8 Ways CRM Can Improve Your Small or Medium Business

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1 8 Ways CRM Can Improve Your Small or Medium Business In more than thirty years of years working in sales and sales consulting I ve been exposed to the broad challenges that all sales organizations face. Successful sales teams have always used sales focused customer relationship management (CRM) tools, from a simple 3x5 card system to a Microsoft TM Excel worksheet to an contact manager. But there is often a reluctance to use a more formal CRM system due to the pain of implementation, cost, concerns over security or fear the sales teams will not use them. Today however, CRM tools have never been so inexpensive or easy to adopt, especially with the advent of Cloud CRM tools such as Salesforce TM or Zoho TM. For sales leaders and sales makers in small and medium businesses, CRM is an essential part of building a foundation for growing a sales organization. I see implementing CRM as a key building block and critical element for any successful business. Many of my clients know they need to leverage technology to help them, but don t know exactly how CRM can benefit them. Below are the eight key areas in which CRM can benefit small and medium businesses and positively impact sales teams: 1. Converting, tracking and efficiently following up on leads A "lead" has value. It cost money to exist and will cost more to nurture. An unqualified lead will take time, money and effort and will inevitably underperform. What about that solid lead that has been or is being "worked on" or "I left a message" without delivering results? What about that "great" lead that is chased down only to find at the RFQ stage you can't meet the price point or you just found out that the buyer's sister is your competitor? Managing a lead by qualifying and managing through a defined pipeline is essential to leveraging the value of that lead. Most CRMs address this issue with a lead module or tab. This tab allows you to park your incoming leads for qualification. Once a lead is qualified, it is converted and assigned as an

2 account/prospect to a rep. High value leads are followed up quickly and lower or lesser value leads are dropped into the pipeline for follow up via a cost efficient process such as a drip marketing program. By tracking leads in a CRM, not only are you managing them more efficiently, you are also managing the effectiveness of your lead sources. 2. Improved closing percentages It is a commonly held belief that most prospects buy after seven to nine touches, but most reps will quit at only three touches. Consistently contacting opportunities through the sales cycle with a structured plan prevents prospects from dropping off the radar. CRM helps you structure this plan and organize steps and tasks for high value conversations and impressions. CRM also helps you prioritize these opportunities and manage them down a structured pipeline from suspect to close. You need to be efficient only with the best opportunities and CRM can help you identify those opportunities. 3. Increased sales rep productivity and accountability Are your reps running multiple contact management systems such as Outlook, Act! or internal accounting for customers? Fragmented and unlinked data causes sales disconnects. Business cards stacked on a desk, sticky notes on the dashboard of the car, selling tools (e.g. case studies, price lists) in multiple locations all indicate an obvious fragmented system. Not having to search for files, phone numbers or last call data allows you to actively sell during your selling window. CRM holds the solutions for these bottlenecks: An asset library keeps the most current information right at hand and protects your message and brand. templates for follow up, appointment confirmation, introduction, case studies etc. increase speed.

3 Customized reporting can show a snapshot of each rep, region, and product. By developing metrics that you can measure reps against, they can be held accountable and allow you to take corrective action and create continuous improvement plans. 4. Growth in existing accounts. By segmenting and identifying your best accounts, you can develop a consistent strategy to target these accounts. This may include management visits, marketing a new product offering, a customer survey or a thank you call. CRM gives you visibility to these accounts, allowing you to set a strategy that keeps these accounts from being underserved and deepens your account relationship with them. And don t forget that data on your customers is generally fragmented beyond the sales teams often in financial systems, customer service databases and in other locations. CRM cloud solution can help pull that data together, but some customers may want to look at application integration tools that can paint the full picture of their customer relationships to ensure the best accounts are being serviced properly. 5. Improved sales team performance. You have a few great reps, a lot of good reps and a few you are working on replacing. Many of the reps exhibit a specific weakness in maybe one particular area: appointment making, closing, presenting, proposal development, etc. By leveraging CRM to measure the reps in each stage of the sales cycle, from suspect to close, you can quickly identify these areas for improvement and provide targeted training to improve these weaknesses. CRM helps you easily identify consistent bottlenecks in the process that you can actionably address. I ve seen my clients restructure their sales organizations to take advantage of their reps strengths with amazing success. Without a reliable CRM solution this task would have been impossible.

4 6. More accurate and timely forecasting. Most CRM solutions and especially salesforce.com have robust forecasting tools. Reps can quickly and easily adjust quotes in the pipeline and modify close and delivery dates. Then, dashboards graphically display your company's key performance indicators in real time. This means better and timelier data, which in turn means better decisions. 7. Improved ability to grow an effective sales team. When you leverage CRM and are improving your sales team s effectiveness, you are simultaneously developing best practices and a sales training system. By knowing what works and continuously improving your sales process, you can build a foundation for bringing new reps online quickly and making them productive fast. And should a rep leave, accounts and prospects can be quickly reassigned. All the data about the account and in essence your customer relationship stays with the organization and doesn t follow the rep out the door. 8. Productive anywhere and anytime. For field sales reps and telecommuters, it is critical to be able to access up to date customer information wherever you are. CRM solutions that are delivered over the web also known as from the cloud allow you access anywhere there is an internet or broadband connection. Your reps can log on and access information anytime almost anywhere they are. Many ondemand CRM providers offer mobile smartphone clients with exceptional features. And today the security has advanced so far that I m confident in recommending cloud CRM solutions to my clients.

5 Summary Small and medium businesses face a broad range of sales challenges. Building a solid foundation that includes a CRM tool is critical to any business that wants to grow and exceed their sales goals. By enhancing your ability to measure and manage your sales team, you will see productivity benefits, accountability improve and sales numbers increase. For my clients CRM always provides a return on investment. About the Author Bob Davis is the founder and principal consultant for simple.sales.strategy, a customer driven sales consultancy helping small and medium business achieve sales greatness. Bob has over 30 years of experience selling in firms both large and small and has served as a consultant for firms across the US. He hails from New York, NY and makes his home in Austin, TX.

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