Friday, September 24, 2010

Measuring Business performance through CRM

These days any business be it large or small is expected to have a repository for recording information about its customers, some businesses use whatever is on hand such as their Email software address book, a spreadsheet or maybe a combination of the two.

Other businesses however take this concept to the next level and record their customers information in a properly designed database (be it an off the shelf CRM system or a database built from the ground up).

Having your data stored in a proper CRM system gives you access to a wealth of information which you can utilize to measure the overall performance of your business, whether its done through the use of reports , Dashboards or even by eye balling your database records, as long as your data is accurate and as long as it is being updated consistently then you should be able to measure your business’s performance with very little trouble.

So why is this important? The answer is simple, in order for your business to achieve growth you need to be able to see where you are at now in order to be able to setup a growth target and formulate a plan to hit that target.

Without an accurate view of your current state it is very difficult to determine the best way to move forward and this day and age if a business does not keep on moving forward then it will simply loose out to the competition.

With all of that in mind, one might wonder where does CRM fit in this picture? the answer is simple, most CRM systems excel at keeping track of the business sales funnel history and tracking the day to day business activities (e.g. Sales Calls, internal meetings, client meetings etc).

In terms of sales performance tracking, CRM systems introduce the concept of Sales & Opportunities (Sales Opps for short). Sales Opps encompass a process which can be defined by the business, for each Sales Opportunity the process can go through multiple stages, with each stage the sales person in charge of managing a particular opportunity can update its status and probability of closure (e.g. 80% chance this opportunity would result in a sale or 45% chance this opportunity will be lost to a competitor).

As a result, with all of this information being recorded, business analysts can draw on this data to see how their business is performing in terms of sales, it becomes very easy to answer such questions as “How many sales have we lost to a competitor?” and more importantly “Why did we lose X number of sales to a competitor??” Or “Why did X number of customers did not like using one of our products?”

On the other side of the coin, you can use CRM to measure your internal business performance, most CRM systems provide the tools to manage and schedule daily activities, you can usually customize the types of activities and track their outcomes (e.g. a Sales Call to a Prospect was made or a Meeting with a client was cancelled etc).

Say you wanted to setup a number of KPIs to determine if the business is performing as it should, your sales team might need to make at least 4 Sales Calls per day, your On the road staff might need to do at least 3 product demonstrations per week. By providing your staff with the tools to record all of this information you ensure that you are always up to date on how close or far the business is from meeting its performance targets.

This knowledge can greatly assist in the decision making process when it comes to working out how your business should adjust in order to meet its performance targets.

The above is just a fraction of what you can do with CRM in order to keep on top of what is going on within your business, we hope this article has given you insight into the power of CRM and how it can help you take your business to the next level.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to know more about CRM in general then feel free to contact us or visit our website at

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tips for choosing the right CRM system.

In our previous Post We talked about CRM systems and processes in general, today we will be talking about what you should keep in mind prior to implementing a CRM system in your business.

If you do a web search on CRM systems you will undoubtedly end up with a long list of results each pointing to a different product, so which one would fit you best? which product can give you the best value for your money? why would product A be better than product B? these questions and more can be answered by keeping some key points in mind.

The following is a small set of tips that aim to assist you in the decision making when process when deciding on which CRM package to go for.

  • Implementation Cost, some would say that this is a very obvious thing to keep in mind, How much will a CRM system cost to implement? Well the other thing to keep in mind when looking at cost is to not ignore the added value of the system (i.e. How much will implementing a CRM system is going to save the business in the long term?).

    It is a very good idea to review the added value of implementing a CRM system against the cost of implementing it and making a decision based on that, making a decision on cost alone could knock some potential systems off the list.

  • Vendor Reputation and Product Popularity, Who is behind the system you are looking at? how popular is the product? what do existing users of the system think about the Vendor and the system itself? how long has the Vendor and the product been around for?

    You should always make sure to find an answer to the above questions, a well known and established product is likely to be more robust than a system which just came out, Vendors who have been around for a long time are less likely to disappear into thin air few months down the track.

  • Ease of use, How easy to use is the product? this is very important, having a streamlined , easy to use interface is crucial to any successful CRM system, your staff will be using CRM in their every day work activities, the easier and the more intuitive the system is the more productive your staff are going to be.

    Having systems with counter-intuitive work flow, clunky and over crowded interfaces tend to cause a loss of productivity because your staff will spend most of their time trying to get the information they need rather than getting on with their work.

  • Can the system be configured to suit your needs? with CRM there is no One size fits all solution, every business has its own specific requirements , a good CRM system is one which can be easily adapted to meet today’s highly complex and ever changing requirements.

    A simple example on the above would be the ease at which the Customer’s entity within a CRM database can be modified, maybe the business wants to add a new set of fields to store information about their Customers cars, a good CRM system would provide its admin users with the tools to do so, on the other hand locked down systems would have you contacting the vendor in order for them to implement the changes (which can be a costly and time consuming process).

  • Interactivity and Connectivity with your existing business systems, in today’s world a typical business would use a plethora of software packages and systems to do what needs to be done, Email clients, Word Editing software  Spread sheets and accounting systems are some examples of what you would find running in a typical business environment.

    When looking at a CRM package consider how well it can connect to your commonly used software systems (e.g. Email and Word Processing software) , having a system which can integrate well into your other office software means that you can do your business without having to jump all over the place since everything is connected together, thus saving you time and adding value.

  • Mobility and information sharing, this is a big one, these days a business can operate from all over the world, you can have branches in different continents, Sales Teams operating in different countries, business managers going all over the place on weekly basis etc, your staff need to have instant access to their data no matter where they are.

    With regards to CRM systems you want to consider the above and how well does a CRM package meet the demands of today’s highly mobile business force, some of the things to keep in mind are
    Mobile Connectivity , Web Based Access and Synchronized Databases

    If a CRM system does not offer any of the above options then chances are your on the road staff will have a hard time trying to get the information they need to do their job thus impacting their productivity in a negative manner.

The above is just a sample of what to keep in mind when choosing the right CRM package for your business, we hope this article has given you the information needed to assist you in your decision making process.

If you would like to know more about CRM systems and the CRM process in general then feel free to contact Xact Software Solutions, we will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CRM, What is it? and why would your business need it?

If you are reading this post then chances are you have come across the term CRM before and would like to know more about what it means, CRM is an acronym for Contact Relationship Management , the term is generally used to reference CRM software which can be thought of as databases for storing your customers and contacts information, that however is merely the tip of the iceberg.

CRM is not just about software, CRM is about process, it is about how a business deals with its customers. Here at Xact software we consider CRM to be a pillar of a strong business foundation,  we believe that for a business to experience success then it needs to strongly consider how it manages its relationships with its customers (both current and future).

Software aside, CRM can be thought of as a system or a collection of processes within a business or an organization, these processes can be used to maintain contacts information and to track all relevant communication between the business and its customers.

One might ask Why? .... why would you want to do any of that? Well, this question can be answered on multiple levels, here is a simple breakdown of why it is important for a business to keep and track information about their customers:

  • Providing a higher level of service, by knowing more about your customers needs your business is equipped with the knowledge needed to respond to your customers queries in a timely and professional manner.

  • Providing the right product to the right customer, by keeping track of your customers preferences you are given the advantage of knnowing or at least anticipating what they want out of a given product or a service, this knowledge can assist your business in targeting the right customers when launching a new product or a service.

  • Keeping in touch, maintaining a strong relationship with your customers shows that you care about them, customers are more than likely to do business again with businesses that show interest in their needs and who strive to provide the highest quality of service.

  • Keeping everyone in the business on the same page, this is a very important point and it builds upon everything before it, when everyone within your business knows what they need to know your business will not suffer if one of the sales reps is out for the day and their prospective customer calls asking about the status of a quote that is in the works.

  • Measuring business performance, If everyone in your business is doing their job correctly and they’re feeding the business’s CRM database with the correct information then managers and business analysts can tap into an invaluable resource to analyze and report on how the business is performing. 

    For example you can analyze the rate of Lead to customer conversions, why some prospects chose to go with a competitors product Or how quick does your staff respond to customers enquiries.

The above is just a sample of why a business would need to implement CRM as part of its day to day operations, you can summarize the above in two words Competitive Advantage , a business using a CRM system has the advantage over a business which does not (you can see why from the above easily) , CRM is a very powerful tool, used correctly it can greatly help in taking your business to the next level.

There is a lot more that can be gained from using a CRM system in your business, we will be covering that more in depth in future articles so stay tuned for future posts and make sure to follow us on twitter at