Creating and storing a lot of data about your clients, prospects, suppliers, partners and target market in your Contact Relationship Management system (CRM) is not the same as using it effectively. One takes discipline and application, probably some dedicated resources and built-in capture processes. The other takes strategy, vision and creativity.
An on-line, cloud-based CRM is a great and easy-to-use receptacle to organize and categorize data. But why would you do that without a clear strategy to make that investment pay off? Here are a number of ways that our clients have used their data asset and hosted CRM solutions to drive new business or implement better practices in their current business.
Using CRM Effectively:
- One of our clients planned a regular news letter to a selected target audience. The concept was to provide a useful monthly update by email on topics which illustrated industry trends and developments. They wanted to use this as a marketing process to selected customers who had become lapsed. These steps were required:
a) Identify the target audience characteristics
b) Identify the key branding messages and images
c) Design and write the newsletter (and plan to maintain the monthly production schedule discipline).
d) Include landing pages for specific click-through’s from the newsletter
e) Initiate a newsletter menu item and section on their web-site
f) Provide “unsubscribe” and other spam-avoidance legal requirements
g) Provide and monitor/publish commentary
h) Initiate a tweeting process to further promote and publicize their key topics and articles
- Another client was challenged by a sales force that was not achieving sales goals, the initial investigation showed that the quality of contact that was being logged as a sales potential was very low, perhaps including someone who had just dropped by the booth at a trade show. It was hard to tell what sales stage had been achieved because there were no standards to indicate when the work expected in a prior sales stage, was completed. Standards and qualification checklists were needed In order to make the sales funnel reflect realistic expectations and to make sales results more predictable. By building these checklists and scoring process into the CRM system we achieved a very manageable and easily communicated set of standards that were very easy for new-hires to understand and adopt.
- One client wanted to invite clients and prospects to seminars. That involved several steps: Identifying the right targets for seminars, identifying which seminar was available in their target’s area, developing the seminar information page on the web-site and associated sign up form and payment process, designing and personalizing the invitation and email to the prospective attendees. Once the registration was in process, the next step was responding to those who had signed up with first a “thank you for registering” and secondly with a reminder notice the day before the event. Name cards were printed and name badges prepared. For those who had not responded, a reminder email was sent. After the seminar, those who attended required a follow-up phone call to see if there were any opportunities. Those who had registered but not attended were contacted to ask them if they wanted to attend a future seminar.
- We encountered a prospective client that needed several steps to improve an ailing business. Firstly they could not identify why anyone would choose them over their competition. Secondly they had no real web-presence, so no one could find them in an organic search and they were not advertising on the web and social media sites. Their internal sales process involved a great deal of coordination of third parties around the world by email and subsequently billing and costing involved working out whom they should pay when the job was completed. They were always concerned that their long supply chain might be missing critical deadlines. Despite their obvious needs they were too busy “Bailing the boat” to focus on sorting out the basic problems. We hope we can help them but they need to decide if they plan to survive.
An Advanced Use of CRM:
- One of our clients has the kind of system where their clients log-in regularly with a unique password and username. Typically they find that their clients log in once or twice a week to make a transaction or to check on the status of their account. They wanted to provide some friendly and user-specific service messages to avoid having to make service phone calls. We created a user-sensitive process: When the client logs in, the login verification launches a check on the state and status of the account and will pop up an action box depending on what it finds. For example, when the client has not supplied an up-to-date email address, it requests that an email address is supplied. When their visa is about to expire, it asks for the new expiry date, if the client has a large amount in a cash account it suggests that they contact their investment advisor to make their money work harder for them. Anything that is known about the client can be the subject of a helpful suggestion. The suggestion logic is programmed to not ask the same question twice within a certain period of time and to prioritize the possible messages to ensure that critical messages take precedence over helpful suggestions.
If any of these challenges or solutions resonates with you or if you would like advice and assistance on your projects, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, our initial 30 minute phone consultation is free.
Peter Coy | President | Prodigm Inc. | Toronto