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.

Sales Best Practice #25 – Maintains good records about customers

A best practice for sales people by guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

Maintains good records about customers by using an ‘account profile’ and ‘personal profiles’ for every account.

It is the Information Age.  That means wise and effective sales people collect, store and use good information about their customers and prospects. That information provides the salesperson with a competitive advantage, is invaluable for planning for the best use of his sales time, and allows him to be much more effective in his sales calls. 

In this day of CRM systems, hand-held devices and smart phones that make information management so easy, it’s a wonder that I even have to mention this, but the sad truth is, there are still sales forces that don’t use any kind of automation tool for salespeople.  And, even in those who do have some kind of electronic system for information management, a considerable portion of the sales force doesn’t comply with the company’s directions for collecting information.

            These salespeople realize that information – particularly information about the specific opportunities within an account and the quantifiable potential of every account – brings with it some accountability.  If account X has this much potential, for example, what are you doing to acquire it?

            It is that accountability that frightens the information-leery salesperson.

            But not the sales masters.  They understand that specific, useful information about every account – the kind you would collect and put into an account profile – is valuable, not only for the salesperson, but also for his/her company.  They welcome the accountability that rises out of information, as they understand it helps keep them sharp and focused.

            Even in companies which do not have a system-wide electronic approach to information management, the best salespeople create their own tools, and discipline themselves to rigorously use them.

            That’s why this is a practice of the best.

For more information about this best practice:

If you are a subscriber to The Sales Resource Center®, review Pod-43: Managing Information Before it Manages You, and Pod-45: How to Collect the Right Kind of Information.

Copyright MMXII by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved

 Image by Victor1558 on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Does Your Monthly Sales Forecast Keep Coming Up Short?

quality decisionmaking (271/365)
If you’re a sales executive you have got to be tired of explaining why the monthly or quarterly forecast keeps coming up short?  I understand because I have managed large teams of sales representatives ranging in experience from 1 year to more than 20 years.  I shared your experience then I decided to fix it.  What I learned is that there is one main reason why the forecast consistently disappoints and a fairly easy way to address this challenge.

The problem starts with lead qualification.  Your sales team is most likely made up of a few senior representatives, several others with 3- 5 years of experience and some that are just starting out in sales.  Each representative sees a new opportunity differently.  Some think it’s highly qualified while others do not, and that’s the problem.  What I discovered is that the sales representatives who were doing well and delivering new business were doing a good job at vetting each new lead while others were chasing tire kickers.  Knowing this my team and I then embarked on a simple task and that was to create set of criteria for rating and scoring each new opportunity.

We then incorporated the criteria into the Commence CRM system which automated the process and ensured that every sales representative regardless of experience level was qualifying new business opportunities according to a specific set of criteria.  The results speak for themselves.  The team became laser focused on the most promising new opportunities instead of wasting valuable time on those that were not.  Our close ratios went up, our forecast was much more accurate and we realized higher monthly and quarterly revenues.  The Commence CRM software became a simple affordable solution to a difficult business problem.

Image “quality decisionmaking (271/365)” by Allix Rogers on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Arm your Sales Team – It’s a War Out There

Ready for Battle, Sir!Sales are the driving force of any business. With competition getting tougher and tougher it is imperative that you develop, train and coach your sales team to be the best they can be.  Experienced sales managers can train sales representatives to be better qualifiers and closers, but sales people need more than basic sales training to be successful.  They need the right tools and a partner to ensure that the sales staff realizes the maximum value from them.

CRM software is now regarded as a must have for any size business that sells products or services.  What these software programs provide is the ability to manage customer interaction and share vital customer information with the people and departments that need it to effectively do their jobs.  CRM comes in several flavors from basic programs that provide contact management and sales management to more mature systems that offer lead management and lead qualification, sales analytics, marketing campaign management and customer service applications.

Best CRM for Small Business

One of the most popular CRM systems for small to mid-size businesses is Commence CRM.  Well regarded for its robust functionality and ease of use, Commence is a cloud based CRM system that operates over the Internet. As such, there is no hardware to purchase or software to install and customers can be operational very quickly.  What Commence CRM does best however is that it automates the routine tasks that are performed daily by sales and customer service personnel.  Right from the opening screen or dashboard, sales and support staff can enter new leads, a new sales opportunity, a service ticket, schedule follow-up activity or access the complete profile of any customer.  The speed, efficiency and ease of use of this system is unmatched in the industry and has made Commence a popular alternative to highly marketed CRM programs like and Microsoft CRM.

Sales Process Management

While Commence offers several unique features in the software, the company’s expertise in sales process management has enabled Commence customers to quickly get a leg up on the competition. The Commence program allows for the implementation of a custom tailored sales process that displays a graphical analysis of where every new sales opportunity is in the sales process. This provides sales management with the ability to be proactive with each new sales opportunity and has resulted in more accurate sales forecasts, higher close ratios and more sales.

Free trials and CRM reviews comparing Commence against other online CRM programs are available on the Commence web site at

Image by Andrew Wong on Flickr under Creative Commons license.