Being an entrepreneur or small-business owner can be lonely, and to interact with other like-minded individuals – and be exposed to business opportunities – can be challenging.
To help you build your business relationships, Darlene Menzies, CEO of SMEasy, has the following advice:
“While we focus on our personal relationships in the month of love, many business owners forget that their business relationships also need nurturing to ensure success. One of the best ways to do this is through business networking and being involved in business ‘match-making’ forums. Many people cringe at the idea of going to networking sessions or forums. However, it is definitely worth moving out of your comfort zone to get involved in interacting with organisations that are geared towards addressing small business needs and creating access to market opportunities.”
Here are some worthwhile organisations and forums:
• The National Small Business Chamber
The NSBC is dedicated to helping small businesses grow, connect and network. The organisation runs a number of conferences and events throughout the year – as well as other member benefits – that cater for the needs of self-employed and small- to medium-size businesses. Subscription is free and at some of these events ‘hook up’ sessions are hosted. To find out more visit www.nsbc.org.za
• Business Engage
Business Engage is a member based organisation that focuses on enabling entrepreneurs to maximise their growth and profits through a variety of offerings, including networking, conferences, mentorship, training, international collaboration and entrepreneurship development, and support.
They have a host of helpful online resources to equip entrepreneurs. To find out more about their events and resources visit www.businessengage.co.za
• Business Chambers of Commerce and Industry
It is a good idea to join your city’s Business Chamber as they prove invaluable for networking with other entrepreneurs in your area, as well as connecting with big businesses. Members are drawn from every sector of the economy, and range from independent entrepreneurs to the large corporates. They also promote enterprise development, offer free skills development training, and business advisory services.
Visit www.jcci.co.za, www.durbanchamber.co.za, www.nmbbusinesschamber.co.za or www.capechamber.co.za
• The Business Women’s Association of South Africa
The BWASA is the largest association of professional and business women in South Africa – with a head office in Johannesburg and eleven branches across the country. With regular events and networking sessions, this is an ideal forum for business women to meet. Visit www.bwasa.co.za
More networking opportunities
Online resources and publications geared towards entrepreneurial development, and upliftment in general, are often hosts or they promote events.
To get more information on your sector, and for free or affordable conferences and workshops, visit sites such as www.smesouthafrica.co.za, www.spice4life.co.za, www.ventureburn.com, www.catalystmag.co.za or
Strong leadership skills are widely acknowledged as vital tools in providing companies with a competitive edge in today’s business environment. Quinton Douman, MD of 212 Business Consulting, explains that if you are a leader – be it of a franchised business, a global corporation, a family or a country – it’s always decision time.
The role of leadership, by definition, means that the weight of decisions falls onto your shoulders. Should your business purchase more stock despite a downturn in demand? Can you really afford to send your daughter on that school trip? Should you be making that particular amendment to this specific charter?
The art of decision-making doesn’t have to be a continuous cycle of “what ifs”; when it comes down to the core of any matter, there are three questions that need to be answered before you can identify the wisest course of action:
- What should start?
- What should continue?
- What should stop?
The quality of your decisions as a leader is predicated by the quality of your diagnosis. The answers to these questions are what you need to put your time and effort into defining.
Let’s use a small sales team as an example. The leader notices that the performance of the sales team is down, so she immediately schedules a team-building event and hires a motivational speaker, and then spends money on good food and a great DJ.
Everyone is happier than they were a day before, but the reality is that a lack of motivation wasn’t the true cause of the issue. Even though the short term morale will be significantly better, the problem of poor performance will probably not be solved.
While some people in the sales team may need motivation, team building could work for them, while others may lack resources, or the knowledge or skill to perform at an optimum level. Some may be falling foul of a flawed sales process that has been systematically breaking down productivity over many years.
From this example, we can see that, before making any decision, the first question should not be “what do we do?” but rather “what do we know?”.
In order to accurately define the problem and, therefore, the solutions, the leader must ask questions about the past, the present and the future. This may seem like an unnecessary effort, but without a good understanding of every lever, the quality of the decision will be compromised.
Think about something as simplistic as going through a menu at a restaurant; the people who are clear about what they value and what their lifestyle goals are don’t spend much time looking at the menu because they have already made clear decisions and formulated values that dictate what they will or won’t allow into their bodies.
For a leader who is making decisions on behalf of a big organisation, or on behalf of the shareholders who he is accountable to, or on behalf of a country that he serves (having a comprehensive decision-making framework is non-negotiable).
Even in times of uncertainty, great leaders have to be decisive. By using the tools outlined above, they can become strong and resolute leaders by really delving into the heart of any issue, then using their own personal vision and values to lead them to the right path.
Even in the age of digital marketing, telesales stands second only to in-person contact for success rate in closing a sale. But this is true only when managed by experienced telemarketers with a singular focus on sales, backed by advanced technology and proven processes that support selling in a compliant and ethical manner.
“Many marketers underestimate that generating sales via telephone is massively draining on human, technical and financial resources. When it comes to justifying the capital expenditure on setting up an in-house call centre, versus outsourcing to a specialist telesales operation, there are many compelling reasons why outsourcing will deliver a better return on investment and significantly higher quality sales,” says Albert Thyse, head of sales at O’Keeffe & Swartz. Learn more here how a reputable call center works.
Here are nine compelling reasons why an outsourced specialist telesales provider is the best sales decision you’ll make:
- Speed to market – chances are you need sales quickly to make forecast. Building up a professional telesales operation takes years of learning, refinement, management skills development and investment in training, recruitment, compliance and technology. A specialist provider has this in place, so the focus is immediately on driving your sales.
- Specialisation – it’s near impossible to excel at something that is not core to your business. An outsourced telesales provider is a specialist in telesales, which results in greater efficiency and higher productivity. These benefits culminate in delivering better sales results for your campaign.
- Human resources – by far the most expensive, demanding and perpetual of call centre overheads. O’Keeffe & Swartz receives on average 1 500 CVs every month, of which about 100 suitable candidates make it into sales training. Post the training, only about 50% of the sales trainees end up making sales calls. It’s an industry with high staff turnover so ongoing recruitment and training are imperative.
- Compliance, ethics and consumer protection – given the raft of privacy, consumer protection and FAIS legislation, compliance is an important consideration in insurance telesales. Compliance incurs hefty demands on processes, technology and human capital resources, and should be approached as a non-negotiable discipline within the business.
- Technology – is constantly evolving, so it can be difficult to keep track of the latest innovations in the market. If your call centre is using outdated or badly managed technology that results in hang-ups and irritated customers, you’re doing significant damage to your brand, customer relationships, and without a doubt your sales results. Just as how business phone solution Melbourne offers various companies with the best and latest in technological service when it comes to telephones in Melbourne just like that these outsourced companies have experts who help them out on a constant basis, thus helping them avoid problems before they arise.
- Data and analytics – telesales is a heavily process driven strategy backed by deep data insights that determine whether the right products and benefits are being pitched to the right client, at the right time, with the right propensity to buy, with the best sales pitch. This is driven by data and analytics and the ability to decipher and apply what the data is telling you into your sales processes. Interpreting this data into actions requires experienced management skills and expertise to ensure success.
- The art of the sales script – telesales scripts must be well researched, professionally written, structured, and tested to identify weak areas, closed questioning and suitability to the target audience being contacted. Getting to the most appropriate script takes time and constant refinement to ensure that you don’t end up burning through databases and demotivating your sales teams with calls that go nowhere.
- Flexibility – you may need to double the number of agents for a promotional period while a month later volumes need to reduce. This level of flexibility is virtually impossible to manage in an in-house operation. By making use of an outsourced provider, you have access to experienced and well-trained sales consultants when you need them. They are likely to have experience on similar campaigns that they have previously dialled, or even campaigns handled for your business. This knowledge and skills base is immediately available to ensure greater campaign success when you need it.
- Cost – this has three dimensions: time, expertise and money. You may think that you’re “selling products”, but what you’re really doing is buying yourself an enormous amount of time and management skill. An outsourced provider also has the benefit of multiple clients to amortise the hard costs such as HR, telephony and technology costs that are onerous in a call centre. When you start adding up all the dimensions of cost in a call centre, you’ll be hard pressed to justify this for a process that is not core to your business.
“Telesales is one discipline where working with outsourced professionals with proven techniques who thrive in performance-driven environments, supported by technology, data, systems and methodologies, is critical to achieving an effective investment to revenue ratio,” concludes Albert.
As any entrepreneur will admit, every start-up reaches a stage where a major shift is needed to get to the next phase of organisational growth and success.
Metsä Board’s strategy is to grow profitably its fresh forest fibre paperboard business and reduce its exposure in the declining paper businesses. Measures announced today strengthen the company’s market leadership in fresh forest fibre paperboards and enable an exit from the weak paper operations.
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