1) Collaboration is Key
According to CIO, “The future of collaboration software is all about integration, not consolidation.” In the past few years, we have really come to understand the importance of integration and collaboration. Our customers’ top priority is a relevant dataset. We have come to understand that our product must provide seamless integration with industry-leading software partners and are making commitments towards this goal. The CRM database is no longer entirely about how much time is spent generating information within the platform itself, rather, it is about how much data the company can collect inside of the CRM.
As we continue to learn and grow in 2022, integration to more industry partners is going to be a major focus of our development team. Software users do not have the luxury of spending time entering information into two different products. We have been integrating with leasing partners and ERP systems to enhance our technical dataset for years. In fact, SalesChain boasts the industry-standard e-Automate integration and API integrations to leasing partners, including DLL. In 2022, that focus will continue through the lens of marketing automation and CRM data augmentation.
SaaS product platforms will create a promising industry future for businesses willing to embrace collaboration and work towards a unified and communicative dataset. We understand that businesses want specialized tools from different vendors (see Don’t Try to Do Everything, below) and we’re excited to be a part of this trend.
2) Hire Good People and Delegate
When you start a new business, you have a vision of what it’s going to look like and how things are going to run. It can be hard to relinquish control of little things and delegate as you grow and hire additional staff members. SalesChain has not been immune to this phenomenon.
Our staff has increased in size since 2019, and with that change comes a shift in responsibilities. As we grow, so does the degree of specialization within our staff and the need to delegate. While this has been a difficult adjustment at times, we know that it’s good for our employees, our business, and our customers.
This article from AMA, provides a list of the 7 keys to effective delegation. One that stands out as one of the most challenging, in our experience, is #3: “Delegate the whole task.” It can be tempting to jump in and finish someone’s work. Especially when you see that they are utilizing a different approach than you would employ — even one that you are not innately comfortable with. But part of delegation is accepting the fact that everyone works in a different way and communicates in a different way.
Because of this difference, it is unreasonable to assume that they would be doing the task exactly as you would. Moreover, when they have just started a task, it is unlikely that they will perform it perfectly or without missing a beat on the first try. That is where #6: “Leave the person alone,” takes effect. Stepping back and giving new hires some space to operate and some time to stumble and ask questions when they are ready has been crucial for us.
Case Study: Delivery Workflow Automation
In this video testimonial, Crystal Manning talks about how SalesChain’s delivery workflow management tools cut KDI’s DSO in half.
3) Listen to the Customer
Over the years we have relied on our customers to tell us what tools they need us to build into our software to get their jobs done more efficiently and effectively. As we continue to improve our product and make it more robust for an ever-more-demanding software marketplace, we will continue to rely on our customers to help guide the direction of our development efforts. Inevitably, a tool that we build that helps one customer succeed will likely help many others.
As Qminder says, “A happy customer is more than a satisfied customer – it’s a retained customer.” A satisfied customer will sing your praises and be your best advocate, while a dissatisfied customer will explore, and potentially advocate on behalf of, your competitors.
As we grow and evolve in the new year, we will be relying more and more on our customers to help us chart a course for what is most important to our collective future. While we often work with the loud minority, we will intentionally solicit the input of the silent majority this year to see where we can make our most impactful improvements. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that everyone has something of value to contribute, whether they have taken the time to express it or not.
4) Customer Service Stands Out
We have been reviewing a lot of trend reports and predictions about where software products and services are headed in 2022. A constant theme, including in this Forbes article, is that software providers will be relying more and more on AI to aid support ventures and provide better customer service. They will become less dependent on the automated phone systems they’ve been utilizing. What we can’t help but wonder is, what happened to someone on the other end of the phone? Why has the call center moved from the front line of customer support to the last resort?
Rhetorical questions aside, we’re committed to continuing to offer our US-based help desk as the first support resource for our customers. We’ve always provided a help desk that gives users access to real people via phone or email who can help them solve their problems. While AI and automated systems may be critical for extremely large organizations with lots of customers to satisfy, we’ve learned that going the extra mile for service stands out.
5) Don’t Try to Do Everything
Here at SalesChain, we market ourselves as the complete business automation solution for office equipment dealers, and we do have a lot of different features. But we’ve learned over time where to draw the line. We have never tried to be the do-it-all marketing tool. We have never wanted to be an ERP system. Our sole focus is on providing a purpose-built CRM and deal pricing tool for the office technology industry which helps your sales team and back-office work seamlessly together.
At the time of SalesChain’s founding in 2002, the focus of many software providers was to be the do-it-all tool. It is as if software providers had adopted the Walt Disney model of making more money if the guests never leave your campus. Now, many providers are realizing that businesses want specialized tools purpose-built for specific functions. Tools that are trying to do everything are not as popular or profitable since they are harder to market and maintain. It is better to do one thing well, being proactive in one’s approach to both employees and to customer collaboration and service.
These lessons will help shape SalesChain’s foundational goals moving forward into the next 20 years!