07/06/2011

By Ben Weiner, CEO of Conjungo

I’m a great proponent of CRM systems, (Customer Relationship Management) and let’s face it, there are enough good solutions available at various price points to suit all budgets and requirements even to the extent that some are free!

That said, it’s all about the execution — failure to use and regularly update any CRM system makes the data redundant and thereby worthless. We all know that by and large sales people hate any type of ‘form filling’ or bureaucracy, understandably so. So keeping systems to a minimum makes it inexcusable not to retain accurate data and to be able to generate realistic forecasts and generate a viable pipeline — a pipeline that reflects potential revenue and margin opportunities and not simply a list of potential customers!

So that’s one part of the solution. Making it mandatory and enforcing it is another. Likewise, ensuring that key information is fed back to marketing so that management can be made aware of how effective (or otherwise) marketing and specific marketing campaigns are. It staggers me when sales people don’t ask the question when a potential customer phones, ‘can you tell me where you found our company details?

Without knowing where leads are coming from, negates the ability to able to monitor, analyse and ultimately measure the effectiveness of campaigns. This means of course that management won’t know what is effective and what is not. It also means that the same mistakes and errors will be replicated time after time. It may also mean that you’re missing key messages and technology types that are proving to be successful!

Ironically, I was discussing this very topic with a colleague and we both agreed that it’s very easy to be busy, to be seen to be busy, generating lots of meetings, going to lots of meetings, preparing presentations but closing zip.

It’s easy to be busy but that doesn’t mean that you’re being effective. Effectiveness is maximising the opportunities that you have. Being effective means generating leads that are meaningful, that fit your companies’ ‘sweet spot’ and closing them. Being effective is retaining customers by keeping them delighted with your service and your recommendations to ensure they continue to view your company as the natural choice for ICT supply.

That’s the point about analysis and using tools to scrutinise data (and sure I know the pitfalls of over analysing and indeed of over reliance) but it does enable you to spot trends, whether they are good or bad and make decisions accordingly. It ensures that you can spot potential problems before they become major issues and become expensive if not impossible to rectify.

Running a successful company is knowing what you’re doing right and what works as well as knowing what the weaknesses are and then doing something about before it’s too late...

Ultimately, if we focus on sales and marketing as the ‘engine’ of an effective company and that is not to ignore the importance of any other department, to be able to know where your business is coming from and know how & where it is generated.

CRM systems can help you achieve exactly that.


Watch the video below featuring Michael Crampsey, CRM Product Specialist at Sage discussing the importance of CRM.

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