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Save the Click, Save the World

April 15, 2009

Written by Meredith Oliver

Remember “save the cheerleader, save the world”…a phrase made popular during the first season of the television show Heroes?

In this post, I am going to teach you how to save yourself repetitive clicks and maximize your time. Okay so saving clicks may not save the world, but you just might find yourself less frazzled and more productive!

If you are like most sales and marketing professionals, you are short on both money and time these days. You are working harder and longer than ever before and making less money doing it. Sound familiar?

Does this describe you?

  • You think of a prospect you haven’t spoken to in a while but the number isn’t in your cell phone. You vow to call when you get back to your office but forget.
  • You go to access an email on your laptop in Outlook but realize it isn’t there because you sent it from Web mail and now you don’t have the information you need to make the boss’s deadline.
  • You have vendors and sub-contractors constantly calling asking repetitive questions and requiring a lot of manual tasks adding to overhead and taking you away from selling and marketing activites.

You can save time and money by taking advantage of web based technology to automate tasks, remind you of important sales opportunities and keep you in touch with your customers. The more double entry, multiple touches and repetitive clicks you do per day the less time you have available to focus on matters most: prospecting, networking and closing sales.

>Contact Management – Keep Your Friends Close and Your Prospects Even Closer

What type of web based technology can help you save repetitive clicks? First and foremost, you need a web based contact management system (also known as a CRM – Customer Relationship Management) to organize your network of contacts. I’ve done a lot of writing about the importance of CRM over the years and I still shocked how many salespeople, marketing professionals and small business owners don’t make the nominal investment to maintain a personal and professional contact database. Lose the Post-It Notes® people!

Get your contacts organized into a database so you can sort, group and categorize them. Contact management programs range in price from $9.95/month to $99.00/month (for small businesses). I recommend ACT, Sharper Agent, Lead Velocity, Open Leads and/or Top Producer.  The key is to select a web based product so it is available to you on any computer that has an Internet connection and so it will sync with your mobile phone.

Another way to save a click is to use a smart mobile phone that syncs with your contact mangement system such as a Blackberry, Treo or iPhone. It’s so nice to have all of your phone numbers and email addresses right on your mobile device and be free from your laptop. You are more likely to call prospects just to “check in” and follow up on sales calls if you have phone numbers literally at your finger tips. You can sell products or services from any where with a smart phone; while waiting on your car to be washed, waiting for the kids to finish soccer practice or for your boss to wrap up another conversation. Buy a bunch of minutes and start talking to people who could, would or should buy from you! If you have roll over minutes left over every month it’s a sign you aren’t talking  to enough prospects or customers!

The newest web based option in contact management is to use social networking sites like Linked In as your contact management system. The basic version of Linked In is FREE and your contacts maintain their own data which ensures you have the most recent contact information (which changes hourly these days). The downside is that you can’t save detailed notes or documents to the contact and you can’t do marketing functions like create mailing labels or send automated email campaigns. But if you are starting from zero, Linked In would be a GREAT start for you. It is very easy to use, the price is right and you can send group emails (up to 50 people at one time) to everyone in your .]network. Email marketing is far cheaper than direct mail any day of the week.

>Automate, Automate, Automate Reporting

Even though you are super busy doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect reviewing results. In fact, your Web marketing reports are more important than ever! These reports tell you where to spend precious marketing dollars and how much to spend. With staff resources low, you may not have time to pull reports yourself or remember to login and check Web site analytics. Take advantage of the automated features in web based accounts like Google Analytics. From the main dashboard, click on the view (i.e. Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content- located in the left sidebar) you want. Now click on the email button. Click on the Schedule tab. You can select how often you want to receive the report and what format (PDF, CSV, TSV or XML). It’s super easy and will save you a lot of time.

>Reduce Manual Paperwork With Workflow Automation Software

The best way to manage a busy schedule is to focus first and foremost on tasks that directly contribute to making sales and making money. If a task doesn’t make money, find a way to do it FASTER and with fewer clicks. Take advantage of workflow automation software to handle the daily manual tasks associated with running a business. Often times we get so busy working IN the business, we forget to work ON the business. Working on the business means looking for opportunities to streamline and reduce time wasted. An example of workflow automation software is BuilderHelper.com; a web-based construction management program that facilitates and streamlines estimating, bidding and scheduling and the flow of information between contractors, trades and other parties.

How does it work? Builders and Contractors simply upload their plans and specs, choose the Trades they want to bid their job and push the send button. Trade contractors are notified instantly via text message and email that a job is open for bid. Trade Contractors log on to their personal Builder Helper account and can see the Contractor’s full set of plans and specs, estimate the plan with the accurate and easy-to-use estimating tool and, with a click of a button, submit the bid back to the contractor. To find out more, contact your local Builders Association or email Sara Rivers at srivers@builderhelper.com or Tim Metler at tmetler@builderhelper.com.

Builder Helper is just one of many workflow automation tools out there including tools for payroll, finances, inventory etc… It will be well worth the effort to implement one of these systems given the amount of time saved.

The first step towards saving a click is to figure out what’s eating up your day. The best way to do this is to start an activity journal. Everytime you don’t have what you need when you need it, feel frustrated over a task or find yourself repeating a task, jot  it down in the journal. Look for patterns and similarities. Once you have an idea of where you need improvement, start asking other business owners how they manage that task. You may not save the world by saving a click, but you just might save your sanity!

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