Monday, July 9, 2012

6 Tell-tale signs you need CRM - Part 2

Continuing from our last post...
  1. Order takers not being advised when a customer is put on hold
    This is probably one of the biggest pet peeves for accountants (in addition to sales reps quoting with outdated pricing); a customer doesn’t pay an account and the sales person puts through another order.

    Whilst CRMs aren’t designed to manage accounts it is important that they work alongside your accounting system to ensure sales reps are up-to-date with customer account information and product availability (if required). This result is typically achieved through integration; but be warned, not all integration is the same.

    Integration between accounting and CRM needs to achieve the following:
    • Bring the right accounting information and tools to your sales staff as they need it. For most organisations, being able to see account summaries, a list of current sales documents and aged receivables is sufficient however others may require sales staff to be able to create sales documents and run accounting-based reports within the CRM too. Furthermore, most organisations will require real-time data which is achieved through a “live” connection rather than a synchronisation process.
    • Improve productivity. The key feature of any CRM/accounting integration will be to provide a connection between the corresponding contacts in either database. In doing so staff should be able to make changes in either program and see those changes reflected in the other. Doing this ensures that data only needs to be entered once - saving time, reducing the potential for human error and ensuring the data is up-to-date and accurate at all times.
    • Protect accounting functions. While it is important to give sales staff access to accounting functions you won’t want them to do such as edit product details or prices. Effective CRM/accounting integration should eliminate the need for salespeople to directly access accounting software and may also have access control built-in and therefore protect these accounting functions.
    • Cost savings. Following the above, if the integration is sufficient enough that salespeople do not need to access accounting software then organsiations can save significantly on licence costs. In situations where multiple salespeople “share” accounting licences organisations may not see a significant reduction in licence costs by are likely to experience an increase in productivity as staff do not need to “take turns” using the accounting software.
  2. Being unable to access real-time information when you are out of the office
    With more people working on the road and out of the office, the ability to access your customer information on the go is becoming increasingly important. Most CRM systems these days are accessible via mobile devices. If this is a requirement for you make sure that it is compatible with your mobile devices and that all the features you require on the go are available to you.
  3. Continually losing prospects/customers
    One of the key areas within a CRM is the sales opportunities area. This area helps you track potential sales and most importantly record why a sale was won or lost. This information can be vital to ensure the business is attracting the right kind of prospects and that these prospects don’t fall through the cracks.

    For example, if you find that the main reason behind lost opportunities is price and the main reason for won opportunities is customer service then you can make some assumptions and corresponding actions:
    • Your prospects are too price sensitive: Perhaps you should advertise elsewhere and/or create a questionnaire that helps you identify the prospects that are not worth pursuing.
    • Your prospects don’t see the value: Case studies, customer referrals and educational material might be useful here to help your prospects justify their purchase (i.e. they are paying for your great customer service).
    • Your pricing model needs adjusting: You may choose to modify your pricing model to accommodate your price sensitive prospects.

Important note
Remember, at the end of the day CRM software is not a mind reader and the value that an organisation can get out of a CRM is largely dependent on the quality of the information that goes into it. Continuous “tweaking” and training are required to ensure that the database and its users are up to the business’ standards.

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