Blytheco CRM specialists Dik Whitten and Brian Vellmure on how CRM can help clients increase revenue during difficult economic times:
There are a couple of ways: of course CRM systems help enhance sales and marketing efforts, but they can also help cut costs and increase profitability that way.
Our customers are leveraging CRM to increase communications to customers and internally. As a sales manager, what if I don’t know where any deal is in the process without asking 20 guys for their pipeline update, which can take a long time if people are out in the field? Being able to see at a glance helps put science behind a forecast.
What is the most common objection now? People are just hesitant today to spend money, but there are a couple of ways to look at a CRM solution or any investment – one, it’s required, and two, its an investment. Even if I don’t have the money, if you tell me I’m getting ROI, then I can find the money and move forward. One thing we try to do is to measure and analyze if a CRM solution even makes sense for a company. For some it may not. We analyze how they are working today. If they are spending 20 hours a week just getting info on where deals are and by the time they get it it’s outdated, that has serious implications for a big company.
It becomes a question of how are you doing business today, what are the opportunities to improve, and does it make sense to invest in CRM?
One of the reasons people are hesitant is that CRM gets its profitability from latent pains. People need education to identify the gaps in their business, where they can be more efficient – it may not be glaring at you. CRM seems more optional than, say, an accounting system, until you start understanding benefits. That’s where we can help – look at processes and find places to be more efficient, especially gaps in communications.
Most of a growing company’s efforts are in customer acquisition. In a down economy when new customers are harder to find, the focus needs to become customer retention. How can we serve our customers better? The Harvard Business Review came out with a study a few years ago…if you increase customer retention by 5-10%, you increase customer value by close to 100%. Even with no growth in the customer base, it’s still possible to increase revenues. CRM becomes a tool to maximize what you are doing today without spending a lot of money, but by leveraging the tools and the strategies specific for a down economy.
One of the things a lot of companies are struggling with, they don’t realize all the upfront costs of customer acquisitions vs. retention. It’s hard to analyze hours for a salesperson, consultants, pre-sales – a lot of those you can’t measure without CRM. Maybe they should be focused more on keeping customers, upselling to them, explaining benefits of maintenance and support plans. Your costs can be reduced if you maximize the value of the existing customer base.
In summary, there is value in CRM for every organization apart from its technology. We are trying to find ways to do more with less, to maximize people, process, strategy. Everyone wants to do that. We are available to have that conversation. The solution may not a be a good fit for everybody, but more often than not we find a situation where spending a little now provides significant returns over a year or two. A few years ago people did not see CRM or know what is was, but now pople are seeing the value of CRM.
The CRM system and the strategy (they are two different things) help them be poised for the next run. The system is always growing and changing with your business…it does not perform just one static function like maybe an accounts payable system. There are lots of ways to drill into where communication can be more efficient, and the strategies are always evolving.
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