Business Answers
Business Answers is a place where HP in the UK can engage with owner-managers in small and medium-sized companies. It embraces this blog, a vibrant LinkedIn group, Twitter and YouTube videos. We hope you find this useful and that you will share your thoughts with us by leaving comments and sharing articles you like with your colleagues.

10 Signs you need a customer relationship management (CRM) system

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Customer relationship management software (CRM), such as Highrise, Pipedrive, Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce, helps salespeople coordinate their work, improve customer service and convert more leads into customers. Here are ten sure signs that you need a CRM system.

 

  1. More than one person deals with customers but they don’t share customer data.
  2. Potential customers chase you when you should be following up with them.
  3. You call a lead back only to find they’ve gone with a competitor because they were waiting too long.
  4. You’re tracking opportunities using a spreadsheet (or worse, scraps of paper).
  5. There is no central database of customer contact details.
  6. If your main salesperson goes on holiday, all your sales activity dries up because nobody else knows what’s going on.
  7. You don’t have a formal, predictable, scalable process for turning leads into customers.
  8. You’re missing out on upsell and cross-sell opportunities because you’re not staying in touch with customers after they actually bought something from you.
  9. You don’t have any idea what you’re sales funnel looks like or what sales you’re likely to get in the next three months.
  10. You can’t access basic information about customers like the last time they bought from you, their total order value or who has purchasing authority.

If three or four of these are true and you don’t have a CRM system; this could be the time to start looking into one.

How to create a high-performance company culture

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Netflix, the online video company, made its company culture available online. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg praised the presentation in a new GQ magazine story about Netflix, saying: ‘It may well be the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.’

 

What’s so special about it? First it’s surprisingly candid and open. But more importantly, in contrast to many company’s bland corporate values statements, it shares some radical ideas about how companies and their employees should relate to one another. For example:

 

  • “Adequate performance gets a generous severance package.”
  • “If I told you I were leaving, how hard would you work to change my mind?”
  • “We don’t measure people by how many hours they work or how much they are in the office.”
  • “Our high performance culture is not right for everyone.”
  • “Our model is to increase employee freedom as we grow rather than limit it.”
  • “Bad process includes: getting 10 people to interview each candidate or three people to sign off on banner ad creative”
  • “There is no vacation policy or tracking”
  • “[Our] Goal is to keep each employee at top of market for that person [for salary] – pay them as much as we would pay to keep them if they had a higher offer from elsewhere.”
     

Other companies with remarkable cultures include Hubspot who have a similar Culture Code presentation and 37Signals, which is in a constant state of rebellion against business as usual. For example, they don’t just avoid meetings, they call them ‘toxic.’ You can read their book, Getting Real, online.

 

What are you doing to liberate your employees?

10 online tools that boost teamwork

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The sun is finally out! After such a long wait, everyone deserves a chance to catch some rays, and with the right devices, like the HP ElitePad 900, and the following tools, you can keep your team productive, even in the park.

  1. Basecamp. Online project management that is simple on the surface but powerful underneath. Assign to-dos, upload files and start discussions and watch your project update in real time.
  2. Skype. Videoconferencing and calling are obvious benefits, but being able to ask a quick question or update someone via instant messaging, as you would if you could lean across a desk and just tell them, is a big bonus for remote teams.
  3. Dropbox. Stay up to date with documents and iterations. Easily share files from clients with your whole team and create a single location for reference information.
  4. Google Docs. Collaborate and see who is working on a document in real time, and view a full history of edits with the ability to restore any previous version.
  5. iDoneThis. As the site says: ‘get stuff done and celebrate it with your team.’ This is a great way to keep up to date with what everyone has achieved daily, avoids duplications and helps everyone work towards the same goals.
  6. Effective email. Ok, everyone already has email, but does it actually boost teamwork? Make sure your team knows the 25 tips to improve their emails so that they get the most from this ubiquitous tool.
  7. Turbine. This lets everyone see their team’s time off calendar so people know when people are working remotely and when people are actually in the office. Plus it lets your team file expenses and purchase orders on the go, letting them do what they need when they need to do it.
  8. join.me. An effective and free screen-sharing tool that only requires the host to download software. You can handover control of mouse and keyboard to make technical support easier and it’s browser agnostic. The guys at trendblog.net are big fans.
  9. Producteev. A task-management tool focused more on multiple tasks and to-dos than Basecamp. Keep track of assignments and workloads, and do it for free.
  10. Google Calendar. Let your team share their calendars so that everyone knows when colleagues are about for collaboration, and which deadlines matter most to whom.

How to avoid giving away company secrets on social networking

 

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Small businesses are increasingly under attack from dedicated hackers. The recent Symantec Internet Security Threat Report revealed that 50 percent of all businesses that came under targeted attack by online criminals had fewer than 2,500 employees and 31 percent had fewer than 250 employees.

 

Small businesses are gateways to big secrets

Hackers use social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter as well as company websites and other sources to find and target individuals in the companies they target.

 

They can use these services to build a profile of an individual and gather telling details that lend credibility to an attack. For example, they might find out where you went to university and hit you with an email from a ‘long-lost friend’ or they might find that you are connected to someone in a  larger company and send you a fake email from that person with a must-read report or special offer.

 

Only when it’s too later do you discover that these emails and attachments contain almost-undetectable spyware designed to infiltrate your systems and gather private data.

 

Protecting your privacy online

Sophisticated internet hackers aren’t the only threat. Competitors, head hunters and annoyingly persistent sales people can use the same social networking sites to put together a frighteningly accurate profile of you and your colleagues.

 

The Government’s Get Safe Online website gives detailed advice about protecting your identity when using social networking sites but basic common sense applies:

 

  • Don’t give away more information than you need to. For example, don’t publish your mobile phone number or the sort of information you might use to confirm your identity to a bank.
  • Understand and use privacy settings. Most sites give you detailed control over who can see your information but they have an interest in getting you to share as much as possible. Make sure you understand the settings and use them to keep your private information, well, private.
  • Use strong passwords. Weak passwords and poor password security led to Wired journalist Mat Honan to have his entire digital life hacked. You can avoid the risk by using strong passwords or, even better, two-factor authentication and password managers like 1password.
  • Use good security software. Protect yourself against malware and spyware with good, up-to-date antivirus software and by keeping your computer up to date with the latest updates and security patches.
  • Use your spider sense. Be on your guard. Watch out of implausibly attractive offers, enticing but unexpected email attachments, cold contacts from people you vaguely know etc. And train your employees and colleagues to keep themselves safe too.
  • Choose a more secure notebook. HP Business Notebooks come with HP ProtectTools software to help you protect yourself against common threats. Check out Ten essential security features on new HP notebooks.

 

For more on security on this blog: see 10 habits of highly-secure companies, The 10 most common security mistakes,

Dexter’s Blog: The HP ElitePad express has arrived

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We just launched an exciting new way for people to experience the new HP ElitePad 900. We have partnered with First Great Western to bring the HP brand to two trains and we’re putting HP ambassadors on the trains to give customers a trial of the HP ElitePad.

 

If you are a First Great Western customer, look out for the team on board the trains to experience a demonstration of the HP ElitePad and try it out for yourself.

 

We’ve also running a campaign at Heathrow and there is an HP demo area in the BA Club lounge in Terminal 5 with three products on display: ElitePad, EliteBook Revolve and EliteBook Folio 9470m.

 

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About the Author(s)
  • Matthew Stibbe is CEO at Articulate Marketing and TurbineHQ. He is an HP fanboy.