Business VoIP Solutions and Its Advantages For the Businessman

Every business tries to cut costs and increase profitability. And with the ever-increasing pace of technological development, there are many new possibilities open for the forward-thinking businessman. Among these possibilities are business VoIP solutions.

VoIP is the abbreviated version of “Voice Over Internet Protocol.” And as you can tell by the name, VoIP is a telephone technology that utilizes the Internet instead of the traditional telephone cables to connect callers to each other. For this reason, you can make telephone calls at a much reduced rate, especially on long distance phone calls – less than half the cost of a regular long distance phone call.

With VoIP, your savings come from combining your data traffic (your Net connection) with voice calling capability (telephones). When you make a call, your voice is turned into digital data that can travel through the Internet. Upon reaching its destination, this data then returns to its original state, as a voice. This conversion is performed by either a special adapter attached to your phone and modem, by a special VoIP phone, or by software on your computer system.

If you have a business with several locations in different states, communications between these offices is much cheaper. Business VoIP solutions also offer some useful business communication features. Like regular phones, VoIP has caller ID, fax capability and call forwarding. It also has conference call capabilities that can accommodate three or more people, depending on your provider.

And because VoIP works independent of the traditional, fixed telephone lines, it works anywhere you can get a good Internet connection. You can make low-cost calls as long as you have your VoIP “hard phone,” or your laptop with VoIP software installed (a “soft phone”).

These business VoIP solutions may benefit certain kinds of businesses more than others. The money saved by VoIP depends mainly on the number of long-distance calls made in your company every month. The quality of your phone connection also depends on how fast your internet is on slower connections, dropped calls and low sound quality may result. If your business internet can handle the load of both your VoIP and regular data traffic, then VoIP is a great choice.

Business Development Advice from the Chair of the ABA Commission on Women

Pamela Roberts, Esq., a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, has cracked the code to becoming a rainmaker: get active in a big national organization, focus on public service and let the referrals come in. Her story illustrates how any lawyer can do the same; and her questions at the end of the article can stimulate your own success story.

She is no ordinary lawyer. Roberts is the Chair of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, a prominent national position that gives her frequent exposure on the wide range of issues facing women lawyers. And she does it while being a mother of four, wife of another partner in her firm and full-time business litigator at a 400-lawyer firm.

Only 17% of women lawyers are equity partners, and most firms have just a lone woman rainmaker – statistics that Roberts finds distressing. “Becoming a rainmaker always been somewhat challenging. It’s so much more challenging for a woman,” she said.

But she herself is active in four local charities, which brought her referrals. She is a regular public speaker before audiences of clients, and she attends trade association meetings in the industries of her clients.

How does she do it all? “I gave up on sleep,” she joked. “Seriously, my husband and I made the decision that by having two people working full time, we have to pay for nannies and support help.” Help is essential, especially when one of your kids is on two traveling soccer teams.

Getting Business from the Bar (or other Organizations)

And so is focus. Roberts pursues activities and passions where she can build relationships. For her it’s been the American Bar Association, where she began more than a decade ago by working her way up the Litigation Section. Her husband gave her an early demonstration of networking.

“I was attending an ABA Litigation section meeting. My husband, who is also a lawyer and avid golfer, was with me and he went out for a round of golf. He came back to lunch with another couple: one, a potential client whom he had been golfing with, and his spouse, who was a litigator attending the ABA meeting. She and I had never spoken though it’s only a group of 200 people! Meanwhile, these two guys played one round of golf and had already exchanged business cards and followed up with notes to each other,” she said.

Roberts devoted herself to the ABA and today is a member of the ABA House of Delegates, the ruling legislative body. She served on the Board of Governors – the ABA’s board of directors – from 2002-2005, and is a former member of the commission on what is today named the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. She was Chair of the Young Lawyers Division and served on the ABA’s Nominating Committee and Special Committee on Governance.

She was following a key rule of business development: to join an organization and become visible in it. “My continuing motive always has been the underlying work,” she said. “I’ve always been a believer in the public service aspect of the ABA.” At the same time she started seeing immediate business benefits, because South Carolina is a small state and lawyers around the country would refer local legal matters to her. “I’m not aggressive about business development in the ABA,” she said. “But certainly, yes, the ABA is a good arena to get referrals. Just like golf or trade association activity, once you’ve worked together with other lawyers you can build relationships.”

To achieve her success, she advises other lawyers: “You must treat bar association membership as you would treat a client: honor deadlines and respect other people’s time and input. It is not only rewarding, but you’ll succeed and will be around a long time and get the opportunities.”

Roberts uses several specific techniques to generate new business:

  • Speaking engagements. “A speech is absolutely a business development opportunity,” she said. “Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what you’re speaking on.” She said it impresses clients if they merely see their lawyer on a panel discussion at an industry event. “The ideal setting is when a client is in the audience and you’re speaking on something important that directly affects the client.”
  • Niche building. The bane of litigators is one-time engagements. Lawyers typically will work with a client on litigation for years, but when the case concludes, so does the relationship. To overcome this problem, Roberts built a niche practice to offer the same service to multiple clients. “I did a lot of securities fraud class action defense work. A lot of them were one-time cases. What I did was parlay my expertise so it worked for other clients. I can say to one client that I did this particular work for two others. That’s how you build a type of expertise into a niche practice,” she said.
  • Referrals from civic boards of directors. Roberts is on the board of the Trinity Housing Corporation, Claflin College, the local YMCA and the local children’s museum. “All four of them are outside the legal profession. They clearly introduced me to civic leaders and opportunities to talk about what our firm did. Those opportunities also led me to meet decision-makers of current clients. Board membership is a great way to solidify both the firm’s relationship and build my own expertise,” she said.

Rainmaking is the key to breaking the glass ceiling that stops women from moving up in law firms. See the other feature articles this month on the same theme. Lawyers who want to smash through the barrier should emulate Roberts’ example, starting with her

How To Create An Effective Business Development Strategy

The Business Development Strategy is used to underpin your main Business Plan and essentially it sets out a standard approach for developing new opportunities, either from within existing accounts or by proactively targeting brand new potential accounts and then working to close them.

This document highlights the key issues you should consider prior to compiling your own plan and will hopefully guide you logically through a proven framework.

The key word is ‘Strategy’, because you are creating a workable and achievable set of objectives in order to exceed your annual target.

Your Starting Point:

The key words are Who? What? Where? When? Which? Why? How?

For example:

Who – are you going to target?

What – do you want to sell them?

Where – are they located?

When – will you approach them?

Which – are the appropriate target personnel?

Why – would they want to meet with you?

How – will you reach them?

If you have conducted regular account reviews with your key accounts during the previous twelve months, you should be aware of any new opportunities that will surface during the next twelve months. You will also, when assessing what percentage of your annual target usually comes from existing accounts, need to review data over the last two or three years. (It is likely that you can apply Pareto i.e. 80% of your business will probably come from existing accounts and in fact 80% of your total revenue will come from just 20% of your customers/clients)

You will be left with a balance – i.e. “20% of my business next year will come from new opportunities” – therefore you can then begin to allocate your selling time accordingly.

Ideal Customer Profiling:

Pro-active business development demands that we create an ideal target at the front end – i.e. an “Ideal Customer Profile.” The essential characteristics you will need to consider are:

– Industrial Sector

– Geographical Location (Demographics)

– Size of organizations (Turnover, number of employees etc)

– Financial Trends

– Psychographics – i.e. Philosophical compatibility

Many strategic sales professionals merely profile their best existing clients and try to replicate them – there’s nothing wrong with doing this but we should always remember that we are seeking an IDEAL and we can always improve on what we already have.

‘New’ Opportunities From Within ‘Old’ Accounts:

Because it costs approximately ten times as much, to first locate and then sell to a new customer as it does an existing one (although these costs are rarely reflected in the cost of sales), it is essential that we fully develop our existing accounts working upwards, downwards and sideways, thus making the most of the (hopefully) excellent reputation we have developed already.

Most corporate accounts have several divisions, departments, sites, even country offices and you must satisfy yourself that you have exhausted every possible avenue. Don’t be afraid to ask the question “Who else should I be talking to in your organization”?

This is an extract from my FREE eBook – “How to Construct an Effective Business Development Strategy” which is available for download – please see details below.

Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved

Factors That Will Define Digital Strategy – 2013

As digital technologies continues to evolve at an accelerating pace, over the next few years we will see a complete transformation in the way people live their lives driven by the internet, smart phones and other mobile devices. And all this is going to impact the way organizations do business i,e their digital strategy.

As per world’s top notch digital strategy consultants and leaders it is the time to integrate all digital channel together to create a digital strategy and deliver a digital solution that will provide an optimal brand experience. According to a report by ZenithOptimedia, Internet advertising is forecasted to grow by 14.6% in 2013, while traditional media will only grow by 1.7%. This exemplifies the world wide adoption of digital technologies. From a perspective of a digital agency – 38% of agencies rate mobile optimization and content marketing as their top priorities this year as per a report by econsultancy.

There is no doubt that consumers are becoming more and more selective in making their buying decisions. Buyers chose the time and the channel through which they are going to interact with the brand, so it is getting increasingly difficult for brands to know how to best engage with potential buyers. Given below are some of the critical factors that will define the next generation digital solutions – from a digital strategy consulting point of view.

Social Data: One billion users in Facebook and half a billion in Twitter, so there is no denying the fact that social networks have firmly established themselves within the mainstream of digital marketing. The sheer number of users/audiences is impossible to ignore, thus 2013 will see social media optimization occupy a mammoth share of the overall marketing budget. But the real challenge for marketing experts and CMOs is to justify the ROI by realizing the value of the social data, customer insights and conversations that the social networking channels generate.

Activities like creating social media campaigns, building communities, creating shareable content, blogs, enabling social media functionality in corporate websites all will drive business value to organizations including generating referral traffic and improving brand engagement. In 2013 we are likely to see more adoption of social media solutions/monitoring tools/listening tools that will enable organizations to measure ROI and the business value that these initiatives bring to the organizations.

Search: Last year we saw huge number of searches in search engines, as the volume of searches increases, we see most of all search clicks coming from an organic link than from paid links. This means is that with more searches being made year-on-year, the volume of paid search clicks will also increase, which in turn means more money was invested in search advertising. Google, Yahoo, Bing are the powerhouses of search. But beign said so YouTube is now a highly popular search engine – with over 800 million unique monthly users. According to comScore, the total U.S. Internet audience watched 39 billion videos in September 2012, and U.S. Internet users watched online video content for an average of 23.3 hours for the month. According to YouTube, more than 4 billion videos are watched through their platform every day. Customers demand engaging videos which addressed their needs. The video strategy can be a game changer in 2013.

Mobile: Gartner predicts that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide and that by 2015 over 80% of the handsets sold in mature markets will be smart phones. Marketers must recognize the unstoppable rise and development of mobile technologies and focus on strategies to leverage them.

Emails: With the increase of social media, content marketing and mobile usage, email marketing is also growing at an accelerating rate. 2013 will see even bigger adoption of email marketing by businesses.

Big data: This is the latest digital marketing buzzword, deriving meaning full customer insights from the plethora of information available will be the key.