6 Sales and Marketing Strategy Problems You Can Start Fixing Today

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Discover how to bring the sales and marketing strategy of your business together and ensure the departments are working in sync and on-message.

 

To boost lead generation and grow customer bases, it is imperative that Sales and Marketing are brought closer into alignment. According to Forrester, there is a…

32%

increase in annual revenue growth for aligned organisations, while there’s a…

7%

decline in revenue for less aligned companies.

The issue for many companies is that the two departments are traditionally wary of each other – and that’s the first issue that a proactive CEO must deal with.

 

1. Deal with the identity crisis

It’s essential to recognise the mental and physical divide between the two departments. Not only do they usually work in different offices within a corporation, but they also work in silos –  effectively ignoring each other. The resulting mindsets? Sales think Marketing’s leads are bad while Marketing believe Sales aren’t good enough at chasing its hard-fought leads.

 

2. Stop the burning of bridges

Interdepartmental meetings should be held on a regular basis to build trust and relationships with team members from each department. This simple but effective approach is an ideal opportunity to create a joined up sales and marketing strategy, with both sides discussing and sharing knowledge. Marketing is perfectly placed to discuss sales opportunities and key prospects based on their data, while Sales can offer valuable insights into frontline issues such as business pains and customer personas.

 

3. Define roles and define terms – don’t just ignore them

It’s essential that both departments are singing from the same hymn sheet. For example, Marketing needs to define and understand what a good lead is in the minds of the Sales department, and Sales need to understand the entire pipeline that Marketing is following with its lead generation process. By taking a unified approach to the revenue cycle, the departments will be brought closer into alignment with one another.

Same Terms, Different Definitions?

Ensure that common terms mean the same thing in the minds of both departments – sit down together and draw up definitions of the basics such as lead generation, lead scoring and lead nurturing.

 

4. Avoid the Negative, Focus on the Positive

The push for alignment isn’t going to happen overnight – so ensure that you celebrate any win which was based on the new closer working relationship between the two departments. A lead from Marketing that turned into a Sales success should be highlighted to build enthusiasm, encouraging increased alignment and further underlining the commitment to the new sales and marketing strategy.

 

5. Don’t Leave Them Hanging

Keep communicating. Marketing must ensure it checks-in with Sales on a regular basis to monitor how their leads are performing. For instance, follow up on a lead given to Sales to ascertain its resulting performance, closing the loop on each and every lead even if it turned out to be fruitless. Deploying this tactic will aid in honing the lead generation process and, for those leads that fell flat, lessons can be learned together to further hone business pains and customer personas.

 

6. Two Departments, One Vision

Software solutions offer the perfect backbone for building a closer relationship between Sales and Marketing. The creation of a virtual dashboard that both teams can access in real-time will enable them to see and feedback on what each department is doing. This is an optimum alignment solution. CRM systems offer this functionality effortlessly – boosting productivity in the process.

In-Sync

According to research by Aberdeen Research, marketing automation capabilities such as lead generation, scoring and nurturing are proven to bring sales and marketing closer together.

 

Remember:

  • Bring sales and marketing together via regular meetings; bust those silos.
  • Feed off each department’s knowledge and skill set to maximise sales and marketing’s potential.
  • Define roles and common terms so both departments are working from the same ‘brief’.
  • Celebrate successes and learn from failures together, not apart.
  • Deploy software solutions such as CRM to drive your aligned strategy programme.

 

Discover how to boost sales success with our free eGuide: ‘The ultimate guide to: increasing sales performance’.

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What Successful IT Managers Do from 8am-8pm: Your Timetable

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Find out how successful IT managers make the most of their time and make every day an IT success story.

The role of an IT manager can be a highly rewarding but challenging one – so how do the most successful IT managers make each and every day count?

Schedule for Success

8am

Checking emails and reading the latest industry news and views via your mobile device during the commute.

The successful IT manager understands how imperative it is to stay on top of breaking IT developments that could benefit the company.

9am

Group meeting with IT staff to monitor performance on ongoing projects and ensure deadlines and quality standards are on course to be met.

9.30am

Checking in with IT suppliers and their progress.

 

39% of IT staff lose around one working day or more per week dealing with IT problems and chasing suppliers. A successful IT manager understands that to avoid wasting time and resources, suppliers must be monitored on a regular basis.

 

10am

Meeting with the CFO to discuss an IT issue that the department is experiencing, before delegating to IT staff to ensure the problem is dealt with quickly and efficiently.

11am

Meeting with the marketing director and a consultant about rolling out a new company-wide system, ensuring that:

  •  The consultant isn’t trying to sell the company a ‘pup’.
  • Any subsequent rollout is achievable from a technical point of view.

Midday

Holding a Skype call with a vendor about a potential product that could help streamline the company’s operations.

The successful IT manager understands that any software solution must move the business forward and show ROI to the board.

12.30pm

Meeting with the CISO to discuss the company’s Bring Your Own Device policy to ensure that company data leakage remains a ‘non-issue’ within your company.

 

By 2017…

40% of enterprise contact information will have leaked into Facebook via employees’ increased use of mobile device collaboration applications. The successful IT manager understands that BYOD is here to stay – whether companies like it or not – and official policies, procedures and safeguards must be put in place.

 

1pm

Taking time out for lunch, while checking in on breaking IT news and investigating any vendor offers that you may have received via email.

2pm

Organising the rollout of a critical software update to ensure that the company’s IT network is operating at maximum efficiency and has the latest security updates.

4.30pm

Updating key stakeholders on all project progress to keep them in the loop and help ‘educate’ the board about the challenges that the IT department faces daily.

The successful IT manager understands that it is critical to the IT department’s continued funding and success that the C-Suite is kept up-to-date in jargon-free language.

5pm

Vetting the CMO’s finalised presentation pack that was discussed at the 11am meeting, checking that all technical details discussed are present and correct for the pitch being given the next day.

 

How much budget projects have been known to go over by: 400%
with only… 25-50% of the estimated benefits to the company being realised.

The successful IT manager understands that bridges must be built to ensure that traditional silos between departments are banished forever so any project stands the best chance of succeeding.

 

6.30pm

Fielding a late call from a panicked employee in sales who believes they may have ‘broken the internet’.

The successful IT manager understands that not all employees are IT literate and IT support’s attitude should reflect this.

7pm

Checking in with your preferred IT news sites on the way home.

8pm

Checking work emails from the late-shift IT workers before finally winding down for the night.

Data security is a vital part of your day-to-day IT strategy. Maximise yours with our free eGuide The ultimate guide to: security in the cloud

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Time is money. Get rich with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

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There is no point having a CRM if it’s not saving you any time – and it certainly shouldn’t cost you more time that you would have spent on said task in the past. An efficient CRM policy should streamline your business operations, freeing up time to work on more important, long term strategic targets. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Ask yourself if you’re making the most of the features available on your CRM. Below are some small but often overlooked tasks that can be simplified by committing to an effective CRM strategy. Learn about how Microsoft Dynamics, in particular, can provide your organisation the foundation to streamline your marketing operations.

Choose adaptability

If your business is still in the process of choosing a CRM, push for a system that’s adaptable.
There is nothing worse than tying yourself into a licensing deal just as your company experiences huge growth and your current system is no longer suitable. This can lead to two costly outcomes; either you pay off the remainder of your licensing fee or your supplement the ineffective CRM with additional software.
A CRM like Microsoft Dynamics has adaptability and customisability at its core, offering real time adaptability to deal with external volatility and internal alterations.

Increase automation

Make sure that everyone in the business is taking advantage of the automation facilities embedded within your CRM system. Microsoft Dynamics, for example, can ensure valuable time is saved with automated functions such as:

  • Prioritising customer support cases
  • Automated email responses to customers
  • Automated reminders when customers are nearing the end of contracts etc.
  • Automated messages to management when sales go through
  • Organising and grading potential leads

The time spent saved writing personalised replies to customers can be used for other things, without compromising the personalisation. Staff can get on with tasks that directly affect profit margins.

Not to mention the benefits your marketing team can get from CRM:

  • Marketing automation
  • Personalised content
  • Lead nurturing

You may not know how these techniques are implemented, but we can guarantee that the increased sales from these activities are directly linked to an effective, all encompassing, CRM strategy.

Increase visibility

From a financial point of view, perhaps the most important thing to consider about adopting a CRM is the company-wide visibility a system can offer. If adopted throughout the business, the finance department can have access to all customer transactions and customer expenses. Find out which clients are bringing in the most money – as well as those that are doing less well. Access to these records can help you, in conjunction with marketing & sales, devise new cost-effective action plans.

Is customer A receiving far too much attention in comparison to their spending habit? Could customer B become a far more profitable customer, with just a little more attention?
The visibility of a modern CRM can ensure that revenue can be increased through these sorts of operational observations and improvements.

Saving templates

Crucial time savings can be made by saving templates. Having a go-to standard email for a variety of different causes and contexts rather than starting from a blank page is so much easier, quicker and it ensures brand consistency. Although an email may only take 5 minutes to write if you’re writing similar ones several times a day, the time begins to add up. It makes sense to have something prepared. Microsoft Dynamics provides its users with an archive to store all their email templates, allowing you to create a library of templates.

Microsoft Dynamics goes one further by allowing users to create a template for a whole host of different business operations. Invoices, quotes, contracts and much more can all be drafted and saved, if you know that they regularly follow a familiar pattern.

Personalised fields

Once you have your templates in place, further efficiencies can be had from the ability to automate personalised fields. There is no point having a template in place if you have to systematically edit all your emails to include name and relevant details to each of the leads you’re communicating with.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM alters this by poaching relevant information from the database to automatically personalise communication on your behalf.

Sharing calendars

Bring all your departments together by sharing calendars and itineraries. Know what your colleagues and your teams are up to in advance without having to interrupt staff in the middle of their work.
Plan meetings and share tasks all in the one place, no longer using disparate tools to organise your workforce.

Direct integration with MS Office

Direct integration with Microsoft Office is one of Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s biggest blessings garnered from using the CRM. Your Microsoft Outlook contacts can be hooked up automatically without a complex transferal system. Microsoft’s CRM allows you to share documents created on its industry standard software with little effort.

Spend less time researching

Minimise the time you spend researching your leads with InsideView on Microsoft Dynamics. The tool gives an immense amount of, constantly updating, information about thousands of companies and their employees. It is an essential tool for planning marketing campaigns and sales pitches, which could give you the upper hand over your competitors while saving you time in the process.

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The Marketer’s Guide to CRM

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The bond between marketers and technology is growing year on year. Getting the most out of your company’s CRM can help take your marketing strategies to the next level.

Customer support and sales have a well-defined space within a CRM system, marketing less so. This CRM Guide will help marketers cement their place within their CRM system, in turn improving their output.

How to Measure ROI More Effectively

Effective use of a CRM could offer you a way of quantifying your work, in a way that appeases your superiors and helps you measure your department’s ROI more effectively. Having access to your work’s results isn’t just beneficial for justifying your actions; it is also crucial for helping to recognise what you are doing right and wrong, allowing you to then alter future campaigns accordingly.

  • Dashboard
  • The most straightforward way of giving your superiors what they want, in terms of reports and figures, is to introduce them to the dashboard within the marketing functionality of your CRM.
    Modern CRMs such as Microsoft Dynamics offer easy to use, visual representations of your work.
    Graphs and charts offer a simple, jargon-free means of communicating the efficacy of your previous campaigns.

    For future campaigns, it’s worth taking note of these graphs for your department’s sake. Identifying which campaigns were more fruitful helps you pick and choose elements that made them successful.

  • Work with CRM – not against it
  • The first step to tracking ROI on your marketing efforts is to create a Campaign for every area of investment the marketing department would like to track. You can also track ROI by creating Campaign Responses related to your Campaigns. ROI is tracked when Campaign
    Responses from new contacts are converted to a Lead and, subsequently, an Opportunity.

  • Take advantage of all the information you have
  • With clear visibility of the outcome of your marketing activity, a CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics allows you to identify the work that generated the best results.

    Knowing what is working allows you to invest in the right places to help increase the return of your marketing campaigns. Whilst this is crucially important to proving ROI, don’t dismiss the information available on your less-successful campaigns. This insight can be just as valuable, allowing you to identify what didn’t work and why, and ensuring that you don’t make the same mistakes again.

    If you can easily leverage your data for rapid insights, you can make informed strategic and operational decisions. Real-time intelligence from your website can help ensure that you can surface the right campaign to the right customers. Microsoft Dynamics CRM help you to empower your sales and marketing teams with the appropriate intelligence to build lasting customer relationships.

  • Lead Source
  • Tracking lead source, a function offered by CRMs like Microsoft Dynamics, is crucial to effectively measuring your efforts. Identifying which campaign enticed a lead into your CRM can help you measure the worth of the lead, if and when he becomes a customer. Viewing it conversely is, perhaps, even more important.

    Knowing how many leads are brought in by one campaign or source, helps you accurately pinpoint the ROI of that source. Divide the cost of running the campaign, once again a figure you should have stored on your CRM, with the amount of leads produced from it and get your lead ROI for each campaign.

  • Track Lead to Customer
  • Having confirmed how many leads each campaign brought into your CRM, track these leads until they become customers. Sales will have continued to fill in the CRM details, meaning that you can track the revenue created from one of your leads. The revenue brought in divided by the cost of your campaign gives you your revenue based return on investment. It’s true that Sales will also have put some work in to get the sale, but the lead is a direct result of your work, and using your CRM correctly will help you prove this to your boss.

  • Reports
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM is capable of creating detailed reports to cover a variety of key metric variables, at the touch of a button. The Campaign Performance report functionality that comes as standard with the Microsoft Dynamics system pulls in campaign cost, budget, estimated and actual revenue as well as value of orders placed. This allows marketers to visually present and, most importantly, prove the ROI of their efforts to the board.

    The reports come littered with charts and pictorial representations to make the results easy to consume. In conjunction with the dashboard these reports can be created in real time, even if you’re currently mid-campaign.

  • Track ROI
  • CRM’s ability to accurately measure your department’s contribution in sales and profit could help to alleviate some of this pressure and prove your worth to the board. Minimising pressure in this way will undoubtedly help you think more creatively and give you the space to create even more engaging content, increase brand awareness and attract new leads.

    What’s more, the high level of analytics provided in a CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics means that you can accurately assess which customers are more profitable, which targets are at which stage of the buying cycle and even which customers have mentioned your business on social media. This, in turn, allows you to harness that information in your content, ensuring that it’s customer-focused and relevant.

Customer-Focused Innovation

Custom Content

Customers are beginning to expect custom content with ever more companies implementing using automation campaigns to deliver this. From a customer point of view, “78% of consumers believe that organisations providing custom content are interested in building good relationship,” and good relationships equate to better sales figures.

Using an adaptive CRM gives you the ability to do this.
Microsoft Dynamics has the power to allow you to segment elements of your database and in turn send more bespoke content to them via email. A shift away from sending out default content towards custom content to specific groups poses a more creative challenge for your marketing team.

Implementing such a model allows a marketing team to flex their nuanced understanding of the
English language by reworking subjects for different demographics – all the while providing customers with relevant, engaging content that cuts through the noise.

Refine your work

Having outlined how you can use a CRM such as Microsoft Dynamics to help create custom content and measure you contribution to your company, learn to use it to refine your work.

Microsoft Dynamics, for example, allows you to view how well email campaigns have played out. Valuable data such as open rates helps you measure the interest in a particular marketing campaign, allowing you to add elements that have been particularly successful whilst removing negative or neutral aspects from future campaigns.

Dynamics CRM also integrates with all of the most popular social media channels, giving you the edge when it comes to comparing data and gleaning useful insights.

Using the aforementioned data on lead source and source campaign in comparison with leads closed, you can begin to create a picture of your most successful campaigns and your most successful means of communication. Having compared your most successful campaigns, what traits do they share? How could you go about replicating this work to yield even more results?

It’s safe to say that the campaigns which have had the most effect on your company’s profits are those which have its pleased customers the most. Make sure that future content shares some, if not all, of these traits that made previous campaigns such a success.

The breadth of avenues that the right CRM can explore means that you can expand into new content platforms, which allows you to widen the sales pipeline. Even if this widening is simply on a temporary basis, a CRM system allows you to experiment with new avenues of marketing at a relatively low risk – and subsequently provide accurate data on the effectiveness of it.

Taking Your First Steps Towards Complete Automation

There are two major areas where the automation tools embedded within your CRM are of benefit; automating internal processes and automating your company’s marketing activity.

The list of benefits from having a fully automated CRM is staggering. Some of the major benefits include:

  • Continuity – This is beneficial both in aligning company departments and policies but also in the way that you deal with customers. Customers will become more comfortable as they become aware of the familiar uniform processes that underline all interactions with the organisation.
  • Minimise errors – If work is constantly carried out the same way, which is guaranteed by an algorithm, you should see a drop in human error.
  • Increase in productivity – Using the system to deal with smaller admin issues frees up time for your staff to concentrate on what they do best.

So how do you take the first steps towards a more efficient, productive – and profitable – workplace?

Establish Workflows

The ability to create workflows is built within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, covering both complete automated workflows as well as those controlled and manipulated by the user.

If used effectively, workflows can massively ease the burden for sales staff. No longer does your sales team need to know exactly where each of their leads lie within the sales funnel; workflows can be put in place to send alerts and reminders to users when leads reach a certain point in the funnel, signalling to sales teams that they need to take action. Workflows can also be used for the next step in the process with the development of detailed call scripts to keep your telesales staff clued up and on the right track during a call.

Basic & Complex Workflows

Begin by using basic workflows to automate basic processes, such as:

  • Emails automatically notifying your sales team that a lead has been created
  • Routing external emails regarding a certain subject to a specific member of your team

Previously, you may have had to manually forward these emails to relevant departments. Whilst this may not have been the most demanding of tasks, having to spend time doing so on a regular basis can quickly add up – and it relies on you remembering to forward that email in the first place. What if you don’t happen to have access to your emails? Or you’re off sick? Does that email simply sit in your inbox without any attention? Workflows take away that hassle (and fuss) in an efficient and effective way.

Moving forward, comprehensive CRMs tend to have complex workflows to boot. More complicated workflows help overcome more demanding issues, such as processes with multiple steps, splits and logical loops. Complex workflows should be put in place for relevant processes that require a significant amount of manual work to complete or regular attention.
They’re particularly viable for sharing lead data on Dynamics with third party software, especially if the information needs to travel back and forth from both applications.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation offers the chance for marketers to coordinate the release of their material with more precision and really harness the benefits of lead nurturing. Marketing automation adds a large element of personalisation to your standard email marketing by segmenting your database and allowing you to send bespoke content to specific people. Then, based on how receptive and engaged leads are, it continues to automate their following correspondence. It’s the next step in email marketing.

Microsoft Dynamics is currently leading the way in marketing automation-centric CRM systems, investing millions into creating a CRM that is more focused and friendly towards marketing users. Once you master marketing automation you will free up a considerable amount of time, previously spent on admin issues, to focus on the creative side of your role.

How to Overcome CRM Problems

More than once have we noticed that CRM adoption by marketer’s lags behind other areas of the business community. Many of our clients often mention the hurdles their marketing departments perceive, but it’s a trend that we can’t quite grasp. Having used our CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, for marketing purposes we now only see the positives in doing so.
So what are these perceived issues that prohibit marketers from fully embracing the technology and how can they overcome them?

High Failure Rate

Failure rate or poor ROI is a common complaint by companies. In large part, this is down to poor planning but that’s not to say it’s solely the company’s fault, your service provider should point out any potential pitfalls. A CRM can only work effectively if there is an adequate strategy in place and sufficiently trained staff to use it. Long before you decide on the CRM, or even supplier that suits your needs, you should outline where you see the CRM taking the company and how each department will benefit.

Further ways to minimise potential failure:
• Consult the department personally and help them visualise improvements by using a CRM
• Pick the brains of your supplier; it’s down to them to do all in their power to make sure that the implementation isn’t a failure.
• Many companies out there offer bespoke training for your marketing teams on CRM to guarantee better results.

Viewing CRM as a Technology Fix

Surprisingly often a CRM is brought in as a fix rather than as a change in processes. These systems have a lot of benefits and they will help you overcome many hurdles but they aren’t a short term technical fix. It is a change in your business mentality, a refocus that shifts all business processes through the system to monitor the pipeline of your entire company. To start with it will require you to put more in than you get back and work towards the long term benefits of the system.

Integration Issues

Quite often marketers find that their work is limited rather than honed, by their CRM. This is usually because of poor compatibility with additional software required to perform their duties. Once again this solution requires forethought; research several CRM systems to see which is best suited to your needs. If your content is largely created using the Office package and communications are heavily reliant on Outlook, it could be worth choosing Microsoft Dynamics CRM. MS Dynamics fully integrates with the Office suite and shares a similar UI, ensuring that you jump straight into your work.

Poor User Adoption

CRM Systems are famed for their ability to refocus companies and unite departments internally, on occasions when this doesn’t happen it’s worth observing the levels of user adoption. Even when marketing teams are keen to use the system it can be limited by other departments failing to contribute relevant data.

Ensure that all departments are sufficiently trained and happy to use the software, without other departments supplying sufficient data, Marketing’s output is going to be severely limited.

Suspicious Data

Are your marketing campaigns having less of an impact than you had imagined since you adopted a CRM? It may be worth questioning where your data came from. In an ideal world new leads entering your funnel would come from your own doing, but in reality this isn’t always feasible. It’s difficult to be self-sufficient with lead generation.
Have you recently purchased data? Was it from a reputable source? Although cheap data is…cheap, there is quite often a very real reason for this. Cheap data will cost your organisation more in the long run. This is particularly true if your marketing department is spending thousands on their campaigns only to have the resultant content sent to dirty data.
 
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How to report & forecast better with CRM

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How to report better with CRM

In a tough economic climate, Finance teams can make a significant difference to the profitability and operational effectiveness of an organisation.

The question is, how do you empower your Finance teams to really understand and support your broader objectives? How do you transform them from a traditional number-crunching unit to a team that really understands the key figures behind your organisation’s success?

The answer? Give them better information. Accurate, up-to-date information that they can access quickly and use effectively. Here’s our top tips for financial reporting with CRM.

  • Utilise your CRM system
  • A Customer Relationship Management System is not just useful for people who deal directly with customers. That’s a common misconception. A CRM System like Microsoft Dynamics can help your organisation to retain invaluable data that your Finance team can turn to your advantage – especially when they are forecasting how your business will grow and develop in the future.

  • Make every transaction visible
  • Make sure your CRM system unites your customer facing teams and your support functions, enabling every department to see the same information. This means that your Finance team will have complete visibility of every customer transaction, large or small.

    Your Finance teams will then be perfectly placed to isolate trends in how your clients are spending their money and then to identify which clients are likely to be most profitable in the future.

  • Manage overdue costs and invoices quickly
  • Your CRM system should enable information about incoming and outgoing costs to be up-to-date and always available to your Finance teams. This way, you’ll be able to see where outstanding invoices need to be chased and when incoming costs may be expected to arrive.

    Your Finance teams are now able to plan ahead, working with information at their fingertips rather than backtracking through client information to investigate every missing invoice, cost or late payment. They can concentrate on forecasting for the future, rather than getting side-tracked by administrative backlogs.

  • Turn financial reporting into business proposals
  • A finance team that is under pressure due to day-to-day workload will never have the time to really add value to the business. They will only ever be able to supply figures for the business to use.

    A Finance team supported by an effective CRM, however, will have much more freedom to analyse figures, make predictions and support different departments with clear recommendations and business proposals. This is Finance transformed into an intelligent business asset, making best use of the brainpower and the resources in the team.

  • Make your financial expertise a real differentiator
  • Supported by a Finance team that has real-time access to information and the welcome freedom from administrative burdens to think and plan effectively, your business has a distinct advantage over the competition.

    What do you need for your business to achieve? Increased profitability? Greater market share? Increased sales or enhanced operational efficiency? Reduced overall costs? Whatever your objective for the future, your Finance team will be able to support you to deliver it – as long as they too have the support and systems they need to perform at their best.

How to forecast better with CRM

Many entrepreneurs survive by reacting quickly to change when clear financial forecasting could paint an entirely different picture of what your business should be doing next.

By helping your business move from reactive thinking to proactive revenue forecasting, you can play an instrumental role in helping the business to plan for the future, plan for change and build the platform for further growth and success.

Here are Redspire’s best practice top tips for accurate forecasting:

Make the Most of Your CRM

Are you using your CRM to its full potential, gaining total insight into company history, data, processes and more? A CRM is a crucial intersection into your business, giving you full access to the way in which all company departments are performing. How can you accurately forecast future revenue if you are incapable of finding out how much profit you’re currently making and have done for the past few years?

If you have chosen a user friendly CRM like Microsoft Dynamics, all the information you will need should be obvious to you, increasing your pipeline visibility. So information is power. Use user-friendly CRM system to ensure that information about new business leads, customer acquisition and product performance is accessible, visible and in a format you can understand.

Train your teams

Effective CRM technology also frees up your people to do what they do best. It enables your Sales teams to focus on achieving their Sales targets, without getting side-tracked by figures and planning. While, at the same time, your Finance teams are equipped with the information they need to accurately forecast what your business can deliver in the future.

The best way to get the most out of your CRM is to make sure that all your staff are well trained in using it. Firstly, get to know the ‘quick win’ functions within your company’s CRM. Take part in some general all-round training then advance this knowledge with further training, specifically honed into the financial elements of the system. Knowing your way around the CRM means that you’re only ever a few clicks away from visibility of your company’s financial information.

 

Think Long Term, Act Short Term

The key to all revenue forecasting is to think long term; there is very little point in forecasting for the following week. It doesn’t provide enough useful information for your business to develop. Having said that, in all likelihood, the forecast you lay out for the next 6, 12 or 24 months won’t run exactly to plan. With this in mind, you must implement a short term approach to long term thinking.

But don’t just forecast, use the information in your CRM system to plan your next steps. Accurate financial forecasting will help your business to identify clear strategies for the short and long-term future. If your sales pipeline isn’t strong enough, you can focus on lead generation. If you have lots of new business arriving, you can focus on conversion and customer service –all efforts that can be supported by a forward-thinking CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics.

So how long ahead should you forecast? Most businesses want a clear strategy for the future while also having the flexibility to adapt to short-term change. Forecasting revenue and sales on a quarterly, half-yearly and annual basis may seem like overkill, but it will help you to capitalise on opportunities in the short-term and plan for change in the future. These efforts can be supported by a CRM system that has the functionality to adapt at the same rate as your business objectives.

Expect the unexpected

Even with an effective CRM system and good quality sales information at your fingertips, there may still be a fear that you could get your forecasts wrong. Whilst a modern CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics significantly reduces this risk, should you be aggressive and risk over-reaching? Or should you be cautious and risk missing out on opportunities? One option is to do both: use your forecasts to create two scenarios and as the market changes, you will know exactly how to respond to keep your business on track.

Plan for multiple outcomes

Once you have established a system that is capable of working on both a long term and short term scale, have multiple back up plans in place. If a short term goal post has been shifted, it does not mean that the long term goal is completely out of reach, so plan accordingly. Find different solutions to problems that are both probable and improbable; there is rarely just one path to a destination, so be sure to find the others.

Once again refer back to your CRM and continue to review past strategies and the effect that they had on your bottom line. You may even find the workaround to a current problem has already been identified in the past. Similarly, external issues may have previously arisen and the same solution could be applicable this time around.

Things change. And when they do, having a knowledge base of previous forecasts can help you make the right, proactive decisions for your business this time around. This can give you a real edge over the competition: especially if their forecasting is based on instinct rather than analysis.

Review processes

If, during your review process, you find that some things aren’t working as well as possible, make it known. For example, if your sales pipeline isn’t as burgeoning as you would like, get Marketing to focus their efforts on lead generation. Conversely, if your pipeline is filled with leads but Sales aren’t getting much traction on them, then consider nurturing your leads better. A function-laden CRM, such as Microsoft Dynamics, will be capable of implementing a thorough lead scoring system to help monitor your company’s nurturing efforts.

Importantly, the more you do this in the short term, the less you’ll have to do it in the long term as your forecasting gets stronger and stronger.

Don’t forget your customers

Once you have sales and revenue forecasts in place, it is important to compare them to your clients and customers, as your growth relies on their spending power. Do your forecasts for growth match theirs? What factors are they considering that you might have overlooked? What will you change? Once again, your CRM system will provide the perfect tool to collate, maintain and access your customer information.

Get the best out of your Sales & Marketing

Your role, in monitoring the economic aspects of your organisation, requires that you supervise the activities of both Marketing and Sales. That’s not to say they aren’t capable of managing their own affairs but, as you control the finances of the organisation, you have to look beyond department divisions to report back accurate figures to your superiors.

The business enclaves that are Sales and Marketing are quite often a law unto themselves, which can make monitoring them all the more difficult. Using your CRM is crucial to get a fair and unbiased view of your company and its departments.

  • Use Their Calendars
  • Perhaps the most obvious way by which you can keep an eye on Sales and Marketing is by accessing their calendars and itineraries stored within your company CRM. Analyse the calendars and identify if tasks and procedures outlined within could be streamlined, then use automated workflows within your CRM to do this.

  • Collaborate
  • Having spotted trends and issues by observing the shared calendars, report back to the heads of each department. During this collaboration period, return to the CRM and try to identify further points before working to overcome or justify them. As an added bonus, working with department managers will help align departments.

  • Fresh Eyes
  • Don’t underestimate your viewpoint; you may not be as well versed in Sales and Marketing as the department itself – but you could provide valuable insight into their processes. Like a writer staring at a word for so long it loses all meaning, Sales and Marketing may not be able to see the wood for the trees. Your take on Marketing and Sales’ work will be from an economic point of view, which is good for improving efficiency but bear in mind that some things you deem to be unnecessary from a financial point have important uses within each department. Overtime you will gain this insight, particularly if you continue to use your CRM to gain access into those departments.

  • Rank Clients
  • Help Marketing and Sales in identifying their most important clients. You should identify not just the most profitable client but the profitability of a client in relation to the time and resources spent on your end to obtain the sale. Finding this information out could help the other two departments to become more efficient and effective. Your fresh perspective coupled with your CRM should easily be able to achieve this.

  • Request Reports
  • A CRM not only stores your company’s valuable data but can also help present it in a clear and valuable way. Make sure that Sales and Marketing are producing regular reports to help you stay on top of the business they’re bringing in as well the expenses they acquire to do so.

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How to improve your customer relationships with CRM

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How to Make the Right First Impression with CRM

Sales have known for years how important making a first impression is – just like any social interaction, it’s awfully difficult to alter a first impression after the fact.

Yet it’s not Sales who are the first to communicate with potential clients; marketers are. They’re the first to raise brand awareness and essentially are responsible for creating your organisation’s first impression on the public.

This is our advice on how Marketing should use CRM to help control their first impressions.

  1. Social strategy
  2. The rise of social media and social networking has meant that marketers are even more likely to create a brand’s first impression.

    • Real Time Data
    • The most obvious benefit of using social media data to fill in the gaps in your leads’ profiles is the constant stream of information. The right CRM should be storing all of this information for you, providing you with a well-rounded view of your lead long before you pick up the phone, ensuring that when you do call them, the conversation can be much more personalised and relevant.

      Does the lead regularly update their social networks at the end of the day proclaiming their fatigue? It may be beneficial to avoid calling late in the afternoon. Likewise, if recent updates suggest the lead is in a good mood, take the cue and call them.

    • Observe trends
    • Observe trends, even if you’re limited to post sale data; there is still useful information to be obtained. Become a detective, asking the right questions could produce information which eventually leads to more interesting content from the customer’s perspective.

      What traits do these customers have in common? Particular age? Particular job title? Whilst it’s not an exact science, you can assume some connotations about these traits. Even if only 60-70% of those people fall into the stereotype, it means that 60-70% of those reading your content feel as though it has been tailored to them.

      Use CRM functionality to ‘listen’ to your customers, what they’re saying to your business directly and, most importantly, what they’re saying to their peers about you (which can often be a completely different message than the one you were expecting). Leverage this information within your CRM to tweak and refine your marketing in line with their feedback.

    • Know your audience
    • Your company’s CRM system, depending on how well it is being used, contains a database ranging in size from only those who have previously purchased from you to all those who may have just checked your website a handful of times. No matter the size, it will be of use to your marketing department to scour through and get a feel for those you’re actually trying to reach out to.

      If your CRM is predominantly filled with those at the customer support stage of the funnel, question why and attempt to implement a more well-rounded CRM strategy. This will teach you whether those you expected to be in your products’ target audience are in fact in your target audience, leading you to alter marketing campaigns accordingly.

    • Engage Customers in a New Way
    • Traditionally, your main mode of communication would be telephone. And, when it comes to closing a sale, this may still be the case – but it’s no longer the only way to engage. Extend your voice and play a part in online conversation, contribute to public debate and interact with customers and leads alike. While opening private conversations may be a little intrusive, commenting on relevant posts is a good way to build up a rapport and show off the more human side of your company.

      Social media research in this way is great for your marketing team who can use what you bring back to them to target campaigns more specifically.

      Microsoft Dynamics offers a social media listening tool which automatically monitors all relevant conversations. Coupled with your intuition, you can notice the right opportunity to intervene and strike up a conversation.

    • Broadening the Sales Role
    • The move towards using social platforms to garner a 4D view of your leads comes at a time when customers are making their own way through the funnel through online research. This means that Sales teams have to work a lot harder, potentially moving way out of their comfort zone.

      An example of this could be providing quick answers to questions posed on social media platforms, much in the same way as they would have on the phone. In this role, the link between CRM and social media is key as the CRM provides the sales rep, amongst others, access to all the information they will require to respond speedily.

      A recent study by Microsoft claimed that 78% of respondents believed that social media was the future of customer service. It’s clear that Sales will have to play their part in this as the consumer shifts towards independent purchases.

  3. Personalised emails
  4. You have a wealth of information about all your customers and all your potential leads, so why are you sending out generic emails? This approach does not give out the best first impression nor is it best practice.

    Whilst your ideal target demographic may share some common traits, it’s important to recognise that they aren’t all the same. Be sure to segment your data and send communications that are more targeted and relevant – a forward-thinking CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics can help you automate this process. Small things that can be personalised through automation, such as full correct names, should be considered standard. Whilst it’s only a minor revision, people are more receptive to communications that appear tailored to them as an individual.

    Have you begun implementing your email marketing campaign as a means to get more information about leads? Placing forms in front of content? How responsive are the leads? A common complaint is that leads are simply unwilling to provide personal details, but this is not the case.

    Look at banks; they successfully gather plenty of personal information about their clients, because the client understands what they get in return. Give customers what they want, at this point you’re no longer in the first impression stage but they are still impressionable. If your forms are gating content no one is interested in, people are not going to participate, so once again make the content engaging and something people want.

  5. Archive
  6. Presumably your inbound marketing efforts are quite successful; you’re getting people to interact with your website, blog, content and social media. People are coming to you and have already formed their first impression of your company, what next?

    As we touched upon earlier, archive all this information within your CRM to help you fill out your lead and make them more human. It is all valuable information even things as menial as the number of times they have visited your website could alter how your sales team approach the lead when the time comes. As hard as it is to create a second ‘first impression’ or turn a poor first impression around, the converse is not the case.

    Failing to note down particular interactions with your inbound marketing, then failing to note it down could mean that the sales team are starting from scratch. Confusion between departments will not be favourable from a client point of view.

How to Improve Communication with Prospects, Customers & Partners

  • Shared Calendars
  • The shared calendars available through a CRM such as Microsoft Dynamics are a blessing to all sales people. They serve a purpose when it comes to improving relationships and communication with prospects, customers and partners.

    In the case of both prospects and customers, any reminder or activity will be known to your whole team, not just you. What this means is, even if you happen to forget about a planned call or meeting, someone in your team should be able to notice and remind you. Not only is this useful in terms of client-business relationships, it helps boost camaraderie within your team. It goes without saying that failing to attend a meeting or missing a call is poor communication and likely to have a negative effect on your relationship with clients.

    In terms of partners and senior staff, having visible calendars ensures that they can manage from a distance. They can have an overview of your work, as well as the whole teams, without the need to micro-manage, inhibiting your ability to work fluidly.

  • Automated Reminders
  • Once again, this point refers back to minimising forgetfulness and remaining attentive to your customers’ needs. As an extra safety measure, and to avoid relying on staff reminders, Microsoft Dynamics can create automated reminders to guarantee that you don’t miss the call or meeting.

    At the time of the appointment’s creation you can – and should – detail the experience. Writing points of reference within the notes of an automated reminder will allow you to remember the previous interactions and begin subsequent communications where you left off.

    This is even more important when it comes to new business development – especially if a previous business call leads you to understand that a lead may be interested in the coming months but not just yet. Schedule reminders just prior to this date so you can get back in touch, remind them of you, your services and, most importantly, beat the competition to the lead.

  • Templates & Reports
  • Templates found within a CRM such as Microsoft Dynamics can range from a basic “sorry for any inconvenience” email to more complex contracts – all of which can streamline your communications, making them more efficient and effective. Altogether more important is a CRM’s ability to retain scripts, allowing your weaker sales reps to use the phrases and techniques of your more fruitful reps during sales calls.

    Internally, using your CRM to compile reports of your activities is a more efficient way of updating your partners and superiors. Get straight to the point with straight talking facts that identify ROI, areas of success and areas where improvements are needed.

    Your CRM can create accurate reports and charts of the way your company works. Use some of this data to create visually appealing, yet empirically sound, content to interest your target demographic.

  • Automated Response
  • Automated features found with your CRM are not limited to reminding you of impending calendar events. Sending automated responses to clients and prospects is useful when, for example:

    • Customer queries are passed on to relevant departments internally; it is best practice to include a timeframe within which they will be replied to.
    • To help customers track the progress of an order or shipment.
    • To offer additional products after purchase or delivery.

    They’re all minor features in their own right but they improve the customer experience, by keeping the client informed and creating a positive impression of your organisation.

  • Lead Segmentation
  • If you’re using a modern CRM, you will be offered the ability to segment your leads. And, if you want your content to start getting serious traction, you need to segment the leads that are receiving it.

    The products and service you provide could very well appeal to wide demographics that won’t be using them for the same reasons. Separate these people by job title or industries to make sure they do not receive content that is diametrically opposed to the field they occupy.

    Segmenting leads has been proven to help massively boost engagement levels within marketing content.

  • Buyer Personas
  • Lead segmentation is just the first step; taking that line of thought to its final conclusion should lead you to the creation of buyer personas. You create buyer personas by identifying who your main target markets are and creating a stereotype of sorts that encompasses the major points of each demographic. Well thought out personas include names, responsibilities and key issues, helping you to create more bespoke and targeted content. Adding personal details gives you the impression that you’re writing to one person, who shares many peoples’ goals.

    Buyer personas not only help you, as the content creator, write for your target demographic but it also boosts engagement levels as the content is more relevant to their interests.

  • When to Market
  • Research has shown that certain times of the day and certain days of the week have better engagement levels depending on the medium. Organise your communications accordingly; social media is probably best going out on an hourly basis, while emails have been shown to get the best traction if sent out on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Certain industries have their own particular quirks for instance; those in agriculture are more often than not away from their computers in the morning and therefore unlikely to read publications uploaded around this time.

How to Approach and Liaise with New Customers

Having a steady supply of existing customers is a necessity to keep your business running smoothly, but if you have any intention of expanding your company, it’s crucial that you get some new accounts on the books. Overall, it is quite a difficult process; using your CRM efficiently will help you to make the process a little smoother and little more cost effective.

  1. Interdepartmental Communication
  2. Generally speaking, new customers are only new to you in Sales. If the marketing team have been performing as they’re expected to, then in all likelihood, they’ve known these leads for some time.
    Find out what they know about the lead, no matter how seemingly mundane, it could help you build on the good first impression.

  3. Coordinate
  4. Rather than personally discuss the details of leads, work in conjunction with Marketing and ensure that they are filling out these details in the company CRM. It makes for a more reliable system and it’s what it is there for.

  5. Research
  6. Spend a short while reading the file on the contact you’re about to call. Even a few moments getting to know the lead’s name, details and even lead source will give you something to open with and make the call all the more personable.

  7. Scripting
  8. By definition, you must have had new customers at one point; ask yourself what worked? What chatter did your sales team use to both open and close deals? Ideally you will have already archived this information, otherwise think about what it was and create a script. Your CRM can thus archive a script, for easy access when you embark on your new calls.

  9. Take notes
  10. You’re unlikely to make a sale on your first call to a lead, no matter how keen they sound on your call – they’re unlikely to have the final say there and then. Other calls may be all the more wary, asking to call back later in the week, month or year and seemingly blaze about the entire situation.

    Don’t be disheartened by this, take a note of the time they have asked to re-schedule. Subsequently, be sure to place a reminder in your CRM to call back when they claimed, they may well have been interested but without the funding or resources at the time.

  11. Be Personable
  12. Above, we outlined the efficacy of scripts; there is a slight qualification to this point. Don’t come across as robotic, if that means not following the script line for line and simply using it as a guide, do so! It’s a difficult task but you need to come across effortlessly and subsequently give them a reason to purchase from you. This is why researching beforehand is so important, so you don’t slip through lack of insight.

  13. Don’t Cold Call
  14. In the strictest sense possible minimise cold calls, don’t simply just ring numbers from a batch of data. The work Marketing has done and uploaded on to the CRM should mean that the data there is slightly warmer, aware of the company and more likely to purchase. Calling cold leads versus those that have been marketing qualified is likely to contribute to a higher call rate but significantly lower return. Be efficient with your calls.

  15. Score Your Leads
  16. Once again this requires you to converge with your Marketing team but together you should be looking to score your leads. Lead scoring just helps you quantify the amount of engagement leads have shown, it’s a direct continuation of following marketing’s leads and helps you pick the most important leads.

Help Bring Back Existing Customers

Obviously, all businesses need to attract new customers to continue growing – but you want to ensure that there is a contingent of returning customers, too. They bring in revenue whilst costing significantly less in company expenditures to guarantee the sale.

Follow Up

The easiest way to get customers to come back to you is by simply remembering them. If you let it, your CRM does this for you. Help Sales implement a culture of placing reminders after phone calls to follow up at the date specified – or more broadly in the coming months if no date was outlined.

Marketing

Marketing shouldn’t be limited to new customers. Although it is traditionally known as a means of getting a lead interested in your company – and therefore the early stages of the funnel, Marketing can play a very crucial role in recycling customers. Nurturing leads is a great way of not only keeping unused leads warm but also keeping previous customers interested.

A CRM is the best place to implement and track your lead nurturing campaign, with the lead scoring capabilities inbuilt within.
Once again, it’s your duty to ensure that Marketing are aware of this and have suitable processes in place to benefit from it.

Incentivise

Discounts or offers are a great way of attracting previous customers to return. Use the information stored within your CRM to personalise these discounts, offering an incentive that’s so meaningful to them as an individual, they simply can’t refuse. Share this task out between Sales and Marketing, as it falls between both their remits.

Bolster Customer Service

Customer service can be the deciding factor for many consumers. People will go out of their way to find better customer service so make sure yours is up to scratch. Get your customer support staff to setup the CRM in such a way that you give your customers no choice but to return. Route query emails to the right people automatically, to ensure that a response and solution is given in time. Use your CRM to monitor your social media channels; it’s fast becoming the most important means of communication for younger customers.

If you’ve used your CRM correctly, you will have stored the customer’s history there; purchases, billing history, outstanding complaints and more.

Not only is CRM a great tool to store customer information but it is also a great tool for ensuring your customer data is up to date. Is a customer’s password about to expire? Set an automated reminder followed by a message to boost satisfaction. Do you suspect a client may have changed number or address? Regular interaction with customers will help cement your relationships going some way towards ensuring client loyalty.

Identify Profitable Clients

This is a role the financial team can get involved with more prominently; identify which of your previous customers has been the most profitable. It is true that attracting returning customers requires far less time and fewer resources than attracting new customers, but it still requires time and money. Use your CRM to identify which clients brought in the most revenue, which customers required the least amount of time to do so and which customers are worth avoiding.

Forward this information back to Marketing & Sales to help them refine their campaigns and strategies and ensure the profitable clients are the clients who are regularly returning to you.

Learn from feedback

CRMs, like Microsoft Dynamics, give your business the ability to archive customer feedback; use it! Once this feedback is recorded, all future interaction with customers can be personalised and tailored to ensure the utmost client satisfaction.

If previous conversations with clients led to some constructive feedback, use your CRM to note it, making sure that, when you next speak to that client, you have taken on board the previous comments.

Effective use of this technology is the 21st century equivalent of ‘service with a smile’; it is showing your customers that they are important to you.

Remember that the customer is an individual

A customer is more than just a potential sale. Learn more about them as an individual and reap the rewards. What’s more, be sure that everything learnt from interacting with customers is added to your CRM.

This depth of knowledge is an asset, which can – and should – be capitalised on by your company.
Companies pay good money for market research. Effective CRM use means you can create your own research without the added expense, all the while making the customer feel cared for.

Allocate your resources effectively

Use your time and resources effectively by profiling customer records. Flexible CRM systems, like Microsoft Dynamics, allow the CRM user to grade the profitability of accounts. Knowing which customers are most valuable to your company allows you to allocate more time to protect these accounts. Conversely, your CRM database can help you identify why some customers may be less profitable and help you open avenues to rectify this.
 
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Sales productivity & CRM: Tips & tricks

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So you’ve got a CRM in place and you’re wondering how it actually contributes to your bottom line.

This blog will take you through some of our top tips on how to make your Sales team more productive using your CRM system.

Use your CRM to maximise time spent selling

Improving the amount of time your team spends on calls and closing sales is an issue faced by most Sales Managers. Your superiors may be on your case to get more sales from you and your sales team but, at the same time, encouraging you to do more with less.

So, offering professional training to your current team or employing additional staff isn’t an option. But there is a solution that can help you increase the way in which your current sales team spend their time – simply through more effective use of your current CRM.

We have outlined 6 tips that can help you get more from your CRM – and more from your sales team in the processes.

  1. Automate reminders
  2. We can’t stress how important automating reminders is to any role within a business, but particularly for Sales. Should a lead indicate that they may be ready to purchase in the coming months, be sure to note the timeframe and other important details. You want to make sure that you beat the competition but without wasting more time ringing indiscriminately in the meantime.

  3. Lead scoring
  4. Work in combination with your company’s marketing team to outline a lead scoring procedure.
    Having your CRM track where your leads lie within your funnel and automatically update their progress means that you can spend less time monitoring leads and more time picking up the phone to those that are ready.

  5. Use call scripts
  6. Use your CRM’s ability to save sales scripts to ensure that minimal preparation is needed for the more routine sales calls. Having an outline of proven phrases and dialogue can effectively shorten sales calls, meaning that you can fit more in your day.

  7. Mobile CRM
  8. Various studies have shown how using a mobile CRM can increase productivity in sales staff by as much as 25%. With access to a mobile CRM, your sales staff are capable of researching on the go, meaning the time spent in the office needn’t be used to prep for a meeting but can instead be used to continue with sales-based activity.

  9. Minimise admin tasks
  10. Most CRMs offer fantastic automated functions that can minimise the amount of time you and your sales team spend doing admin tasks. Have email templates saved to send to clients you have just spoken to or ensure the company as a whole has a routing system in place to automatically forward certain emails to the correct person. Time saved here is time that can be spent selling to prospects and leads alike.

  11. Use social media
  12. Using social media to help coordinate your sales calls is crucial; important information can be gleaned from a lead’s social media output – particularly their mood. Mood plays a massive part in whether a sale will be closed. It’s all well and good making calls but if the call isn’t working towards a sale, then you’re not maximising your time spent selling.

How to Manage Your Team More Effectively

Management is a skill that not everybody has – and even those who are naturally gifted managers should be wary of resting on their laurels. It’s a skill that one should always aim to work on, refine and improve on a regular basis.

This is easier said than done but perhaps one of the most effective ways to do is through the adoption of a CRM in company ranks.

A forward thinking CRM, such as Microsoft Dynamics, can provide many benefits to an organisation.

In the past, we’ve shown how a CRM can increase company profits, improve interdepartmental alignment and boost productivity. Another favourable advantage of CRM is the ability to boost team cohesion and, in turn, make managing your team far easier and more effective.

  • Improved Processes
  • Many sales people complain about the lack of coherent processes in place in their organisation.
    Whilst some people thrive on the simplicity of just being given a quota and left to fend for themselves, many more need a more structured approach to selling.

    Using your CRM, find out how your most profitable sales people approach their sales. The number of occasions that a sales person has been in contact with a client, the amount of time spent on the account and even the script used to call customers can all be obtained from your CRM.

    Use this information to help define profitable processes. But don’t stop there; ask your staff to provide their input to ensure everyone is in agreement. Allow staff to come to you, in confidence, to make sure that everyone can voice their feelings or suggestions. Everyone needs to be on board with the same objective in mind. See more about improving your sales process with CRM in the next section.

  • Increased Visibility
  • Visibility is paramount for effective team management and your CRM can provide complete insight into your team’s work. Use the shared calendars to keep track of your employee’s itinerary for the upcoming week. Organise meetings quickly and effectively, all the while ensuring that everyone is available and aware of the booking.

    This added visibility extends beyond the booking of meetings and the ability to view your team’s itineraries; it lets you observe their time spent on various accounts. Identify the different approach of individuals and offer advice, where necessary. Conversely, if you see something done well, congratulate and celebrate the success.

    Ensure that increased visibility isn’t solely limited to management. Facilitate competition by including a progress bar within your CRM to spur your department on to sell more. Healthy competition is always beneficial to sales teams, but it’s your job to manage this and make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.

    Remember; visibility of your staff’s activity shouldn’t be a ‘witch hunt’ – and it’s important that your team knows this. Be sure to explain to them that the need for visibility is to improve their role and the department as a whole.

  • Track Targets
  • Create achievable targets agreed on by both your superiors and your staff. Whilst you may believe that announcing targets, which you know to be unachievable, will boost office productivity you’re more likely to be faced with a demoralised workforce.

    With these agreed targets in place, the visibility from your CRM will allow you to get an accurate picture of your team’s progress. You can refine this one step further and create individual targets; better man management equates to happier team as a whole.

  • Set an Example
  • For all of the above to be effective, you need to be sure that the rest of your employees are using the system continuously. Undoubtedly, extensive use of the CRM is outlined in company procedures, but the best way to inspire use is to do so yourself.

    Likewise, avoid breeding contempt by showing that you’re capable of doing everything that you ask your staff to do. It’s all well and good laying down targets but show that not only have you achieved similar targets in the past, through data archived in your CRM, but that you are still capable of doing so. Leading by example is one of the most effective motivational tools available to management – so use it to your advantage.

Eight steps to smarter sales processes

  1. Analyse your time
  2. Time is undoubtedly one of the most valuable assets in your company. Depending on its size, it may well be the single most important. Take a step back and get an overview of how you spend your day.

    Observing from this bird’s eye view is the first step to finding out where you can ultimately save time. A forward-thinking CRM system can help you to do this with in-depth insight.

  3. Delve into your CRM
  4. It is quite likely that you don’t know everything within your organisation’s CRM; even the most well trained students will find previously unknown functions hidden within. This is particularly true of Dynamics CRM due to the regular updates made by Microsoft. There may be additional time saving tools that are perfectly tailored to dealing with cumbersome and resource heavy tasks.

  5. InsideView
  6. If you’re using Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the United States, make sure you make the most of InsideView. As the name suggests, the program gives you an inside view into your leads’ businesses as well as that of your competition. Vital information such as leadership change or financial circumstance can affect the outcome of a sale; make sure you know all of this in advance.

  7. Monitor trends
  8. You have your clients’ previous buying history in front of you – do you notice any trends? Customers often follow sales patterns, why not anticipate these and contact your lead in advance? Use your CRM to identify trends and get in touch with your customers prior to them contacting you (or a competitor).

    Not only could you get the sale in a little earlier but you could help cement relationships with the client by showing this attention to detail.

    The beauty of using a CRM rather than a simple spreadsheet is that a CRM can help place the data in context. Identify the leads and customers you’re spending a significant amount of time in communication without results and maybe shift some of that time on to prospects and customers that you know to be more promising.

  9. Cloud
  10. Is your CRM still relevant? Many CRMs are now moving to the cloud. Cloud computing allows you to access files anywhere on any mobile device. No longer are you confined to the traditional set up of in-house dedicated servers and immobile desktops. Being more flexible with your set up could save you time and allow work to be done on the go.

    Are there provisions in place for you to adequately sell on the move? In line with their cloud offerings, CRMS such as Microsoft Dynamics offer mobile phone apps. This allows your sales team to work on the go without burdening them with laptops. Using mobile CRM tools will give your out of office sales people the same quality data as those based in house.

  11. Social data
  12. Your company may well have a pretty efficient archiving system with plenty of client data collated from traditional sources -but how about social media data? The most forward thinking CRMs have social media platforms fully integrated within them. Creating a situation where lead information is updated in real time by the lead directly.

    Also, proactive use of social media allows sales teams to target those outside of their traditional sales silo.

  13. Know your client
  14. Spend a few moments revising the details of your lead before contacting them. Although you may have the screen in front of you during the call, a previous look at the data will make for a more fluid and impressive sales pitch. Having a person in your company that regularly goes through your most important leads and updates their profiles with new information from social media is also a good way to make an impression.

  15. Know your organisation
  16. Do you need to forward calls on to different sales reps? You need to be able to do this quickly; either remember all relevant phone numbers and directories, or ensure that they are visible on your CRM to speed up the process. In a broader sense, impress your clients by knowing important details and figures about your own business. Once again keep them easily accessible on your CRM, if unable to memorise them.

Refine your Sales strategy with CRM

Having a dedicated sales strategy is crucial to push your business forward and land more sales. More important even still is ensuring that your strategy is shared throughout the Sales team and objectives are unified.

The ability to step back and get an overview of your strategy is crucial to finding issues with it and subsequently altering it for the better. Using a forward thinking CRM, Sales teams have the ability to take that much-needed step back.

Manage Your Sales Funnel

Cutting through the sales noise that many targets are now savvy to, advanced CRM systems help sales teams to organically nurture leads through the sales funnel. Marketing collateral or sales pitches that may engage those at the top of the funnel may be completely redundant to those much further through the process.

Use the information harnessed within your CRM to adapt your sales pitches accordingly and ensure that a company-wide strategy on how to sell to those in different parts of the funnel is live.

Up-Selling & Cross-selling

A CRM allows you to pinpoint accurately who your biggest customers are. An even more nuanced reading of your CRM will let make comparisons of these top clients. Which leads are taking the most time to close? Which leads require the most man power? There are important comparisons to be made here. Client A may spend the most at your business but require much more time than Client B, meaning that Client B does in fact give you a bigger net profit.

There are tools built within CRMs to help you notice these trends – and your sales team can use these to their advantage; know what Client A likes to purchase? Suggest similar, additional purchases and make the account more profitable.

Maintaining Relationships

It’s a well-known fact that people buy from people – and we know it is often advantageous to have a single customer-facing salesperson on the same account to build a relationship but this may not always be feasible. Using the information leveraged from a CRM, any sales person within your team can instantly have a rapport with a client, thanks to the wealth of knowledge already accumulated.

Mobile and Cloud

The speed of change with the CRM world has been staggering, with the most forward-thinking systems updating constantly. Using a CRM that operates in the cloud means that, not only do you benefit from always having the latest updates, but you also have access to your database anywhere. Microsoft Dynamics has taken this a step further with a mobile app that ensures your sales team can remain strategic – wherever they are.

Improve your CRM and sell more

It goes without saying that there are numerous benefits to adopting a CRM throughout your company, but how can an advanced CRM solution help you impress your clients? This countdown highlights what we believe to be the five most important advantages of a fully integrated CRM solution.

  1. Professionalism
  2. Using a CRM exudes an air of professionalism to your customers. We both know that you don’t remember all these facts off the top of your head; that you use a CRM to hold all of this information – but most customers do not. It’s a smart way to make each of the thousands of clients stored on your CRM feel as important as possible and, of course, they are important – but it would be unfeasible to remember the intimate details of them all. A CRM helps you to achieve this.

  3. Reliability
  4. CRM systems as a whole are far more reliable than the paper and pencil method. Long gone are the days with scraps of paper strewn all over your desk, scraps with single words that made sense at the time but no longer amount to all that much. Everything can now be stored on a single database giving both you and your company access to everything about every lead. Most modern CRM systems have cloud versions of their software providing you with redundancy in case any internal computers do go down.

  5. Time Efficiencies
  6. CRM systems allow you to spend more time selling and less time dealing with niggling admin issues.
    The most adaptive CRM systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics, have a whole host of automated functions embedded within them which, if used properly, will save you significant time. Even the familiar and well thought out interface of Microsoft Dynamics ensures that you spend as little time as possible when inputting data from a call.

    CRMs that integrate with email clients, as Microsoft Dynamics does with Microsoft Office, will save you time. Emails sent to your business are subsequently categorised and sent to the appropriate department without you lifting a finger.

  7. Unification
  8. CRM can help with unification; the most successful businesses are those that share a company-wide strategy. When sales and marketing are aligned, both work far more effectively and a CRM acts as a common ground where ideas between both can be shared. Sales want a certain quality of lead supplied from Marketing – and with a good CRM in place, they can play a part in choosing the settings that automate the passing of leads from one department to another.
    As a sales rep, you can provide feedback to the Marketing team to help confirm which campaigns have produced the most sales ready leads. Alignment is crucial if you want to succeed in the world of Sales 2.0.

  9. Track ROI and Generate More Revenue
  10. Despite the possibility of a multitude of other benefits, if ROI doesn’t stack up, any process or technology is unlikely to last long term. It is here, however, that full scale adoption of a CRM comes into its own. Not only will it greatly increase your ability to track ROI of each activity but also increase profits throughout your company.

Using a CRM will also help you to close sales more quickly. The quicker your team closes a sale, the sooner they can move on to the next call. Knowing that sales is a numbers game, the more calls you can make, the more sales you can potentially close and the more revenue you can therefore bring in.

Increased customer satisfaction can also increase ROI; the professionalism afforded to companies that adopt the technology means that customers are more likely to purchase from them again. This means that the Sales team can work less to secure repeat business and spend more time acquiring new business.

Discover how to boost sales success with our free eGuide: ‘The ultimate guide to: increasing sales performance’.

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How to achieve Sales & Marketing alignment with CRM

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The benefits of Sales & Marketing alignment

The importance of Sales & Marketing alignment is often overlooked in favour of each department working on its own and for its own ends.

This modular thinking may help create a bit of competition between departments but, in the long run, it is not a successful model for running an organisation.

The key to modern business is ensuring that, throughout an organisation all departments are working towards a common objective, albeit through different means.

Nowhere is this truer than in the alignment of Marketing & Sales. They are the engine driving most organisations but other departments can also benefit from better inclusion, notably the customer support arm of your business.

The easiest way of ensuring better office connectivity is through the adoption of a CRM, which should help to draw your departments together.

  • Transparent Pipeline
  • A CRM gives you insight into the workings of all your staff. It gives every department access to what everyone else is doing and when they’re doing it. This overview gives management a great insight into all company processes, and gives them a better perspective when planning new business strategies.

    A transparent pipeline ensures that every department can support each other when necessary.

  • Singular Data Source
  • Having a single customer database is a great advantage to your marketing department. Studies have suggested that nearly 30% of marketers feel that a disparate data source is the main reason they fail to glean useful information about their target audience.

    Get all departments to work together through the CRM in order to boost the marketing department.

  • Remember Your Customers
  • Access to the complete history of previous customers is a massive benefit that can increase company unity and profits. It is far cheaper – and not to mention far easier – to sell to existing customers than to new prospects. Even after a sale ensure that the customer continues to be nurtured.

    Your customer support provides an excellent means of retaining customers. Nurturing should extend to Sales and Marketing, who can provide the possibility of up-selling.

  • Score Leads
  • Although this requires extra work to implement, an effective scoring matrix that combines the insight (and agreement) of Sales and Marketing to devise a lead scoring system is one of the most beneficial functions of a CRM. Most importantly, it offers an agreed understanding of what each department wants from its counterpart.

    In non-lead scoring, non-lead nurturing organisations, as many as 79% of leads sent over from Marketing aren’t converted by Sales. Both lead nurturing and lead scoring can greatly reduce that percentage – and more converted sales equal more revenue.

    Did you know?
    46% of marketers with mature lead management processes have sales teams that follow up on more than 75% of marketing-generated leads?

  • Speed Up Processes
  • The automated functions within a CRM blur the line between departments. If a lead has downloaded a piece of marketing content, alerts should go to both Marketing and Sales. Sales need to be quick off the mark when it comes to responding to these events, leads could lose interest or go to a competitor in the meantime.

    All this work decreases the sales cycle, with more leads going through the sales funnel quicker, more revenue can be made.

  • Reduce Cost per Lead
  • Not only do more qualified leads equate to more revenue coming in, it also reduces the cost per lead. Working towards higher quality leads with the help of a CRM and content that helps to nurture those leads, means that the leads passed over from Marketing are more likely to be converted by Sales.

    This increases Marketing’s ROI by decreasing the cost of each lead, quite simply because they’re being more efficient with their time due to the CRM.

 

CRM: Bridging the Gap between Sales & Marketing

So how can you align the departments to ensure that they work together and support each other’s objectives?

Here are Redspire’s top five tips to ensure that Sales and Marketing are working together as effectively as possible:

  1. Ensure that both teams adopt a single CRM system
  2. Using a single CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics ensures that teams have access to the information they need to retain existing customers and generate new ones.

    A single view technology such as Dynamics allows your organisation to be entirely transparent about budgets, objectives and resources – providing Sales and Marketing with visibility to information as and when they need it. Additionally, a single system helps to remove any possible gaps between expectations and results.

  3. Transfer information seamlessly between teams
  4. If both Sales and Marketing are maintaining a single CRM system, information can move between the teams seamlessly. No more lost contact details. No more missed appointments. No more opportunities lost to the competition because one team failed to pick up where another left off. In other words, no more playing the Blame Game!

    Access to the same information means you can empower your teams to make the right decisions at the right times – whether that’s changing the communications Marketing are currently working on or the lead ranking of prospects Sales are looking to close.

  5. Check Sales and Marketing are talking the same language
  6. Often, miscommunication can be the biggest cause behind missed objectives. Using a single system helps to get your teams using the same terms of reference. For example, have you clearly defined when ‘a lead’ becomes ‘an opportunity’? Are your Sales teams understanding exactly when and how they can capitalise on the work their Marketing colleagues have already done?

    A clearly defined process ensures that your customers enjoy a consistent, rewarding experience – no duplication of workload, no ‘going back to the office to double-check’; just knowledgeable teams that are all up to speed with their customers’ accounts.

  7. Qualify leads
  8. A CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics can help Marketing teams to qualify leads much more effectively before they are handed over to Sales. This, in turn, increases the credibility of Marketing as well as boosting the productivity of Sales (as they are no longer having to look for leads of their own to convert; they have a ready-made list from Marketing).

    By building automated processes into your system, you can ensure that leads are handed over to Sales at a point where the allocation of extra resource makes business sense.

  9. Compile and review data
  10. It is easy for a culture of ‘finger-pointing’ to arise between Sales and Marketing. ‘They didn’t convert’ vs. ‘They didn’t create’. By building your approach around a single CRM system, you can begin compiling data that enables your organisation to understand more clearly which sort of leads are converted and which are not.

    It will also enable you to spot patterns in customer behaviour that your Marketing teams can capitalise on, as well as understanding precisely what kind of marketing investment generates results, sales and return on investment.

    To encourage a dynamic, agile approach, hold regular meetings that include key staff from both Sales and Marketing (at least quarterly) to review your results and make any appropriate changes.

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Motivate Your Sales Team with CRM: Here’s How…

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Motivate your team to get the most from your CRM and sales department by understanding that it’s about the process as much as the product.

It’s hard to recruit great salespeople. Harder still to keep them great.

It’s important that you get the most out of your CRM and sales team. While CRM can do it, the product is only half the story.

To get the most from Customer Relationship Management, you have to get your salespeople not just using it, but liking it.

Liking the way it delivers sales targets. Liking how it helps them succeed.

Here’s how.

Show them that not all old leads are cold leads when it comes to CRM and sales.

Cold doesn’t mean dead. It just means someone wasn’t ready to buy yet. What if:

  • You know which “cold leads” still click every newsletter?
  • You know it takes 21 calls to get an appointment – and 500 cold leads are on twenty?
  • You know cold leads warm up after their annual trade event?

Many CRM applications can provide such out-of-the-box insights. They’ll get your salespeople warmed up as fast as those unexpected prospects.

Remember KISS – Keep It Simple, Sales.

Complexity gets in the way. There’s no surer way to hamper adoption than to make users think the old way was easier. So double check:

  • Main charts and functions are reachable with a click.
  • Any journey through a task is easy to understand.
  • Everything integrates with the natural application for that task – such as Microsoft’s Outlook for email campaigning.

Today, some of the best lessons in ease-of-use within CRM and sales come from mobile app design.

Get that data to go with mobile access.

Salespeople are big mobile users. So a CRM application that plays well with their phones and tablets – especially those they own at home – will see greater use. It enables:

  • A sense of ownership. Mobile devices are all about the personal.
  • More work hours to be put in as staff can now log in from anywhere.
  • A sense of empowerment – you’re letting them do things their way.

And maybe, just maybe, all that leads to greater sales numbers. Make CRM mobile.

Find the boring bits and take them out of the loop.

A powerful application makes it easy to load up on menial tasks too. So actively look for things to automate. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep in touch. Set follow-up calls automatically.
  • Campaign chasers. Calling people who clicked the newsletter? Deliver lists to salespeople’s desktops.
  • Event dates. Find the big trade days in each sector and automatically schedule appointment-setting calls a few days before.

A great deal of sales can seem quite time consuming. The best CRM practices will save you a vast amount of time.

Show them opportunities in social media.

The formula for happy, successful salespeople is simple: keep them supplied with quality leads that you have found from various places. There are many opportunities for this, such as:

  • Getting your prospects’ social media handles.
  • Connecting not just to prospects, but prospects’ customers.
  • Looking for common denominators in what they click, post, share and follow.

The best CRM applications know social media backwards – but many companies underuse it.

Say it in pictures, charts and graphs.

A good chart or graph can foster understanding in CRM and sales that drives double-digit jumps in conversions.

  • Ask your people what information from the weekly report they use most and give it to them on-demand, in real time.
  • Choose graphics that can be used by easily by both Team Leaders and Sales Executives.
  • Don’t limit yourself to pie charts and bar charts – scatters and circumplexes have clinched many a consultant’s sale too.

When you need to present data, do as much as possible in graphics. A good CRM setup will give you the tools.

Demonstrate the power of all in CRM and sales.

Imagine you have ten salespeople:

  • If two are using CRM, those two will find it hard. Usage will drop to zero.
  • If five are using CRM, that five won’t get full value. They’ll use it under duress.
  • Once six are using CRM, it’ll persuade those who aren’t to get on board.

The outputs of a CRM system – ideas, insights, opportunities, conversions, closes – are only as good as the data you put into it. So take care to get every lead and every action where it belongs and make it easy to do so.

It’s the process, not the product.

Above all, remember CRM isn’t a product.

For the people who use it – nurturing leads, chasing closes, maxing-out conversions – CRM is a process.

So when you choose your CRM partner, make sure they focus on how things are done within your organisation. Match product with process and your results from CRM will be sky-high. Ready to look up?

Once your team is motivated, you’ll need to make sure they have the knowledge to make the most of your CRM system. Discover how to increase your sales with your free eGuide The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling

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3 Tenets That Make CRM Work

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There are three simple principles behind profitable CRM – customers, relationships and management.

CRM – it’s as easy as 123. The clue is in the name.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management – is built on three principles:

1. Customers.

2. Relationships.

3. Management.

CRM is not so much a tool, as it is an ethos that uses software to help fulfil its goals.

1. Customers

The lifeblood of your business is not just sales, but the customers themselves. All of your activities should be focused on delivering a better service to customers, new and old.

CRM provides a central repository for all customer data, becoming the one comprehensive view of all things customer related – it also helps you to retain the customers you already have.
Increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits between 25% and 95%. – Bain & Company.

2. Relationships

People buy from people. That’s why it’s important that relationships form the core of all your interactions. Marketing establishes relationships and sales cultivate them. Your service team can then learn and grow new opportunities based on those relationships.

CRM gives you a tool to capture relationship data, analyse trends and identify new opportunities.

“CRM almost makes everyone in your organisation a sales person, since they are selling your business in one way or another. For instance, customers often say things to support staff which could be used as a sales opportunity. The support person might not know it but because the information is recorded, a salesperson can see it and use it to follow up. Just the recording of the information has many benefits for other departments.” – IDC.

3. Management

Establishing relationships with customers is one thing, but those interactions need to be managed if they are to be profitable. You also need tools to capture and analyse relationship data to help keep sales, marketing and services on track.

CRM can also be used to automate many of the common account management tasks to improve customer service, such as smoothing the transfer of leads between marketing and sales and giving your company a complete understanding of the customer’s needs and preferences.

“On average, sales and marketing costs average from 15%-35% of total corporate costs. So the effort to automate for more sales efficiency is absolutely essential. In cases reviewed, sales increases due to advanced CRM technology have ranged from 10% to more than 30%.” – Harvard Business Review.

“The average time a sales representative spends on sales: 47%; on administrative tasks; 39%.”– Selling Power Magazine.

Remember

1. Customers.

2. Relationships.

3. Management.

See obstacles to your CRM implementation? For more information, download your free eGuide The ultimate guide to: security in the cloud

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