Author: Matthew Parton – Managing Director – Intelligenics Ltd
OK so you are going to networking meetings, you meet with people face-to-face, you email them when you get back to the office. You are marketing through all channels and you have a full understanding of all your customers, where they come from, which channels work best, which sales rep is the strongest, which customers are the most profitable and which ones are not.
Understanding your sales pipeline, your most effective marketing channels and your best sales team will provide you with critical insights on how to structure your sales and marketing efforts and most importantly where not to. Business owners that work in the dark, are more likely to fail than businesses that don’t.
There are many ways to manage your customers but the most effective way is to use a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system. This will be the most valuable weapon in your business arsenal. The alternative, without this, would be using email, spreadsheets and assorted notes. This is almost certainly a recipe for disaster and will, moving forward, lead to wasted time and bad decisions.
Having this information in one structured system will help you make better decisions and help you to grow your business more effectively. It will also give you a baseline to identify what worked in the past and change your strategy in the future.
You would be surprised how many business owners I meet that have very simple ad hoc systems to manage their customers with no real strategy to keep track of conversations. Ok, some of these businesses are quite small and have a very small client base so keeping track is probably straight forward enough, then again these businesses were quite happy where they were in terms of scale and were not really looking to grow. If that’s how you feel about your business, then a CRM is probably not going to be very useful to you.
Sales Tools to manage your income
One of the great things about Dynamics 365 is it provides you with the tools to create leads, opportunities and contacts. This gives your sales team all they need manage your customer database and identify where each lead and opportunity came from. You can also log information about phone calls, emails and follow up tasks. This is important for your sales teams as they can see what information was stored in the past about a client and make plans for future work.
Marketing Tools to manage your channels
Another great feature is the ability to create marketing campaigns, these can be used to run and track direct marketing, networking meetings, email campaigns and other marketing efforts that can help to grow your business. Keeping track of each channel will provide you and your sales team with statistical insights on how effective the marketing spend was. In addition, it will give your sales team the tools to track their own efforts and make better decisions so they can perform better.
Goals and Targets
Dynamics also provides your teams with tools to set goals and create targets for you to see in reports. This can be a real driver for your teams and help your teams focus their efforts more effectively instead of sailing into the dark.
Get, Keep and Grow your Customers
So how does a CRM system help you. Well to quote a statement from a well-known Stanford Business professor “Steve Blank” who said you should “Get, Keep and Grow your customers”, which makes absolute sense to me and captures all the important things about managing a business from the customers prospective.
To me a CRM system gives you the tools you need to meet this objective. The most important thing is it provides you with a nurturing engine keep track of all your customer history give you the ability to build relationships by keeping in contact with your customers at regular intervals. Very rarely will you sell to your customer on first contact especially when selling low volume high priced items, so it’s vital you build that relationship, so when they are ready to purchase, you are there in their mind.
Dynamics 365 a cloud based CRM
As a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Partner we work exclusively with Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 is an excellent CRM tool and has many of the features that other CRM’s on the market possess but with the added advantage of great integration with Office 365, and SharePoint and very soon LinkedIn. This integration means storing contracts, documents, sales literature and other information about your customers is true simplicity.
So why is a CRM going to help you. Being a business owner myself going to business network meetings can give you great information into your customer’s operations and how they work. One of the most frustrating things I found when speaking to business owners was that many of them already had websites in place but didn’t have a CRM. The problem with this was when I asked them could they identify where there leads come from or what was the source of the referral they couldn’t answer. Yes, google analytics can tell you some things about website performance but that requires a whole load of digging around, so tracking is important if you are to learn how you’re doing business.
Microsoft announced this year the acquisition of LinkedIn into its product portfolio, so, you can bet there will be real integration with the social network so users can glean real time information about real prospects without having to leave the office.
Over the next few weeks I will also be talking about more features that dynamics 365 provides and running some videos on how to use Dynamics 365 for your business so keep posted to learn more
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