There was a time long ago when contact management products like ACT!, Goldmine and Maximizer provided good value for people looking to manage contacts, their calendar and their activities. But limited functionality, troublesome synchronization of data, and lack of mobile access has now made these products obsolete. The good news is that there is a completely new generation of products available that are affordable, and offer so much more than traditional contact management systems.
One product that has become a very popular choice among the SMB sector is Commence CRM. Commence is a web based CRM system that operates online via a cloud computing environment, which means there is no hardware to purchase or maintain and no software to worry about upgrading every year. Commence CRM takes client management to a whole new level, enabling you to not only manage accounts and contacts but also sales, leads, projects, documents and customer service. Unlike contact management systems that simply manage contacts, Commence CRM is a customer management solution offering departmental functionality to improve how you market, sell and provide service to your customers.
Another significant advantage to using a product like Commence CRM is that the solution is browser based, which means you can access your data 24/7 from any device including a PC, Apple Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device. Commence CRM is simply the next step up for companies looking to manage more than contacts, notes and history. Migration to a product like Commence CRM is quick and easy with a minimal learning curve.
If you are still using one of the older traditional contact management systems it’s time to take a look at a new generation of client management system like Commence CRM.
Image by eagle1effi on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
A Best Practice for sales people by guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
By Dave Kahle
The best salespeople understand that the more comfortable the customer is with their company, the less risk the customer perceives there to be in dealing with them, and the more likely it is that the customer will prefer their company as a supplier.
That’s just good common sense. I bank where I do, for example, because when I walk in, everyone knows my name. That makes me feel important, and it makes it so much easier to do business. Or, at least, I feel like it does. And that is what’s important.
There is a simple principle at work here: The customer should be comfortable with more people in your organization than just you. The more people your customer knows, the better for you. That simple principle leads to a powerful sales practice. By proactively introducing your good customers to others in your organization, you broaden the relationship between the two entities, and tie the customer to you via additional relationships.
Make sure that your boss has been introduced to your customers. Methodically take him/her to your customers and facilitate the introductions. Bring a customer service person or two to visit your good customers.
If it is appropriate, constantly invite your customers into your facility to meet the people who make things happen inside your organization.
Each of these relationships makes the customer feel more comfortable in dealing with your organization, and increases the likelihood that you will become the preferred supplier.
That’s why this is a best practice of the best salespeople.
Here’s a way to apply this best practice. Start with a self-assessment: List all of the key people in your “A” accounts in the first column of a spreadsheet. Across the tops of the columns, list each of the key people in your organization. Then, put an “X” in the cell where the two people have connected. For example, if customer John Smith knows your customer service person “Jenny,” then put an “X” in that cell. When you have completed that, use the empty cells as a guide, and plan to remedy the situation. Over the next few months, proactively introduce those customers with the key internal people until all the cells are “X’d.”
If you’d like to explore this best practice more deeply, consider The Sales Resource Center™, and listen to Nugget N-230.
About the Author:
Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and eight countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog. For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.
Copyright MMXII by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved.
Contact management is an increasingly difficult task. Through the development of technology such as smart phones and tablets, contact details are now increasingly elaborate and across many platforms, like social media, email addresses, residential addresses, cell phone numbers, Skype details, twitter accounts etc. Therefore managing your contacts can be a time consuming task. Within these varying types of contact details it can be challenging to decipher whom to contact and on what platform. This is where the concept of Contact Management is brought into play.
Contact management software provides users with the ability to easily store and find contact information safely and coherently. These contact-centric databases enable users to track all information and communication activities linked to contacts, so why is it important to have a fully integrated CRM system rather than just a contact management system?
A fully integrated customer relationship management system extends the features a contact management solution can provide. CRM establishes a comprehensive record of each interaction and this then provides organisations with a greater overall knowledge of their customer needs. An amalgamation of both CRM and Contact Management can provide organisations with the fully integrated customer relationship management system they need.
CRM software packages are a vital tool for businesses in the global economy. Varied customer locations and interactions with your organisations sales funnel can cause difficulties for your sales team when they are recording vital customer information. However, through the implementation of a fully integrated online CRM system your company can benefit immediately due to the availability of customer knowledge at a moments notice. The relationship that can be developed with your customer through the use and maintenance of an amalgamated CRM system will ensure the continued growth and success of your organisation. The availability of enhanced customer knowledge will have a positive effect on sales, establishing the prospect and production of business growth in the long term.
Image “a shoebox of photographs with sepia-tone loving;” by Breanna Josephine on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
For the past two decades Commence Corporation has worked diligently to ensure that our customers have the opportunity to periodically evaluate our company, our product and our service and submit their opinions, recommendations and suggestions directly to Commence Corporation’s management. These recommendations have served to fuel the growth of our business and the high customer satisfaction rate enjoyed by our customers. Outlined below are the results of the company’s most recent survey.
The Survey Says:
Question 1 How long have you been using Commence?
- 31% 1-3 years
- 53% more than 5 to 10 years
- 16% more than 10 years
Question 2 What is the principal industry of your company?
More than 27 industries were represented.
Question 3 Which Commence product do you use?
- 78% Designer Edition CRM Toolkit
- 16% Desktop CRM Application Suite
- 6% Commence OnDemand (New Cloud based CRM offering)
Question 4 What is your primary use of the product?
Evenly split among the choices:
Contact & account management, sales, marketing, customer service
Question 5 How important is Commence to your business?
- 79% Mission Critical
- 19% Important
- 2% Not that important
Question 6 How satisfied are you with the product you are using?
- 74% Very satisfied
- 19% Satisfied
- 7% Not satisfied
Question 7 What do you find is the greatest strength of the product?
- 61% Flexibility
- 39% Reliability
Question 8 How likely are you to recommend Commence to a colleague?
Question 9 How would you rate Commence Corporation’s ability to keep pace with current technology?
- 69% Very satisfied
- 13% Not satisfied
- 18% Don’t think about it
Question 10 How would you rate the level of functionality incorporated in the product you are using?
- 96% Very good meets our requirements
- 4% Does not meet our requirements
Question 11 What improvements would you like to see in a future release of the product? (Respondents could check several options)
- 51% Better integration with third party applications
- 43% Better documentation
- 37% Enhanced mobile capabilities
- 33% Remote access to data
- 30% More programming features
- 23% Make product easier to use
Question 12 Do you have a service agreement with Commence?
- 41% Yes
- 59% No, we do everything ourselves
Question 13 How would you rate the quality of service received?
- 64% Excellent
- 27% Very good
- 9% Fair
Question 14 How would you rate the value of the annual software maintenance program that provides updates and enhancements to the product(s)?
- 68% Very good value
- 22% Good value
- 2% Fair – program is too expensive
Question 15 How would you rate the level of communication the company provides?
- 62% Very good, we get all the information we need
- 32% Fair, would like to see more communication from Commence
- 6% Poor, the company does not communicate enough
Question 16 How would you rate your overall experience with Commence Corporation?
- 73% Very good, the company has an excellent product and service organization
- 19% Good – the experience has been good
- 8% Fair – our experience is not what we had expected.
Question 17 Commence is evaluating some enhanced services for our customers. How would you rank each of the items below based on the importance to your business? (Respondents could select several options)
- # 1 — Searchable knowledgebase 53%
- # 2 — Internet forum 34%
- # 3 — Technical support blog 30%
- # 4 — Self help videos 26%
- # 5 — Quarterly webinars 17%
- # 6 — Social networking 6%
Question 18 Commence now offers a hosting service for managing the Commence database in our datacenter and a cloud based CRM solution, Commence On-Demand. How likely are you to consider moving to one of these offerings in the future?
- 21% Very likely – I would like to learn more
- 61% Not likely we are happy with the on-premise system
- 18% All ready using your hosted service
NOTE: Responses containing personal information about your company, your name, your role and if we may contact you have been removed from the results page.
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