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CRM Trends for 2012 that Drive Success

1 Apr, 2012 By: Harry Shaughnessy imageSource

CRM trends in 2012 that Drive SuccesCRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is not a new phenomenon…but the way people take advantage of its many functions continues to evolve. In the past CRM has been seen as a complex contact and activity list, but users are beginning to take it more seriously as the robust sales and marketing tool that it really is. This software is a substantial central repository for all things client; and upcoming trends are demonstrating the power that CRM can have in really getting to know your customers.

This accessibility to vast amounts of customer information is allowing the sales, marketing, and service functions of an organization to work together and better target their market… and increase sales! There are three important CRM trends for 2012 that will greatly improve the chance for sales success in your business:

  1. More Powerful Mobility
  2. Extended Relationship Management (better known as XRM)
  3. Everyday Analytics in CRM

Let’s discuss these upcoming moves to see how they are implemented and how they are benefiting office equipment dealers in 2012.

More Powerful Mobility

CRM Sales Reps CanThe ability to use CRM to its fullest potential while out of the office or at a customer’s location has been a major obstacle. In today’s business world, almost everyone has a smart phone that delivers a basic set of CRM mobility. We can access email, contacts, and calendar information using an Exchange, Outlook, or a similar desktop integration. To go beyond this capability in the past, we either had to set up laptop synchronization or rely on administrative staff to access and print additional information needed on the go. Major improvements in the computing power of smart
phones and the recent growth of the business tablet have enabled powerful mobile CRM within reach of your business. The latest software made specifically for tablet PC’s and smart phones allow sales reps to quickly retrieve full information about a customer while at their site. Using mobile CRM, sales reps can:

  • See customer equipment, meters, and contracts
  • Request lease renewals
  • Update and create leads and forecast
  • Review customer history
  • Do presentations
  • View sales charts and dashboard analysis
  • Access and update this CRM data while offline, when Wi-Fi or 3G is unavailable
  • Use mapping and navigation to locate nearby accounts when onsite.

Additionally, this type of mobility has been very cost prohibitive in the past for office equipment dealerships. Now that mobile CRM has hit mainstream and the price of tablets is decreasing, all dealerships can take advantage of this technology to boost productivity and effectiveness of their sales team.

Extended Relationship Management (XRM)

The traditional software development process for business applications has the software developer planning and building a feature set and then marketing their software to customers. Customers immediately start making requests for changes prompting the developer to append ad-hoc customization capability to the product. Usually this customization capability is cosmetic and somewhat ineffective. Essentially the customer is locked into the scope of features that the developer decides to deliver and the developer struggles to keep up with vast number of requests from a disparate customer base.

The XRM model re-imagines this scenario by building customization and flexibility in from the start. For example, a platform with easy to use interfaces for creating forms, fields and other objects provides an extensible base. This customizable base is used to build out all of the standard
CRM features leaving the product open to further enhancement.
XRM has greatly changed the possibilities for customers to customize and expand their CRM solution without having to purchase add-ons or additional applications.

This is an important consideration for office equipment dealers who are often asked by the customer to do more, be more flexible, and be multifaceted in their product and service lines. For example, XRM allows office equipment dealers to manage the sale of IT services, document management, water treatment, and many other product lines alongside the sale of copiers using one solution rather than multiple, separate packages or shoe-horning all requirements into one. In a nutshell, XRM allows companies to improve upon a centralized database to manage all aspects of the business (not just customer relationships). The benefits of this technology are extensive:

  • Start simple and expand as your business grows
  • Implement new ideas and work processes without waiting for upgrades or buying new software
  • Minimize training costs by using a universal user interface
  • All areas of the business share customer data without delay or re-entry
  • Create shared multi-departmental business processes and work flows
  • Avoid integration pains because multiple solutions are contained in one system
  • Easy to leverage the database for cross-selling opportunities.

A great example of XRM in action occurred when a dealer wanted to implement the “Net Promoter Score” to gauge the loyalty of their customer relationships based on the ideas introduced by Fred Reichheld in his Harvard Business Review article “One Number You Need to Grow.” We worked with them to create a solution that allows the customer to respond to the question “how likely are you to recommend our company?” and that result is immediately available in CRM. This simple addition allows the service management team to analyze customer loyalty by technician, model, region, or any parameter desired. Now they can better measure and manage performance and customer satisfaction.

Everyday Analytics in CRM

Everyday AnalyticsLet’s face it. We live in a visual world. And sometimes seeing data in a visual way can give us a lot more understanding of our business in a short period of time. Interactive dashboards are delivering on the promise of good data and becoming a widely-used function of CRM solutions. Users enjoy having a simpler solution to view and navigate to important information. In addition, dashboards are a vehicle for communication and in-depth data analysis… allowing departments and business units to evaluate and use timely, key information.

The office equipment dealer can see actionable information such as what additional value exists in their customer base, effectiveness of sales staff, and efficiency of the sales cycle. For example, dashboard charts can be created that show the most profitable lead sources. Dashboards can also extract contract and other related information from the CRM database, graphically alerting sales staff to potential opportunities – expiring contracts, machines with excessive run rates, and goal attainment. With this information, sales reps can quickly communicate with the customer before contracts are up and make the sale before the competition gets the opportunity.

These upcoming developments in CRM have further established this sales and marketing powerhouse as a necessary tool for better understanding your customers and significantly increasing your cross-selling potential. Are you taking your CRM implementation to the next level?

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