Is Your CRM a Pass or Fail System?

Filed Under (OP News & Views, OP Sales Training) by Don on 10-07-2008

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Most of us know that CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. This is most commonly achieved in a technology/software program that is used for that purpose. The technology can be either in-house or an off-site hosted service and there are many to choose from. Products such as, Sage CRM and SugarCRM offer highly advanced and customizable packages that may require deep financial pockets to have the product programmed to fit your business. While these providers are well suited to large corporations that have deep pockets my personal preference has always been the Goldmine product that has been designed to fit our industry as offered by the professionals at Longbow Consulting. But the purpose of this post isn’t to offer advertising for Goldmine, it is to ask you how you plan on integrating this into your business strategy or if you have it already in place is it performing to your expectations.

The overall purpose of CRM is an emphasis on trying to win more sales and account penetration rather than delivering any kind of value to customers. CEM which is “Customer Experience Management” is primarily focused on the experience the customers receive or the ‘branding’ and/or value added to each touch point. While the efficiency of CRM is important CEM requires that your business treat each customer touch as an important part of building brand and creating a customer advocate.  This is a critical step necessary in order for a CRM technology to work and requires careful planning and implementation before any CRM technology will ever meet your goals.

Expenditures on CRM technologies increased from $20 billion in 2001 to $46 billion of 2003 yet one study found that 55 percent of CRM installations drove customers away and earnings were lost. Another study by Oracle found that ineffective CRM systems were a primary cause of poor service experienced by customers. The exact opposite of what CRM is intended to do.

There are four components of a successful experience with your customers.

1. Consistent
2. Intentional
3. Differentiated
4. Valuable

These are achieved by voice, email, web and fax. The role of CRM technology is to support the delivery of these components. Every touch you have with your customers whether inbound or outbound represents a unique opportunity to strengthen your customer relationship. Your sales and CSR staff must be prepared to respond quickly and accurately to the demands of each customer. By utilizing an effective CEM first, you will create a vital channel for delivering an effective way to strengthen your customer relationships via your CRM.

Before you begin installing a CRM system implement a customer strategy. Woo your customers, don’t stalk them. Don’t install a CRM system until you have created a customer focused organization and do not assume that more CRM is better. Clearly identify what you want your CRM system to accomplish and align your goals to meet your objectives. CEM comes first and to succeed in your CRM goals everyone from the front office to the back office needs to be on-board with your goals and strategies to make it work.

The last word: “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. ” – William A. Ward 

Manage Your Sales People or They’ll Manage You

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 01-07-2008

I have been swamped these past few weeks working on catalog promo’s for 2009, creating ‘green’ flyers and getting our consumer products show in September up to speed.  I’ve been listening to sales people grumble and complain about the rising gas prices yet I don’t see them making any extra efforts to grow their business.  I can understand working smarter and not wasting your driving time but how in the heck do these people think they are going to gain any new business if all they want to do is sit at home and surf the net and send a few emails?  Salespeople are and should always be accountable for their performance.  Performance means more than just being around to send an email, it means a responsibility to the company, the customer, the company owner(s) and most especially to themselves.

Accountability, what a concept.  They are held accountable for their sales activities in the right quantities to acheive their personal and corporate goals.  You do have goals, don’t you?  Your sales manager should sit down with you and establish goals with input from you.  These aren’t numbers pulled out of thin air and the rep and management share responsbility in meeting those goals.  As a sales manager I recommend you look at the following list of things to cover with your sales people.  These are just a few to get you thinking.

  1. Total number of sales calls per week
  2. Total number of prospecting calls per week
  3. Total number of new accounts to be opened each month
  4. The gross margin expectations the company requires
  5. The number of times that you will personally work with the sales person over a given period of time
  6. The disciplined use of the company CRM package
  7. The sales process the company expects you to adhere to
  8. Expected reporting (written & verbal) procedures
  9. Bonuses and spiffs, if applicable
  10. Weekly one-on-one meetings with the sales manager

Good management and realistic expectations that even a beginning sales person can understand should ease any tension and lay a solid foundation for future success.  Note that I did not say “hope” of success.  Any sales manager that uses the word hope and success in the same sentence should be taken to the woodshed and flogged!  Once you set the standard be certain that the same rules apply for everyone, not just the newest reps.  Seasoned reps need accountability just as much if not more than newer sales people.  If you let even one slide on any of your standards then you will loose credibility with all your reps and your problems will multiply.  If you are the company owner and you either hire a sales manager or you already have one on board for God’s sake please let him do his job and don’t micro-manage every decision he makes.  The first time a rep runs to the owner’s office and complains that the sales managers expectations should not apply to them or they don’t agree and you tell them “That’s okay, you don’t have to do that,” or some similar verbage leaves your mouth then your problems are much larger than any sales manager will ever be able to fix.   Because, if you don’t manage your sales people, they will manage you.

The last word: “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.”– Jim Rohn