Keep the Recruiting Ball Rolling

Recruiting: it takes time, energy and focus.

It may feel like it’s unproductive for the company since it takes a while for the fruits of your labor – the new hire’s training, acclimation and productivity – to appear.

Be careful not to assume that the recruiting process stops when the candidate accepts your offer. Technically, the process isn’t over until after the employee starts with the company, updates their LinkedIn profile and emails all of their friends.

Here’s a scenario that can unfold after your future team member says “yes,” which is the moment you’re most vulnerable to losing them:

  • If they are as good as you think, it is highly likely their existing employer will work hard to keep them.
  • If the person knew they were going to leave their employer and was talking to multiple companies to be sure the next company was the right fit, the moment they notify the other companies that they have accepted another position, they may begin vying for another shot

So what to do?

  1. Acknowledge that recruiting doesn’t stop until the employee has joined your company.
  2. The moment you get a yes, have all of your key employees email, call or even grab lunch/drinks/coffee with the new recruit to welcome them to the team.
  3. Create an even stronger emotional tie by making public announcements, where possible.
  4. Give some evening homework to the new employee.
  5. Get your investors involved, if it’s a reasonably senior position. Set up calls for VCs to welcome them to the team.

If you put in a Herculean effort to get employees and then lose them after you’ve crossed the finish line, you will waste enormous energy.

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Managing Your Employees’ Social Media Use On and Off the Clock

With the pervasiveness of social media, it’s likely that many of your employees are connected to a variety of social media outlets during work and personal time. This leaves business managers with concerns regarding how they should manage their employees’ usage of social media at work, what potential issues could arise from their actions, and how to mitigate their risks.

Establishing ground rules for social media use at work will help protect the reputation of your business.

Here are a few things to think about before drafting a social media policy:

Should you allow social media at work?  Is allowing social media a necessary or realistic consideration at your company?

Know your current policies.  Review company policies regarding employee usage of company electronic equipment (computers, telephones, and smart phones), technology, and the internet.

Consider both at-work and not-at-work usage. Your social media policy should consider not just how employees are spending their time at work online, but also how they might be describing their work life and your company when they are online outside of work hours.

Set clear expectations.  If you permit at-work networking, you will need to define what you consider appropriate online activity. Clarify for your employees that what they post online is public information and as such, you expect that they will represent your business in a professional manner, including not making negative comments about competitors or posting opinions on controversial issues.

Avoid lawsuits.  Don’t forget that any posts made by your employees become new sources of discovery in any litigation action.

Be sure to get appropriate legal advice about any applicable legal implications of your social media policy. When complete, ensure that your employees are well versed in it.

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Business Success in Just 5 Easy Steps!

Personal touches, like sending a follow up thank you note or a small gift via snail mail after a purchase, go a long way toward customer loyalty.

Whether you’re at the head of a large corporation or a small, but sharp neighborhood operation, try these ideas on for size to increase customer loyalty and put the building blocks for success into place:

Always keep three business opportunities on your desk.  This might sound difficult, but it’s not once you get started and keep the opportunity list top of mind.

Nothing matters much until money changes hands.Nothing happens until we get the check,” is a mantra that can save you from having a lot of leftover inventory.

Follow the 2-2-2 Rule. Every day, do two things that will pay off in two weeks, two things that should pay off in two months, and two things that might yield results in two years. The beauty of this idea is that it sets up a success cycle, even in rough economic times.

Communicate regularly with current customers without selling at them. Send thank you notes, holiday cards, newspaper clippings, and emails with links that might help them in their businesses.

Figure out which customers will be good for your business and which ones won’t. This is not an easy task, but one that will save you time and money down the road.

Bonus Tip: Find experts who can actually help you with your business. Splurge on the best accountant, insurance person or business advisor you can find. They will help you in ways you would never expect.

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Online Customer Reviews Gaining Momentum

With the popularity of online reviews, most shoppers these days peruse what other shoppers have to say before committing to a purchase.

The way consumers make decisions has dramatically changed over the last decade. While standing in a store, we can now compare prices and access buyer feedback using our Smartphones.

With reviews already such an important part of the buying process, it’s easy to see how reliance on them will only increase in the future. According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, online consumer reviews are already the second most trusted source of brand information and messaging, with 70 percent of global consumers indicating they trust online reviews, an increase of 15 percent in four years.

Over the next few years, we can expect to see the anonymity of reviews fade away and instead become linked to shoppers’ real identities on Facebook, Twitter or other social media channels. This will be beneficial for both retailers and consumers, adding a layer of credibility vs. anonymity.

Here are several predictions retailers will need to fully understand in the near future, in order to be prepared for evolving consumer buying:

  • All reviews will eventually be linked to social networks
  • Shoppers will turn to their friends’ reviews first
  • Reviews will be aggregated by reviewer
  • Reviews will be personalized
  • All formats will become compatible

Chances are that you already rely heavily on reviews in making your own purchase decisions – you can make a good bet that your customers are already doing the same.

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The IoT’s influence on Brand-Consumer Relationships

As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows and more items are added to the circle of connectivity, the relationship between consumers who use the objects and the brands that manufacture them will invariably change.

For businesses looking to stay relevant in the era of IoT, learning to manage and leverage the new dynamic in brand-consumer relationships will be key.

Here are three ways these relationships are already changing, as well as how businesses are adapting to the IoT:

1. The IoT creates direct brand-consumer channels

With the possibility of countless objects in our lives going online, simplicity and ease of use are key to maintaining the value of IoT. Product management applications allow for the remote control of objects from a single device, keeping it manageable for consumers and creating an additional benefit for brands.

2. Data streams offer ways to improve the brand-consumer relationship

The real value of the IoT for businesses and consumers alike is the continuous stream of data that will be created from connected objects. Harnessing this data presents an opportunity for brands to improve their product and targeting strategies.

Finding ways to capture, store, and then derive meaningful insights from these perpetual data streams presents challenges to businesses. To meet this challenge, businesses are turning to consumer identities and cloud-based databases.

3. Security and privacy necessitates trust-based consumer-brand relationships

Concerns over IoT security and privacy are shared by the majority of the global population. For brands, nurturing consumer trust in the IoT is a two-step process. First, businesses must take concrete action to guarantee infrastructural security and data privacy. Second, businesses must transparently communicate what these actions mean to consumers.

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Want to Snag a Customer for Life? Here’s how!

Ask yourself: do you want short-term customers or customers for life?

Here’s what you can do to ensure that your customers want to keep coming back:

Turn No into Maybe

It’s only a matter of time before a customer asks you to sell something that you don’t already offer, but might be able to. Perhaps it’s variation on a product you offer or different delivery terms. Great salespeople will turn the no into a maybe.

Realize Problems Are Good for Sales

Problems can be costly if they are not handled correctly. Instead of avoiding them, face them head on by acknowledging them without delay. Information and communication are critical when your customers have a problem.

Prove What You’re Worth

Talk is cheap. Great salespeople show their customers just how much they’ve helped reduce a cost, avoid a cost or increase revenue. Start keeping score on the value you bring your customers.

Be Easy to Work With

Do you even know how easy you are to work with? You can remove customer obstacles when you know what your customer experiences. Ask your customers what makes it difficult for them to work with you and resolve to improve your process.

Give Them What They Want

Some customers are only concerned with on time deliveries and correct billing. Others want your help to implement programs and use your products to their fullest potential. Do you know which customer is which?

Doing things that consistently engage and satisfy your customers will go a long way toward making them lifetime customers.

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4 Productivity Improvement Strategies

Regardless of what business you’re in or what your goals are, productivity is extremely important. In a time of constant movement, constant communication, and continual pursuit of achievement, we seldom feel we are ahead of that long to-do list, no matter how many completed tasks we record at the end of the day.

Here are four approaches to improving productivity and results:

1. 80/20 everything. Pareto’s Law states 80 percent of the outputs result from 20 percent of the inputs. If you take 10 of the tasks and activities you want to get done, two of them will produce more results than the other eight combined.

2. Most things don’t matter. Most things make no difference and aren’t moving your progress or business forward. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, but is far more unpleasant. Being more thoughtful and selective about choosing what actions we make priorities is a reliable path to being highly productive.

3. Doing something unimportant well doesn’t make it any more important. Activities that are not connected to an outcome or purpose are the drain of all fulfillment and fortune. The value of what you do is most important, followed by how you do it.

4. Put time limits on everything. Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will become bigger in importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.

Most inputs are useless and time is wasted in proportion to the amount that is available. If you have 12 hours to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focus on execution. You have no choice but to do only the essentials that actually matter. If you have a week to complete the same task, it’s six days of validation, excuses, and procrastination – followed by one day of rushed work. If you have a month, it becomes a mental monster.

There is magic and high value in deadlines. Deadlines bring equal or higher quality results, sooner, by encouraging greater focus.

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