Tips to Cut Down on Office Time Wasters

“The trouble is, you think you have time”…powerful and poignant words, my favorite of all the fake Buddha quotes – deep stuff the enlightened one never said. Of course what he would have meant by this is that the one unifying constant in all of our lives is time slipping away…and that’s doubly true on the job. Efficiency is an industry because organization is hard; lack of it has given lots of us the opportunity to update our resumes.

 

There are hysterical ways to burn the corporate clock when you want to…duct taping the height adjuster on a coworkers chair or mismatching their shortcut icons…both classics and hilarious but what’s funny about losing ten minutes looking for an email?

 

Throw in a little managerial pressure and the typical workday stress and you’re cooking up the kind of frenetic exasperation that begins with mumbled nonsensical expletives and soon escalates to a Griswold karate chopping reindeer outburst that honestly is a level of crazy you don’t want to parade at the office.

 

No Laughing Matter

Today’s workplace is about technology and technology is both our greatest tormentor and savior. If you’re in sales, project management or any business with customers there are moments when it’s game-on. Your reputation and earning potential ride on how efficiently you handle your business.

 

Practical jokes aside, wasting time at work is no laughing matter. Data from Salary.com reveals that not only do people waste time, the problem is getting worse. In 2013, 69% admitted to goofing off. By 2014, that number was up to 89%…and the time they wasted got longer. In fact, 4% of workers said they waste half the day or more.

 

How is Employee Time Wasted?

Much of it is spent chatting and texting – on the phone, with co-workers or on social media. That eats up a lot of time. Then there’s surfing the web, snack or smoke breaks, distraction from other people being noisy (also known as eavesdropping), meetings, and email.

 

Finding Solutions

Workers waste time when they don’t feel valued at their jobs, or their jobs are boring. Start by finding positive ways to motivate your staff. Get creative and have some fun with it.

 

Your employees want to be empowered. They want to contribute ideas, make decisions, and have a voice in company direction. They will appreciate flexible scheduling and the opportunity to work from home when they have a sick child.

 

We’re all global now, so does it matter that an employee does his best work in the evening or early morning when it’s quiet, and likes to take afternoons off or come in to the office at noon? Allowing them to choose their own workday means you’ll get peak performance and they won’t be distracted by a doctor’s appointment or school play they’re afraid they’ll miss.

 

Working out flextime means you have to ensure you have enough people in the office at all times, but don’t worry. Many people are perfectly ok with 9-5 most of the time. You’ll be able to work something out. Even offering special occasion trade-offs is valuable.

 

Giving Them the Proper Tools

The first and second points on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are “be proactive” and “begin with the end in mind.” There is software tailor-made to help you do just that.

 

Customer relationship management software, or CRM, is designed for the sole purpose of making you better at what you do, so it definitely increases productivity. A good CRM not only manages your contacts and their information but ties any notes associated with a specific client to them. It will boast an integrated calendar and to-do list to keep you organized, and project management software with a financial tool that you can use to manage virtually anything you’re working on.

 

All that efficiency will pad your annual review with praise and put lots of minutes back on your clock. Who knows, you may even save enough time to laminate that official looking legend of voice commands for the office microwave or just wait around the break room for someone to try your complimentary chocolate covered tuna balls.

 

 

10 Steps to Cleaning Up and Reigniting Your Sales Funnel in 2016

If you’ve noticed a sales slump, it may be time to clean up your funnel. With the New Year, it’s the perfect time to make adjustments to your processes to foster growth and customer loyalty.

 

10 Steps to Cleaning Up and Reigniting Your Sales Funnel in 2016

 

Step One: Clean Out Old Leads

Go through your current system to clean out any old leads. Find the leads you believe are still worth contacting, and keep those separate from the leads you are purging.

 

Step Two: Reestablish Follow Up Timeframes

Chances are, you’re going to find some leads that are overdue for follow-up. Here’s your chance to establish the right timeframe to reach out to those leads while they are still warm. Prioritize your timeframe to act quickly, as 50% of customers will choose the vendor that responds first. Your odds of reaching a lead increase 100 times if you call them within five minutes rather than waiting 30 minutes. The odds of qualifying and converting a lead increase by 21 times if called within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes.

 

Step Three: Enter New Leads

Go through your contacts and enter any new leads you have that haven’t been entered into your system. Categorize them based on whether or not they’ve been contacted, and whether or not they’re interested, so you know how to move along the rest of the funnel to help them convert. Remove any leads that are not qualified, or not interested.

 

Step Four: Establish Better Pipeline Processes

Now that you’re basically at a clean slate, consider how leads are moving through your pipeline. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is an excellent tool to help you maintain your pipeline and improve customer service.

 

When leads come in from various sources, where do they go? How much time do you have to enter them? Who or what qualifies them? Who or what moves them along in the funnel? How much time do sales agents have to follow up with the leads? Determine what makes the lead an opportunity, and move forward accordingly.

 

Step Five: Evaluate Your Current Funnel

Every business wants to move a lead to a converted customer and a converted customer into a repeat buyer. Every business has a different approach for getting customers from one stage of the funnel to the other.

 

Does your current funnel work as well as you’d like? What could you do to improve it? Are leads coming in and getting stuck in the process? Or, are you having trouble with lead generation? Find out where your problem spots are.

 

Step Six: Make Adjustments to Your Marketing Strategy

Based on what you determine about your current funnel, you’ll need to make adjustments to your marketing strategy.

 

If you’re having trouble with lead generation, it’s time to amp up email, social media and content marketing efforts to help build brand awareness and bring in new leads.

 

If on the other the hand, the number of leads isn’t the problem, and you’re instead finding the leads in your system aren’t as qualified as you’d like, you’ll need to adjust marketing efforts to better target your ideal buyer.

 

And, if you have plenty of qualified leads, but they’re not converting – you’ll need to take a look at where they’re dropping off. What is your competition doing? Is your pricing too high? Your process too complex? Consider asking for feedback to help you find and solve the problem.

 

Step Seven: Start Funneling New Leads

Once you’ve worked out all the kinks and have your new funnel and marketing strategy in place, test your adjustments. When new leads come in, follow the established follow up timeline and pipeline guidelines to see if the funnel starts moving again.

 

Step Eight: Nurture the Leads Through the Funnel

Use lead nurturing techniques such as follow-up phone calls and emails to move leads through the funnel. Take note of where leads fall off in the funnel to identify weak areas. When the data points to a pattern, you know it’s time to adjust yet again.

 

Step Nine: Rinse and Repeat

When you’ve found what works—keep it going. Keep marketing efforts bringing in the new leads, follow your established pipeline practices to qualify your leads, move them through the funnel, and convert them into customers.

 

Step 10: Regularly Purge Old Leads

Even when your funnel is overflowing with prospects and the marketing machine is working to bring in profit, take time to purge old leads as you go, so you don’t end up with a buildup of clutter.

 

Getting your sales funnel right won’t happen overnight, but by keeping yourself organized and paying attention to the data and analytics from your CRM and website, you can focus your efforts on the key areas that will promote change.

Four Savvy Strategies That Will Take Your Company To A New Level

Virtual Office Services

Business growth is typically the idea that gains and retains primacy in the minds of corporate leaders and entrepreneurs. In many cases, business owners need to access new growth strategies to ensure that their companies remain in a state of perpetual expansion. Here are four savvy strategies that can ensure that your company reaches a new level of power and prestige:

1. Invest In Virtual Office Assistance.

have emerged as an immensely helpful way to ensure that your company grows. Companies that offer these services can assist you in many ways, including by managing email, checking voice messages, contacting manufacturers, providing call-backs, handling credit card declines, and tracking orders. Companies like Solid Cactus offer these services.

2. Run A Blog.

While many business owners realize that having a website is a wonderful way to build their brand identity online, some overlook the immense power of running a blog. Blogs are great because they empower business owners to communicate and connect with their target market in an informal manner that can accelerate the relationship-building process. One great way to facilitate this heightened connectivity is by hosting contests that feature free promotional prizes for the winner via the blog. You can also add Share Buttons to your blog, thereby getting your readers involved as they forward content they like to the individuals in their social networks.

3. Optimize Your Networking Endeavors.

Yet another business-building strategy you can use to get your company growing is the optimization of your networking endeavors. Utilizing good networking strategies is important because doing so enables you to connect with new people who could eventually become loyal buyers and/or business partners. Luckily, there are many ways that you can optimize your networking endeavors. One is to develop an “elevator pitch” which amounts to a 30-second speech regarding the depth and scope of your brand. Perfecting your pitch can help you overcome any anxiety or jitters you have regarding speaking to others about your brand.

4. Emphasize Employee Growth.

Emphasizing employee growth is an excellent way for you to ensure that your business attains a new level of power. When your employees develop new skills and maintain a competent, cutting edge approach to the work they do, you’ll likely find that your daily operations are completed with excellence and expedience. For this reason, you should look into which strategies you can employ to facilitate employee growth. One of the most simple and effective strategies available is having your staff enroll in online courses for ongoing education. The online format is oftentimes better than the traditional, in-classroom learning experience because it enables your employees to study at home and when it is convenient for them.

Conclusion

Savvy business owners need to remain cognizant of the fact that developing strategic plans and thinking systematically is the key to keeping their companies in a state of growth. If you’re ready to take your business to a new level marked by perpetual expansion, utilizing the strategies and systems outlined above can help you make it happen!