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Every company I have worked for depended on customers to buy our products or services and on sales people to take an active role in growing our business. The main tool used to document our business: past, present, and future, was a customer relationship management (CRM) system. The purpose and use varied but their core was consistent.
This article will tackle five significant benefits of acquiring a sound customer relationship management strategy. Specifically, we will discuss how a CRM increases visibility to critical business intelligence, boosts productivity of staff (especially sales staff), impacts hiring decisions, assists in the alignment of resources, and identifies important trends in your relationship with your customer.
Think about a question you want answered about your business. Now think about a question your customer may have about your business. Who has the ability to arm themselves with the information to answer these questions?
Consider sitting in a leadership meeting and one of your investors wants to know how much business you have in the pipeline for next quarter or the next fiscal year. Situations like this happen everyday and not having an answer to a simple question about your business could kill an opportunity faster than you may think.
Spend some time and survey your clients to find out what they really want to know about your business so that you can sell your competitive advantages. Even if you never think you will need outside financing, still consider the types of information that potential investors consider important when making capital investment decisions. There is a very good chance that having this information readily available and accurate will still be helpful to you. Consider reports you want to review consistently like sales activity, forecasts, target and active customers, and other business intelligence critical to your business.
Increasing the quality and visibility of information specific to your business builds credibility with your customer, it arms your employees and leaders with knowledge that is critical to success, and will assist you in managing the overall performance of your business.
A CRM can help you gain valuable information about customer interaction through sales activity and marketing campaigns. It will provide you with the information that can help you manage employees. You still need to manage employees and implementing a CRM creates a new dynamic in performance management.
Salespeople can be reluctant to use a CRM for several reasons. It is critical for success to gain buy in from the users of the CRM. They are entering in customer interaction data so be sure to not overlook the importance of users having a full understanding of the purpose of the tool. If you sell it as sales activity tracker you may have a hard sell. If you focus on the other key drivers in this article you will likely have an easier time gaining acceptance.
Hiring projections require credible data if they are going to have any chance of being maximized. Something as important to your company as the talent acquisition process should not be left to guessing and chance.
There is significant amounts of data that can be captured through the effective implementation of a customer relationship management strategy that allows you to know what type of person you need to hire and when you need to hire them. For example, you may find that as you start to track sales activity that a lot of your salespeople’s time is spent on tasks that could easily be handled by administrative staff or a analyst. Instead of hiring more salespeople, you could uncover a more cost effective staffing strategy of hiring a sales support associate that assists multiple salespeople with these tasks.
You may discover performance and productivity issues with your employees through the data aggregated through a CRM which you use to support the need for sales training or even support the need to address performance management.
Personally, I like the philosophy of showing a salesperson how to showcase their piece of the business and show them ways to map their own growth by opportunity size, win percentages, territory and account penetration, and help them uncover opportunities to support additional hires to support the business that they help to build. Using your CRM to motivate employees to strive for advancement opportunities translates to a significant ROI.
One of the many things made easier by credible information will be your ability to effectively create a resource plan. Resource planning expands beyond personnel and will include, at the very least, facilities and equipment.
Your business needs may be significant enough to warrant the need for a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. For the purpose of this article, consider the data you collect should enable you to forecast skills and time required to complete your business. Mapping out project schedules helps you maximize the talent you have on board. Understanding the talent you have on board allows you to maximize the opportunities you take on because they will be better aligned with your core competencies.
My recommendation is that you invest the time required to fully understand what you want and need to know about your business, how you are going to acquire and document that information, and who will be responsible for building this knowledge bank.
Once you have really thought out how to maximize the use of this technology in your environment, focus on the processes and practices required to create consistent data that allows you to accurately track customer trends.
Think ahead to what you want your end result to be. We are using our CRM to generate one of the core reports used in our executive meeting each week and using several reports in our business development meeting. The professional services industry is not atypical: understanding our customers and our interactions with our customers drives our business everyday.
The next steps
Skywalk Group has helped many companies establish a winning strategy to grow their business by helping them uncover the knowledge needed to make better business decisions. We are also skilled in developing customized CRM’s that will fit with your overall business strategy and needs. If you are interested in setting up a consultation with us to explore what technology solutions best fit your business need, please contact us at Click here to view email address.
The effective implementation of a sound business strategy always has its challenges, if you are interested in discussing hiring forecasts, professional development, or sales and leadership training that is customized for your business, just let us know.
–David Tominsky, Director, IT Staffing