Embrace CRM and Watch Sales Soar!

“So… right now these customers haven’t heard from a sales representative for at least 2-5 years or more.  Is that right?”  I asked.

“That’s about it.” they responded.

My next question was “And how many customers are there in this group?”

“We’re not too sure, but across the three business units, around 40,000.”

For me this was an absolutely, fantastic opportunity.  For the business it was a huge missed opportunity in terms of share of wallet revenue.

The good news we solved the contact problem and over 3 years created many opportunities from which the business units involved generated significant additional revenue from existing customers.

The cause of the problem was the business did not have formal customer relationship management (CRM) strategies, processes, or technology that spanned and integrated across the business.

Are there really businesses out there that still face this problem?  Yes but they are more likely to be in the SMB sector rather than large corporations.  Some may have adopted aspects of CRM, mainly systems, but not integrated within the business or with coordinated CRM strategies and processes. Why?

Because the owners of SMBs are often still at the helm, their management focused on the more core aspects of business and trying understand why and how they can benefit from social media.  Consequently they go for a piecemeal approach.  They often think customer relationship management is either just a system or a set of activities distinct from, but linked to, sales and marketing.

Generational Resistance?

Many owners of SMBs are over the age of 40 and believe they know their customers and do not feel comfortable with modern technology, especially social media, in their business to help manage relationships.

Research indicates that over the years failure rates in the implementation of CRM systems are high, 18%-70%. There are any number of reasons for the unsuccessful introduction of CRM systems.

Why Break Through the Fear?

So why do SMBs need to overcome their fear of customer relationship management and maximise the benefits of integrated strategies, processes and technology?

  • They want to be in business for 5, 10, 20 years or more.

  • A repeat sale to an existing customer costs 7 times less than that of one to a new customer.

  • On average, 20% of customers will cease being a customer during the year through natural attrition (i.e. moved, died, product no longer needed).

Another reason for recognizing the importance of managing customer relationships is that there are frequent reports in the media that by the time a prospect contacts a business they are 60%-70% through their decision making process.  This is due to the fact that social media and online information sources play such a significant part in the purchase decision-making processes.

Research also shows that a Facebook fan is likely to spend twice as much with a business than when they are not a fan.  It stands to reason if a business can get prospects and customers to also “like” them in other social media that they are more likely to engage with the business and purchase its products.

How To Reach For the Sky

What can you do to increase sales and business performance in your business?

Review Your Goals: Look over your customer service and sales goals and KPIs to ensure they link to your overall business values, goals and objectives.

Map Your Path: Look at how and where your business interacts with your clients.  Map (document) those touch points and the processes that are followed at each interaction and look how they may be better co-ordinated.

Pick Your Tool: Investigate the systems like Nimble that can assist with the integration of customer contact across your business from the initial inquiry to the sales to service to accounts.  Can it tie in with your e-marketing system like MailChimp, or your accounting system or a quotation system? Also consider how they link with your social media presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.

Just Do It!

It’s so much easier than you think! Don’t let your customer languish for 2-5 years! Keep your team “in the know.” An integrated approach to customer relationship management will:

  1. Save you and your staff time

  2. Increase customer loyalty

  3. Increase repeat sales

Don’t be afraid of Customer Relationship Management be very afraid of being left behind if you don’t do it.

Ross Keating founded Dawn Business Development Services in 2005 to help business owners and managers to increase sales and business performance. Ross specializes in implementing sales management and relationship marketing strategies to achieve business growth objectives.  He has managed sales teams, the development and sales of customer relationship management software and held responsibility for 40,000+ customers and $36 million in sales.   Ross brings a real understanding of how to maximise the combined benefits of business growth strategies, processes and technology. Contact him by email, on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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