As a profitable business owner, you must expect to deal with new and existing customers on an ongoing basis - regardless of your product or service. To this end, it's important to identify your marketplace and then prepare a marketing plan. Given that there are numerous ways to reach your targeted customers and prospects, you'll do best if you explore options that are designed especially for small businesses.
The articles in this section offer a wealth of information on direct selling, from customer relations and best practices to telemarketing and barter arrangements.
Sales, Customers and Distribution Chains
In a 21st century replete with ever-changing technology, small business owners are quick to spout "networking," "customer relationship management" and "marketing channels" when talking sales and distribution strategies. Sometimes, though, they use the buzzwords without fully understanding what these activities entail. The following articles outline a range of tools and techniques in clear, no-nonsense terminology - solid knowledge without the jargon.
- Face-to-Face: Keep Customers Satisfied -Entrepreneurs interested in increasing sales and productivity learn the fine points of cultivating rich – and profitable – customer relationships.
- Direct Selling Through Social Media Marketing - Many small-business owners do not believe social media marketing produces tangible results. But applying the right methodology yields real results.
- Network to New Heights - Getting the most out of traditional networking channels means making inroads in the community – and these service groups are a great way to begin.
- Sales Staff: Training Techniques - The best way for personnel to reach their full potential is through systematic training on all aspects of the sales process.
- Models that Work -- Or Not - The traditional distribution model has three levels: the producer, the wholesaler and the retailer. Read on about how this system works for you.
- Customer Relationships -- A Process - The ability of entrepreneurs to effectively manage clients remains a mandate in today’s tough marketplace and fragile economy.
Retail Selling - Making a Difference
Consumers demand value for their money, or they are out the door. For the independent business owner, this process starts in-house with a strong customer service action plan - including sales training, customer incentives and effective promotions.
- Training Sales-Floor Staff - First impressions are critical. This is especially true of customer-salesperson relationships, so a motivated staff can make all the difference.
- Determining Customer Needs Through Questioning - Asking customers specific questions regarding what they want is an effective way to establish a solid business relationship.
- The Product Marketing Mix - Promotions bring customers to the business owner, while in-house advertising and cutting-edge sale methods keep them happy once they're inside the door.
Even in this digital age, the telephone remains one of our most effective marketing tools. In fact, many business owners count on telemarketing as a permanent fixture in their marketing plans. The articles in this section offer dozens of tactics for designing a telemarketing campaign, setting up a call center and dealing effectively via telephone with customers and clients.
- Telemarketing: An Overview - While a simple concept, telemarketing can increase overall sales and offer expanded customer service opportunities.
- In - House Telemarketing - There are some real advantages to in-house telemarketing campaigns: You have direct control, and your callers are down the hall – not across town or outside U.S. borders.
- Outsourcing Telemarketing - Some owners prefer to outsource call-center functions so they remain free to focus on core business. This option can be both cost-effective and productive.
- Tips: Telemarketing Training and Etiquette - Professional telemarketers employ superior communications skills to understand customer problems and an effective strategy to solve them.
- Who to Call - Or Not - Dialing numbers on the federal Do Not Call list can mean hefty fines, not to mention significant damage to your company’s reputation.
- The Barter System - Is It for You? - Whether you are starting or growing a small business, using a barter system preserves working capital for your venture.
- Bartering and Selling Surplus Merchandise - Surplus inventory can be a burden, but online resources can help you turn it into a golden opportunity.