So we all know that in 2014 a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System is a fairly standard element of the technology make-up of any size of business.  It helps businesses increase sales, automate marketing and provide superb customer service. Right? Well yes I suppose it does!  But does it truly help the people on the road work smarter and lead to better sales and higher margins?

To be honest, in most industries this straightforward sales approach works just fine – the traditional three-tier process: source the contact; work the account; create the opportunity. However in a more global-reaching and project-centric industry such as Oil and Gas, CRM needs to do a lot more to really ensure that it returns its investment within the short to medium term.

The Relationship Pyramid

The traditional approach doesn’t always work in this sector, because business developers are generally focused on a more project-based sale as the source of business rather than solely via a particular customer or company.  At the early stages, a potential opportunity hasn’t yet identified who will be the leading operator, and so it is difficult for other CRM systems to link to a lead customer account to attach any activity, value or forecasting prior to main contract award.

Therefore other systems have to be re-engineered to adapt the sales approach from this standard way to a more project-focused method for creating opportunities and managing the key contacts within.  In Dynamics CRM with a Project at the top and centre, contacts across many businesses can be assigned and linked to ensure a full customer view can be created of the key roles and individuals that needed to be managed to ensure a slice of the sales pie is made available to you.

Dealing with a large operator can mean the linking and managing of upwards of 20 key contacts that are able to influence the progression of a sales opportunity, as well as recognising your colleague in another region could also have spoken to them or have a strong relationship in place.  That takes a lot of bandwidth for someone if they don’t use CRM in the right way, so it is invaluable to all sales people and managers to build an intelligent landscape of key influencers within their daily life and the industry as a whole.

The Family Tree

Part of a CRM system should be the growing of a major asset of the business – clean and accurate customer and partner data.  How invaluable is it to be able to see where ‘Peter Smith’ now works, where he previously worked, who he has worked with over the years, and therefore where the relationship can be grown and nurtured.

Building an overall picture of the movement of key players is crucial in understanding where to position yourself as a company but more importantly – in a personally measured environment – as a sales person.  Therefore choosing a CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics that can understand and control complex business relationships across multiple companies and projects is important when selecting the correct system and the right configuration within it.

Recycling the Business Card

Finally, where do we all keep the 100+ business cards we get daily at OTC or Offshore Europe? It’s easy to create a space on your desk or have a drawer dedicated to the storage of unindexed contacts.  Let’s use a business card reader to scan them all directly into CRM, and work and market them professionally.