Have you ever met a business owner who didn’t want to know how to optimize productivity in the workplace?
Ask any of them and they will tell you that the most troublesome part is recruiting, keeping, and maintaining happy staff. Recruit even one person wrongly and it can destabilize an entire department.
Human resources and the requirements needed in today’s business environment in terms of contracts, health benefits, holiday and maternity entitlements along with insurances and pensions, make each person who works for you a hefty investment in monetary terms and trust.
It’s because of these considerations that many companies – particularly in the technology sector – are turning to managed service providers.
IT managed services are one of the leading areas in giving this kind of cover for businesses. Depending on the service level agreement, they can provide everything from staff and equipment to transport and telecommunications equipment, leaving management to get on with what they do best.
Managed information technology services are the most sophisticated of the managed services offerings out there.
Managed services examples include power systems and infrastructure, water storage and treatment, media support services and systems operation, marketing – planning and strategy, transportation – logistics and customs clearance, supply chain planning, communications services, and business-to-business integration, and information services – data backup and recovery, cloud storage and systems management.
To give an idea of the scale of types of managed services, some of the major IT managed services providers include IBM, Accenture, and Cognizant – some of the largest companies in the world.
Most SMBs (small to medium-sized businesses) cannot run to these kinds of budgets – but there is scope for limited cyber security, cloud services, technical support, managed security, business continuity and disaster recovery. For most of these areas, you would need specialized staff, and on an ongoing basis, they don’t come cheap.
This is where services managed by an outside contractor offer team solutions, but without the hassle, expense or time spent trying to manage everything yourself.
The outsourcing problem applies equally to things like marketing qualified leads. The sales qualified lead is gold for your sales team – but to get the lead in the first place takes a good lead “funnel” strategy and a good client management system to process all the information and data which is gathered.
There is an entire field of study devoted to what we know as “SQL marketing” – which is sales qualified leads, and “MQL marketing” – which is a marketing qualified lead.
The best way to distinguish these two is to imagine a new car. You’ve never heard of this car. It’s just been released – so the first thing the car company needs to do is to get the word out to the press, social media, TV channels, and motoring organizations.
This is the marketing aspect of promoting the new car.
Television advertising is the epitome of MQL marketing. These days the company will place their website in the TV advertisement so that anyone interested in following up on the car can go to the website to find out more details.
The website uses “calls to action” and other devices, like an inquiry form (where the customer fills out their contact details) so these can “qualify” the customers who are just looking from the customers who are actively wanting to buy the car.
Anyone who has filled in their customer details is interested in finding out more information about the car and taking the potential purchase further.
At this point, the “lead” becomes a “sales qualified lead” – and this is the important distinction between the two leads.
The next course of action the car company takes in the sales process depends on the degree of interest shown at this stage.
Now, if they are ready to make a purchase, they become an SQL rather than an MQL.
The sales team now takes over from the marketing team. Marketing content, like the generic website, is replaced by personal communications like emails and text messages delivered straight to the prospect – this establishes a one-to-one relationship, ideally with the same member of the sales team dealing with every communication, up to, and after the sale is completed.
With modern CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, it is possible to program repeated follow-ups and note responses and questions by the prospect for return calls, emails, and phone calls.
Companies can map this “buying journey” in precise detail, and CRM is a major weapon in the modern marketer’s arsenal.
After-sales are enhanced because customer support is a complete record of the customer’s contact with the company from the first time they enquired about the car, through the sales process, and into the servicing and repair program.
The marketing team can look back at the buying journey of all of their customers and, from this, they can map “buyer personas” which allow them to target the kind of prospects that would buy their vehicles.
We can apply these same techniques across a wide range of sectors and industries.
Fine art galleries are another example.
An art gallery only has so much wall space. But, to keep interested in the paintings on display, they might want to change the pictures and portraits on display regularly.
Often the paintings are very valuable, so there have to be secure art storage solutions that can be used regularly for art storage but be accessible should a client want to view or buy one of the works that are in a storage box or even a vault.
A good CRM system will allow the sales staff of the gallery to note the tastes of customers so that they can cross-reference any paintings which are in storage by an artist who interests the client. This enables them to either prepare in advance and has the paintings available in the gallery for the Client to view or have the client visit the storage facility for a tour of what is available.
This CRM system enables staff who have never dealt with a particular client before to know precisely the types of art and artist they like and guide them accordingly.
Museum display rotas use the same kind of idea to rotate their exhibits and to create occasional special collections and exhibitions by bringing together pieces from the same era, or by the same artist.
It seems that using modern technology to optimize productivity in the workplace is here to stay – whatever business you happen to be in.