Deciding How to Provide the Services Your Customers Need

Partnerships are the secret to providing the best possible products and services that your customer needs.

All too often, business leaders struggle to successfully delegate work. ‌The Harvard Business Review notes that executives tend to “hoard” work instead of dividing it among their colleagues and partners. It’s understandable — people tend to feel ownership over their work and they can be reluctant to hand it off to someone else. The truth is that partnerships are the secret to providing the best possible products and services for your customers. Entering into strong partnerships allows you to provide services that are too complex to build yourself. Strategic partnerships also free up your employees’ time so that they can focus on the work they do best, instead of trying to do it all.

Not sure where to begin? This article will explore reasons why you would partner and also how you would choose a partner. It looks at when it makes more sense to build up capabilities in-house, too. Keep reading to learn more.

Deciding When to Buy, Build, or Partner

‌Maybe you’ve already decided that your business would benefit from more partnerships. Now, you’re faced with answering the following questions:

  • When, exactly, should you do your work in-house?
  • When should you outsource your projects?
  • When is it a good idea to have your partners or vendors tackle some of your work? 

If you’re looking to expand your business technologically, you might also wonder: “Should I buy or build my technology?” Figuring out when to partner with another company and when to build services yourself can be difficult. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question — it’s going to look a little bit different depending on your situation. However, some guidelines hold true in most cases and across different business environments.

Relying on Core Competencies: Does This Still Work?

‌The idea of “core competencies” is a classic theory in business management. The theory states that to succeed, every business should focus on the capabilities that make up its unique strategic advantage. For example: If you are running an ice cream parlor, you should focus on making the best ice cream possible, instead of trying to add on a salad bar.

The core competencies model is still relevant. However, it no longer fully applies to today’s businesses. Today, businesses face increased competition and must appeal to a broader market than ever before. Customers also expect near-instant service and regular updates on products, which has further changed the field for businesses. More and more, customers are also coming to expect a high level of personalization. All of this means that successful companies cannot rely only on their core competencies. They must go a few steps beyond, offering their customers a broader range of goods and services.

Building Core Competencies Beyond Current Capacity

In many cases, businesses can successfully build core competencies beyond their current capacity. For this to succeed, a business needs to carefully assess where its strengths lie and compare those strengths against what other companies in the same field are offering — and then make sure that they surpass the competition’s offerings. Businesses also need to turn their abilities into organization-wide strengths. In other words, the company’s success should not rest on the skills or knowledge of just one individual or team. Those abilities should be a standard for the entire organization.

It is worth noting that there is a built-in limit to how many core competencies any one business can develop. Of course, that limit varies depending on the size and make-up of each company. However, every business has its limits. That’s where partnerships come in.

Making Partnerships to Provide Added Value

Finding the best types of partnerships can take your business well beyond your core areas of competence. The business landscape has changed drastically in recent years. Today, customers expect a higher level of service, as well as a consistently high level of quality in every facet of a business offering. In order to succeed, businesses must be able to offer their customer a top-of-the-line experience, from start to finish. That level of service is really only possible when you build successful partnerships with other businesses.

The first step to building partnerships is evaluating which services your customers truly value. Which of those services does your business provide already? Which services do you have the capacity to provide, even if you don’t already do so? From there, you should be able to isolate the services that your business cannot provide on its own. Anything that you can’t offer your customers is a prime possibility for outsourcing through partnerships.

Choosing Partnerships With Customers in Mind

‌You may be wondering how to choose a partner for your business. Always remember that your goal is to make it possible to offer your customers the very best services and experiences possible. Below are a few qualities you should always look for in your partner.

Ease of Integration‌

Does this partner’s offering mesh well with your business? Can you integrate it seamlessly into your current offering? Remember that your goal is to provide a one-stop-shopping experience for your customers, in which you’re able to meet all of their needs seamlessly. You don’t want your customers to have a jarring experience or to feel like they have to keep jumping from one platform to another.

Ease of Customization

‌Look for offerings that are easy to customize to meet the specific needs of your business and its customers. You’ll want to make your partner’s offerings fit your business so well that they almost seem as though you created them yourself. The ideal partnership is one in which you feel thoroughly confident about all of the products and services that your partner provides. You should be able to stand behind them and offer them with pride to your customers. One sure way to achieve that is by making sure that you have a high level of built-in customization.

Concluding Thoughts on Partnerships

‌In today’s business landscape, partnerships are no longer an option — they are a near-necessity. Making sure that your customers are happy and well-served requires layers of service which no business can provide on its own. That’s why partnerships are so important. Of course, no business should enter into partnerships lightly. But with the right criteria, and a discerning eye, it’s easy to build successful and profitable connections that will help your business reach its maximum potential.

Choosing the Best Customer-Centric Financing Options for Your Company

Offering financing options to your customers allows them to plan for their purchase and take on the cost of your product a little at a time.

Studies show that most Americans aren’t in a position to take on a surprise $500 expense in an emergency. And if that’s the case, imagine how few consumers are likely to make impulse purchases at or near $500. Offering financing options to your customers allows them to plan for their purchase and take on the cost of your product a little at a time. And it works — evidence shows that offering to finance can increase customer spending. But with so many different consumer financing options on the table, how do you know which ones to offer?

The Most Common Financing Options

Financing is like a payment plan for your customers. Although you receive the money upfront, they only have to pay a little at a time. It’s a win-win scenario. There are two different ways to offer customer-centric financing options. One way is to collect your customers’ credit information yourself, lend them the money out of your business’s funds, and allow them to repay over time. However, this can be problematic because it forces you to lend money to your customers and chase that money down if it doesn’t get paid on time. You’ll also have to deal with the usury and debt collection laws in your state. You will also need your own in-house loan office to make this work.

The more popular option is to sign up with a third-party lender. You can evaluate countless lenders and decide on the one — or ones — you’re willing to use with your customers. Each loan company has its own policies on the minimum amount your customers have to spend, repayment schedules, interest rates, and any fees the company may charge your business.

Factors When Choosing the Best Options for Your Brand

With so many business financing options on the market, it can be difficult to narrow your choices down. Several factors should be considered when deciding.

Customer Demographics

If your customers are low-income, very young, or very old, they may not have good credit. In these cases, you’ll want to prioritize lenders that are willing to work with customers who have low credit scores. On the other hand, if you work with Fortune 500 companies, credit probably might not be an issue for you. In this case, you can work with lenders that have a high credit threshold.

product offerings

The next thing you’ll want to consider is what products you offer and what products customers will ask to finance. Some lenders have a minimum spending threshold. If they won’t lend to customers who spend under $1,000 and your products are all in the $500 range, your financing options won’t help customers who purchase fewer than two items. Look at the average amount of money customers spend with you at a time, and use that average to help determine what minimum your customers who finance should be held to (if any). Then, make your choice accordingly.

customer preference

If you have an established business, you may be able to survey your existing customers to see which lenders they have a good history with. Sometimes, customer preferences can help you to identify factors that you may not have otherwise considered.

Pros and Cons of Offering Multiple Financing Options

Of course, you can offer multiple financing choices to your customers. This may be important if you sell both; directly to consumers (B2C) and directly to businesses (B2B). But before you sign up for ten different financing options and let your customers decide which one they want to use, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of offering multiple options.

Offering One Financing Option

Pros

One upside to offering a single financing option is that your staff can become experts at that option and its rules. It’s also relatively easy to advertise one financing plan on your website, either at the checkout screen or beforehand. This helps reduce sticker shock by letting customers know they can choose to finance their purchases.

Cons

The biggest downside with offering one financing choice is that if a customer doesn’t get approved for financing, there’s no recourse to help them out.

Offering Multiple Financing Options

Pros

The advantage of offering multiple financing options is that it can benefit different types of buyers. Customers with good credit can use low-interest financing options, while those with low credit scores can still find a way to finance their purchases. This approach is also useful if you work with individual customers — who make relatively small purchases — as well as businesses that may put together larger orders. You can offer different financing options based on their estimated spending total.

Cons

The biggest drawback to this method is that it could lead to decision paralysis — which happens when people have too many choices, or the choices they have are too complicated. When this happens, people tend to procrastinate on making any decision. By offering multiple financing options, you could turn your customers away from using any financing at all. Another downside is that your customers may get declined for one financing option and then apply for another. While this could allow them to get approved with one of your suggested lenders, it also means multiple credit checks in a short period of time, which can have negative ramifications for your customers.

Skeps Turns Financing on Its Head

Choosing a good, customer-centric financing option to offer through your business can be a headache. But Skeps turns that process upside down. Working with the top lenders, Skeps can help your customers find the best lender for them with a single application and credit check. The only thing your brand needs to keep track of is how easy it is to work with Skeps.

To learn more about how we can eliminate decision paralysis for you and your customers, contact us today. 

Tips To Decrease Cart Abandonment At Checkout

Decrease Cart Abandonment – There are many things that merchants can do to reduce friction/cart abandonment at checkout. Read on to know a few methods.

In the days when brick and mortar was everything, no one worried about how to decrease cart abandonment. All it took was a committed salesperson to ask if a customer was ready to check out, take their cash or card, and process the transaction before the buyer had a chance to change their mind.

That doesn’t work in e-commerce. Your customers are essentially on their own to add products to their carts and make the commitment to click “Checkout.”

That may be part of why the average cart abandonment rate today is 69.8%. You read that right — more than two out of every three shoppers leave the checkout page before making a purchase.

You can retain many of these customers just by simplifying your checkout page. You’d be amazed how a few tweaks can make everything flow more smoothly, appeasing the wary customer and guiding them to purchase — almost as if you were holding their hand.

Simplify Your Checkout

When was the last time you looked closely at your checkout page? Take a moment and create a fake order, then look at it as a customer might. Ask yourself:

  1. ‌How many steps does it take to check out?
  2. ‌How many buttons does the customer have to click?
  3. ‌How many separate fields are there for add-ons, financing, bonus activation, etc.?

‌The more clicking a customer has to do before making a purchase, the more likely they are to abandon. You can significantly reduce friction at checkout by getting rid of all those extra buttons — and there are probably more of those than you think

Consider retail giant Amazon. It had so much success simplifying its checkout that in 2017, it had to refund $70 million for purchases children made without permission.

Amazon is still known for its ease of ordering. Even if you don’t use the Buy Now one-click feature, you can still have your product on its way in seconds. How close can you get to that level of simplicity?

Reduce Your Load Time

Bounce rates soar whenever a customer has to wait more than two or three seconds. You want your e-commerce site to be at the low end of that scale.

Simplifying your checkout page is one of the easiest ways to decrease load time. Use a one-page checkout if possible. This might mean minimizing the amount of customer data you ask for, and that’s okay. You’ll still retain more customers because you’ve reduced friction at the cart.

Other effective redesign techniques include:

  1. ‌Minimizing image sizes
  2. ‌Using social sharing buttons instead of plugins
  3. ‌Limiting or eliminating redirects to other pages

‌These simple technical interventions can decrease cart abandonment. If they’re not enough, ask your web design team about coding adjustments.

Keep Customers on the Cart Page

Eliminating redirects does more than just increase page speed — it also keeps your customers in their carts.  

Imagine having to leave a physical store to visit an ATM. If you didn’t need your purchases urgently, you might be tempted to just go home. But this isn’t just a brick-and-mortar problem.

If you have third-party Buy Now, Pay Later options or co-branded payment cards that take consumers off your site, you’re essentially sending them to an ATM on the other side of the mall. 

When a shopper clicks on a financing link, they suddenly have a new website to navigate and multiple fields to fill out. Plus, they stop seeing the products they were excited about purchasing. The motivation is out of sight and sometimes out of mind, so it’s easy to click away.

You can break this cycle by keeping all of your financing options on the same page. And the simpler those options are, the better. 

Simplify Financing Options

According to Forrester, offering financing to customers can increase order value by 15% and boost incremental sales by 17%. And when you add pre-approved financing to the mix, you can increase customer conversion by 44%.

The key is to make the application process simple enough that you don’t scare people away. Applications for consumer financing can be unnecessarily lengthy, reminding people of buying a car or taking out a loan.

Consumer financing should be much simpler than either of those things. With a company like Skeps, you can add a single, consumer-friendly application that qualifies buyers for multiple financing options — from installment payments to co-branded cards.

A simple application with multiple options reduces the frustration of financing for you and your customers. Shoppers are much less likely to get all the way to checkout only to find that a third-party lender has declined their financing application.

Skeps allows you to offer financing from several different lenders all at once. If one option doesn’t work for a consumer, another might. The shopper doesn’t have to fill out a second application to find out. 

Display Offers Sooner

Shoppers often get all the way to the checkout page without realizing that financing options are available. Seeing one can be a relief, especially for a big-ticket purchase, but it can also be jarring.

That’s why Skeps offers instant financing to simplify this process and decrease cart abandonment. It lets you display financing offers when shoppers log in. This removes a barrier to purchase immediately for some buyers and decreases cart abandonment in advance. The customer goes all the way to purchase with their new payment plan instead of adding an item to their cart and then leaving it behind because they can’t afford it.

Additionally, displaying finance offers at login makes checkout easier and quicker. The buyer doesn’t have to stop to apply for financing or choose an offer — they’ve already done it. They may even spend more because they can finance.

The Power of a Simple Checkout

Convenience is a powerful motivator, especially in the world of online shopping. Your shoppers do enough mental work to get themselves and their shopping carts to the checkout page. 

The easier that page is to navigate, the more you can decrease cart abandonment. Think of simplification and easy financing options as the electronic version of a helpful store associate, guiding a customer to checkout. 

You don’t have to choose between convenience and multiple financing options anymore. With Skeps’ intuitive platform, you can have both — with a side of top-notch customer satisfaction.

Customer Experience: How Companies Can Play to Win

Consistent customer experience lets users know what to expect from your brand and creates feeling of trust.

Trust is earned, not given — it’s an old adage, but it sticks around for a reason. Most of us have encountered a person or an experience that didn’t feel right. It can happen with companies, too — in fact, one report estimated that lackluster customer service costs businesses more than $75 billion per year. According to the analysis, 67% of customers have become “serial switchers,” meaning that they’re willing to move brands due to poor customer experience.

These stark numbers make the case for getting customer experience right. In a day and age of serial switchers, getting it wrong for customers will likely cost you.

The Customer Experience Opportunity

According to Forrester, there’s extensive customer experience (CX) data to support the importance of focusing on how customers feel. The firm reports that when a customer feels appreciated: ‌

  1. 76% will keep doing business with the company that makes them feel that way.
  2. ‌80% may spend more with the company.
  3. ‌87% will recommend the business to their inner circle of friends and family.

‌‌This is the flip side of getting it wrong for customers. Getting it right can mean driving repeat purchases as customers stay in spades.

Building Loyalty: The ABCs of Earning Customer Trust

When customers show up at your front door — virtual or otherwise — they bring their whole selves with them. That means you’re interacting with the entire person and their past experiences, belief systems, values, goals, needs, wants, and so on. The leadership that you bring to the equation, or don’t, meets that customer at your front door.

To better understand how leaders can build trust, Harvard Business Review analyzed the 360 assessments of 87,000 business leaders. They identified three key traits that must be in place for trust to develop –

Positive relationships

Serving well means keeping your finger on the needs of those you serve. Know what they’re thinking about, keep your desire for results in check enough to care deeply, make it personal, and resolve conflict effectively.

good judgement/expertise

People tend to care about seeing a strong example set and want to see a measured, responsible approach to solving problems.  

consistency

This is where words meet action. In order to place trust in a leader or company, people must see you do what you’ve promised to do. Without impeccable focus and follow-through, a leader or brand can fall out of favor quickly or fail to gain traction in the first place.

Customer Experience Staples

What does customer experience mean? Let’s go over the basics and explore a key way of differentiating between types of CX, depending on the nature of your product or service.

Touch Points of Customer Experience

Your customer’s experience spans every aspect of your brand, including but not limited to: 

  1. Logo
  2. ‌Store(s), if applicable
  3. ‌Marketing, including tag line, tone of voice, and call to action
  4. ‌Website, including user experience and speed/reliability
  5. ‌Support options and accessibility
  6. ‌Pricing
  7. ‌Payment and financing options
  8. ‌Return policies, including ease of making returns
  9. ‌Shipping/delivery speed 
  10. ‌Follow-up on current transactions
  11. ‌New solicitations, including text and email marketing campaigns

‌Any one of these factors can turn your customers on or off, so it pays to sweat every detail.

Engaging Your Customers: Smooth or Sticky? 

The American Marketing Association (AMA) points to two types of customer experiences.

There are “smooth” customer journeys with a simple, fuss-free transaction or experience. In other sectors, the hope is for a “sticky” experience.

You might want a smooth customer experience with your bank, insurance company, or auto service team. Those transactions serve areas of your life where you need and want a reliable, easy outcome every time.

In other areas — such as fitness, entertainment, and food — variety is often your bigger concern, and companies that serve that need will deliver a better CX.

Beyond the Basics: The Road Ahead for Customer Experience

What are service-oriented leaders working on in 2021? Insights firm Gartner checked in with service executives worldwide to find out. Here’s what they found:

Your Transaction Ecosystem Matters

Gartner found that offering customers an array of ways to seek service doesn’t help — and only makes transactions more costly.

Being Proactive Is Key

Although most customers prioritize reactive service, research shows that proactive service is where pastures are greener for both the company and the consumer. Companies spend less, customers are happier, and the product is better perceived when the buyer is on the receiving end of proactive service.

A survey of 6,000 customers revealed that just 13% experienced outreach by a company that they’d consider doing business with.

Customer Data Has Value

The team at Gartner found that companies struggle to digest and utilize the voice of the customer (VoC) data. If used effectively, VoC research can tell you how many customers you’re retaining, whether you’re creating brand loyalty, and what you need to do to improve your products or services.

You can collect VoC data in many forms. If you speak with customers, you may hear about transactions that went awry. You’ll see user reviews on your site, comments on your social media profiles, detailed emails, or signs of frustrating user experience via your site performance metrics.

Enter Reputation Experience Management

As customer experience evolves to meet the demands of consumers, many companies are finding that they need to work from the outside in — starting with the customer, who has the power to submit online user reviews and social media comments — and build an internal strategy from there.

This seismic shift in how companies view customer experience has led to a new field within the industry called reputation experience management (RXM). According to an analysis by Forbes, “The brands that embrace a new and improved way of managing their reputation and design their organizations around it could be the winners in the feedback economy.”

CX Matters, in Whatever Form It Takes

Although few companies can claim to have customer experience figured out, the numbers tell us how much it matters.

The Skeps platform enables merchants to implement multiple loan options from various lenders at the point of sale. To learn how we can help you provide a seamless customer experience and land more sales, visit us online.

Email Campaign Ideas To Improve Marketing Effectiveness

In this guide, we’ll go over five key email campaign ideas to help you improve your marketing effectiveness and drive sales.

Email campaigns are an important step in the sales funnel. They’re a relatively affordable way to stay in contact with loyal customers and reach out to prospective new ones you may have met at sales events. Email campaigns can also be targeted, which allows you to tailor your messages based on customer actions and send out the most relevant content at the best time. But to get the most out of email campaigns, your sales team needs to understand how to use this tool effectively. In this guide, we’ll go over five key email campaign ideas to help you improve your marketing effectiveness and drive sales.

Attract New Customers With Promotional Offers

From local fairs to trade shows, there are countless times when you have the opportunity to collect contact information from potential customers. What you do with that information once you have it spells the difference between successful business events that convert new customers and events that were a waste of time.

Sending emails that offer coupons and other promotions to interested parties is a good way to get customers’ toes in the door. It allows them to try your product at a fraction of the normal cost. If they like it, you can create customer loyalty and repeat business in this manner.

Improve Marketing Effectiveness With Quality Content

One of the best email campaign ideas is to offer value to your customers through quality content.

What does this mean? Consider who your target audience is and what problems you want to help them address. Then, send emails with quality information on related topics.

Consider a company that sells reusable notebooks. Its target audience includes people who like to take notes by hand but also care about the environment or don’t want to buy new notebooks every couple of weeks — possibly millennials or even Gen Xers. This company could send out content about: 

  1. Ways to help the environment
  2. Environmental causes worth supporting
  3. Tips for saving money in college

These types of content-driven emails provide tangible value to customers. As a result, your customers will start to see you as an expert in your area. When they receive emails that are relevant to them, they begin to feel like you understand their problems and concerns, and they believe you’re the right brand to solve those problems.

Increase Your Email Clicks With Pre-Approval Notifications

While many of your emails should be content-based, a portion should also be promotional, giving your customers a way to use their new brand loyalty.

Pre-approval notifications are one way you can convert people from “curious potential customers” to paying customers.

Consider those customers who may have looked at your website and shown interest in your products, but have been turned away by sticker shock. Maybe the price of your items isn’t what they expected, or maybe it’s just outside their current range.

The last thing you want is for these customers to decide your product is too elite for them and move on. Instead, you can send a notice of financing pre-approval to customers who have been browsing your inventory or who have added items to their cart but haven’t purchased.

While many companies are offering pre-approved financing, Skeps’ instant financing allows merchants to give more purchasing power to their customers and enhance their shopping experience like never before. Pre-approved financing gives customers a way to pay for products that may otherwise have been outside their price points. Pre-approved financing is one of the email campaign ideas that lets them know that you have an avenue to help them finance their project — an option that will help up to 76% of customers make a purchase.

Increase Repeat Purchases With Limited-Time Offers

Limited-time offers are a great way to drive sales during a specific period of time. The key is to know how to use these offers.

Give a Clear Time Frame

Customers are so used to seeing words like “Act Now” or “For a Short Time Only” that they have learned to tune them out. You want to give specific dates delineating when your offer is good for. This gives customers the drive to look at your offer instead of telling themselves they’ll get to it later.

Feature Something Specific

There’s a time and place for putting your entire product catalog on sale (Black Friday, for example). But limited-time offer email campaigns can also be a great way to feature newly launched products or promote a product that’s been getting overlooked. Featuring something specific also prevents customers from dealing with choice paralysis: They know exactly what your offer is good for and can simply decide they want that product or they don’t.

If you’re not going to feature a specific item, be very clear about which items in your store are on sale. It can be frustrating for customers to feel like everything is on sale except the item they happened to pick. Avoid that by making it crystal clear what your sale is good for.

Consider Using a Coupon Code

Instead of making certain products on sale for everyone who visits your store, consider using a coupon code and making those offers exclusive to people who opt in to your emails. This gives loyal customers a reason to continue opening your sales emails: They know they’re the first to receive promotions, ahead of your other customers.

If all sales are just available on your website, on the other hand, it’s easy for your email subscribers to begin ignoring the messages you send.

Drive Customer Loyalty With Reward and Referral Programs

Once you have customers and they’ve bought a few items, you can use reward and referral programs to keep them coming back.

Reward programs simply reward customers who have spent a certain amount of money or purchased a certain number of items.

Referral programs offer a discount to customers who refer a friend or family member to your company — but only if that referral leads to a sale. It can be a great way to get people talking about your brand.

Get Value From Your Email Marketing Campaigns

These are a few email campaign ideas that can be a great way to boost sales and improve relationships with your customers. We can help! Skeps offers a tool you can use to create pre-approval offers for your customers. Contact us today to learn more.

Growing B2B Sales Is Easy

B2B sales are complex, and closing a sale is not necessarily fast or easy. Here are five go-to tips for increasing your B2B sales.

Growing B2B sales is a complex process, and closing a sale is not necessarily fast. Your client is likely to need assurance on multiple fronts — from pricing and purchase terms, to return policies, and the ease of working with your sales and service teams. There is opportunity in that since you’ll have several points of contact with your prospects — but there is a risk, too. If your customer feels disappointed at any stage of the decision-making process, you are in trouble.

Making More B2B Sales

Although your clients are faced with a multi-faceted decision-making process, you still have plenty of options to ensure that the sales process moves at a good clip. Technology can speed the buying process up and get you and your clients into motion together faster. Here are five go-to tips for increasing your B2B sales.

1. Understand the Buying Environment

One important point to keep in mind is that your clients are operating in the same economic and work climate that you are. If digital and remote buying is having a moment, then your sales process should support those needs effectively. This may mean you need to pivot quickly with new technology infrastructure and selling strategies.

Also, understand that managing costs may not always be the top priority for clients depending on the company’s current plans or the overall business environment. In 2021, for example, only an estimated 38% of businesses appear to have prioritized cost reductions.‌

‌2. Know Your Customers

The range of clients you could be serving is large — from small businesses to government agencies or even consumer-like sole proprietors. Starting with a baseline level of information about your buyer will help you make the right pitch. You will be even better off if you can use analytics to grasp customer trends and forecast buying needs.

According to Forrester, 57% of B2B sales leaders plan to invest more in AI and automation tools this year in order to help understand their clients. Take a cue from the research and land among them.

3. Simplify the financing process

In the same way that banks can offer pre-approval to consumers looking to buy a home, B2B marketers can offer a pre-approved line of credit as a service for B2B prospects. That way, your customer will know that financing is available should they choose to make a purchase from you.

It is also possible to centralize the financing for multiple business needs — such as net terms, lines of credit, or even leasing — in one place. Doing this significantly reduces the steps involved in helping your client be able to purchase what they need from you and quickly be on their way.

4. Create Self-Service Opportunities

Self-service is not just for the retail counter. According to Digital Commerce 360, B2B buyers have come to crave an “Amazon-like” experience.

As a B2B marketer, you should look for ways to make it easier for your clients to understand the financial commitment they’ll need to make in order to work with you. You should also make it easier for them to execute new sales orders on their own as much as possible. Along these lines, you can:‌‌

  1. ‌Place pre-approval messaging in emails
  2. ‌Offer financing at checkout
  3. ‌Feature “pay as low as” messaging on your website

5. Maintain a Long-Term Mindset

As technology helps clients move faster and more independently, customer experience needs to be front and center for B2B marketers. There is a lot to be said for shifting your focus from monthly sales goals to client satisfaction and retention rates. These competitive advantages cannot be taken from you.

The only given in sales is that nothing is a given — so plan your processes and train your teams accordingly. Your clients’ businesses are likely to be changing rapidly in the current business climate. Yours should be, too.‌

Convert More Leads, Grow More Sales

There is no need to rely on simply having a great sales team to boost your B2B sales. Tools like AI and automation as well as financing opportunities can give your business the edge it needs to turn leads into conversions. Put your focus on customer experience and satisfaction, and the sales will naturally follow.

Increase Sales and Still Maintain Margins

Finding the right balance between giving your customers more freedom and keeping your costs low is a fine line to walk.

As a business, you have two goals: increasing sales and lowering costs. Providing your customers with financing options can definitely help you close more deals, but it can be costly. In the process, you’ve probably wondered “Why are point-of-sale financing options so expensive?” Finding the right balance between giving your customers more freedom and keeping your costs low is a fine line to walk. 

‌That doesn’t have to be the case, though. There are low-cost financing options that don’t make money off of your business. You can provide pay-over-time choices that both serve your customers and keep costs down if you’re careful. Here are five strategies you can use to make your customers happy with point-of-sale (POS) financing solutions while keeping costs to a minimum. 

1. Offer Financing Only on Select Items

One easy way to keep your costs low is to provide customer financing on high-value items only. Sticker shock is much more likely to hit people when they’re looking at expensive items. By offering a pay-over-time option on these goods, you can close more sales on the products that provide you the most profit. 

Meanwhile, you can choose not to offer financing on less expensive goods. Splitting a $10 payment into several monthly installments won’t make as much difference as breaking down $1,000. Meanwhile, you won’t bear the costs of many smaller financing deals, so you can manage the cost of financing more easily.

Choose a solution that allows you to select exactly which products are eligible for financing, so you never need to worry about skyrocketing fees. This strategy results in lower costs for your business and more high-value sales. 

2. Provide Special Terms Only on Select Items

Just like you can pick and choose the items for which you want to offer financing, you can select a few things for which you provide special financing terms. If you have a specific, high-value product that’s linked to continuing sales over time, you might choose to offer 0% same-as-cash financing on it, to close more deals.  It’s an easy way to manage the cost of offering terms in the first place.

While this may raise costs on sales of that item, in return, you get more sales in the future. A great example would be an air purifier that needs monthly filter changes. If you sell the air purifier with 0% financing, your costs go up on that appliance. However, you are likely to make back those costs and more on the monthly filter purchases the customer will make. Look for a financing solution that makes it easy to be precisely this selective throughout your product catalog.

3. Connect with Co-Brand Cards

If you want to directly offset the cost of financing, you can also connect with co-branded cards. These cards are hybrids of store cards and rewards cards. By working with your financing provider, you can access these co-branded cards and potentially take advantage of cost-saving opportunities.

Many co-brand card providers will offer you a “spiff,” or a small bonus for every customer who signs up for the card through your website. If customers use the co-brand card to make their purchases, you also save on the financing costs. This gives you and your customers alike a selection of low-cost financing options that make sales more likely.  

4. Charge Marketing Fees

Just because products are your primary focus doesn’t mean you should turn down other opportunities to increase your cash flow. Many companies are willing and able to pay if you offer the chance to market on your website. 

For example, you can charge marketing fees for your financing company to put their banners on your site. That can quickly make up for any costs associated with the financing itself. You can also work with other companies that are related to your own but not in competition to cross-market their products and bring in fees or percentages of sales.

5. Minimize Maintenance Costs

Finally, the simplest way to cut costs is to reduce overlap between your vendors. Using different providers to offer the same service to B2C and B2B markets is unnecessary. By choosing the right solutions, you can make sure each provider covers as many needs as possible. 

A solution that offers multiple loan providers all in one place allows you to skip the need to find unique POS financing solutions for different markets. Instead, you can reduce your tech maintenance costs by consolidating to a single service that meets the needs of all your customers at once.

Save Money and Increase Offerings Today

Sometimes, you can keep your margins stable and increase sales — it just takes some strategic planning. With the right tools, like Skeps, you can give your customers everything they want without breaking the bank. Take the next step for your business today with the low-cost financing options that make a difference.

Customer Experience Must Be A Priority For B2B Companies

As technology makes it easier to get things done quickly, B2B companies are setting their sights on improving their customer experience.

We want to trust the companies we buy goods and services from — don’t we? And, customer experience does play a vital role here. Whether we’re shopping in a grocery store, a clothing boutique, or an auto dealership, we tend to be looking for more than price and quality. We want to know what kind of company we are about to do business with. The same need applies to our professional relationships. A business-to-business (B2B) customer, or a company representative buying from another company, tends to come through the door with plenty of questions. Are the prices and policies comfortable? Will the solutions fit my business? How is the service?

Customer Experience Lag for B2B Companies

For businesses whose customers are other businesses, customer satisfaction often falls short compared to companies that sell directly to consumers. According to McKinsey & Company, business-to-consumer (B2C) companies typically see a satisfaction score between 65% and 85%, but B2B companies average satisfaction rates lower than 50%.

Technology’s Role in Raising Expectations

A growing number of business buyers are becoming more aware of this customer experience gap as life gets easier for them as consumers. McKinsey notes that, due to digitization and ever-increasing smartphone usage, a new standard for fast, seamless customer service is taking hold across the board. According to its analysis, “Real-time responsiveness and easy-to-use apps for daily banking chores or ordering groceries are setting a high bar for speed and ease of doing business in B2C industries, and these expectations are migrating to B2B.”

The Complex Challenges B2B Clients Face

Although B2B clients are coming to the table with increased expectations as technology evolves in the B2C space, the reality is that B2B companies face a few key obstacles.

A Focus on Sales Targets

According to a recent study of B2B businesses from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, most B2B companies only measure whether they’re reaching their own sales forecasts or margin targets.

Lack of tools and resources

According to the Kellogg study, most B2B leaders identify customer experience as a top priority but often lack the feedback tools, metrics, and processes to prioritize the customer experience.

Multiple Stakeholders

For the B2B customer, launching a product or service means tending to countless details, including price, quality, logistics, lead time, and service needs as they emerge. It may also mean working in tandem with multiple stakeholders or vendors. Providing a seamless customer experience for each person in the chain of command can be challenging to pull off.

A Chicken-or-Egg Question

Nick Caffentzis, a fellow and adjunct professor in Kellogg’s Markets and Customers Initiative, points out that B2B companies face an important choice. Should they develop products that they believe solve their clients’ problems or work to understand customer issues and then develop supportive products? Caffentzis has found that B2B companies are most successful with the latter approach, noting that customers are less likely to adopt pre-built solutions.

The Need for a Multi-Dimensional Solution

A B2B customer’s range of needs and challenges, as well as multiple stakeholders, creates opportunities for B2B companies that can problem-solve alongside their clients.

Offer Custom B2B Solutions

The Kellogg study evaluated 20 businesses in the medical technology industry about their new business launches. The most successful among them sought to understand their clients’ most urgent needs from day one. When a B2B relationship starts that way, the study found, customers were more likely to commit to a solution, and product designs were more likely to gain consensus among stakeholders.

Invest in Customer Outcomes

Before a customer commits to a solution, agree about what success will look like. Knowing the terms of success will arm your sales team with a strong value proposition to sell and will give the client a critical measuring stick for their work with you.

Invest in Yourself, Too

The Kellogg study notes that B2B companies looking to improve their customer experience may need to: ‌

  1. More accurately capture customer usage information
  2. ‌Find a consistent way to collect customer feedback
  3. ‌Invest in infrastructure improvements
  4. ‌Change training processes‌

Start With the End in Mind and Play Your Role

As technology makes it easier to get things done quickly and efficiently, B2B companies that set their sights on improving their customer experience will have a clear advantage.

B2B companies looking to up their customer experience game should start with the end moment in mind. Approach customers with a blank slate, immerse yourself in grasping their challenges, and work to deliver a thoughtful and comprehensive customer experience at each stage of the product development cycle.

Innovative Ways Companies Are Using Blockchain

Blockchain technology has a number of applications, hence businesses are using it to resolve specific problems in their fields.

Blockchain technology is often associated with cryptocurrency — but it doesn’t have to be. The revolutionary technology that powers Bitcoin and other virtual currencies has a number of other applications, which is why more and more businesses are using it to resolve specific problems in their fields.

The technology makes it easy to share information securely, speed up transactions, and store data. As more and more industries become data-driven, there are tremendous implications for any technology that makes it easier to share data. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask yourself what the blockchain can do for your business.

What is blockchain?

‌In some ways, blockchain is comparable to a gigantic database. It’s often referred to as a ledger because it’s commonly used to keep records of transactions. However, the technology can be used to record any blocks of data, from medical information to financial records. Blockchains are immutable, which means that once data is stored, it can’t be deleted or altered. And because the blockchain is based on encryption, it’s difficult for hackers to target, making it a highly secure option for storing important data.

Using blockchain technology as a business tool

‌Blockchain technology can build automation into just about any procedure that revolves around data sharing and verification. The Ethereum blockchain is already being widely used for smart contracts, which automate payment for a product or service as soon as the terms of a contract have been met. Now, businesses are using blockchain to help make payments, verify identities, and transfer documents.

What are some uses of the blockchain?

‌Insurance

‌Underwriters have begun using blockchain to speed up the process of assessing customer risk and determining coverage.

Risk assessment is at the heart of what insurance companies do. Deciding on the level of risk that a customer poses is what allows insurance providers to cover as wide a group of customers as possible. But to correctly calibrate risk levels, underwriters need to have access to a very broad range of data. This includes medical data on the customer, family history, and information about the customer’s lifestyle and behaviors.

Using traditional methods, this process can be very cumbersome and time-consuming. It takes time to obtain data and the requisite permission to access that data. Blockchain, however, can dramatically speed up the process of getting access to data, thereby speeding up the whole underwriting process.

Blockchain can also bring greater transparency to the process and improve trust, since all parties that have access to the blockchain have eyes into when and how data is accessed.

Cross-border payments

‌Transferring money across borders has always been a complex undertaking. Putting funds into the right accounts in the right country at the right time, so that payments can flow from one currency to another, is a major operation. Fluctuating exchange rates and the need to simultaneously update banking records in several countries just add more pieces to an already difficult puzzle.

Some global payment solutions firms have begun using the blockchain to expedite the process of transferring money. The blockchain can serve as a bridge between two currencies so that payments are seamlessly paid out and received in the correct currency, right away. As our world grows ever more globalized and interdependent, it seems likely that there will be an ever greater demand for such technology.

Know Your Customer

‌Many in the insurance and banking fields are subject to Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations that require them to collect, validate, and verify documents so they can be certain of their customers’ identities. In the past, this has been a tedious and time-consuming procedure, and it can be alienating to customers. Just as importantly, the need to carry out such extensive due diligence imposes a real burden on institutions, both in terms of time and financial cost.

Enter the blockchain. With a blockchain network, documentation can be shared instantly with everyone who has access to the network. Because the blockchain is immutable, there are no concerns about documents being tampered with. The whole process of identity verification immediately becomes far speedier and smoother.

Final thoughts

‌Navigating through the uses of any new technology can be challenging. But the challenge is ratcheted up a notch when the new technology is something like the blockchain, which tends to be both widely discussed and poorly understood. There are endless rumors and theories in circulation about the blockchain. It can be hard to sift out the truth from the fiction.

That’s why it’s so important to work with a professional organization that truly understands the field. Skeps is a technology layer that connects merchants/sellers and their customers with the financing services they need. Skeps has experience enabling businesses to use the blockchain to improve their services. 

Contact us today or request a demo to learn more about what blockchain technology can do for your business.

Increase Your Online Sales in 5 Steps

Increase Online Sales – Online sales are the new norm. If your business isn’t taking advantage of online sales, you are doing yourself a massive disservice.

Online sales are quickly becoming the new norm. In 2020, consumers spent a whopping $861.12 billion with online U.S. merchants, which is a 44% increase from the year prior. It’s the country’s highest annual e-commerce growth in decades, but this has been the trajectory of sales for some time.

Suffice it to say, if your business is not taking advantage of online sales, you are doing yourself a massive disservice. And if you do have online options available, it is critical to stay abreast of the latest technology if you want to steadily improve sales. Here’s how.‌

How to increase online sales

One sure-fire way to increase online sales when you sell big-ticket or high-cost items is by offering financing. In just five simple steps, you can get started boosting your profits.

1. Determine Whether Or Not You Should Offer Financing

The first step is to figure out if your customers would find financing helpful. Consumer financing refers to when a business allows customers to pay in installments for a good or service they aren’t able to pay for up front. They typically go about this with the help of a professional financing company.

Offering financing options is often beneficial for the customer and business alike. For customers, it means they can purchase goods or services they otherwise would not be able to afford. For businesses, financing carries the following benefits:

  1. Increased conversions from browsers to buyers
  2. Increased customer loyalty
  3. Upfront payments from financing platforms
  4. Improved cash flow
  5. Reduced cart abandonment rates
  6. A leg-up on competitors

Examining your products’ price points and looking at your conversion rates can help you decide if offering financing is right for your business. If waiting around for sales to roll in is causing an issue with cash flow, for example, financing might be the perfect solution.

2. Consider Financing Options To Increase Sales

After you have decided to begin offering financing, you need to put in a bit of research. Financing setups are not one-size-fits-all solutions — there are numerous options to choose from.‌

In-house Consumer Financing

One option is to set up your own financing arrangement. Your business would extend credit to customers, giving them the good or service based on the promise they will pay you for it over time. However, this has its setbacks. For one, it will not fix any of your cash flow issues. Secondly, it is significantly more complicated and risky than other alternatives.‌

Financing Platforms

When partnering with a third-party financing company, they handle point-of-sale financing so you do not have to. The financing company then pays you for the sale right away.

If you choose to go with a third-party financing company, there is no need for your company to hire additional staff. The company will also ensure your sales stay in full legal compliance so you do not have to worry about the details.‌

3. Decide How To Show Off Your Financing Program

The next step is to decide where this information should be displayed on your website. Options include:

  1. In banners
  2. At checkout
  3. Product detail page
  4. On the financing page

It’s important to present your financing program with care, as not all customers will qualify. In your promotional copy, make sure you mention that approval is not guaranteed. You may also want to consider including the following information:

  1. ‌What options are available
  2. How long customers have to pay in full
  3. Who your financing provider is
  4. Any financing benefits your company offers

4. Promote Your Financing Plan

If you have decided to offer financing, your customers will want to know. Many have likely been putting off making a purchase from you because they did not have the funds. Now is their chance to take advantage of what you have to offer.

Decide where and how you want to share the news. You could make a temporary banner on your website, write up an email newsletter piece, or share an announcement on your social channels. Better yet, you can do all three.

5. Measure Your Results

Decide early on how you plan to measure the results of your financing program. You can compare your added cash flow against the cut your provider takes, for instance.

Whether you measure success by overall increased sales or boosted profits, make sure you’ve landed on a program that is meeting your business’s needs and helping it grow.

Boost your cash flow with financing

Most big companies offer financing as a way of keeping a consistent cash flow and steady sales. Even if you are only a small operation, however, financing can still be a great way to increase your sales and give you the cash you need to keep your business running.

Financing is also great for your customers, allowing them to take advantage of what you have to offer without worrying about having access to the funds they need up front.

If you decide financing is right for your business, you will find a win-win solution for everyone.