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On How SMEs Can Attract Clients

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Your prospective cus
tomers are talking all day long. They’re showing up on Social Media e.g. Facebook talking about their dreams, their worries and their fears.  Forums are filled with prospective buyers who are looking for someone who will give them a listening ear.
Gone are the days of “Big CEO and Company” going into the marketplace with an announcement that draws millions. Telling the market what they need doesn’t work. The question might really be, did it ever?
Your present and future clients are savvy and they are smart. They won’t fall for the old “Straight Talk Method” much like a teacher messages, any longer. They aren’t listening and they don’t care. But they do want you to hear.
Will you hear their pain? Feel their needs and pay attention to what wakes them up in the middle of the night? Listen to what your customers are asking for. Listen to what your competitor’s customers are saying too. Lean in. Pay very close attention. Listen to the “chatter” and take copious notes. There’s no reason to go without this information that is steadily flowing. The key to big profits in today’s market is a good “listening ear”.
What do they need? Your clients are very aware of what they need. But when you enter the marketplace a bigger issue must be faced. Are YOU aware of what they need?  This is the real issue when it comes to selling products or services. The reality of being successful in sales is summed up in this principle: People are looking to have their needs met. Period.
You can bring joy, security, and satisfaction to them as you serve them what they want and as they come to know you even better, you can serve them again and again. This is brand loyalty and long-term business in the making. It might sound crazy, but to the successful business owner, it’s Business 101. As a Small Business Consultant, I have done this strategically for some firms in Port Harcourt here faced with customer acquisition problem, I advised them…we did a survey and did some test-marketing of what the target group wants and we worked out modalities in the product specification and needs as desired by the customers and it was successful, so it works for our environment.
What are they complaining about? If you pay attention online through forums, chat groups, social media and other places people hang out, you’ll quickly learn what they need. It’s right there for anyone to discover. But it takes time to pay attention and, sadly, far too many companies aren’t listening.
Amid all the headlines of dropping profits, increased layoffs and lost investments, Boko Haram insurgence, something has remained the same that only a select few are paying attention to. People are still buying what they love, dreaming about what they want and making it plainly obvious what they don’t like!
Solve a problem with a unique solution and you’ll make a huge profit. If people really love your solution, get great satisfaction and you treat them better than anyone else, you will never lack as a company. And if you pay very careful attention to your client’s growing needs, you could easily create a long-term business. Pretty simple, isn’t it?
Are people disillusioned and unaware? Another great key to long-term profits is in becoming a resource that people can turn to and trust. Revealing hidden information, making difficult things simple and serving as an expert is a great way to grow a company.
It is my belief that we are at a critical time in history when people really do want the right information, they desire change and truly do want to know the truth. This is also a vulnerable time where less than commendable or reliable so-called experts are teaching things they know nothing about.
Institutions fill our heads with notions of “security” and “long-term dreams” when the sad reality is this: if you don’t market a product that is highly in demand, you’ll have an extremely hard time making a profit. Pay very close attention to what people are asking for. What are your customers struggling with? What do they want? What are they seeking? If you can give it to them, with value and excellence, you’re on the verge of huge success.
The marketplace pays for value. Your value is directly related to how much you can bring to the people you serve. If you help those who are unaware, confused or even disillusioned you could be personally responsible for helping others change their lives. This is one of the most fun ways to build a business. Bring value and change to your customers and they will love you forever.
Give it with excellence and honour. Excellent customer service seems to have left the face of the earth. Business owners are watching their bottom line more than the satisfaction of the customers they serve. This has not helped our economy one bit and needs a serious change. Talk about needing a revival in the marketplace. Where are the happy service representatives, CEOs who can’t wait to serve and product developers who dream of inventions at all hours of the night!? If you serve people with excellence and honour, you will be remembered forever. Because it’s so rare, you could quite frankly triple your profits if you do it long term. While it might not be easy, it surely isn’t popular and it isn’t something you even hear about much any longer in business school, it is always and has always been right.
Goodwill and honour will pay you much more and it will always leave you with a good night’s sleep. But what defines goodwill? Is it being available to your customers 24/7 through social media for every question or notion they might have? No. Not at all. But it does mean that when you are open, you give with all of your heart and with all that you have. Serve with excellence and honour and you’ll rise to the top!
Nwokocha is a Port Harcourt-based business consultant

 

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Foreign Exchange Inflow Falls To $4.97bn

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Foreign exchange inflow into the economy fell by 59.8 per cent in April according to figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) monthly report on ‘Foreign exchange flows through the economy’.
Part of the report read, ‘Aggregate foreign exchange inflow into the economy declined sharply, reflecting tepid global economic recovery, which undermined foreign trade and capital flows across countries, despite the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
“Foreign exchange inflow through the economy dropped by 59.8 per cent to $4.97bn in April 2021.
“The decrease was attributed, largely, to a sharp decline in autonomous inflow, particularly invisible purchases and official non-oil receipts, which declined by 63.1 per cent and 75.2 per cent, to $2.95bn and $0.81bn, respectively, in April 2021.”
According to the report, a breakdown of activities showed that foreign exchange inflow through the CBN was $1.66bn in April 2021, a decrease of 55.8 per cent below the $3.76bn in March 2021.
It added that inflow through autonomous sources, at $3.31bn in April 2021, was 61.6 per cent below the level in March 2021.
The CBN also said that aggregate foreign exchange outflow through the economy fell by 13.7 per cent in April 2021.
Aggregate foreign exchange outflow through the economy fell by 13.7 per cent to $2.74bn, below the $3.18bn in the preceding month.
Outflow through the CBN declined by 10.4 per cent to $2.58bn, compared with the $2.88bn in the preceding month, due largely to the bank’s policy on foreign exchange market.
It added that outflow through autonomous sources, at $0.16bn, decreased by 46.0 per cent in April 2021, compared with March 2021.
Overall, it said, the country recorded a lower net inflow of $2.23bn in April 2021, compared with a net inflow of $9.19bn in the preceding month.

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NNPC Denies Funding 2019 Elections With Oil Traders’ Bribes

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has  reacted to an allegation that fees that trading firms paid agents to win oil contracts from the corporation might have raised funds for the country’s past two elections.
Nigeria’s past two general elections held in 2015 and 2019.
The contest for the presidential seat was mainly between ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, while it was between Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 2019.
Buhari was declared winner in the two elections.
Citing lawsuits in London and New York, Bloomberg had reported last Friday that an ex-BP Plc oil trader alleged that cargo allocations by the NNPC could have contributed to preparations for general elections in 2019.
The report said a former Glencore Plc employee in July admitted paying a middleman $300,000 to secure a crude shipment from the NNPC, understanding the money would be spent on the nationwide election that took place four years earlier.
The NNPC, through its Direct Sale of Crude Oil and Direct Purchase of Petroleum Product scheme, awards contracts that allow companies, including international trading houses and indigenous firms, to lift crude oil in return for the delivery and supply of petroleum products. The contracts are usually for one year. 
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr Garba-Deen Muhammad, has, however, refuted the allegation.
“[It’s] not true, and I think that is obvious if you read the story with an open mind,” he said via a text message to a national daily. 
Jonathan Zarembok, who left BP’s West Africa desk last year, was quoted as saying in the suit that he suspected that fees paid by the United Kingdom energy giant to obtain NNPC contracts would go toward the 2019 elections.
He filed an employment claim against BP, alleging that he was fired for raising concerns about the large sums being transferred to intermediaries to win business in Nigeria.
Zarembok was quoted as saying in a witness statement made public this month that emails sent in 2017 by a BP executive in Nigeria were a “clear red flag” and implied “there would be pressure to pay bribes”.
According to Bloomberg, the emails discussed how preparations for elections would get underway in 2018.
“We understand what that means,” the executive wrote.
He said the company then wired $900,000 in fees to a local agent after securing two oil cargoes from NNPC.
“BP is defending in full and denies all allegations made by the claimant,” Bloomberg quoted the company as saying in a statement.
It said BP declined further comment while Zarembok’s case at a London employment tribunal continues.
The report noted that similar details emerged two months ago, when Anthony Stimler, who left Glencore in 2019, pleaded guilty to corruption and money-laundering charges.
It said Stimler was notified in September 2014 that “Foreign Official 1” was asking all NNPC clients to pay an advance on each cargo “in connection with a then-upcoming political election,” according to US court filings.
He then had Glencore wire $300,000 to an intermediary company, which prosecutors said was used “to pay bribes to Nigerian officials.”
US prosecutors outlined how Stimler and others paid bribes worth millions of dollars in several countries, including to NNPC officials, between 2007 and 2018, according to the report.

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VAT War: PNG Backs Southern Govs -Says It’s Part Of Restructuring

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The Convener of Pro-Nigeria, Mr. Lai Omotola, has broken silence on the Value Added Tax (VAT) war currently going on between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and five southern states. 
The five southern states include Rivers, Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, and Akwa-Ibom states.
From the time a Federal High Court in Portharcourt gave a ruling that state governments, and not the FIRS, have the constitutional power to collect VAT, the Rivers State and Lagos State had quickly passed bills authorising the states to collect VAT.
Reacting to the development, Omotola, in a statement, said that PNG was in full support of states collecting VAT.
“We in PNG support the development and the subsequent stand by Lagos State and Rivers State in creating a law to enable their states to collect VAT. Others who have joined in the bid are states like Ogun, Ekiti and Akwa-Ibom states.
“This is a welcome development because we feel that it is lawful and it is in sync with the intention of our founding fathers that every state should be collecting VAT.
 “It will also show fiscal restructuring towards economic development and at the end, Nigeria as a country will be better for it”, PNG posited.
The group also condemned the reception given by President Muhammadu Buhari to the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode at the Presidential Villa following the defection of the latter to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), recently.
According to Omotola, the President should show reason why Nigeria should still believe in his fight against corruption and believe him as the upholder of basic morals on the account of his red carpet reception to Femi-FaniKayode at the Presidential Villa. 
“Our concern is that this same man is currently having a battle with the Nigerian state via the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on corruption charges.
“Although the law states that one is innocent until proven guilty, it is morally unjust for a President to receive with a red carpet and stand beside a person against whom the EFCC has established a case, stating unequivocally that he had defrauded Nigeria; and the same matter is still in court; therefore, to now see him being honoured by the President has thrown hope for this country into the wind”, the statement added.

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