Contents

Ways and means are being devised to acknowledge the importance of customer satisfaction. However, a much-less-publicized yet fundamental lever is customer intimacy. Customer intimacy is the formal or informal set of relationships which impacts revenue growth and earnings per share, by creating long-term sustainable competitive advantage.

Profit Power of Customer Intimacy: Deliver Top Line Revenue and Earnings Growth

Profit Power of Customer Intimacy: Deliver Top Line Revenue and Earnings GrowthRegardless of industry segment, progressive CEOs and Board of Directors are looking for the silver bullet to consistently deliver top-line revenue and earnings growth, as means to increase share price and shareholders value. Numerous articles are being published promoting the importance of customer satisfaction, and ways to improve it, or touting the needs and means to flawless execution, or the benefits of process reengineering, or of outsourcing to lower-cost regions such as China, India, Latin America or Eastern Europe. These can, indeed, be good strategies towards better profitability. However, a much-less-publicized yet fundamental lever of higher and sustainable shareholders returns is customer intimacy. Customer intimacy impacts shareholders returns for both sides: the supplier side as well as the customer side. What is "customer intimacy" ? Customer intimacy can be defined as the formal or informal set of relationships established between supplier and customer, with a diverse array of partners, from corporate leadership to functional leadership (engineering, marketing, operations, maintenance, or service) and end-users of products or services. These dynamic relationships provide multiple points and frequency of contacts between the company and its customer, as well as multiple points of view about the relationship and its benefits to both parties. What are the benefits of customer intimacy? First, from the supplier side, customer intimacy impacts revenue growth and earnings per share, by creating long-term sustainable competitive advantage through the early identification of unsatisfied needs. Contrary to the all-too-common syndrome of if we can make it, they will buy it, that is prevalent in technology-driven companies; customer intimacy allows the adoption of a customer-need-pull strategy, as opposed to a technology-push strategy. By establishing long-term relationships with key customers, representative of their targeted market segments, companies set a framework within which they can have repeated opportunities to tap into their knowledge base. Voice-of-the-customer (VOC) interviews, focus groups, and users group meetings are well-practiced means used by marketing teams to access that knowledge base. But, much more simply, sales and service engineers can provide feedback as they are in a position to interact much more frequently with the end-users. Establishing very close and frequent relationships with key customers allows companies to be aware of the evolution of their processes and unsatisfied needs in advance of the competition. The corollary is that the investments for research and development of new products can then be focused towards differentiated product features and away from me-too products, thus reducing the risk of commoditization. Commodity products and services are essentially differentiated by their price. As a result, competitive positions must be based on lowest cost of manufacture. In the case of business-to-business dealings, commoditization is essentially driven by purchasing organizations. In order to obtain price concessions from vendors, purchasing officers tend to negotiate with vendors under the assumption that offerings from competitors are providing the same value, and that price is the deciding parameter. It is rarely the case, but, in front of weak or poorly trained sales people, this ploy allows them to obtain discounts from list prices. In any industry, however, commoditization leads to profit erosion and destruction, rather than increase of profit that is necessary for shareholders value. Commoditization can transform the market for a unique, branded product into a market based on undifferentiated price competition. Commodification can be an unintentional outcome that no party is actively seeking to achieve. Fighting this trend to protect some pricing power requires market and application knowledge on one front. On another front, training and development of the workforce are required. Differentiated products and services that bring an innovative solution to recognized but unsatisfied customers requirements are obviously easier to price and sell, on the basis of real value, thus avoiding the setting of list prices as costs plus. Second, from the customer side, considerable advantage can be generated when dealing with a vendor who is well aware of the details of the business and operations, its main drivers and constraints, as well as its objectives. If this vendor is willing to listen to issues with existing products and services, or to new requirements which may fall outside of their current offering, and is willing to invest in finding solutions, each of these situations corresponds to opportunities for reduced costs or increased capacity, and obviously leads to improved earnings. Key progressive customers are very willing to partner with strategic suppliers to develop unique solutions to their most tangible, high-impact problems. The next question is how to establish or improve customer intimacy? Every business has some level of customer intimacy, loosely exercised by its various customer interactions: Internet, emails, phone calls, sales and service calls, etc. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to improve customer intimacy. It requires the right attitude, and the motivation to ask the right questions. Attitudes can be developed through communications, training and development. Motivation can be enhanced by the quality of the talent hired by the company, and by the compensation and rewarding systems. Employees, who clearly understand how their behavior in front of customers can cause increased customer intimacy and how relationship marketing relates to profitability and growth, are more likely to pay attention to their attitudes and to strive to bring value to the customers. In summary, beyond customer satisfaction, which is essentially transactional, another layer is developed in terms of relationship between supplier and customer. Customer intimacy brings with it a virtuous circle of additional opportunities for companies to avoid the pitfalls of commoditization and bubble-hype, secure sustainable competitive advantages, and protect pricing power and profit margins, which then in turn enables additional investments towards growth (marketing, new product developments, sales channels, etc.). All of which promotes increases for shareholders returns.

Referral Business: 3 Steps to Generating Unlimited Referrals

Referral Business: 3 Steps to Generating Unlimited Referrals

Of course, every sales person knows referral business is vitally important. But how do you generate enough referrals to triple your sales and commissions? Thats easy, keep reading and I will share three sure fire steps to creating massive referrals for your business:Step#1: Wow your clientsThe first step to generating referral business is to go out of your way to demonstrate a high level of service to EVERYONE who comes in contact with your business not just clients.Everyone who comes in contact with your business is a potential customer or referral source. As a mortgage lender, Ive had service people come into my office, see how we do business, and ask about refinancing. But how do you wow your clients and others to generate referral business?Basically, you will need to be honest, knowledgeable, friendly, professional, and deliver on your promises. Exceed their expectations. Set yourself up to succeed. If you think a task will be completed on Wednesday, tell your client it will completed on Friday. Then, when you call them on Wednesday to report that the task has been completed youll look like a superstar because you exceeded their expectation. In short, deliver ahead of schedule.Communicate proactively. Find out why your clients call and stop them from calling by answering all questions ahead of time. In the mortgage business, I found that clients and everyone else involved in the transaction would call for status updates. So I put a system in place to communicate updates to everyone automatically. Now, my phone doesnt ring because clients get regular scheduled updates. Give unexpected bonuses. Give your clients some kind of surprise bonus. Give them more than what they expected. Your bonus could relate to your product or it could be in the form of a gift. Here are a few gift giving ideas to help generate referral business:Before the sale Try to give your clients something right up front. Try giving clients a $5 gift card before they even agree to do business with you. During the sales process Send cookies to both spouses work with a thank you note and plenty of your business cards so they can give them to co-workers. This is a excellent technique for creating referral business.After the transaction is complete Send flowers to your clients home.Step #2: Collect testimonialsNow that you have wowed your clients, get a testimonial from them.In fact, it would be a great idea to survey your clients at the beginning, middle and end of the sales process immediately after they have received one of your gifts. Collect your surveys in writing by using short, quick answer questionnaires 10 questions or less. Here are sample questions for your questionnaire:1) Why did you choose to do business with us? 2) Was your transaction closed on time? YES / NO3) How would you rate our courtesy? EXCELLENT / GOOD / FAIR / POOR4) How would you rate our efficiency and speed?EXCELLENT / GOOD / FAIR / POOR5) How would you evaluate the competitiveness of the price you received on your product?EXCELLENT / GOOD / FAIR / POOR6) Overall, how would you rate the service you received during this transaction?EXCELLENT / GOOD / FAIR / POOR7) Have you ever purchased a similar product from a company other than Your Company Name? YES / NO8) If you answered YES to question #7, would you say we were:BETTER / SAME / WORSE9) Would you recommend us to a friend or relative? YES / NOThese questionnaires will serve as testimonials for the next step in the creation of your referral business. Step #3: Generate more referral businessUse your clients testimonial to target everyone in their center of influence. Send your testimonial to prospective clients and referral business partners along with an approach letter. More on the approach letter in a moment; first, here is a list of potential referral business partners that can be targeted after a mortgage transaction just to give you some ideas:* HR manager at their work* Listing real estate agent and that agents entire office* Selling real estate agents and that agents entire office* CPA* Financial planner* Insurance agent* The seller of the home on a purchase transaction* Title Company* Real estate appraiser* NeighborsNow, do you need some ideas for writing your cover letter? To download three approach letter samples visit: www.Mortgage-Leads-Generator.com/a/approachletter.htm In summary, incorporate these ideas into the way you conduct business and you will automatically deliver such a high level of service that your clients will jump at the chance to tell their family, friends, and co-workers about your service.Please feel free to reprint this article as long as the resource box is left intact and all links are hyperlinked.

IT Marketing: Measuring the Response

IT Marketing: Measuring the Response

A really important part of the whole IT marketing effort is tracking and measuring. In this article, you'll learn how its really important to track what the response is and ultimately you want to track how many of the responses converted into sales. At the absolute minimum, you want to see what kind of inquiries come in from the different marketing vehicles. For example, if you have a seminar, how many registrants were from a chamber flyer? How many were from a small newspaper ad? How many were from doing some outbound telemarketing yourself? Measuring Response is very important. Here are some ways to do it: 1. Drive them to a specific URL so that you know how many people went to the website.2. Ask them when you talk to them on the phone where they heard of you. 3. Have them call a specific phone number with a request.4. Use different response vehicles with different marketing vehicles. For example, the postcards offer a reduced price IT audit and the newspaper ad offers a free seminar. IT Marketing: Some Real NumbersSo lets say for arguments sake were mailing 1,000 postcards to 1,000 law offices in the area with some kind of offer like attending a seminar, getting a free report, getting a free needs analysis. I want to know out of those 1,000 postcards how many resulted in an inquiry. Lets say for arguments sake we got almost a two percent response on inquiry, which would be fantastic. We had a 1.7 percent response rate on inquiries, and out of those 17 inquiries, one materialized into a nice-size account and one materialized into a one-shot deal. So, for 1,000 postcards mailed to attorneys in this area, we got 17 inquiries and we got two business opportunities that equated to $19,500 in the first year. Thats a fantastic return even with list rental, even with printing, even with having it professionally graphic designed, professionally copy written, postage, and everything else that went along with that. For that $500 to $700 investment, you were able to identify a one-shot deal that probably almost covered the cost of your mailing and you found one huge account that paid for the mailing many times over.The Bottom Line on "IT Marketing" Measuring the response rate of your IT marketing is very important. You need to track where and how you spent your IT marketing money and how your ROI was. Copyright MMI-MMVI, Computer Consulting Blog. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

Avoiding A "Failure to Communicate"

Avoiding A "Failure to Communicate"

It's in every classified ad and most job descriptions: must have excellent communication skills. Worse yet, once hired, it reappears annually at review time: Improve "communication skills" . What's a worker to do? Communication skills don't require a graduate degree, just some common sense, a bit of homework and a better understanding of the role communication plays in everything: Listen. Don't assume that better communication skills mean you have to speak like John F. Kennedy or orate like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Listening skills are the most ignored aspect of good communication skills. More misunderstandings occur due to poor listening than to misstatements. To be a good listener, suspend that urge to speak while others are speaking. Don't begin to prepare what you'll say next. Listen intently, with ears, eyes, mind and body. Are you following what's being said? If so, nod in agreement. If not, a furrowed brow indicates you're confused. Your speaker needs these cues. If you truly heard and understood, repeat it back in your own words. This lets both parties know they're on the same wavelength. Mind Your ABCs. Some people turn complex topics into simple explanations. Sadly, others' talents lie in the opposite direction: making simple topics complex. I strive to mind my ABCs: Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity. Gen. Douglas MacArthur once remarked that even more important than giving orders that could be understood was issuing orders that couldn't be misunderstood. Whether or not lives are at stake, your reputation as a communicator may be. People appreciate short sentences; they are often confused by long, convoluted ones. Keep it succinct. Don't get labeled missing in action. Some excellent communicators are deemed less so for not contributing in meetings. A coaching client of mine from overseas was culturally uncomfortable speaking up, so others monopolized the meetings, often rudely interrupting to make a point. Her timidity, coupled with self-consciousness surrounding her command of English, resulted in her wallflower demeanor. Now the night before meetings she reviews the agenda, composes her thoughts and rehearses making powerful yet concise statements about items of the day. To others her remarks appear off-handed. She's thus perceived as a more powerful and effective communicator. She's also developed a nice yet firm statement when she's interrupted, which reminds people she hasn't yielded the floor yet. After a few invocations of this phrase, others respect her opinions better. Her boss has noticed and applauded her new assertiveness. It takes two. I knew a worker who was fired for her boss's inadequacies as a communicator. Don't pay the price for another's communication shortcomings. It may require some work on your part, but it's worth the effort. I once had a boss who listened, but never asked questions. After a while I anticipated the questions that needed to be asked and posed them myself, or simply provided responses as if he'd asked them. I would go prepared to each meeting with a list of project-related questions, which showed my foresight and attention to detail. It benefited us both. Write speech. It sounds like a Buddhist precept, yet remember, writing is a big part of communication. Let e-mails, weekly reports and other writings reinforce your clear thinking, organizational skills, attention to detail and ability to express important ideas. Make your writing easy to read. Spelling matters, even in e-mail. Use white space, numbered lists and bulleted items to communicate more effectively. Titles, subtitles and lists similarly add cogency. Write your piece, set it aside for a spell, then review it and strike out 25 percent to say it more succinctly. Speak up. Consider taking a public speaking class, joining a local Toastmasters club (www.toastmasters.org) to improve your oral communication skills. The new skills, offline practice and confidence gleaned will help you in meetings, in giving reports and in making presentations. Excellent communication skills help in many ways. With practice you can confidently give a speech, make a cold call, train others; conduct a meeting, make a sales presentation, interview someone or be interviewed. Improved communication skills can open many doors, both within and beyond the workplace. It's time you sharpen your CQ Your Communication Quotient!

How To Create More Value By Giving Less Content

In this article I want to show you the exact reason why providing less content can prove to be better at building value for your readers than providing more content.First, let me ask you some rhetorical questions...Is an ebook that's 308 pages better than an ebook that's 102 pages? Is an audio file that's 327 minutes long better than an audio file that's 125 minutes long? Is a cheesecake that's three layers better than a cheesecake that's two layers?What do you think?Of course, higher numbers always sound better don't they? This is especially true when you're looking at purchasing information products. Although you know that more information is not always better, your subconscious mind tells you that it likes to see larger numbers.So logically, you know that higher numbers don't mean crap. Emotionally, you feel attracted to larger numbers. Since emotions overpower logic when it comes to the sales process, it would make sense that products which reveal higher numbers convert more customers than products which reveal lower numbers.That's why, if you're creating an an ebook that's 50 pages and under, it's best not to reveal how many pages it is. To your customer, why should it matter? It's not an issue until you make it an issue.As long as you provide all the information that's mentioned in the sales letter, you shouldn't worry how many pages your ebook is or how long your audio file is.I often see sales letters where the authors say that their ebook is only 27 pages etc, but that they do not reveal any fluff unlike other ebooks.There's nothing wrong with a 27 page ebook. It may be a problem if you don't provide good information in those 27 pages. If you provide good solid information in 27 pages then you should not worry about the length of the ebook.If you end up with only 27 pages of information then launch your product with that many pages. If you find that you're getting a lot of refunds because of the size of your book then you can add more content later.So what's my point?If you create an ebook that does have a lot of pages then mention that in your sales letter. If you create a product with what you consider to be a few pages, don't mention it in your sales letter. Same goes for audio products. If your audio is longer, mention it.If it's shorter, don't mention it. If you don't have enough content but you feel that your content is good, just let it be. Don't add content for the sake of content.I've been very satisfied with ebooks I've purchased which were under 30 pages. I've also been very dissatisfied with ebooks over 200 pages. It's all a matter of the value of the content.Another thing I'd like to point out about providing less content is that your content will be seen as more valuable.When you break down a topic and focus on just one or two aspects of it, your information is more targeted and thus valuable. If your focus is on many different topics, you cannot devote your expertise to one specific topic.Readers who focus on one specific topic will feel that your information is better because they'll have a better learning experience. The more topics they have to focus on the less likely they'll remember any one topic.When they feel that their learning experience is better they'll appreciate your content more. So if your ebook or audio file is short, it doesn't matter since the prospect will not focus on the quantity of your product but rather the quality.Therefore, you can use less but more focused content in any type of communication to give the feeling of value. Use this when writing articles, press releases, solo email promotions, website ad copy etc.Remember, less is more...

Why Residual Affiliate Programs Is The Best To Promote

Are you a webmaster in need of additional income? Or are you planning to set up an online business but you still don't have any product to sell? If so, affiliate marketing may be the best solution for your problems. With "affiliate marketing" , you won't need to worry about the products you have to sell. All you need to have is a website with sufficient contents that are related to the products of a certain online company offering affiliate programs. By becoming a member of the program, or by becoming an affiliate, you can start earning a certain amount of money right away!Affiliate marketing is some sort of business relationship established between a merchant and his affiliates. In affiliate marketing, an affiliate agrees to direct some traffic to a merchant's website. If that traffic is converted into some kind of action, like a visitor purchasing a product on the merchant's website or a visitor becoming a lead for the company, the affiliate who directed the traffic will be compensated. Compensation may take the form of either a percentage sales commission for the sales generated or a fixed fee predetermined upon the application of the affiliate on the merchant's affiliate program.Promising a lot of benefits both for the merchants and the affiliates, affiliate marketing has become one of the most popular online marketing methods today. In fact, almost every merchant or retailer site today offers an affiliate program that any one can join into. Most retailers would entice people to become affiliates or members of their program by promising great benefits like large commissions, lifetime commissions, click through incomes and a lot of other benefits. But would all these "affiliate programs" bring off the same benefits? Most affiliate programs would pay you, as an affiliate, a one-time commission for every sale or lead you brought to the merchant's website. Commissions for this kind of affiliate programs are usually large, ranging from 15% to a high of about 60%. Other affiliate programs would pay you a fixed fee for every click through or traffic you send to the merchant's site. Programs like this often pay a smaller fee for every click through, usually not getting any larger than half a dollar. The good thing about this kind of program, however, is that the visitor won't have to purchase anything in order for the affiliate to get compensated.Another type of affiliate program is the residual income affiliate program. Residual affiliate programs usually pay only a small percentage of sales commission for every sale directed by the affiliate to the merchant's site. This commission often comes only in the range of 10% to 20% sales commission. Because of this, many people ignore residual affiliate program and would rather opt for the high paying one-time commission affiliate program. Are these people making a mistake, or are they making the right decision?We can't tell, for sure, if people are making a mistake by choosing a high paying one-time commission affiliate program. But we can definitely say that they are making a large mistake if they ignore "residual affiliate" programs. Residual affiliate programs would indeed pay at a lower rate, but merchants offering such kind of programs would generally pay you regular and ongoing commissions for a single affiliate initiated sale! That means, for the same effort you made in promoting a particular affiliate program, you get paid only once in a one-time commission program, and a regular and ongoing commission for a residual program!So, are the benefits of promoting residual affiliate programs clearer to you now? Or are they still vague? If they are still vague, then let's make them a bit clearer with this example.Suppose there are two online merchants both offering web hosting services on their sites. The first merchant offers a one-time commission type of affiliate program that pays $80 for every single affiliate initiated sale. The second merchant also offers an affiliate program, but this time a residual affiliate program that pays only $10 for every single affiliate initiated sale. As an affiliate, we may get attracted at once at what the first merchant is offering, as $80 is definitely a lot larger than $10. But by thinking things over before actually getting into them, one may be able to see that the second merchant is offering us more opportunity to earn a larger amount of money.Supposed you have directed traffic to the merchant and it converted into a sale, you'll get paid once by the first merchant for the sale you have initiated. But with the second merchant, you'll get paid monthly for as long as the customer you have referred to the merchant continues to avail of the web hosting service. That means that for the same effort of getting one customer to avail of the merchant's service, you get paid monthly in residual affiliate programs while you only get paid once in a one-time commission type of affiliate programs.So, are residual affiliate programs worth promoting? Definitely yes, because you virtually get more money from these types of affiliate programs in the long run! And would residual affiliate programs work best for you? Probably not, probably yes. It is not really for me to tell. But with the benefits that residual affiliate marketing can provide, it would really be unwise to ignore such programs.

Summary

Ways and means are being devised to acknowledge the importance of customer satisfaction. However, a much-less-publicized yet fundamental lever is customer intimacy. Customer intimacy is the formal or informal set of relationships which impacts revenue growth and earnings per share, by creating long-term sustainable competitive advantage.