5 min read

More than a Nickel Back: Why Chad Kroeger Is Actually a CRM Supremo

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Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger wouldn’t call himself a CRM strategist. But there are at least five principles any e-marketer can learn from him.

You may not have heard of Canadian rockers Nickelback. But you’ve probably heard their songs and wondered where you’ve heard them before.

The band from Alberta takes a specific approach to writing its music. An approach not always appreciated by other artists – one band he works with calls it applying “100% corporate efficiency to rock ’n’ roll” – but which has delivered a string of hits. Not to mention a $60 million fortune to frontman Chad Kroeger.

Now that’s good business. So here are five CRM lessons you can learn from Kroeger and apply to industries beyond the music business. Will they take long to read? Like all good rock songs, you’ll be done in just three and a half minutes.

#1: Play riffs people recognise

We’re not suggesting you should bring an electric guitar to client meetings. Kroeger freely admits his songwriting started with hard analysis – listening to thousands of songs that made it big in the charts, and teasing out precisely what combinations of notes and instruments made them memorable. Then he applied those learnings to his creative output.

(That’s why a number of Nickelback songs sound a bit like songs you know. He already knows what success looks like and uses it.)

Wondering what relevance that has to CRM? Modern CRM software is perfect for doing the same thing with your marketing programmes. If the same link appears four times in your email, which phrasing got all the clicks? Some newsletter layouts work better than others: find out which with an A/B split. Even the simple stuff, like a yellow versus a blue background can cause a difference in pull. These are “riffs” you can reuse to stick in people’s minds.

Use your data. In your past newsletters, emails and even telephone scripts, you’ll find sentences and approaches that work time after time.

Remember, a single percentage point in response uplift can double your sales leads without any increase in your campaign list. So to be a CRM rockstar, find the right riffs.

#2: Put in something for everyone

The band doesn’t slot itself into one genre. Many Nickelback songs were created specifically to cross rock, pop, metal and even country – with the express goal of appearing on more than one music chart.

In marketing terms, this doesn’t mean “go generic”. It means making offers targeted to different audiences in the same communication.

Today’s CRM tools let you mass-customise down to the level of a single customer, based on their past purchase behaviour or response patterns.

The best customer for an offer is a customer who’s taken you up on it before.

Understand your audience enough to make pitch-perfect offers and you’ll get higher responses because your customers have figured you out.

#3: Connect across media

Nickelback isn’t so much a band as a vertically-integrated supply chain. Music is one layer, producing other people’s music is another and other units control licensing. There’s even a team devoted to controlling costs at concerts, ensuring not just sales but margins stay high. Its entire production line is joined-up.

“There is a mathematical formula to why you got famous. It isn’t some magical thing that just started happening.” – Chad Kroeger.

The best CRM applications give you the tools to do the same. But few companies make use of them. Your email newsletter is an asset – make it work hard.

From your Twitter account to a YouTube channel or a LinkedIn update, make sure each piece of content creates cross-linking and sharing opportunities across all monetisable channels. In this way, you won’t just maximise response from your list – you’ll add new customers to it.

#4: Tie everything back to financials.

When it comes to money, Nickelback is all business. They never stop looking at the incremental revenue each action can generate – positive uplift? In short, the group sweats every asset to the max. Much of the language Kroeger uses in interviews would sound at home in a business school.

“When I’m Chad from Nickelback, then I have to wear one hat and I have to wear various others when I’m Chad Kroeger who is co-owner of 604 Records or someone who’s working on an independent project. At that point I want to know where the record is getting licensed, as well as absolutely every aspect of how we’re going to deliver a song to the public and how we’ll all get paid for doing so.” – Chad Kroeger.

You can do the same. With expert help, today’s CRM tools can show you a lot more than clickthroughs and page impressions from your marketing – they can show you where customers got to in the purchase funnel, estimate how likely they are to move forward and show you which actions to take to maximise revenues.

#5: Keep the fun going.

Kroeger swears a lot, catches women’s underwear thrown to him and chugs beers on stage. Right for your business? Probably not – but the principle holds: make sure you’re having fun. Even the band’s name is a joke – Kroeger’s first job was in Starbucks, where he had to say “here’s your nickel back” hundreds of times daily when giving change.

Companies that endure tend to have employees who genuinely like what they do. From Innocent Drinks to First Direct, you will find successful businesses whose people are full of passion and who pass that passion onto their customers.

Takeaways

Be in business for all the right reasons.

So that’s our last Kroegerism on CRM: whatever else you do, enjoy yourself.

  • When you send out a CRM communication, make sure your personality’s in there.
  • Treat your customers as living, breathing individuals, not names on a list.
  • Talk to them one-to-one.

Convinced? Is everyone else? Download your free eGuide The ultimate guide to: winning board support

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5 min read

Upgrading to CRM 2015

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 is here and many of you will be eager to upgrade soon.

What does it take to upgrade CRM 2013 to CRM 2015 and what support changes can you expect? Let’s have a look:
 

Supported Systems

Operating systems

After the CRM 2015 update, Microsoft will continue to support Windows server 2012 and 2012R OS’s. Microsoft also supports Windows SQL Server 2012 and Windows 7 and Windows 8 clients. This includes Windows 8 and 8.1.

With the recent release of Windows 10, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 users will be able to use Cortana to set up meetings and reminders as well as search for contacts, accounts and activities and create new records using voice commands. Source: ZDnet.com

With the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, Microsoft has ceased supporting Windows 2008/2008R2, Windows Vista as well as Small Business Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008R2.

Internet browsers

Microsoft is going to continue to support IE 10 and 11 going forward.

Microsoft has withdrawn support for Internet Explorer 8 and 9. If you are using these browsers, you’re encouraged to upgrade to the most up-to-date IE version (or any other browser that supports CRM) as more and more CRM features will stop working in these browsers over time.

Other platforms

In the case of Exchange and Outlook, Microsoft will support versions starting from 2010. They will drop support for Exchange 2007 and Office 2007 as well as SharePoint 2007.

Find out more on Feridun’s Knowledgebase.
 

Server Upgrade Process: CRM 2015 on Premise

Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 on Premise is a one-way process, which means CRM 2015 on Premise cannot be uninstalled.

There are two ways to upgrade to CRM 2015 on Premise:

  1. In Place: By installing media on top of the servers that you have
  2. Migration upgrade: By installing another CRM instance with a separate database and then migrating your existing database over. This is the preferred method as it allows you to fall back on your existing CRM 2013 account in case something goes wrong.

For both types of upgrade method to work, your CRM must be at least version 2013 6.1 (your server must be on CRM 2013 Service Pack 1 or higher).

Before proceeding with the upgrade, Microsoft will carry out a health check on your existing database to see whether it’s safe for you to upgrade. If there seems to be an issue, Microsoft will alert you. If the issue is something Microsoft knows how to solve for you, they will provide you with a guide on how to solve it.

Change in CRM database structure

After the CRM 2013 upgrade, users could choose whether to keep the existing database structure or to switch to a more efficient system (expanded series of data tables were merged and replaced by collapsed tables). The CRM 2015 update will make it mandatory for you to start using this system.

If your database is not merged yet, the update will automatically do this for you. If for some reason your database can’t be merged, Microsoft will make you aware of this so you can resolve the problem.
 

CRM 2013 to 2015 Online update

For all the CRM Online users, the great news is that Microsoft will take care of all this upgrading work for you – as part of the service. Microsoft recommends you work with your CRM partner on upgrading your CRM Online to make sure everything is migrated correctly.

If you want to upgrade from CRM 2011 straight to CRM 2015, this will not be possible without updating to CRM 2013 first. This is because the Microsoft development team has made significant changes to the core of the system.

For example, the lead forms have got a new layout with the CRM 2013 upgrade. CRM 2011 users were allowed to keep their old lead form design (but were encouraged to upgrade to the new one so they can take advantage of new features). Now with the CRM 2015 upgrade, companies can decide for themselves whether they want to keep the existing layout and upgrade it later, or upgrade it along with the rest of their CRM.

Upgrading CRM 2011 to 2013 to CRM 2015 forms

 

CRM 2015 migration tools

Microsoft provides many tools and capabilities within your CRM system to help you upgrade to CRM 2015.

The documentation can be found either in your Software Development Kit (SDK) or on the Microsoft website. It covers:

  • The process you need to go through to upgrade
  • The design considerations you should take into account (for example, how your lead forms will appear on your mobile and Outlook client)
  •  
    For clients wishing to upgrade from CRM 2011, the in-app tools can be found in your form designer. In CRM 2011, all lead forms are called Information. In CRM 2013, the name changed to Account. Once you’ve upgraded to CRM, you’ll see a button called Merge Forms. You’ll be presented with a look-up dialogue that allows you to select the 2011 form. When you import that form, it will take the information from your 2011 form and move it to the bottom of your CRM 2013 form.

    Matthew Barbour, Principal Solutions Architect PM At Microsoft, explained everything CRM 2013 clients need to upgrade to CRM 2015 in this video. To see Matt explain upgrading to CRM 2015, watch it now:


     
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    Do you have a different version of Dynamics CRM and want to upgrade to CRM 2015? If you have:

    • CRM 4

    • CRM 2011

    • or even CRM 2013,

    Let us know and we’re happy to offer you free advice on upgrading your Microsoft Dynamics CRM. There’s no obligation and we’re super friendly!

    MS Dynamics CRM 2015

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1 min read

A small gallery

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  • In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo.
  • Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi.

Aenean vulputate eleifend tellus. Aenean leo ligula, porttitor eu, consequat vitae, eleifend ac, enim.

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3 min read

The Top 5 CRM Implementation Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

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While a new CRM implementation has the power to transform your business, if implemented incorrectly, it can end up crippling your bottom line instead.

CRM can change your business.

Transform it. Take it to the next level. Turbo charge it, and all those other tired but true cliches.

But CRM can also harm your business if you don’t implement it correctly. Drive down profits. Consume budgets. Leave your bottom line beaten and battered.

You could end up a percentage point of the 63% of companies whose CRM solution fails.

But why does CRM fail for so many businesses?

One reason is that some companies rush in, throwing money and resources at CRM implementation without fully considering how they’re actually going to implement it.

To avoid disaster, steer clear of the following CRM implementation pitfalls:

1. Levelled By Legacy

CRM offers companies access to a vast range of new tools and skill sets, but old systems must work hand-in-hand with any new CRM platform.

The trouble is, is that some companies aren’t ensuring that the new and old systems have ‘tied the knot’. To ensure they don’t end up in the divorce courts:

a. Do a company-wide IT survey and learn how existing systems can be mated with the new CRM system.

Or at least be in a position to work together before the legacy system is phased out.

b. Do understand the impact that CRM will have on your entire IT structure – or you could pay dearly later.

c. Don’t jump in both feet first; run a pilot programme before full rollout so you can test that the new and the old will work together.

d. And most importantly, don’t simply migrate the data from your legacy system carte blanche, or else you could end up with…

2. Dirty Data

Ensure your database has been cleaned before you introduce the CRM solution. All entries should be standardised and any discrepancies dealt with.

These can include dealing with double entries, missing fields, gone-aways and non-compliant data. Remember – a CRM system is only as good as the data that’s fed into it.

3. Trials of the Unexpected

A company can change overnight; it may merge, be acquired, a department outsourced or a key stakeholder may be replaced.

Rolling out a CRM system needs to take such potential changes into account, so ensure you have the right budget and schedule contingency plan in place.

4. Those Damn Damning Doomsayers

To ensure that CRM is successful, it has to be embraced by everyone in the company:

a. The C-Suite needs to be on board – executive sponsorship is vital to promoting the new system across the company.

b. A CRM advocate is required from a department – say, the marketing manager – who can show results quickly and prove to other departments that CRM works.

c. A full training programme must be rolled out for all employees so they can grasp CRM’s benefits immediately.

5. DIY Disaster

The idea of carrying out a CRM implementation in-house might sound appealing – even cost effective. A CRM implementation is, however, a big job.

It needs specialists who can:

  • Help design and implement the CRM system.
  • Provide that all-important training to employees.
  • Aid in legacy system migration and management.
  • Offer support during and after the implementation process.

Unless you have that kind of expert knowledge in-house, what’s the best solution?

Hire in a consultant for the initial planning and rollout before bringing on board an in-house CRM manager for the day-to-day running of the system, once it’s up and running.

With these five critical areas covered, you’re now in a better position to ensure your CRM implementation is as pain-free as possible and, most importantly, successful.

And once installed, you can take solace in the fact that you will be one of the 37% for whom CRM works.

They’re not the only pitfalls. Avoid leaking critical cloud-based CRM data with The ultimate guide to: security in the cloud

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5 min read

What We Can Still Learn from Old School Sales Guys

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The greatest salespeople aren’t always the greatest CRM experts… and it doesn’t always matter.

Every sales department has one. And, sadly, new recruits born into a world of web often sneer at them. The experienced sales executive who prefers landlines to telepresence, remembers the birthdays of his clients’ children and writes stuff down on paper. Yes, that guy.

The guy who’s kept three £250k accounts loyal for a decade.

Salespeople who started work in a different decade aren’t always familiar with CRM technology and, sometimes, it frustrates their (often younger) colleagues charged with getting the most from their IT investment. To the point where our traditionalist hero – let’s call this hero Bob – ends up excluded from departmental strategy, with the millions of business pounds he brings in, ignored.

Can I change your perspective a little?

Bob isn’t anti-CRM. In fact, he’s the most pro-CRM guy you’ll ever meet. (He just doesn’t always do it through software.) It’s important that you can make sure his decades of learning becomes part of your CRM’s ongoing improvement programme, leading to a positive effect on conversions.

1. Attitude leads to opportunity.

The first time Bob met his client, Fred, he didn’t talk business. A chance meeting in the golf club led to a phone call, then a lunch. Over the steak sandwich, Bob asked Fred about his background. Where he went to school, how he got started in business and the glass extension he’d just added to his house.

Along the way, he learned Fred was friends with the CMOs of two companies on his hit list. Before coffee, he had those names in his notebook.

To today’s goal-focused, results-oriented salesperson, Bob’s approach might sound meandering. But look closer: doesn’t it sound a lot like a CRM nurturing pathway? Bob’s first task was to establish rapport and learn something about his prospect, which is also the purpose of a well-written blog or email marketing campaign.

So while Bob doesn’t think much of computers, his attitude towards Customer Relationship Management is spot-on. The right approach to CRM opens up opportunities far beyond one prospect.

2. Read the situation before acting.

After lunch with Fred, Bob dropped him a note of thanks and said he’d call again next month. Nothing else. Bob’s primary ethos is never make your client feel uncomfortable.

After a few lunches and coffees, Fred started asking what Bob would do about a problem facing his finance department. Bob thought for a few minutes, then asked if he could visit the team to gather information. Still no sale. But the time was right to move closer.

Nurturing sometimes looks like timewasting because some of those nurtured prospects never become customers. But sales is a numbers game. One percent of lunch dates turning into £100k accounts still adds up.

Someone you just met isn’t ready to make a buying decision. How many times have your less experienced sales team lost a hot prospect by drilling them with offers too soon? It’s just as applicable to an e-CRM strategy, from first cold mailing to final contract.

3. Connect through connections.

The following week, Bob called those two connections of Fred’s. He’d heard great things about them and wondered if he could buy them a coffee. Both accepted.

In his highly advanced CRM user interface, (a battered old leather notebook), Bob scribbled out “cold suspect” next to both names and wrote in “warm lead”.

The right CRM application lets you do a lot more than just contact people. It helps you build a relationship in the most effective way. Some are even able to map connections between people and show you the easiest approach pathway.

Flexibility and openness characterise Bob’s approach. A connection through another connection is a lot more valuable than a cold call. It’s messy, it’s chaotic, it’s human and warm. If the digital natives on your team have trouble with this, your most experienced salespeople may be the right people to train them.

4. Keeping customers means more than winning them.

Sales Directors often trumpet their big acquisitions louder than their long term retentions, which is a shame, because Bob’s trio of long term customers delivers a profit margin of 30% every year. Contrast that with the three years it takes a new client to break even. Turnover is good, but profits are better.

Every sales person knows it’s easier to win new business from an existing client than a cold lead. So keep congratulating your young team on each big win, but make sure they’re not neglecting last year’s client win. They need to learn the importance of maximising Customer Lifetime Value.

5. Formalise the methods – but don’t freeze them.

Bob likes the golf course but he always checks whether a new prospect prefers football. Expert users of CRM software have a tendency to formalise “what works” in terms of “hard aspects” rather than “soft aspects”.

This is another approach Bob uses that’s perfectly in tune with best-practice CRM. His methods don’t change from sale to sale, but his execution does. Rather than blasting all prospects with the same offer, he adapts each touchpoint to a situation he knows the prospect will prefer. All of this contributes to a sky-high conversion ratio.

6. When the time’s ready, “make the sale” to Bob.

Bob isn’t technoid, but he’s pragmatic. When he sees something working, he adopts it. So when he realises the wealth of client information in his notebooks can do more for the company as part of its CRM database, make the time to help him put it in there.

As a closing exercise, take Bob’s numbers from last year and calculate your jump in sales if every new client win delivered the same billings at the same profit margin. 30%? 100%? You can do it – with Bob’s help. That’s why Bob might be your CRM system’s greatest asset.

Your old-school sales guys aren’t just sales executives. They’re mentors for the next generation. Your CRM application is just waiting to make use of their knowledge.

Start applying some old-school knowledge to a cutting-edge CRM system by downloading your eGuide now: The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling

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11 min read

How CRM benefits your business strategy

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How to Make CRM Your Business Lifeline

There is something slightly unnerving about the idea that your business should rely on a lifeline, particularly one that has at times been viewed as quite troublesome. CRM systems of old have a well-founded reputation for being a lot of hassle, an awkward piece of software that more often than not works against your employees rather than with them. So, once again, why would you want to rely on one as a lifeline?

The answer, quite simply, is that modern CRMs are no longer the same beasts. They offer a wealth of functionality that was previously unheard of, they’re no longer glorified spreadsheets. If used correctly they are capable of being the lifeblood of any organisation, driving it forward and improving processes. So, how do you use it correctly?

  1. Quality Data
  2. If your CRM is the lifeblood of your business, then data is the lifeblood of your CRM. You can’t have an effective CRM strategy without quality data. Whether your company prerogative is to purchase quality data or obtain your own through marketing campaigns, be sure to flood your CRM with rich relevant data. How else are your marketing team to create engaging campaigns if they’re not targeting the right people? How else are Sales going to minimise cold calling and maximise closing?

  3. User Adoption
  4. There is no way that your CRM can be your business lifeline if the business, as a whole, hasn’t adopted it. Ensure that each department is regularly using – and benefitting – from the CRM. If certain departments are less keen, be sure to find out why.

    Is it a lack of user knowledge? If so, encourage the department to take part in more training to become completely comfortable with the software.

    Is there a lack of faith? Explain the benefits of company-wide adoption and how every department has its role to play within the system. In the long term, it will make everyone’s role easier and more effective but it requires a certain level of commitment to begin with.

  5. Improving Results
  6. Once you have successfully increased user adoption, you have to ensure that each department is using the CRM to achieve – or even surpass – their departmental goals. Modern CRMs such as Microsoft Dynamics are capable of improving individual departments through the development of specific workflows that, in combination, better the whole organisation. It boils down to finances; if each department is working more effectively, each department is more likely to bring in more revenue.

    Marketing – Is the marketing department using all the information within CRM to create inbound campaigns that engage effectively? Are they taking it to the next level and segmenting the database to produce more refined content specific to certain groups only? Refining content in this way has been shown to attract more leads that are ready to buy.

    Sales – Is your sales team using the data found within your CRM to create the right first impression on their calls? Are they marking down any useful information gleaned from these calls for use on future occasions? Sales is about creating relationships; if your sales team has to start from zero on every call, they’ll be less likely to get any traction or close deals.

    Finance – Are you directly observing these departments to work out their ROI? A CRM should be offering you full visibility into the workings of every department; are you following this up? Your CRM is the best source for quality information to help you accurately forecast revenue for the coming months.

  7. Respect Your Customers
  8. If your CRM is your business lifeline, it’s only because it’s there to support the most important aspect of business; your customers. Without customers, you’re not so much a business as a club.

    Your CRM should help you keep track of existing customers, supporting those who need it and recommending upgrades to those interested. A CRM is loaded with functionality for automated responses, timers and automatic routing to ensure that any complaints are forwarded to the relevant figure and responded to in the quickest possible time. Quality customer service is a crucial element of business that has a measurable effect on your bottom line.

    Maintaining contact with past customers can also be beneficial, keeping the lead warm and aware of your brand for any future transactions. Customer retention is the name of the game; not only is it far easier to sell to existing customers but customers also act as your reviewers; word of mouth still plays a vital part in business and any poor reviews will spread far more quickly than positive ones.

Align Your Business Strategies with CRM

It’s all well and good investing in a new piece of kit and staying abreast of technological developments – but without considering the wider business effects, it’s nothing short of a waste of money. As with all things, it’s not the technology alone which will be of benefit to your company, but the technology coupled with a business strategy to compliment it.

The right business shouldn’t be afraid to alter its business practices if the technology offers a more practical solution but, conversely, one shouldn’t purchase something that doesn’t resemble your own approach to business in any way. A balance has to be met when trying to align your strategies to your technology.

  • Training
  • Making time for training is paramount to the success of your CRM implementation. It may seem costly to include additional training, having spent heavily on adopting the software and upgrading your hardware but, make no mistake about it, it is crucial. Without sufficiently trained staff at the helm, it won’t matter how powerful your CRM is nor how thorough your business strategies are. They will fail if your staff can’t implement them. Training is to your business approach what foundations are to a building.

    Training should even extend to those who are already quite proficient on the system. The level of customised training on offer now is exceptional, which means that while some of your staff may know the basics and even some intermediary stuff, they won’t know every advanced strategy and technique. Having several in-house staff that are considered pros on your CRM can save you money in the long term; no longer will consultancy and its associated fees be necessary as your proficient staff can deal with all that is thrown at them.

  • Ease of Use
  • It’s important to choose a CRM system that is simple to use and is easily understood by your staff. Even after various training sessions you will still be left with those unable to adapt quickly, which is why ease of use remains an important consideration. Ease of use can be subjective but there are things that should be considered, areas that are generally regarded to overcomplicate the process.

    These include number of clicks to do simple tasks, excessive screen space, and slow refresh speeds. More subjective things to factor in include factors such as how familiar you are with the UI or how customisable it is.

  • Scalability & Flexibility
  • Is the CRM you are looking for a static single solution piece of software? If so, this could lead to problems further down the line. It really shouldn’t be used as a solution to only one problem; cost alone means this is a poor idea but you’re also losing out on the flexibility and scalability offered by using a CRM. Are Sales the only team using the CRM? Implement it company-wide; a CRM like Microsoft Dynamics has clearly segmented functions that benefit every aspect of your company with Marketing particularly having a lot to gain from using it.

    Find your company moving into a different sector or branching out? The right CRM can deal with this rather than need replacing. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a complete store dedicated to add-ons that can boost functionality well beyond the, already extensive, capabilities the off-the-shelf version has. With easy segmentation into relevant industries and job titles, it is easy to scale and adopt your CRM for your needs.

  • Think Efficiently
  • Being in business is an endless struggle to make your workplace more efficient, whether it’s finding ways to remove costs or avenues to improve time spent. We could list a whole host of ways in which a CRM will improve efficiency, through a whole host small automated features within it but a more leftfield suggestion is adopting a CRM in the cloud. Using a CRM as software as a service (SaaS) creates an extra level of efficiency, well beyond small automated shortcuts.

    Housing your CRM offsite in a cloud also gives you the advantage of cutting back on maintenance costs both economically and in time. A SaaS factors all these costs meaning that you just have to use the system. Additionally it’s a cost cutting approach because it allows you to scale back your IT upgrades. As computing power is handled by the cloud, your onsite computers simply need internet rather than brand new top of the range components.

  • Mobile Access
  • Does your business work heavily on the go? Adopting a CRM based within the cloud could once again be the correct tech to match your business strategies. Having data stored offsite makes it easier for you to access the data whilst on the move, Microsoft even bundles its various mobile applications in with its CRM installations. This gives your travelling sales team the same quality data that your onsite staff have, ensuring better cohesion. Conversely finding out that your CRM is based on the cloud offers you the opportunity to alter your strategy and begin sending more sales reps outdoors, if that is a beneficial move for your business.

How to impart your CRM knowledge onto your colleagues

To capitalise on a CRM such as Microsoft Dynamics, one that is constantly updated and vast in its scope, your staff require training. Your organisation will be wasting money if it’s not making the most of the functionality available and a CRM in its entirety is capable of reducing costs – so why limit yourself to just one aspect of it?

Vary Your Training Methods

Do you remember being categorised as a kinetic, visual or audio learner in school? People learn in different ways. Some people prefer being told something and picking it up audibly, some prefer watching and others taking part. The vast majority of people benefit from a variety of different approaches in spite of their preference.

There is no correct way of passing on your knowledge, after all everyone is different and therefore we encourage you to mix it up a little. You may find that teaching the majority and then working with those that remain a bit left behind and lost, is the best approach to you. Perhaps you may favour grouping people together and getting them to work on projects or follow through after a demonstration.

Check Progress Periodically

To make the most of the training you have put in place, regularly check the progress of your trainees both during and afterwards. Throughout the training process, you’re still in a position that allows you to alter any issues. You still have the time and resources allocated to this project, as well as the group of trainees who can contribute in the aiding of the few left behind.

Keep checking afterwards – it’s likely that there will be an outlier or two; those who were too shy or too embarrassed to interrupt the training at the time but when it comes to putting their learnt skills into practice, they show their limitations. The earlier you catch this issue, naturally, the earlier it can be solved. Also, this helps to save money as the business is not limited by wavering staff members.

Provide Constructive Feedback

Training is a great opportunity to provide feedback to your staff members. Crucially you should aim not to be too critical; there is nothing to be gained from being too negative and it’s not a witch hunt for those that aren’t progressing. Your staff may well resent you for doing so and could forget what they have learnt. Assuming some colleagues were slower to pick up the training, reinforce the idea that support is on offer for them if they forget something after the implementation.

Positive and constructive feedback is far more effective in learning environments.

Take On Board Feedback

Find out what you did right or wrong – after all feedback is a two way street. This is vital if it’s one of the first few occasions you’ve had to teach or train, that way you can hone your techniques for future events. Although less important in some ways, even veteran trainers can benefit from feedback, as the learning process never ends.

Having a level of openness also helps unify teams and team leaders as it gives everyone an opportunity to clear the air. Your role as trainer shouldn’t leave your staff feeling as if you’re inaccessible to them, but precisely the opposite.

why-slow-user-adoption-affects-49-per-cent-of-crm-projects

4 min read

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.

increasing-sales-performance

13 min read

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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10 min read

How to report better with CRM – Microsoft Dynamics System

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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.

The-ultimate-guide-to-security-in-the-cloud

2 min read

CRM: the 6 Things You Actually Need

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Get the inside view on what companies really want from their CRM solutions.

Ask a consultant what CRM can do for you, and they could list the benefits from dusk until dawn…

… and according to a Gartner survey, you would listen because the CRM market is continuing to grow in West Europe:

9%

… is how much the CRM market is predicted to grow during 2014.

With…

50%

of the companies surveyed planning to increase spending on CRM initiatives in 2014.

But what do companies actually want from their CRM operations?

1. Up There, Not Down Here

CRM in the cloud? Or onsite?

50%

… of companies don’t have a preference for their CRM deployment.

But…

… of the companies that have decided on a deployment option…

96%

… want a cloud-based solution, not an on-site system.

But why head to the cloud?

Top 6 Reasons

  1. Reduced hardware and licensing costs.
  2. Reliable disaster recovery procedures.
  3. Efficient and cost-effective hardware scalability.
  4. Instant 24/7 access anywhere on the globe.
  5. Increased productivity.
  6. Software never goes out of date.

2. Best of the Best?

The vast majority of companies shun evaluating integrated suites or multiple applications.

Instead…

91%

… of companies want to evaluate best-of-breed solutions.

Whether it be marketing or sales force automation, they want what they perceive to be the optimum CRM solution.

3. Why CRM?

The top three reasons for making the investment for the first time are:

3. Starting a new company (12%).

2. A need for specific features (23%).

1. Needing to improve efficiency (60%).

But which services do companies want to improve or add via CRM?

4. The Final Countdown

The top six most important services to best-of-breed buyers are:

6. Customer service (3%).

5. Help desk (4%).

4. Call centre (4%).

3. Marketing automation (6%).

2. Field automation (8%).

And the service in pole position – by a huge margin?

1. Sales automation (76%)

5. The three key benefits of CRM sales automation?

It helps track, nurture and manage opportunities and leads…

… manages sales teams and their time…

… plus increases revenue by decreasing the time sales teams need to spend on support tasks.

6. New & Old

The top three requested software features?

Contact management – 35%.

Note-taking capabilities – 28%.

Reporting/Analytics – 26%.

While traditional in nature, scope is critical here with companies wanting to use reporting and analytics to also…

… analyse social and predictive data.

7. Clarity please

A primary concern for companies this year is CRM strategy:

“Participants overwhelmingly cited the lack of a clearly defined CRM strategy as their number one concern.”

Survey Analysis: European Organizations Struggle to Create a Clearly Defined CRM Strategy in 2014.

The solution?

A CRM consultancy can help companies create an effective, far-reaching strategy for their CRM deployment.

Learn more about how a CRM system can boost your own business’ bottom line and efficiency by downloading our ultimate eGuide The ultimate guide to: upselling and cross selling

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