With May drawing to a close, many businesses across the UK & Ireland will be well into the early stages of their current financial year with plenty of concerns for the 12 months ahead. With the fallout of Brexit still causing substantial commercial impacts for some businesses, it is no surprise that a recent report published in the Financial Times showed that economic growth more than halved at the start of 2017, its slowest rate since June 2016.
With the upcoming general election only adding to the recent economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever for companies to have a solid plan for promoting business growth. But in the current climate, what exactly are the best things businesses can do? In this month’s feature article, we dive into our tips for making the 2017/18 financial year a successful one.
- Streamline Processes & Reduce Administration
It may seem like an obvious one but evaluating current processes to drive operational accuracy and efficiency along with simple, structured administration should be at the top of the priority list. It is amazing to think that many companies still rely on complex spreadsheet systems or bespoke disconnected databases to run all their daily operations. These are not only costly to run and maintain, but also cause common administrative tasks and procedures to be elongated as information is needed to be transferred through to the appropriate departments. What’s more, all this manual interaction leaves room for transposition errors and other mistakes to be made that will then cause further problems or need correcting further down the line.
Therefore, to avoid clunky processes and extensive paperwork causing growth stagnation, businesses need to look at their internal ways of working. For companies still working off paper-based systems that are heavily reliant on manual transfer of data, their top priority should start with putting a stable, fully integrated IT infrastructure in place. By introducing a computer system that compliments your way of working, businesses will find they have greater companywide visibility, more automated processes and reduced costs. Eventually, all these factors add up to help promote business growth.
- Check Customers, Check Suppliers, Check Competitors
In the current uncertain climate, keeping an eye on the financial stability of all the people and companies that impact bottom line profitability is essential. When it comes to managing this in relation to everyday trading, businesses need to be sure they are getting the best deals from their suppliers, delivering the best price point to their customers and ensuring there won’t be any payment problems further down the line. To manage this, there are a few things that businesses can do to stay on top of their margins and revenue.
The first thing that businesses should be doing is ensuring they are getting maximum value for money when purchasing their products. This can be achieved through comparing prices between multiple vendors, building close relationships with suppliers and accurately recording what has been negotiated previously so that these discounted rates can be gained again.
However, it is not just when buying items companies should keep close tabs on their rates but also when selling too. To do this, businesses should look to keep track of what their competitors are doing, adjusting their prices accordingly to ensure they are offering the best deals to consumers whilst also retaining good margins. This is particularly important when selling online with prices known to change rapidly, so businesses should look to enlist automatic repricing tools for their online listings to avoid the need to manually update their pricing all the time.
Finally, keeping careful track of customer credit ratings is also crucial. While new prospects are always a positive, businesses should ensure staff accurately credit check these new clients before offering payment terms to avoid any issues further down the line.
However, with customer circumstances likely to change frequently in these turbulent times, it is important for businesses to regularly review the financial status of their clients. Again, logging in and manually checking each customer can be time-consuming so finding ways of automating this review process as part of everyday customer management tasks is also key.
- Find The Sales Opportunities You’re Currently Missing & Nurture Them To Close
When it comes to promoting business growth over the next 12 months, there is nothing better businesses can do than to discover ways to help increase their sales volumes. To do this, companies should take the time to analyse the areas that their sales staff can improve performance, set targets, then come up with an effective sales and marketing strategy to achieve these goals.
The first step should be companies delving into their sales data to find the areas where sales are slipping through the net. Using intuitive Business Intelligence tools for accurate, real-time insight and KPI Dashboards for easy-to-understand sales analysis, businesses should be able to quickly spot where territories, account managers and even individual sales reps are falling short on their targets. The mammoth task of data preparation can be enough to put companies off using Business Intelligence suites, however this can be easily avoided through choosing an integrated solution that automates important data recording.
That said, just finding the sales opportunities that may have been missed in previous years isn’t enough. Companies should also ensure they have the right tools in place to capitalise on these opportunities through an effective sales and marketing strategy. Contacts that have outstanding quotes that have not been converted, have dropped the number of sales orders they are placing or, on the positive side, have recently shown interest in a product, should all look to be targeted through relatable marketing content and effective email campaigns.
What’s more, sales staff dealing with these customers should be quickly alerted to any contact interaction so that they can react quickly to hot leads. Then by using a comprehensive CRM system to record each subsequent interaction and nurture these relationships, businesses can help maximise their conversion potential. To achieve this successfully with minimal data transfer required between platforms, companies should look to detailed integration between their Order Processing, CRM, Business Intelligence and Marketing tools.
Conclusion – Put In The Right Processes & Watch Your Business Grow In 2017
Although it is impossible to predict what roadblocks and challenges lie ahead this financial year, by simply putting in the right processes and systems for managing everyday trading, businesses can give themselves every chance for a successful 12 months. By reducing their manual interactions, maximising profitability and driving higher sales order volumes, companies can fully optimise their day-to-day operations and help themselves flourish.