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CRM Revisited...The Big, Bigger Picture

30 Mar, 2009 By: Rob Gilbert imageSource

CRM Revisited...The Big, Bigger Picture

CRM has become a catch-all that can be taken to mean “Sales Rep activity tool.”  However, true Customer Relationship
Management is a much more significant process and should be treated as such. CRM is a strategically efficient way of doing business. Any sales rep can record a call to a prospect or site a delivered proposal; even indicate emails to customers, but to generically dumb down a CRM
system to just those type of activities seriously diminishes the value of managing your customer data. 

From initial call to installation of new equipment, to farming future opportunities, a good CRM system should help you create, develop, and nurture a partnership with prospects and customers in a way that will benefit both parties. 

Proper utilization of information can help you to form a bond with a prospect by keeping vital information at your fingertips like:

  • Buying habits – What are the key indicators that customers base their decisions on?  Do they tend to purchase a particular type of equipment or at a particular time?
  • Key personnel – Who are the “C” level personnel in the company?  Are there key influencers that will help drive the sales cycle to completion? 
  • Existing equipment details – Did you capture competitive information so that you could capitalize on the opportunity when the time came?   How old is the equipment? Has it had numerous service calls?
  • Lease portfolio information – Both captive and competitive, do you know when the leases expire?  Can you help the prospect keep from an “evergreen” situation? 
  • Service history information – Is the customer still running at their contracted volume?  Can you use the service call log to make contact with the customer for a new opportunity?  Do you do account reviews with this information?
  • Vertical market identity – Do you use SIC codes to create vertical market strategies?  Is the account a government, medical, educational account?  Are they a color or high volume prospect?
  • Critical applications – What specific applications does the prospect have that a particular piece of your equipment could meet the needs of?
  • Competitive strengths and weaknesses – How do you stack up against your competition in a situation?  What are your strengths?  How will you position them against the weaknesses of your competitor? 
  • Website information and statistics – Have you visited your prospect’s website and looked at their information?  Do they have an annual report or mission statement?  How does it match yours?  What are the common objectives you share?

Managing this data gives you the differentiation you need to both set yourself apart competitively and align yourself with your prospect by capitalizing on gathered data to build rapport and a comfort level based on consultative expertise. 

A good CRM system will also help you to create marketing campaigns that will generate timely leads and allow you to
target specific account types for deeper penetration or management.  Many companies engage outside sources to help them go to market or target accounts.  Using your captured data by having sales reps be diligent in their call approaches is a much more cohesive way to gather data
in your market. The name says it all:  Customer Relationship Management – How are you relating to your customer and what steps are you taking to manage that information in order to create a selling opportunity or enhance you service experiences with them?

Too often the sales cycle looks like the following: Cold call; Appointment; Proposal; Demo; Sale.

After the transaction is complete, the customer is most likely into a lease of 36 – 60 months and the sales rep disengages from them until about 33 – 57 months later.  Has there ever been a three year period of time in our own businesses when things didn’t change?  Of course
not.  Business changes.  Personnel changes.  Buying habits and market indicators change.  Technology changes.  Models change.  These same things happen to our customers as well.  By managing accounts and managing and updating the data that we collect as changes are made, we
create opportunity. 

Consider this:  on average, it takes six calls on a prospect before they will buy from you.  Most reps stop after two or three tries.  If they fail to capture and data and update the account record, when the next rep comes along to try to penetrate the account, the new rep has
to go and re-gather the same data and go through the same steps again.  If they don’t input any data, it must be repeated again and again until someone finally manages the account properly.  That takes what could be a six call process into at least 12 touches.  You will also have
prospects that wonder why new reps keep coming by and asking the same questions over and over, which doesn’t build much rapport with them at all.  Unfortunately, many companies that don’t have a good CRM system
and manage data input are going through this today. 

With the competitive landscape that exists, you must become proficient at managing customer relational data.  Remember that information is power. 

Rob Gilbert is the selected speaker for the ITEX’09 session on Customer Relationship Management Revisited scheduled for March 19th  at the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

Rob Gilbert, Sr., DSM Fleet Management Services, Compass Sales Solutions. Rob has 20 years experience, including CPP programs from consultation to implementation. www.compasscontact.net.

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