difference, encouraging your employees to wait until it’s actually necessary before turning the AC on can save you some money over time.

Choose the Smallest Vehicles Possible

If you’ve already invested in a fleet of vehicles, it’s probably not realistic for you to replace them just to save some money on gas. But if you’re looking for new company vehicles, going with the smallest possible options can save you plenty of gas money over the life of those vehicles.

Monitor Gas Usage

Finally, you can’t hope to improve fuel economy significantly if you don’t have access to relevant data. But most modern vehicles make it easy for you to track fuel economy. So you can see your gas mileage on each vehicle and use that information to identify potential areas for improvement.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “15 Tips to Get Better Gas Mileage from Your Company Vehicles” was first published on Small Business Trends

15 Tips to Get Better Gas Mileage from Your Company Vehicles

89% Percent of Women, 79% of Men Will Shop In-Store This Year, Study Says

What Can You Do to Attract Customers to Your Store, and Keep Them There?

The news about the “Retail Apocalypse” is not encouraging, but Fundera has released a new infographic that should give retailers hope. Titled “Retail’s Not Dead,” the report on which the infographic is based says 89 percent of women and 79 percent of men intend to shop in-store for their holiday gifts.

A further breakdown of the survey in the infographic shows, 51 percent of consumers prefer buying their clothes and shoes in-store. When it comes to groceries and household appliances, 70 and 56 percent of consumers respectively have the same preference.

The information on the infographic comes from the Natural Insight 2017 In-Store Holiday Shopping report. Natural Insight carried out the survey with 823 randomly selected participants 18 years and older across the US. The survey took place between September 13 and September 17, 2017. 

What Can You Do to Attract Customers to Your Store – and Keep Them There?

According to the Natural Insight report and Fundera, the key is to remake retail operations to fit the modern consumer. This will require providing a seamless shopping experience between the digital and physical world.

It begins by making your brick and mortar store a place where consumers like visiting and have a positive experience. Everything from the checkout process to displays, colors, parking, holding events, social media integration, and customer service has to be part of the overall plan.

While these measures were taken by large retailers, in the blog for the infographic, Meredith Wood, Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, said, “Smaller business owners can also apply these lessons to their own businesses. In-store events, organized shelves, and aggressive social media marketing can make all the difference when going head-to-head with a digital competitor.” 

Key Takeaway

Natural Insight says one of the best ways to attract consumers is by appealing to their five senses. Let your customers view, touch, smell and taste or hear the products you have on offer. Granted this may not always be possible, but it is something an online retailer can provide through a monitor.

You can look at the rest of the data on the infographic below.

What Can You Do to Attract Customers to Your Store, and Keep Them There?

This article, “89% Percent of Women, 79% of Men Will Shop In-Store This Year, Study Says” was first published on Small Business Trends

89% Percent of Women, 79% of Men Will Shop In-Store This Year, Study Says

Use One of These 10 Tools to Prevent Hacked Information and Stolen Data In Your Business

10 Identity Theft Protection Services Any Small Business Owner Should Consider for Themselves

Small businesses are prime targets for cybercriminals. With attackers becoming more effective, cybercrime is one of the most rapidly growing risks to small businesses. Hacked information and stolen data can cripple a small business, resulting in lost time, dented credibility and a significant outlay of money required to rectify the damage. It is therefore vital that small businesses take a proactive approach to cybercrime by using identity theft protection services.

Identity Theft Protection Services for Small Business Owners

To help keep your small business protected against the likes of fraudulent business filings, customer and employee identity theft and compromised banking details, companies would be wise to utilize any of the following 10 identity theft protection services. While many of the security services offer similar protections, Small Business Trends has identified some unique features you should be aware of prior to making your choice.

ESET

ESET offers customized security solutions, meaning businesses can build the ideal security tool for their individual requirements. From remote management to endpoint security, file and email security to encryption and virtualization security, ESET allows businesses to select their product type, based on the size of their business and industry.

iDefend Business

iDefend Business is designed to protect your business’s reputation, credit, privacy and money through what it claims to be the industry’s first and only business identity theft protection program. iDefend Business proactively monitors for the exposure and fraudulent use of a business’s information.

The identity theft protection program provides instant alerts for suspicious activity, as well as 24/7 online access to reports and tracking of a business’s information, including Experian alerts and reports.

Comodo

For small businesses on a tight budget, Comodo offers affordable cyber security solutions. Comodo One is a free IT management platform which provides Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM). Small businesses are also kept secure online with Comodo’s free antivirus, internet security, firewall protection, free and paid SSL certificates, mobile device management and other services.

Lookout Mobile Security

If your business relies heavily on mobile devices, Lookout Mobile Security might be the right security protection service for you. This powerful identity theft protection software shields businesses against threats on mobile devices, such as data leakages and malware.

Lookout Mobile Security ensures mobile devices don’t become a forgotten endpoint in a small business’s GDPR preparations.

CloudFlare

A website is a business’s window to the world. It’s vital your website remains free from malicious attacks, so it continues running as it should. A denial of service (DoS) attack can bring a website to its knees and prove incredibly problematic for small businesses.

Cloudflare has a free version but also pay Pro, Business and Enterprise options. CloudFlare automatically detects attacks on websites and evaluates visitors based on their IP addresses and reputations. By using CloudFlare, small businesses can block illegitimate IP addresses, set up firewalls and allow SSL security certificates for data encryption.

Symantec

Unlike larger businesses and enterprises, small businesses don’t typically have large budgets to devote to security. Symantec recognizes these challenges and offers small businesses protection suites to cater for small budgets.

These comprehensive security suites include email scanning and filtering, automated backups and fast disaster recovery. There’s also antivirus and antispyware protection, firewall and privacy protection and other important security features for comprehensive protection.

Random.org

Passwords remain the first line of defense in protecting data and small business assets. Strong password practices are vital in preventing hackers from successfully stealing data. By automatically creating strong, case-sensitive, alphanumeric passwords, Random.org could be an invaluable and cost-effective security feature for your small business.

HTTPS Everywhere

Ensure your business’s web browsing is more secure by taking advantage of HTTPS Everywhere. This browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Android Web browsers encrypts communications while you and your employees surf the internet. This ensues Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) communication is used to protect data when you log into accounts, complete transactions and make purchases online.

Cisco

Cisco provides a range of security solutions for small businesses. Its ASA 5500-X Series with FirePOWER services offers an on-premises, next generation firewall that is designed specifically for small and mid-sized offices. These powerful FirePOWER services include an integrated threat defense, providing a low cost and simple security management tool for small businesses.

Trend Micro

For small businesses looking for a quick and easy solution to protect their valuable data and information without complications, Trend Micro offers what the company says is worry-free business security. This all-in-one cloud solution provides web security, endpoint and email protection in one convenient product.

For a low monthly cost, small businesses can protect their employees, customers and themselves anytime, anywhere and on any device with Trend Micro.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Use One of These 10 Tools to Prevent Hacked Information and Stolen Data In Your Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

Use One of These 10 Tools to Prevent Hacked Information and Stolen Data In Your Business