By Larry Caretsky
CEO, Commence Corporation
The Customer Relationship Management software industry (CRM) is highly competitive. There are literally hundreds of offerings for all size businesses and at all price points. Despite this the majority of these solutions are failing to meet customer requirements and there is one simple reason why – customization.
CRM solution providers can be divided into three categories: those that sell to small businesses, those that target the middle market, and those that have designed solutions for enterprise organizations. Despite the differences in functionality and price, they all have the same business objective and that is to sell their pre-built solution to as many companies as possible. At the small business level, none of the solution providers has any interest in spending time to understand your business requirements. Most do not even have a telephone number to call for assistance and why should they? The majority of these products offer basic functionality at a low cost. You download them via the internet, pay a monthly fee and if they meet your requirements then great. There is little to no customization available so you had better make sure that what you get out-of-the-box is all that you need.
The problem is that most companies want and need more. They need to be able to tailor the solution not only for their current business requirements, but also for those that develop in the future. Here lies the problem. Programs like Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM (considered the leaders in the CRM space) are customizable, but by who? Customization of the Salesforce.com platform requires the Salesforce toolkit and engineers trained in the use of their proprietary tools. This adds a substantial expense to the solution. Customization of Microsoft CRM is traditionally done by third party resellers. That’s why they recommend the product. They want those additional professional service fees. So what do you do? The low cost solutions will not meet your requirements and the industry giants that do are just too costly. There are some good alternatives, but you have to look a bit harder to find them.
Forbes magazine recently produced an article called 25 Great CRM Applications You Probably Never Heard Of. One of the listings is Commence CRM from Commence Corporation. Commence CRM is targeted at small to mid-sized businesses that require robust functionality with the ability to customize the applications to meet unique business requirements. What is different about Commence is the following. First, like the article states you probably never heard of Commence CRM. Secondly, Commence CRM not only offers a suite of applications that rivals the industry giants, but you can tailor the applications yourself without purchasing proprietary development tools or engaging expensive third party services.
If you are looking to implement CRM software for your business you are going to look at Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM, that’s a given. But why not take a moment to compare the functionality, customizability and total cost of ownership of Commence CRM to the industry giants? You will be glad you did.
See commence.com to learn more, and see what customers say about Commence CRM.
If you are like most small to mid-sized businesses you are trying to improve sales execution using proven business processes, and using technology to automate and streamline the sales cycle. New online CRM software programs can provide you with the technology, but you are going to need more than that to significantly improve sales performance.
What you need is the implementation of a structured sales methodology.
Sales methodologies have been in existence since the 70’s. They have matured and can now support the needs of small, medium and large organizations in both generic and vertical industry sectors. What a sales methodology provides is a path that enables you to manage each new sales opportunity from introduction to closure. The methodology outlines the steps incorporated in your sales cycle so that you can efficiently manage each phase of the cycle and become proactive during the sales process.
Here is an example. Let’s say you sell computer software. Your sales process can be as short as sixty days and as long as six months. Your sales process consists of the following:
- Step 1 – Introduction and Rapport building
- Step 2 – Needs Analysis
- Step 3 – Product Demonstration
- Step 4 – Proposal Generation
- Step 5 – Contract Review
- Step 6 – Close Sale
Today’s CRM software solutions do a good job of automating the process so that each sales representative is approaching and managing every sales opportunity according to the steps above. This ensures consistency and enables management to know where every new opportunity is in the sales cycle. It also results in more accurate monthly and quarterly sales forecasts. The key here is the combination of a structured sales approach designed by sales management coupled with a CRM solution that automates the structure. A CRM solution on its own won’t get the job done. If you want to jump start your sales, develop a sales process or structure first then select a CRM software solution that will automate that process.
Photo Credit: Gualberto107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Commence Corporation, a leading provider of affordable CRM software for growing businesses, has released an enhanced version of their popular online software.
Commence offers a comprehensive suite of CRM applications targeted at small to mid-size businesses that need more than basic contact management and a sales forecast, but not the cost and complexity associated with enterprise level solutions. Commence’s ease of use coupled with robust functionality has continued to attract businesses throughout the United States and Europe. The company’s web based CRM system is well suited for businesses of 10 to 200 users. These customers find the Commence CRM easier to navigate and use than competitors Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM and less expensive.
In addition, Commence has an experienced professional service staff that helps customers tailor the system to meet unique business requirements and establish and automate internal workflow procedures such automated lead qualification, sales methodologies, sales training and rating and color coding of customers based on the their value to their business. Services such as these are rarely offered by lower end CRM providers, which is what makes Commence such a strong competitor in the mid-market.
Click Here to open the review of Commence CRM in PDF format.
You have probably heard the old saying: “Leave your customers alone and they will go away“. In today’s business environment staying in touch with your customers is paramount to achieving a level of service that drives customer loyalty. While the human touch is important for building rapport and ensuring that your customers are pleased with your product or service, CRM software is now playing an important role in complementing the human side of the service equation.
Quality CRM systems now have a customer service component built into them that includes things such as a knowledgebase and frequently asked questions. Using a secure customer portal, customers can gain access to valuable information about your products or services 24/7. This means customer service is always available morning, noon and night.
Another component of CRM software is the ability to generate direct mail or bulk e-mail campaigns. Many online CRM systems enable you to create e-mail marketing programs such as quarterly new letters, product tips and techniques or what’s new at our company to ensure that you are staying in touch with your customers. Advanced CRM systems like Commence CRM offer the ability to schedule these mailings in advance. This allows you to create what’s known as “drip marketing” whereby you can periodically send out information to your customers on a weekly, monthly or quarterly schedule. Of course there is no better vehicle for staying in touch with your customers than making a personal phone call, but having a CRM system assist in the sales process makes good business sense.
Develop Customer Intimacy with CRM Software
When reviewing your sales pipeline, a recurring question is how can we generate more leads, but still maintain our client base and ensure our customers are happy?
Customer intimacy is the key to customer satisfaction. Whether your product or service is B2B or B2C it is essential that your entire organization is aware of your organization’s goals and philosophy. This awareness and employee belief will generate a streamlined effect when your sales teams are interacting with your clients. Through ensuring that customer intimacy is stated in your organizational goals, it will automatically enhance your sales process.
The question is how can you then ensure that your customer relationships are maintained in a professional manner? Human error is something that cannot be avoided in an organization of any size however, implementing strategies and solutions that empower your sales team will assist them to work more effectively thus improving employee satisfaction. This then causes a domino effect – enhanced employee satisfaction leads to improved employee efficiency, which consequently generates sales development and an increase in the quantity of customers.
With an increase in customers it is essential to manage your customer relationships. Previously, sales teams managed customer relationships on Excel worksheets or even in soft copy documents. However today with increased business volumes due to global marketplaces it is clear that implementing an Online CRM Software Solution is essential.
Online CRM immediately improves your sales process. Through greater clarity of your sales pipeline, your sales team are instantly equipped with vital tools they need to ensure your organization continues to grow.
Online CRM solutions are varied. It is important that throughout your CRM decision making process you take the correct steps to ensure your CRM system is aligned with your organization’s needs and future goals. To assist you we have put together a CRM checklist that you may find valuable in your selection process. Download the CRM checklist to help make this decision.