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Building Your Business with Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

In my consulting practice many times I am brought in to kick start an ailing CRM installation or to do the ground work on a new implementation. In both cases I am usually faced with a less than functional customer/prospect database. This valuable information is usually strewn out across the organization residing in spreadsheets, contact managers, mobile devices and business card folders. The only somewhat accurate data I can find is located in the accounting system. This data rarely contains the business contacts that are required for sales and marketing campaigns. Consolidating and cleaning this data to create a quality database can be an onerous task, but is usually well worth the effort. Keep in mind for the following reasons this database can become a priceless asset to your business.

– Customer, prospect and partner information will become a priceless corporate asset.

– A complete understanding of territory requirements allows for better management of internal resources.

– CRM will provide the vital information for measuring the effectiveness of sales and marketing campaigns the execution of long term business development strategies.

– Faster response times to requests will lead to increased service levels and reduced costs.

A greater ability to prioritize, manage time and improve the frequency of customer and prospect follow up.

– Increased pure selling time and the ability to stay in front of the right opportunities at the right time.

– Will keep you in front of the right opportunities at the right time and eliminate opportunities from falling through the cracks.

– Will allow you to uncover more opportunities in existing accounts
Reduce stress and improve sales productivity, margins, closing percentages and compensation

Step One to creating a quality CRM database is to consolidate and clean up your existing customer and prospect data. Unfortunately, sometimes this becomes a monumental task as this information is probably located in spreadsheets, email systems, personal contact mangers and mobile devices.

Step Two is once your data is clean build profile templates for each Customer and Prospect. Most CRM systems will provide you with sample profiles to help get you started. Here are some of the key profiles that most any B to B Sales team will require.

Corporate Profile: This details company information, such as locations, organizations size, structure, line of business, purchasing volumes and affiliations.

People Profile: This details information about the people you need to communicate and build relationships with. This usually includes contact information, titles/job functions and roles and responsibilities.

Opportunity Profile: This profile covers the overall sales opportunity that is available with the customer or prospect. For example if you currently sell 500 Ant-virus licenses to a company but you know they have 5000 PCs this profile needs to reflect the potential for 4500 additional seats. As well as any information you can collect on the competition. I refer to this as the Opportunity Gap. This part of the profile should also record current opportunities in the sales pipeline with this company, the size of the opportunity and forecasted closing dates.

These are just a few of the profiles you will need to build in your CRM System. As you become a more sophisticated CRM user your profiling requirements will begin to grow.

Step Three will be to categorize each customer and prospect by a priority level. Your best customers and prospects will be labeled as A, followed by B’s and C’s and possibly D’s. One of the big advantages of classifying accounts is to make it easier to prioritize and schedule your follow-up activities. The following is an example of how a Computer Reseller may classify their accounts.

A Customer/Prospect will have over 5000 PCs
B Customer/Prospect will have between 1000 and 4,999 PCs
C Customer/Prospect will have between 100 and 999 PCs
D Customer/Prospect will have between 100 and 999 PCs

Now that you have a quality CRM Database let’s look at how this technology can help you achieve 100% account coverage. First of all every accounts would receive blanket coverage through a direct marketing campaign. Many companies effectively use quarterly newsletters for this purpose.

The rest of the call mix may look like this:

‘A’ Accounts would receive
Monthly field rep phone call
BI-monthly field rep visit
BI-monthly inside sales call
Direct mail campaign

‘B’ Accounts would receive
BI-monthly inside sales call
Field rep call or visit as required
Direct mail campaign

‘C’ Accounts would receive
Quarterly inside call
Field rep call or visit as required
Direct mail campaign

‘D’ Accounts would receive
Quarterly inside call
Direct mail campaign

This sort of scenario will keep our field sales rep, which is usually the most valuable and costly member of the sales team, concentrating on “A” accounts and still be in front of other accounts when they are required to close business. This system will also give you 100% account coverage and even the smallest or underdeveloped accounts will not feel totally neglected.

In closing a properly planned CRM Database will give you 100% territory coverage, higher levels of customer satisfaction and allow you to focus on the best customers and prospects.

Remember, when selling becomes a process, you take care of most of the problems.

Rick McCutcheon