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By using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, many small businesses have become more efficient and have since fast-tracked their digital transformation. A CRM for small businesses provides one-stop shop to record customer interactions, manage communications, and align internal processes for an improved customer experience.

But with varying features – from business forecasting, contract management, to call center handling – how do you make sure that your investment in a CRM system is worth its buck? In terms of return on investment, G2Crowd‘s latest survey reported that it could vary from as early as 3 months to as much as two years time. If you’re a small business owner, it’s especially important to choose a system that fits your needs and hits the ground running.

When deciding which CRM to choose, you can’t go wrong in prioritizing these elements:

Easy to learn and use

Some are put off by outdated-looking user interfaces in legacy CRM systems. Confusing UI and cluttered forms add to the steep learning curve that makes many CRM implementation fail. Per data from G2Crowd, some CRM for small businesses have adoption rates that fall below 50%. As with anything, complex is not necessarily complicated – so simplicity is always welcomed even by the most advanced CRM user.

You’ll want to start with a CRM that offers an intuitive and thoughtful user interface for you and your team. Make sure that the provider also offers reliable product support, since you’ll need these for walkthroughs and troubleshooting. If not, don’t expect to extract actionable information from your CRM, whether from recorded clicks in the sales funnel to handling of customer complaints.

A clunky CRM experience doesn’t just pain its corporate users. Data from CRMs have consequences in shaping the very interaction with customers as well. Acquia’s 2019 findings indicate that 75% of consumers associate automated experiences as being too impersonal. Such troubling interactions should be flagged by your CRM, but don’t expect much if its own UI is as much confused.

Customizable to your needs

Since most CRM software share the same default features, it’s important to check which among in the slew are most important to you. Sooner or later, you’ll find that you may need a feature or two to be customized according to your unique industry or business requirements. You don’t want to spend a lot on customizations, so you should make sure that the CRM software you will choose can integrate with in-house or third-party applications.

Among the customizations clamored for by businesses are for their CRM software to integrate with social media. Worldwide trends indicate that 23% of purchase decisions are made through friends’ social media posts or mentions, as observed in Euromonitor’s latest report. With social sign-in and APIs in place, you can feed product recommendations from friends during the checkout process, for example.

Having the ability to customize the CRM gives you the flexibility to run things your way and not the other way around. Otherwise, you may need to redesign your current processes, change your existing tools, or even reorganize your teams just to suit your CRM’s orientation.

Matched to your business objectives

Compared with a multinational’s set industry benchmarks, the measure of success for small businesses, especially those in niche areas, comes in many forms and flavors. Maybe you don’t need the database capacity for one million customer profiles, but you do need regular alerts when a customer segment pauses in their purchasing decision.

The ability to foster customer loyalty is a priority for small businesses to thrive in a tight market. This is easier said than done since, according to Webloyalty’s 2018 report, less than 50% of customers are satisfied with their retail experience. This has huge business impact because, in the UK alone, a staggering 147.2 billion pounds may be lost to a customer’s defection to another business.

Indeed, it’s important to choose a CRM that will help you engage customers in different stages of their purchasing decisions – whether they’re first-time prospects, return customers, or someone you can potentially cross-sell to. Regular updates, exclusive discounts, as well as targeted promotions are proven marketing tactics to cultivate loyalty and these shouldn’t be a stranger to your CRM.

Save yourself a (costly) headache by choosing a right-fit CRM for small businesses. When deciding on your options, make sure that the CRM is easy to use, customizable, and matched to your business objectives. These basics outweigh splashy dashboards or granular reports that you may not have use for. Remember that your purpose for choosing a CRM is to deepen your connection with your customers and to anticipate their needs for more business.

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The post 3 Things to Consider When Choosing a CRM for Small Businesses appeared first on Cyberpreneur Philippines.

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Like a game that’s full of twists, turns, and challenges, you never know if the step you’re taking is leading you towards victory. Nevertheless, perseverance is a virtue. That’s why against all odds, you try. The same can be said of Theo Ignacio and Derick Cubangbang, captains of e-sports teams TeleTigers and Viridis Arcus, respectively, in successfully achieving their goals.

A person playing a strategic game is no different from a person starting a business. As e-sports team captains, they share these tips on how to succeed in your online venture:

Prioritize what’s important

Starting at the bottom is challenging, if not difficult. Without much experience, it’s not surprising for someone setting up a business to try and do a lot of things in one go. It’s human nature to aspire for more. That, however, is not smart.

The truth is, by trying to accomplish many different things at once, you often lose sight of what you already have, like your target audience, or worse, your identity.

That’s why setting a priority – something that you believe in – is important, as Derrick said.

Similarly, games are played with that mindset. Whether it’s a princess in need of saving, catching wild Pokémons, or destroying enemy towers – by setting a goal that you could pursue, it would be easy, not only for you but also for your target audience, to differentiate your business from the competitive market.

Of course, being different is hard to accomplish when everything is relative and when everything seems to have been done. But take your time, nothing great comes at once.

Healthily doubt yourself

Believing yourself is important – it’s the foundation of every process in achieving your goal. However, much as you have faith in what you’re doing, learn to distrust yourself too.

Sure, this would create tension as you start to see your shortcomings and failures, but that’s part of the process. Instead of treating your mistakes as a hindrance, use it as a platform to make yourself better – to know yourself and your business better.

Derrick added that, understanding that you, yourself, might be the boundary that you need to overcome is important. It is only through this process that you can continue on stronger and a little bit wiser.

Because who knows? Maybe the only reason you’re stuck on a level is because you can’t admit that you’ve missed something important along the way.

Keep on fighting the dream

One thing that the world loves these days is the word “realistic,” or “practical.” Sure, there is wisdom and truth beneath those words especially when one is starting a business, but isn’t there more to life than those?

Both Theo and Derrick agreed that, even in e-Sports, people need to be practical with their goals.

But, didn’t every single thing that there are today started as a dream? And if just like any other dreams go, then weren’t they nothing short of being ambitious too?

Games and businesses are like that.

For Theo, to emerge victorious in a game is not easy. Similarly, pursuing that business you’re passionate about will not be without its difficulties too.  Compromises and problems will always arise, but amidst those hardships, if you are able to reach your goal, then isn’t it all worth it?

“I would say that as long as there is a chance for you to chase your dreams whatever their size is, just go do it. If there’s no chance, then make one. It doesn’t matter how fast you do it, as long as you don’t stop chasing until you reach your dreams.”

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The post Playing to Earn: How to Start Your Business like an e-Sports Gamer appeared first on Cyberpreneur Philippines.

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The Philippine startup scene is booming, with around 500 promising companies recorded by the Department of Trade and Industry. Since technology is the focus of many of these startups, the business aspect is sometimes neglected to the detriment of their growth and long-term survival. To assist with this problem area, the Dado Banatao Incubator (DBI) officially opens at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) with support from Microsoft Philippines.

“Our partnership with Microsoft is a strategic step in developing the startups at The Incubator,” said Prim Paypon, Executive Director of AIM-DBI. “Microsoft’s expertise in cloud solutions allows our startups to constantly improve its business processes and services to be customer-intuitive and responsive while being technologically advanced.”

Physical space

The partnership is a much-needed boost for Filipino startups intent on leveraging technology to expand and enrich their operations. The AIM-DBI is the country’s first incubator housed in a business school. It provides rent-free office space where startups create their technologies and run their businesses. Startups may also access to the graduate school’s campus facilities to better equip them in developing their day-to-day operations.

The incubator is particularly interested to work with startups geared towards science, technology or engineering that introduce new alternative solutions to existing and emerging problems. Through a committed community of professors and industry leaders, founders can access world-class mentorship, customized trainings, and startup management programs that would best fit their actual needs.

Startup program

The curriculum provided by the Microsoft and AIM-DBI partnership has three phases: the Nesting Program, Building Program, and Scaling Program. The Nesting Program provides startups with digital assistance through cloud tools, while the Building Program introduces startups with technology architecture creation, peer-to-peer collaborative consultation, and building. The final phase, the Scaling Program ensures that startups are market-ready with a marketplace for selling through Microsoft’s network of business partners.

“Startups at The Incubator are provided with cloud enabled tools to help them digitally transform their businesses to become more competitive in their respective industries,” Eileen Ong, Director for Commercial Partners and Small Medium Corporate Business Unit of Microsoft Philippines, said. “With Microsoft technologies empowering local startups, Microsoft’s overarching goal is to prepare startups for global competitiveness,” Ong said.

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The post Boosting Startup Support: the Dado Banatao Incubator appeared first on Cyberpreneur Philippines.

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What’s the first thing that you notice when you’re visiting online marketplaces? Is it the description of a certain item, or the image for the product? As humans, we’re visual in nature. For sure, most of the time, you remember product photography more than detailed description.

Visuals can create an impact to get a response from a potential customer. It triggers a reaction – emotional, psychological, and even physical – among your audiences. Product photography can create a connection between the sellers and purchasers like you.

Good product photography can grab attention easily.

Due to a shorter attention span nowadays, the challenge for online sellers is how you will attract and persuade potential customers before they move on or click out. Product photography is essential regardless of what you’re selling: it’s a major factor in capturing your customer’s interest.

Here are some helpful tips on how to engage your potential customers using product photography:

Show different angles

As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It can also be applied to online selling for the purpose of helping the customers decide whether to buy a certain item or not. The customers cannot touch your products physically, but you can let them visualize your product by simply providing multiple angles.

Don’t also just show a single photo – shoot including the front, back, top, bottom, diagonal and interior areas. Depending on what you’re selling, you can also show the intricate details of an item. This can increase your sales.

Select a backdrop that makes your product stand out

Use neutral background colors such as white, beige, gray, brown and black when you are shooting a product. Typically, most products are suited to a plain, white background. The best way to make your product stand out is to select your backdrop wisely. Another type is showcasing your product in context, which is great for lifestyle products.

Use high quality resolution for clearer images

Do not shoot the product using your phone camera with a low quality resolution. Instead, shoot using a professional-grade camera like a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex). It will help you capture and produce images with a high quality photo resolution to make your product appear clearer.

From experience, what has worked for you? Do you have any product photography tips to share? Feel free to share your thoughts on the comments below!

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The post Product Photography Tips to Increase Online Sales appeared first on Cyberpreneur Philippines.

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A cog, no matter how small, is necessary for a machine to function. Similarly, in an online business, although each person’s degree of involvement may vary, everyone in your virtual team contributes to making sure that goals are reached.

An online business, just like any sort of business, is dependent on people. A team is necessary for a business to take off and scale. Employing the right kind of people is half of the puzzle. Setting expectations and keeping them engaged are equally important.

Here are some tips to create and sustain a dream team for your online business.

Make sure they’re trustworthy

Anyone can hide in the anonymity of the Internet. The concept of “stranger-danger” especially rings true when you’re not physically meeting the people you hire. How do you know if these faceless people can really be trusted?

Background checks and screening can go a long way. A simple look at their accounts on various social media platforms can serve as your first impression on your potential virtual teammate. Professionally speaking, you can browse their LinkedIn profile. To ensure that you can trust their abilities as well, ask them to take a web-based test, depending on the tasks you intend to give them.

You can further confirm your assessment by interviewing them via Skype, and keeping a regular correspondence with them through emails or text messages. This is to make sure that you are always on the same page with them.

Share where business is headed

Being on the same page entails that your online colleague is constantly aware of everything you plan to do for a certain project. But even before that, make sure that they know exactly what they are getting into when you decide that they’re ready to go on board. When your new virtual team mate is knowledgeable of what you’re trying to accomplish, they will understand what needs to be done, resulting in better output.

Explain every aspect of your online business in a clear and straightforward manner. This includes your mission, your vision, how you plan to run your company, and the like. This process lasts as long as your professional relationship with them. Keep them updated of every minor change. Inform them immediately when a milestone or an important change is about to transpire, as it would also affect them.

Create a good working environment

Even without an actual office space, help your new virtual team to be more comfortable around each other. These people do not know each other beyond what they perceive online. As team leader, make sure that they can properly interact.

Utilize collaborative software. Facebook Workplace, for example, can be a good platform for directions and announcements. Colleagues can coordinate publicly to update all those involved of their progress. Collaborative software, such as Google Docs, is useful for a more hands-on approach of the project, something anyone can edit.

What’s your perspective on virtual teams? How did creating your own online business change your view on the importance of each team member? Share your comments below!

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The post How to Assemble a Virtual Team for Your Online Business appeared first on Cyberpreneur Philippines.

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