With the economy starting to recover, many owners are uncertain where to look for new sales opportunities. The marketplace landscape has certainly changed: competitors may have gone out of business, price competition is still eroding margins, and company layoffs may have reduced sales and customer service staff. The value of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for developing and tracking a company’s go-to-market strategy is undervalued in many small and privately held companies. Yet it is a major hurdle to overcome to ensure the right customers are filling the sales funnel.
Common signs of the problem:
- Sales people tend to misunderstand the value of a CRM system. They see it from a selling standpoint only as a way to track their activities and schedule appointments. Given their general dislike of paperwork, they view CRM as “Big Brother” watching over them and taking time away from selling.
- Many companies use an ABC analysis for prioritizing activities around current customers. Yet this is not as helpful with identifying new selling opportunities based on a company’s key marketplace differentiators.
- The missing link for improving the effectiveness of sales people is the ability to connect sales activities to go-to-market strategy. Companies that do not meld marketing and sales activities through CRM most likely will experience disconnects between executing the marketing plan and winning new accounts.
Tools to use:
1. Senior managers need to reinforce the CRM concept and use as a learning tool versus a tactical tool among marketing and sales staffs. Marketing can learn what is working and what is not working by tracking customers, analyzing sales cycles, and identifying marketplace differentiators and messages. This opens the door to improve communication between sales and marketing, and taking advantage of the changing economic landscape.
2. Research CRM web sites to gain a better understanding of how they work. Here are three examples:
3. Read articles to learn more about how to effectively apply CRM in your company:
4. By far the best book for beginning the CRM journey is:
- The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management.