Put Customer back into CRM

When it comes to sales and marketing technology, it’s easy and tempting to become self-focused and neglect the “C” in CRM – after all, it is Customer Relationship Management.

This really isn’t a surprising revelation as the hectic pace of taking care of today:  making numbers, forecasting sales, developing new products, etc. requires businesses to focus on keeping internal management and shareholders happy so those paychecks and bonuses continue.  Looking inward becomes a natural tendency.  Most business models and technologies (especially CRM) are primarily designed to support internal objectives which often drains the love that your customers’ should (and need to) feel.

Here are five steps (or wake up calls) to put the Customer back into CRM … and front and center in your organization. 

Engage in two-way conversations

When you push out information about your new products, cool things happening inside your company, trade show events, webinars, etc. you’ll never reach your marketing ROI potential if you don’t include an easy way (a bullet proof ‘call to action’) for customers to engage with the content.

To maximize sales traction, you’ll need to crawl inside the mind of a buyer and develop an inquiry-to-sales process that you would want as a customer.  This may defy the strengths or capabilities of your current CRM technology.  For example, if a potential buyer requires a price quote from a distribution channel partner, make sure that your sales and marketing technology facilitates an automated way to align a buyer to the appropriate Distributor.  This avoids a frustrating process that requires the customer to wade through your website only to access a clumsy Distributor locator and making the customer responsible to self-initiate a sales call.

Communicate with customers using the medium they prefer

Are you asking your buyers how they prefer to be contacted?  Instead of using a static communication medium for all audiences involved in the sales process (Distributors, Resellers, Sales Channels and End Buying Customers) develop and execute a communication plan that includes a variety of mediums targeting different segments of your business.

Not everyone prefers email, social media, certain trade shows, or receiving a product catalog.  Utilize your sales and marketing technology to conduct tests to identify which communications tactics generate the highest response rates that lead to sales conversations across your buying segments.  For example – when launching a new product a more expensive direct mail package reaching high profit potential targets may be your best communication method.  You’ll never know unless you test.  And if your CRM technology makes communications testing too cumbersome and painful, it’s quite possible that it’s lack of functionality is trumping your sales and marketing success.

Make it easy for customers to buy (for starters- make it easy for them to respond!)

It blows my mind how many companies run advertisements (print, digital, etc.) promoting a new product or value added content with a call to action to visit the ‘vanilla’ home page of their website.  This leaves the responder meandering through the website looking for the product information that was aligned to the offer and confused as to how (and where) to request the next step in the purchase process.

Customers do business with people – not company departments or locations.  They want relevant information fast and easy.  Based on distribution channel research we have conducted over the last 18 months, an estimated 10% of sales are lost simply because interested customers either can’t find a distributor where the product is stocked or it just takes to much time to find one.  Your sales and marketing technology should help facilitate an ease of purchase path that aligns the customer the appropriate distribution channel partner.   This is one easy way to drive higher sales conversion rates and put the Customer front and center in your sales and marketing technology or CRM!

Make customer engagement measurement visible to the entire organization

So, what reports do your management team review regularly and take action on?  If those reports don’t include measurement metrics such as the number of new End Buying Customers acquired, Customer interaction (including buy-repeat), % of Customer wallet, etc. – your company may very well lack the customer focus that will drive continual growth.

Voice of Customer relationship charts

Even simple reports like measuring Sales and Distribution partner interaction, purchase intent and relationship interests (as illustrated in this dashboard) are a start.

Deals closed, sales pipelines and call reports are important, but without input from and attention to the customer across multiple internal departments (sales, marketing, customer service, web site) your organization will not focus on the customer. Metrics that measure organizational success should include customer relationship measurements and need to be made visible to every internal team.  Your business and every person who works for it exists for two reasons; one to serve a customer need and two to generate profits.  It takes both in equal amounts to sustain the growth of either.

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