Knowing How and Where Your Sales are Being Generated Can Pay Dividends for Future Business

As a sales manager when I get together with some of my colleagues the conversation is often centered on what deals each of our teams has closed. My colleagues seem focused on the size of the deal or the number of deals coming in. One day I decided to ask a question that seemed to confuse them all: where do your sales opportunities actually come from?

I received various answers from leads, customers, phone calls and even the internet. The real question that I should’ve asked is “what steps did you or your team take to win those sales and how are you tracking that.” When I did pose that question; I received mostly silence and one of my colleagues even challenged me on why it is even important.

Quite simply; it’s critically important to track the steps or processes you used to generate new sales so you can emulate what is working and stop doing the things that aren’t. If you aren’t tracking what you did to generate a sale; how do you know what made the customer buy or how that customer learned about your product or service. Personally, I don’t like to leave the sales of my company up to chance.

Commence-CRM-analytics-opportunities-by-source-by-outcome
My colleagues of course demanded to know how I do this and again my answer was simple. I use an automated online CRM system to track where my sales opportunities come from.

Commence-CRM-analytics-opportunities-by-source

The system called Commence CRM has a customizable sales source button that allows me to put in my sources and track them accordingly. Some examples of my sales sources are cold calls, referrals, website inquiries, e-mail campaigns and inbound calls. It also allows me to track new business opportunities by industry so that I can determine if we are doing better in one industry sector verses another.

When I started using Commence CRM to track how sales were being generated I discovered that I had a sales person who was a very strong prospector; he was getting appointments, doing presentations and closing sales. His formula seemed to work very well, and the key was knowing where the lead was being generated from and what industry the prospect was in. He used the strength of the company’s customer base and testimonials to support that he had a solid solution designed specifically for their industry the prospect was in. His success drove me to want to emulate this process for the entire sales staff.

Needless to say my colleagues became convinced that tracking what sources you are using to generate sales can play a vital role in increasing your chances of winning business. They also had an increased interest in using a CRM tool to track this sort of data.

About the author:

Tom Gibson is a sales manager who is considered an expert on sales techniques, CRM and business development.

Join the Conversation with Commence CRM

At Commence we value our customer relationships.

Relationships, not technologies, are what make CRM strategies successful. They connect people and get work done, deliver value, solve problems and gain insight into how better to serve customers in the future.”

Louis Columbus, Forbes.com

Our goal is to help you get the most value from our CRM solutions. How do you do that? Just ask! Customers can call at any time during our business hours and speak with a qualified sales or support representative. After hours you can take advantage of our web-based knowledgebase, free training videos and e-mail support. The company has been operating this way for more than 20 years and has built a solid reputation for providing world class customer service.

We invite you to stay connected with us on your favorite social network. Send us your feedback after your service or support inquiry is resolved.  Be the first to sign up when free classes and webinars are offered, see what we’re reading on other sites, pick up some expert sales tips and best practices, and see how other customers are realizing exceptional value from our CRM Customer Success stories.

Google+

google
Every week we share some of our top posts on Google+ so you can stay up to date and share the news with your colleagues.  To make sure you don’t miss a post, all you have to do is add the Commence CRM Google+ page to your circles or follow us.

We’re on other social networks, too.

Twitter

foot_twitterIf you’re new to Commence and want to catch up on what you’ve been missing, follow us @CommenceCorp. Here you’ll find an assortment of news, reviews, special promotions and other updates.

Facebook

foot_facebookLike the Commence CRM Facebook page to get our top stories in your feed.

No time for social networking?

feedWe’ve got you covered. If you’d rather visit our website for your CRM news, we have some other easy ways for you to keep up:

  • You can subscribe to our RSS feed to read the daily Commence CRM Blog in your favorite newsreader. We have an excellent weekly series of training articles from sales expert Dave Kahle, and you can get the latest company news and white papers in our CEO corner.

However you choose to keep up, we’re happy to have you join us!

How CRM Can Help You Better Communicate with Your Customers

Probably the number one mistake that companies make is that they think CRM is solely about their own efficiency. That’s well intentioned, but if this is indeed the only focus of their CRM, they’ve taken their eyes off the ball. Of course, the ball is the customer.

Consider the following tips to keep the focus right where it should be: customer attraction and retention.

Wilson

(Quick: Which movie made Wilson famous?) Keep your eye on the ball!

Consistent and clearly defined in-house methods need to be established

Work hard to find your best practices to stay systematized, efficient, synchronized and automated. That’s a tough bill to fill! CRM software is a critical first step. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel; customer relationship management involves many facets, and the software breaks it all down, step by step.

What’s your goal?

If the goal is to keep the focus on both prospects and present customers, consider the following questions:

  • What does the customer want?
  • How can you cross sell and/or up-sell?
  • What information can be gathered that will provide you with more insight into the customers’ needs?
  • For each customer, which has proven to be the most efficient method of gathering this information? (Email? Phone chat? Face-to-face meetings? Meetings with different groups within the organization when you are on premises?
  • Who are the stakeholders and key players within each account that you seek to acquire?

These questions should be revisited from time to time, and often that just doesn’t happen. Organizations sometimes collect all of the start-up data, but it’s important to press the pause button and revisit this information on a quarterly basis. The facts and insights change, and so do the people involved. Maintain excellent communication with your customers by regularly going right to the source and asking about these facets, and then post the results for all to see.

What Are the Results?

It’s crucial to keep everything centralized. All the key players in your organization need to have access to the same information so that the customers can easily observe that you’re all on the same page. When there is lack of visibility about what is happening with an account, that’s when truly embarrassing situations can occur. The last thing anyone wants is to come across in an unprofessional manner, but that’s exactly the result you’re going to get when all departments are not collaborating efficiently on each and every account.

Updating Is Imperative

Gather the Information all in one place, and require that each department regularly updates the data. Consider when this is most important:

  • Every time there has been a customer contact
  • Every time there has been a change in the customers’ service or product needs
  • Every time accounting has handled a statement or receivable
  • Every time a prospect, lead, or contact has been established
  • Every time marketing materials have been shared
  • Every time customer service has taken place
  • Every time technical support has been involved
  • Every time a post-sales report has been written, reviewed, or shared

That list is positively daunting if you’re relying only on in-house emails and chats. The data entry involved with these issues keeps confusion down and efficiencies high. Most importantly, it tacitly shares with each customer that there is a truly collaborative effort inside the company with whom they have decided to conduct business.

goal juve

Look carefully! You want the right person making the goal! Keep all communications visible, and you’ll hit your target every time.

Perception Is Reality

Consider the reaction of your clients when they share that they’ve received a call or email from another department in your organization, but you don’t know about it. It’s embarrassing for you, but more importantly, it sends a message to your client that simply is not good.

It’s critically important that your company is known for being organized, efficient, and detail-oriented. If your organization proves to be the converse, the truth is that there is another company right around the corner that they could send their business to. To increase revenue, the goal is retention. Maintaining high levels of collaboration, professionalism, and organization has never been more important – or easier. Study the various CRM software choices, and go with one that will keep your eyes focused on the customer.

About the author:

Valerie J. Wilson is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about health and wellness, business, and marketing.

Photo Credit: Erik Renko

Photo Credit: pierodemarchis

Pure Play CRM Vendor Making Big Impact

GorillaYou don’t have to be an 800 pound gorilla to provide a quality product and make an impact in the CRM software industry. In fact, pure play CRM solution provider Commence Corporation has been doing it for more than two decades and has a large and rapidly growing customer base.

So what does being a pure play vendor really mean? “It means developing and supporting Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) is all we do” says Todd Pape, Chief Technology Officer at Commence. “Because we are focused on one aspect of the business we can in fact be better than the industry giants.”

“The rapid evolution of cloud computing means that smaller organizations like Commence can build software solutions using the same underlying architecture as enterprise software companies like Microsoft, Oracle or Salesforce.com” continued Pape. “The functionality may be different and that’s exactly why companies like Commence can be a better fit for the small to mid-size business sector we serve. While the enterprise companies are focused on addressing multi-language requirements, high transaction volumes, and integration with ERP and other disparate systems, companies like Commence are focused on delivering a CRM solution that’s comprehensive, but also easy to use and affordable. It’s our core competency and what has differentiated Commence CRM for the past two decades” says Pape.

“We are focused on adding new features requested by our customers while the big guys are instead ripping out functionality that small to mid-size businesses don’t want.  They need to do this in order to make their product less complex and costly.  Surely a product designed specifically for small to mid-size businesses is going to be a better fit than one that’s been re-engineered to address the requirements of a different business sector.”

Then you have the issue of service.  “CRM is a service oriented sector” continued Pape.  “Customers often require assistance with importing data from other systems, training, customization and integration with other software programs. Companies like Microsoft are poorly equipped to provide high quality service to their customers. They instead use local value added resellers who more often than not are not properly trained or don’t have a great deal of experience with the product. The customer may think they bought a CRM product from Microsoft, but the implementation, service and support comes from someone else.”

This does not mean you should not buy a CRM solution from companies like Microsoft. It simply means that a pure play CRM solution provider like Commence CRM, that is laser focused on providing an excellent product and service, returns exceptional value to customers in the small to mid-size sector.  

Image by Roger Luijten on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Achieving a holistic 360 degree view of your customer

Here is a recap of 2 recent articles discussing how businesses are using CRM analytics to get a more detailed view of their customers.

Get the Full Picture

Four best practices for achieving a holistic customer view. One of the main reasons businesses implement a CRM system is to gain a complete, 360-degree view of their customers. However, large enterprises in particular often have difficulty achieving this goal. Many organizations grapple with how best to provide a holistic view of all the activities of an enterprise customer and how to implement a one-stop shop for analytics and actionable data.

CRM analytics reveals more about customers — maybe too much

A man walked into a Target store near Minneapolis demanding to speak to the manager, a jumble of coupons for baby clothes and cribs in his hands. His 16-year-old daughter had just received them, and he was fuming. But when the store manager called a few days later with an apology, the man had one too. His daughter was pregnant after all. Target knew it before he did. It’s an anecdote many have heard, after a New York Times article went viral last year, and it’s widely used in business circles to illustrate the possibilities of CRM analytics.

In the simplest terms, CRM analytics involves drilling into customer data to make smarter business decisions and to offer customers more personalized service. Target used information about customers’ past purchases — unscented lotion and vitamin supplements, for example — to identify women who were statistically likely to be pregnant, then sent them coupons for baby products.