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10 Ways to Make Your Business Smarter

Ioana Andrei
10 Ways to Make Your Business Smarter
Striving to be smart in business means being prepared to make some bold changes. Whether that means storing your data on the cloud or reallocating resources from underperforming business units, there is usually a technological or process innovation that can make your business more efficient.

Below, we cover 10 practical methods of optimizing the gears behind your business, along with the best business VoIP service providers, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, cloud storage solutions, and other specialized technologies that can help you achieve smart objectives.

1. Go Paperless

Storing physical business records doesn’t only take up space, it can also decrease the ease of accessing and using the data. Going paperless by storing your data in the cloud is a quick-fire way to save time and maximize the knowledge gained from your intellectual property.

Take, for example, your staff’s employment contracts. Storing these digitally could mean finding the desired document within seconds and scanning it for keywords such as address or remuneration. Similarly, digitizing promotional documentation such as sales decks can enable your team to reach more prospective clients quicker, thus expanding your sales funnel.

Choosing a great cloud storage solution for your business will depend on your specific requirements for drive size, document editing, collaboration, and security. Dropbox, for example, enables you to edit Microsoft Office files in a web browser, collaborate with coworkers in real time, and analyze how content is being used by colleagues and clients.

2. Streamline Sales and Marketing

Increasing the efficiency of your sales and marketing activities has a direct impact on your bottom line. For example, using centralized CRM software for business, where you store customer records and track your pipeline opportunities, can increase your chances of closing deals and free up time for your sales team to focus on building relationships.

Additionally, marketing automation software can remove the strain of manual tasks by scheduling social media posts and sending bulk email and text communications to your customers. 

What’s also important is empowering your team to learn from the best-performing strategies. One way to track the performance of content, communications, and sales playbooks is to use sales enablement programs such as Seismic. It enables you to manage promotional content, track customer engagement, and recommend courses of action that maximize your pipeline results.

3. Choose the Right Communications Platform

Your business could likely benefit from upgrading your internal and external communications platforms. Particularly if you’ve got international stakeholders or a team that works remotely, connecting them through the use of specialized calling features can help cut costs and increase productivity.

Many organizations are familiar with Zoom’s video and audio calling tools, but there are many other communications providers that may suit your business needs. For instance, a real estate team could benefit from mobile VoIP solutions, as agents are often on-the-move when speaking to clients. Some vendors, including RingCentral MVP, can be used on both mobile apps and office hardware.

Furthermore, features such as call recording, low international call rates, and integrations with other business software can make or break your decision when choosing a particular provider.

4. Integrate Your Software Solutions

If you’re using specialized software products for different parts of your business—such as accounting, HR, marketing, and communications—you may be able to integrate them so you can achieve more with less. Integration can reduce the need for manual tasks such as downloading spreadsheets from one software and re-uploading them to another, enabling your team members to focus on more strategic work.

For example, say you’re using Slack for team chats and calls and Sage for your HR admin. You can integrate Slack with Sage so employees get notified when their payslips are in and managers get an automated message before a colleague goes out of office. This can improve clarity and eliminate back-and-forth communications.

You can also integrate your CRM software with marketing software such as Mailchimp, which can enrich your contact records with email engagement data and help your team prioritize high-value leads.

5. Reallocate Resources

Sometimes, businesses miss out on growth because resource allocation isn’t optimal. Tracking your resources’ key performance indicators (KPIs) and making bold decisions across departments can increase their return on investment (ROI). 

Take, for instance, a product line that’s underperforming. Using a combination of pipeline forecasts, marketing performance metrics, and customer feedback data, you can evaluate whether the money spent on this business unit may return more value elsewhere. Reallocating the staff, budgets, and other production materials to a higher-performing product line could result in more optimal resource usage.  

This method is valid for micro-level decisions, too. A great way to utilize team members’ time to the fullest is to replace manual tasks with automated software so they can dive into more strategic work.

6. Optimize Use of Overheads

Unless your business is fully remote, chances are you can optimize the use of overheads in your workspace. This can include utilities such as electricity, office supplies, and other production resources like vehicles and gas if you provide delivery services.

When optimizing overhead costs, objectives must be set in context. Usually, this is done as a ratio, such as sheets of paper per 100 employees or gallons of gas per year. We also recommend SMART goal setting, with objectives being specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

One way to reach your overhead objectives is to use smart devices to track your current energy consumption and identify pockets of inefficiency. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, for example, can help you track movement and trigger an on/off response in lighting and other utilities. This can save significant costs, especially in warehouses and large office spaces.

7. Collect and Analyze More Business Data

The more insight you have into different areas of your business, the better you’ll be able to identify underperforming activities. Additionally, by measuring specific data points, you’re able to track and evaluate the SMART business goals you set for your team. 

The types of data you can measure vary depending on your market, but most businesses should capture marketing and sales data, customer behavior data, and product-specific data, such as crop temperature and humidity in an agricultural business.

Research shows that leveraging business data effectively can increase value across product development, customer service, and profitability. Imagine a retail store using technology to estimate the number of shoppers entering and exiting the store and pairing these insights with sales data. The business can analyze its conversion rates to make decisions around product promotion, pricing, and target markets.

8. Automate Operations

Automating operations will look different depending on what drives your business model, but it can save significant costs. 

For instance, teams within telecommunications and utility businesses that get large volumes of customer calls can choose a VoIP call center provider that includes self-service chatbots, automated agent routing, and caller sentiment analysis to maximize call outcomes and customer satisfaction. 

For businesses dealing in physical goods, replacing manual processes with hardware or software solutions can shorten production time and, potentially, generate larger volumes of products. For instance, IoT sensors can track environmental metrics in logistics companies’ shipping containers and share the data in real-time with stakeholders across the value chain.      

9. Improve Customer Buying Journeys

Offering customers a frictionless experience, particularly on digital channels, can have a direct impact on your products’ uptake, reputation, and bottom line. 

You can use statistics from your website builder or Google Analytics to understand how visitors are using your website—for example, if they arrived organically or via ads and how they browse from page to page. These stats can help you see which pages are doing particularly well and track conversion rates on sales pages over time.

It’s important to track incremental changes when you aim to improve customer journey components, such as call-to-action messages, design elements, and marketing communications. A popular way to do this is through A/B testing, where you test a single element with two groups of users while keeping all other elements unchanged.

10. Respond Quickly to Product Feedback

Equipping product development teams with detailed customer feedback can help them prioritize improvements that maximize ease of use and satisfaction. Although agile and lean methodologies are particularly popular in companies producing software, their flexibility and zero-time-wasted principles can be applied to other types of products as well. 

The idea is to test product ideas as early on as possible, track user behavior, and quickly fix what doesn’t work. An event organizer business, for instance, may capture customer feedback via online surveys, make changes to future events, and repeat the process while observing changes in sales figures and the volume of clients.

Conclusion

To make your business smarter, you’ve got a variety of technological and strategic tools at your disposal, spanning operational automations, sales and marketing databases, VoIP business solutions, and a bold move away from paper records. 

A variety of technology innovations are becoming available so you can optimize your use of resources and the way you interact with customers. These include process automation, integrations between apps, and IoT sensors that collect data about your activities. When leveraging these solutions to pursue SMART goals, business outcomes including profitability and customer satisfaction become easier to track and improve.

Ioana Andrei
Ioana is a tech and media management consultant and business writer by day, as well as a passionate dating & relationship writer. She holds a BSc in Business Management from King's College, with 5+ years' experience consulting in the industries of tech and media. Her insightful, female-forward articles on dating and relationships have been published on Thrive, Medium's P.S. I Love You, and Newsbreak.