Connecting and Keeping Customers: Strategies and Software for Small Businesses

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1 Connecting and Keeping Customers: Strategies and Software for Small Businesses Introduction Get closer to your goals by getting closer to your customers. You know that good customer relationships are critical to the continued success of any business. After all, it costs four to five times more to win a new customer than it does to service an existing one. It makes good sense, then, to take good care of the customers you have now. But maintaining good customer relationships goes beyond simple retention. The real goal is increasing customer profitability. That s why companies gather knowledge about their customers that will identify opportunities for repeat business particularly upselling and cross-selling. But as a small business, how do you organize actionable customer data without spending a small fortune in software? How do you create the kind of professionallooking marketing materials that attract new prospects and help brand your business without a large marketing budget? And how do you do all of this even if you don t have an IT staff or the time to learn new software? Microsoft has several software solutions that have been designed specifically to help your small business get closer to your customers, reduce your marketing costs, and get more done every day. You ll find these solutions are not only affordable and easy to use, but they also map to proven sale processes.

2 The Challenges Knowing your customers. Customer loyalty is hard to win and all too easy to lose in today s super-competitive world. The first step in the process of retaining and increasing the profitability of existing customers is to know thy customer. That means knowing who they are, how often they do business with you, their contact information, and your prior communication with them. No big deal, right? Well, if you re like most small businesses, you probably don t have a consistent way of keeping track of customer information or your business communication with customers. Nor do you have efficient methods for managing sales opportunities and following them through the sales cycle. Marketing to your customers. Knowing your customers is one challenge. Another is creating professionallooking marketing materials that help you stay in touch with existing customers, reach out to prospects, and brand your business. You know that marketing is crucial to your business, but promoting your services or products in a professional way often calls for the help of design agencies, which can be expensive and require longer lead times. Of course, you could create marketing materials in-house, but that isn t always possible. Sometimes you don t have enough design expertise to do it yourself. And while there are plenty of software programs designed to create materials like letterheads, newsletters, and mailers, they can often be too complex and take too long to learn. More often than not, your valuable customer information is scattered in various places throughout your business. Such disorganization forces you to spend valuable time chasing down critical data than can prove to be the difference in closing the sale. The Sales Cycle for Connecting and Keeping Customers Repeat Business: Customer loyalty isn t dead. It just needs to be nurtured. Stay in close contact with customers, so you ll always know where you stand. Prospecting: Generate new prospects and look at existing customers for new opportunities. Qualifying: So many leads, so little time. The trick is to keep leads from slipping through the cracks by being ready when they call you or you call them. Deciding and Negotiating: When they say yes, know the terms and conditions, and have the tools you need to do a good job. Proposal: Once you get the opportunity, make you ve got what you need to close the sale or get you closer to yes. 2

3 The Solutions Some small businesses need a single-user, desktop solution that helps them manage customer contacts and sales opportunities. Other businesses with more sophisticated customer management needs may appreciate the richer, more complex system found in a full-fledged, multi-user customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Which is the right solution for you? Take a look. Single-User Desktop Contact Management If your small business is looking to get beyond paper-based systems or basic contact management software, and you have less than 25 PCs, then you might want to consider Microsoft Office Small Business Edition The new version of Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager lets you organize your business contacts, track sales activities, and analyze sales performance all from your desktop PC. Working within the familiar Outlook interface, Business Contact Manager lets you easily link s, notes, to-do lists, and related documents, so everything you need is available in a single click. Shared Customer Relationship Management Do you need to track and manage leads from multiple sources? Do you want to access information to build accurate quotes and manage customer orders? Do you have a client-server infrastructure? If you said yes to any of these questions, Microsoft Business Solutions CRM might be the solution for you. Microsoft CRM is a comprehensive CRM solution that helps your business increase sales success, provide superior customer service, accurately forecast sales, and analyze business performance. Accessible from Outlook and the Web, Microsoft CRM offers scalable architecture that integrates easily with Microsoft Office, Microsoft Business Solutions, third-party applications, and your customer-facing Web site. Equally important, Microsoft CRM is flexible. You can start with a basic system to meet your immediate needs and later add users and modules or upgrade to another edition. There are Microsoft Certified Business Solutions Partners you can call on for help in choosing and configuring a CRM solution that s right for your business. This version of Microsoft Office also includes Microsoft Office Publisher 2003, which gives you the tools you need to create and produce marketing materials that get you noticed, bring in business, and help you communicate with your customers on an ongoing basis. Together, these tools help you market more effectively to new and existing customers and close more sales. 3

4 The Sales Process Why the Process is Important in Winning and Keeping Customers As someone who is running a small business, you undoubtedly have your own sales process that s working for you. Likewise, we realize that every business especially small businesses has its own unique needs. However, what we re talking about here is defining a sales process that s made up of predictable, measurable, customer-focused steps that are fundamental to every sale. The benefits of this process include: Doing a better job of identifying and qualifying leads. Finding more opportunities for repeat business among your existing customers. Better accessing the revenue potential of a prospect, as well as taking a snapshot of all the customers in your sales pipeline. Identifying and delivering the kind of proof that demanding customers are looking for. Building stronger relationships with customers and business partners. Putting a follow-up process in place after the sale that helps drive customer satisfaction and generates repeat business and referrals. Of course, a well-defined sales process is no cure-all, but we think you ll find such a process, along with software that s been developed to take advantage of it, can go a long way toward making your customer relationships more productive. The Sales Process 1. Prospecting This is the start of the sales pipeline: generating qualified leads, finding new opportunities within your existing customer base, and differentiating your company. Depending on your business, prospecting can take many forms, including networking, seminars, marketing, trade shows, and cold calls. Desired outcome: You ve identified a qualified decision-maker or an ally in the organization who can help you get to the decision-maker. 2. Qualifying Call this the sizing up step: you re assessing the prospect to decide whether it s worth proceeding, while the prospect is assessing whether your company can meet their needs. At this stage, you need to be able to unearth the prospect s true needs. Then you need to be able to articulate a buying vision capabilities that illustrate your company s unique selling proposition. Desired outcome: You ve convinced the decision-maker in a preliminary sense, at least to move ahead with an in-depth evaluation of your solution. 3. Proposal Here s where you prove you can deliver the goods. Depending on the product or service you re selling, this plan may be written or verbal, formal or informal. The key activity is a mutually agreed upon Evaluation Plan that proves your capabilities and ensures a win-win for both you and your prospect. Most prospects will only go through an Evaluation Plan once with you. So make it good in order to make it count. Desired outcome: You ve demonstrated the value of your business via a successful completion of the Evaluation Plan and the prospect asks you to submit a proposal. 4. Decision You are so close. But how often has your sales force stumbled at this stage either by giving away too much in the final negotiations, or by walking away from a good sale when tossing in something low-cost could have sealed the deal? That s the delicate nature of this step. Desired outcome: A successfully negotiated deal that symbolizes a win-win arrangement for your company and the prospect. 5. Repeat Business This step acknowledges it is a sales process. First, you must deliver and implement the product or service as promised. And, if you re focused on a long-term, profitable relationship, you ll take ownership and follow up to make sure everything is going smoothly. Then, at the right time, you ll begin the Prospecting step again perhaps with a new decision-maker you identified earlier. Desired outcome: Repeat business not to mention a satisfied customer willing to be a referral is your goal. 4

5 How Microsoft Supports You through the Sales Process The key to both Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager and Microsoft CRM is that they have been deeply infused with proven sales methodologies designed especially for small businesses like yours. What s more, they are natural extensions of the way you and your employees already work with Outlook. So there s little or no learning curve. Benefits of Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager Keep all customer data in one place. Automatically link s, notes, and Microsoft Office documents as well as attach faxes and scanned documents to contacts, accounts, and sales opportunities. View histories and all associated items and documents. Manage sales opportunities efficiently. Use Outlook 2003 to track your sales opportunities through the sales cycle. Establish account hierarchies to keep better track of your accounts and associated contacts. Work seamlessly with Microsoft Office applications. Link Microsoft Office documents with your contacts and accounts, import price lists from Microsoft Office Excel 2003, and create personalized newsletters and marketing pieces using Publisher templates. Get the information you need to sell more effectively. Prioritize sales efforts within the Business Opportunity feature, track your success using customizable reports, and sell more effectively with up-to-date information about your products and services. Connect with customers more effectively. Create professional-looking campaigns and newsletters using Microsoft bcentral List Builder. Acquire new customers by purchasing and importing targeted leads into Outlook Benefits of Microsoft CRM Increase sales success. Shorten the sales cycle and improve close rates with opportunity management, automated sales processes, quote creation, and order management. Deliver efficient, consistent customer service. A shared knowledge base and automated routing and queuing make it easy to serve your customers more efficiently. Make informed, agile decisions. Comprehensive reports let you forecast sales, measure business activity and performance, evaluate sales and service success, and identify trends, problems, and opportunities. Work from Outlook 2003 or the Web. Access full sales functionality online or offline through Outlook 2003 or work online from any location using a Web browser. Share information. Tightly integrated sales and customer service functionalities make it easy to view, update, and share information across teams and departments. Customize and scale easily. Configure user interfaces and workflow processes, customize the solution to fit your business, and scale the installation to meet changing needs. Integrate powerfully. Integrate with Microsoft Office, Microsoft Business Solutions for Financial Management (including standard editions of Great Plains, Navision, and Solomon ) and other business systems. Manage mailing lists easily. Keep mailing lists up-to-date and easily add new addresses from other sources. Using List Builder, create custom lists for targeted communications and track your campaign results. 5

6 Choosing the Right Solution for Your Business Which is the right customer management solution for you? That depends on the size and the type of your business. If you have less than 25 employees and non-networked PCs, you probably find that Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 more than meets your needs. On the other hand, if you have more than 25 employees and a client-server infrastructure, you might want to consider Microsoft Business Solutions CRM. Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 and Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 provide the tools to help you manage customers and prospects, create professional marketing materials (for print, , and the Web), and run marketing campaigns with partners that provide services such as direct mail and lead acquisition. Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 includes: Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager (available only as part of Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 and Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003) Publisher 2003 PowerPoint 2003 Word 2003 Excel 2003 Recommended System Requirements Minimum Requirements Personal computer with Pentium 133 megahertz (MHz) or higher processor 64 MB of RAM for the operating system, plus an additional 8 MB of RAM for each application running simultaneously At least 245 MB of available hard disk space with 115 MB on the hard disk on which the operating system is installed. (Hard disk usage will depend on the configuration. Custom installation choices may require more or less hard disk space) Microsoft Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3 or Windows XP or later operating system Business Contact Manager Business Contact Manager will be disabled in the presence of an system based on Microsoft Exchange technologies. To install the Outlook 2003 Business Contact Manager add-on, you need these components: PC with Pentium III, 450 MHz or higher processor 256 MB of RAM (recommended) 190 MB of additional hard disk space Microsoft Business Solutions CRM includes sales, customer service, and reporting functionalities, which help you increase sales success, deliver superior customer service, and make informed, agile business decisions. Recommended System Requirements Windows 2000 or Windows XP operating systems running Microsoft Office 2000 or Office X. Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 For Web access, users need Internet Explorer 6.0 on their desktop computer 6

7 Conclusion When you know what your prospects want, you can turn them into customers. And when you know what your customers need, you have a solid foundation on which to build your business. That s the nature of customer relationships. However, the tools to effectively build and manage these relationships have, until now, been geared toward large companies with the resources to support prolonged implementation processes and high costs for training, customization, and maintenance. But that s not the case today. Both Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 (which includes Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager and Publisher 2003) and Microsoft Business Solutions CRM provide powerful solutions that allow small businesses like yours to better connect with customers throughout all phases of the sales process. The result: you get close and stay close to your customers which helps you get closer to your own business goals. Support and Resources Find the right partner for your business You don t have to go it alone. Tap into our global network of Microsoft Certified Business Solutions Partners. Our partners have received extensive training in these customer management solutions and can propose a solution that fits your particular business. Plus, they can show you how to integrate your new application with your existing system and support you long afterwards with updates, training materials, special events, and more. To find a partner who matches your needs, go to: content=/businesssolutions/content/crm_bigbusiness.xml Related resources for Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager Product Overview prodinfo/overview.mspx Top 10 Benefits of Business Contact Manager top10.mspx Business Contact Manager Usage Scenarios usage.mspx Microsoft CRM Comparison comparison.mspx Using Business Contact Manager &CTT=6&Origin=HP Converting from a Paper-Based System prodinfo/advantages.mspx Frequently Asked Questions faq.mspx Related resources for Microsoft Business Solutions CRM Product Overview overview.mspx Microsoft CRM Comparison comparison.mspx Customer Service Demo Relationship/Management/MSCRM/default.mspx Sales Overview Demo mscrm_sales_demo.mspx Combining Microsoft Business Solutions CRM with Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 can help you gain big business capabilities businesssolutions/content/crm_bigbusiness.xml Resource solutions for Microsoft Office Publisher 2003 Market Your Business on a Budget default.mspx Product Overview We ve got big plans for small business. Let s face it: just because you re small doesn t mean your business challenges are any smaller than those of larger businesses. In fact, yours can often be tougher. That s why we ve created a Web site at Microsoft that s dedicated exclusively to small business. You ll see how other small businesses around the world are using technology to solve their business challenges, get access to useful how-to articles, and more. Come take a look at: Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft, bcentral, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners. 7

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