“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does not apply to your customer relationship management application programs

Much of today’s small business for profit and not-for-profit application software was written over a decade ago. The million dollar question is: Are these applications still worth running ? Considering all of the technology innovation that has occurred since then, can we expect an application designed and built with yesterday’s technology for yesterday’s business world to fit today’s?

The answer is no.
“If it aint broke, don’t fix it” does not apply to your small business application programs. Your application is like a good race horse, you run it until it can’t race anymore and then you retire it. You don’t try to patch it up.

The contact management sector is a prime example of this.  Thousands of small to mid-size businesses are still operating old versions of desktop programs such as ACT, Goldmine and Maximizer that are no longer meeting changing business requirements, but because they aint broke, they don’t get replaced.  As a result of this, these mid-size businesses are not taking advantage of newer web based CRM programs that are helping businesses become more effective marketing, sales and service organizations.

The great applications replace is upon us and we can’t fight it any longer but how do you go about deciding which applications to replace? See my list below.

• If it was built over a decade ago, no matter by whom, it is a prime candidate for replacement.
• If the underlying business requirements have changed significantly since the application was developed, you can be certain that it is not performing optimally.
• If the application was written to run natively on a mainframe, a midrange or even a personal computer, it’s on the list.
• If the application has a pure character interface and all of the reports are in text, it’s a candidate.
• If the application does not grant web-based access to staff or members, it needs immediate attention.  Some things to beware of:

If the application does not fit the business requirements then you have to go back to the drawing board. To do this properly, presupposes that you thoroughly understand how your business functions.

The good news about replacing older applications is that there is a large number of providers to choose from.  In the CRM sector for example products such as Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce.com and Commence CRM from Commence Corporation are excellent choices for managing customer interaction and improving sales execution and customer service.

About the author:  Jim Smith is the CEO of YChange International, a consulting firm that provides marketing and consulting services to small businesses. Smith has more than 30 years of experience in the field and has held executive level positions with several Fortune 100 software firms.  He is an accomplished author of numerous white papers on the subject of marketing and business development. Additional information may be found at http://www.ychange.com

Photo Credit: by Barbarossa source Wikimedia license GFDL from acobox.com

Don’t Make a CRM Buying Mistake : 7 Points to Consider Before Selecting Your CRM Solution

Larry Caretsky, Commence CEO, has released the white paper “Don’t Make a CRM Buying Mistake : 7 Points to Consider Before Selecting Your CRM Solution”. Selecting the right CRM software or customer management software for your business can be a daunting exercise. This White Paper will help you differentiate the myriad of product offerings and enable you to make an informed and educated decision.

Here’s an excerpt including the introduction and you can download the full white paper below:

“Customer Relationship Management is one of the fastest growing sectors of the computer software industry.  In order to gain a competitive edge, companies of all sizes are looking for ways to improve how they market, sell and provide service to their customers.  Many are turning their attention to Customer Relationship Management software as a tool that will enable them to effectively manage their customer relationships before, during and after the sale. “

Click to view or download the full CRM Whitepaper

Want to Win Sales? You need to Differentiate

Sure it’s tough out there. There is no doubt about it.  In today’s environment no matter what you are selling there are dozens of competitors calling on your prospects and making similar claims.  So how can you differentiate yourself from the pack? I have some recommendations.

As an executive of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software firm I understand competition.  There are literally hundreds of CRM vendors from contact management software and sales force automation software providers to vertically based CRM providers all pitching their solution as the best, the easiest and the cheapest.  Some make claims that their product is better than ours, others are offering lower prices and some will do almost anything to win business. Yet despite all of this, our sales team is winning more business based on a few simple tips that may help you.

Lets assume for a moment that you have a new qualified opportunity:

  • The prospect has a need for your company’s product or service,
  • They have a short decision timeframe,
  • There is a budget in place,
  • You are dealing with a decision maker.

Life is good! Now let’s go and win this business:

Tip 1. Preparation: Schedule a pre-approach appointment for the sole purpose of finding out the critical business issues in advance of your next call or appointment. This is the time to learn about their challenges and show them you are committed to understanding their business requirements and helping to address them. Too many sales people make the mistake of asking questions during their presentation or demonstration, which often frustrates the prospect and reduces the effectiveness of the call.

Tip 2. Research: The prospect has told you their needs, but before you make that next call to schedule your presentation or demonstrate your product, do some research about the company to learn about their specific industry and any critical business issues that affect companies just like theirs.  This will help you to develop a flow for how you wish to present or demonstrate your product or service as an effective solution for their business. It’s also important to remember that any intelligent prospect will know if you have really taken the time to understand their business challenges or not.

Tip 3. The Presentation/Demonstration: Focus on their critical business issues right away with specific examples of how your product or service will address them. That’s what the prospect is interested in and if you wait too long, you run the risk of losing their attention and the potential for their business.

Tip 4. Sell Value but Know When to Stop: You probably have a lot of things about your product or service that will provide additional value to your prospect, but if you have successfully addressed their core business requirements then it’s time to stop selling.  Sales representatives all too often frustrate or irritate prospects by over selling. Your product or service does not have to do twenty different things. It just has to solve one or two critical needs.

Tip 5. Know Your Competition: You know the prospect is shopping around and there is nothing you can do about it — or is there?  Very often there will be a bottleneck in a competitive product that your solution addresses very well, but if you are unaware of this you will lose the opportunity to gain a competitive edge. In the famous book The Art of War, written by Sun Tzu, he states, “know they enemy and you shall not fear the outcome of any battle”.

Commence Corporation Announces Video Series

Commence Corporation, one of the leading providers of Customer Relationship Management software for small to mid-size businesses, has announced the release of the first in a series of product and training videos for prospects and customers.  The first video provides a brief overview of Commence Corporation’s web based CRM offering along with customer testimonials and is now available on the company’s website at www.commence.com.

Commence has been providing contact management, sales force automation and CRM software for more than two decades and has several thousand customers in more than 22 countries around the world.   The company’s web based CRM software has proven to be a comprehensive and affordable alternative to industry leaders such as Microsoft CRM and SalesForce.com.

The company provides personal demonstrations and free trials of their on-line customer management software.