The success of your business is highly dependent on your ability to create and implement a mix of marketing programs that target the right customers, effectively communicate your message, and convert new prospects into customers. If you are not doing this, or if you are still using old school marketing programs, you are most likely struggling. Your competitors are probably using a digital marketing strategy and it’s time that you take the steps to compete on a level playing field.
Before embarking on your digital marketing campaign take the time to understand three core criteria about your business.
- What customers do you serve better than anyone else and what are the competing alternatives?
- How will you communicate this to the market? What is the proper vehicle to attract the right prospects?
- How will you measure the effectiveness of your marketing programs?
Digital marketing is all about taking advantage of the tools and services that will enable you to quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively put your company, your product or your service in front of as many potential buyers as possible. This includes:
- search engine optimization on sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing
- creating quality content for distribution on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and others
- creating a blog with educational material
- enhancing your web site with a call to action and a giveaway for those who provide their information, such as a free white paper or product trial.
What is important is to understand that you need a marketing mix that incorporates much of the above to be successful. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, there are a lot of resources available to help. To learn more visit commence.com/marketing-enablement
CRM solutions come in three sizes. There are several products designed for large enterprises, a few for mid-size companies and a myriad of basic low-cost or freemium offerings for small businesses. Despite the marketing rhetoric from Salesforce.com that they are the best solution for all sectors, the reality is they simply are not. It’s a great product chock full of a features and functions that, while suitable for large organizations, are simply overkill for most small to mid-size businesses. Many small to mid-size firms that have selected Salesforce have found it to be cumbersome, hard to use and simply too costly for the functionality they require. This seems to be a fair assessment. It does not mean that Salesforce is a bad product, but perhaps not the best one for every size business.
Salesforce is known as the number one provider in the space and as such, everyone wants to take a shot at them. I would like to defend Salesforce in perhaps an unusual way. You see it seems like each month there is a new article written about the best alternatives to Salesforce.com, but most of them hold little merit. Here’s why. The latest one I reviewed was titled Best Cheap Alternatives to Salesforce.com. This article listed a dozen or more products, some free and others that offer a basic low-cost out of the box solution for managing contacts, a sales forecast and a bit more. These are not cheap CRM alternatives to Salesforce.com, they are simply cheap CRM solutions. Not one of these offers a fraction of the functionality that Salesforce.com does. After reading this article you get the feeling that you can get the features of Salesforce.com at a fraction of the cost – but you can’t, and anyone with a brain knows this. So, what’s the point of this article? To me it illustrates how much the author does not know about Salesforce.com or CRM for that matter.
There are a few solution providers that offer a robust set of features that are similar to Salesforce and at a lower cost, but strangely enough not one of these was listed in this particular article. I am not referring to unknown start-ups here. How about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Commence CRM or Sugar CRM? These are companies that compete with Salesforce.com every day, offer a comprehensive suite of functionality, are lower cost and have been providing services to mid-size companies for a decade or more. These are the best less expensive alternatives to Salesforce.com. To learn more about any of the above firms visit their specific web sites.
Thousands of small to mid-size businesses have adopted CRM software with the belief that they would generate more new business opportunities and would be able to keep those opportunities from falling through cracks. Unfortunately, they have failed to realize this, so if you feel this way you are not alone.
CRM can be a valuable tool, but it’s valueless if you don’t have a platform in place for generating new business opportunities. CRM is a component of the platform, but it needs to be coupled with a mix of marketing activity designed to drive new business opportunities. Here is an analogy to describe what I mean. Many startup companies are proud that they have created a modern cosmetically appealing website, but months later they are perplexed as to why they are not getting any visitors. Well the answer is simple. It’s like holding up a sign in the desert. There is no one there! CRM is no different. You cannot properly manage new sales opportunities if you don’t have any. Your website is not going to produce them nor is your CRM system. What you need is a company that can provide not only the CRM tools to manage new leads, but a program to get you the leads.
One company that has taken a leadership position with this is Commence Corporation. Commence sells CRM software like many other CRM solution providers, but what makes Commence unique is that they are assisting customers with creating marketing programs designed to drive new business. The company’s professional services staff is helping companies to identify who are their best customers, what are their competing alternatives and how can they can proactively target them. Once the leads are generated, the CRM software then ranks and color codes each opportunity based on specific qualification criteria and provides the ability to manage the opportunity from the initial introduction to closure. It’s this combination of effective lead generation programs coupled with a top-rated CRM solution that is enabling Commence customers to improve sales execution and impact the bottom line.
Want to learn more about Commence? Contact Commence Sales at 1-877–266-6362 or visit the company’s web site at commence.com.
CRM software providers are trying hard to earn your business and want to convince you that their CRM software will help you close deals faster, improve close ratios and guarantee customer retention, but sometimes the marketing pitches can go a bit too far and as our new president would say: It’s fake news. To illustrate this below are three testimonials I grabbed from three CRM company websites.
“We are now selling faster, easier, and with more relevance. We close deals twice as fast as before.”
“Sales improved by 32% in the first 90 days. “
“Our CRM has given us a 99% Customer Retention Rate.”
As one of the leading providers of CRM software for small to mid-size businesses, I can tell you unequivocally that these statements are simply not true. In fact, CRM software has nothing to do with closing deals twice as fast as before. If sales have improved by 33% in 90 days it’s probably due to a sales promotion or an event; and if you have retained 99% of your customers it’s because you have a quality product and provide great service. It’s not because of your CRM system.
You see CRM is just a tool that requires management’s commitment and quality people to ensure any level of success. In fact, I believe CRM has become a commodity today and the more popular solutions like Salesforce.com, Microsoft CRM, and Commence CRM all provide similar functionality at similar price points so it really does not matter which one you select. What does matter is what complementary services these companies can offer to ensure the successful implementation and use of their products. This is an area where Commence CRM really shines.
While some firms, Microsoft CRM for example, use third parties to sell, implement and support their product, Commence CRM is a one stop shopping provider that utilizes its own staff to implement, train and support the product. The company also provides an array of services and best practices that help customers create marketing campaigns and lead generation programs, implement a structured sales process for managing the sales cycle, and create a customer portal for providing high quality service. These services actually play a greater role in improving marketing, sales execution and customer service than the software does. Of course, you do need a product that offers this level of functionality and not one of the low-cost out of the box offerings that do not. But the real key here is your commitment to using the software to streamline the internal business processes that will impact the performance of your business. CRM by itself won’t make this happen. So, forget all the hype and fake news you may read or out there and refocus your energy on the services the solution provider can provide to ensure your success.
Years ago, Salesforce.com ran relentless campaigns against several companies claiming that you don’t need a high priced over bloated CRM solution to manage your business. Because it was cloud-based, customers did not have to deal with hardware and software implementations, therefore, reducing the cost of the overall implementation. It worked and Salesforce became a household name. Now several years later customers have discovered just how expensive and cumbersome this product is to use and are seeking a replacement. The good news is that many more vendors have entered the sector with competitive products that are less expensive and offer comparable functionality.
One of these companies is Commence Corporation. While not yet a household name Commence was recently listed by the Gartner Group’s Capterra evaluation team as one of the top 20 most popular products for small to mid-size businesses and Commence was included in a Forbes report of great CRMs you probably never heard of. The company has been in the CRM sector for several years and is gaining popularity for the quality of the product, coupled with friendly customer service – something Salesforce.com is not known for.
Commence CRM is targeted at companies that need more functionality and flexibility than that offered by lower cost CRM solutions, but not the high cost and cumbersome nature of enterprise level solutions. In addition to contact and account management, sales and lead management, Commence CRM offer a marketing application, a customer service or help desk solution, a document library, a web-based customer portal, and a fully integrated project management application. The product is modular in design so customers can select only the applications they require for their business. Full integration is provided with MS Outlook and mobile is included with each product edition. Simply stated, Commence CRM is a comprehensive solution at an attractive price.
If you are looking for a feature-rich CRM solution that is affordable, easy to use and offers best in class customer service take a look at Commence CRM. For more information visit www.commence.com or call Commence Sales at 877-COMMENCE.