There’s always a need for business consultants, marketing agencies, and other service providers who help small business owners (SMBs) to make their businesses more effective, but right now that need has leapt sky-high. COVID-19 wrought enormous changes to the business ecosystem, shifted consumer demands, and accelerated digital transformation for businesses of every size.
Among SMBs, 69% agree that they’ve increased digital transformation in their companies since the pandemic began. Small businesses are evolving at warp speed to remain relevant and keep on top of market forces, but they can’t do it alone. Owners are eager for constructive support from experts, the kind of assistance that helps them get a handle on their business and grow it throughout 2021.
These demands open up new opportunities for those providers who serve SMBs. Business consultants, marketing agencies, freelance content marketers, financial service providers, and more who step up now can strengthen their client relationships, gain new customers, and expand their own business propositions — as long as they have the right tools to do so.
Here are five ways that the right tech platforms can empower consultants and agencies to deliver the support their SMB clients need to recover and thrive.
1. Build automated client workflows
Choose a tool that enables you to automate tasks on behalf of your clients. When you can quickly create automated client workflows, it eases pressure on both you and your clients, so that both of you can focus on more lucrative tasks.
For example, GoDaddy Pro makes this possible for web managers, web developers, and web designers who support SMB websites. You can use GoDaddy Pro to set up workflows that automate regular maintenance tasks like backing up the site, carrying out security and performance scans, and rolling out theme and plugin updates.
Otherwise, you’ll either have to do these time-consuming busy-tasks yourself, taking you away from more valuable activities, or rely on your clients to do it. But for SMB site owners, these tasks can be daunting, difficult, and easily overlooked. Your clients are all too likely to forget to complete them regularly, and then turn to you to clean up the far bigger mess that results.
Automated workflows also provide earlier alerts about security or performance issues, enabling you to deliver a higher level of service.
2. Set clients up for success
A number of tech tools allow service providers to log in as clients. This way, you can guide them step by step through new tasks, helping them to gain skills and learn how to perform the same activities independently in the future.
For example, vcita xperts, the white label-ready resellers’ version of vcita’s small business management platform, enables you to do just that. Small businesses making the leap to digital might not be comfortable setting up their own CRM, lead nurture automations, appointment booking confirmations and payment reminder automations on their own. Using vcita xperts, consultants or agency reps can build message templates and CRM tags, adjust custom fields and reminder triggers and other tasks to help their clients get situated.
It’s a way for business owners and consultants to work together, instead of the consultant doing it all for the client. By combining this work with training services, consultants can empower their SMB clients to take ownership over their own digital processes, one step at a time.
3. Share sensitive financial data
Data is the foundation of every business, no matter how big or small. Consultants often need access to clients’ financial transactions so that they can help SMB clients make better business decisions and complete tasks on their behalf, but there are often frustrating delays before clients find and send the right information.
It’s a good idea to use a platform like QuickBooks that allows clients and consultants to share access to the same data automatically. QuickBooks ensures that all the information is updated simultaneously for both client and consultant views.
Financial services providers can generate reports for their clients quickly and easily, for example, and business consultants can track KPIs to see how their client’s business is progressing and where they need extra support.
4. Track client progress
Many consultants aim to help their clients master new tools and achieve new skills to help them manage their business more effectively, but it can be tricky to know whether your client is really succeeding or just going through the motions. It’s a good idea to look for tools that give you visibility into client progress.
Consultants who use vcita xperts can view a visual dashboard that shows when clients onboard a new tool or carry out a new action for the first time. It’s easy to see when your client is gaining expertise and moving forward, or are stuck and confused about what to do next.
Step in and offer the right kind of help at the right time to prevent frustration and despair, and/or spot the places where clients regularly struggle and proactively develop training programs that help SMB clients over the rough patch.
5. Simplify client challenges
Sometimes there are workflows, tasks, and activities that are beyond your SMB client’s capabilities. They might be too complex for them to master, or just not worth the time for them to invest in understanding and carrying them out.
That’s ok – part of your job is to deliver expert services so your clients can focus on other activities.
The right tools that allow you to share access to a single control section can make it all much smoother for both of you. For example, Google Ads Manager invites SMB owners to set different permission levels for different users, so that consultants can create, run, and adjust ad campaigns for clients instead of instructing them how to carry out the process.
Never blame the tools
Choosing the right tools and platforms is a key part of growing your own consultancy business or agency and delivering a higher level of support to your SMB clients. Tech that enables you to walk clients through new activities, create automated workflows, measure client progress and access client data, and carry out tasks that your clients want to outsource gives you the capabilities you need to help your clients thrive and grow.