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The importance of the CRM

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ITC’s team of Sales Strategy Consultants provide companies with advice of new systems of business organisation.

I am always intrigued by the number of companies that have soft to manage the company, invoicing and do the accounts; practically all those I know personally. However, the number of firms with a CRM programme is significantly less. As far as the companies I have worked with the total is not even 10%. Of those we can divide them into: those that use and profit by it, possibly 10% of the original 10% and those that don’t.

The message I am getting from executives is that controlling costs, invoicing and the accounts is vital; however, when it comes to storing and managing the information concerning the clients, salesmen’s activities and sales opportunities, they play it by ear.

The main problems involved in working without a CRM can be summed up as:

  • Difficulties following up on sales activities
  • The vital-salesman syndrome: if he leaves the firm he takes all his information with him.
  • Sales visits
  • Business opportunities
  • Follow-up of offers
  • Sales to objectives
  • Follow-up on routes
  • Aims of the visit
  • Others:
    • Not having sufficient data to evaluate and reward the salesmen.
    • Having to give up communications campaigns to differing client types, languages, products, etc.
    • Not discovering the zombie, the lazy or the get-rich-quick salesmen.

I hope I have now got the complete attention of those who didn’t see the need to use a CRM.

There are many CRM programmes out there, both free and for purchase. Which is best for us? The answer depends on our specific needs, budget, number of salesmen and the industry or sector. Personally I divide CRM soft into three main categories:

  1. CRMs to manage client relationships
  2. CRMs designed to study and analyse the historical data of sales management
  3. CRMs designed to maximise sales effectiveness in the field.

The first group contains many free programmes that I consider to be very useful especially if you have relatively little experience with type of programme. They will help us to centralise all our customer information, classify them by potential, prepare campaigns and obtain an efficient follow-up of sales opportunities. I would personally recommend SUGAR CRM.

The second category are those company CRM which combine ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) which will furnish detailed statistics covering sales per product, the cost of sales, etc. These are especially suitable for large companies and, specifically, manufacturers with a well established culture of standard procedures and protocols. The most common of these that I know are Microsoft’s Navision, the CRM module of SAP or Sinergy. All these are for purchase.

Finally we come to those CRM that combine the main functions of the two. These can prove a very useful tool for managing sales fieldwork, minimise time to complete reports and will furnish real-time data on sales and activities. Without a shadow of a doubt, those firms with at least 4 salesmen in the street should use one. Especially those working in industries with highly elastic sales visits*. The pioneer in this field and the one I consider best is Force Manager.

Please believe me when I say that if you manage to successfully install a CRM the performance of your sales teams may improve by as much as 8%. Do you know many risk-free investment that give this kind of return?

See you soon and good hunting!

* Elastic Sales Visits: are those industries in which a direct connection between the visit and the generation of an order can be traced. Whereas Non-elastic Visits are those in which there is no observable relation between sales visits and order generation.