Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting a higher ROI from your CRM

Thinking about Money?
Thinking about Sales Process?
Thinking about CRM?
(A Book Review)
Talking to distributors, we have discovered that many of them have made big investments in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems.  Many of them have pushed their salespeople to track customer contacts and enter opportunities.  Candid conversations reveal, however, that the vast majority still feel like they are not getting their money’s worth from their CRM system.  This brings us to the subject of this post: a book by SalesProcess 360’s Brian Gardner.

Brian brings a wealth of information to the topic.  He has decades of industrial sales experience.  He worked as a salesperson, sales manager and as a software developer.  Make no mistake, this book isn’t a 100 page advertisement for some software platform.  Instead, it’s about sales process and applying technology to automate the sales process.

Mr. Gardner reverses the process most distributors use to select their CRM system.  While many would simply create a technology checklist, which includes the items listed below, Gardner goes a step further and lays out a plan for objectively examining realities of your sales group.  This, of course, allows for overall process improvement.

Technical Checklist typically tied to CRM System Selection
·         User friendliness of the screens
·         Ability to link with Outlook
·         Web-based platform so salespeople can log in from the road
·         Managers ability to review opportunities in the system
·         Easy to get reports
·         Email broadcast capability
·         Mobile capacity

Further, the author lays out a plan for reviewing existing sales procedures to determine how the CRM system might be better used.  Using what he refers to as the “SalesProcess360 CRM Audit,” he directs the reader through a step-by-step analytic of their sales team’s operation in their native environment.  A sampling of the kinds of questions asked are provided (with permission) below. 

Sample Questions from the Sales Process Review
·         Are outside and inside salespeople teamed up?
·         Do you have products specialists?  What is their focus?
·         When a new outside salesperson is hired, what does their getting-started programs look like?
·         What are your sources for leads?
·         Are you doing opportunity management?  What is your definition of a lead?
·         What is the estimated number of quotes done per day by the company?  By person?

The end result is a CRM Roadmap Matrix which assists the leader in selecting the best pieces of the business for CRM based automation.

The book lives up to it's title: “ROI from CRM: It’s about sales process not just technology."  Gardner goes on to build a plan for measuring what a company might expect to garner from deploying the right system.  To me, this is the real meat and potatoes of the exercise.  For distributors fighting to build on their bottom line, the book provides valuable feedback on the real reason for employing both CRM and a sales process; increased revenue. 

From my perspective, distributors need to see and measure the ROI of employing a better sales effort.  Like everything in our business model, there has to be a payback for our actions (and cash outlays.)  Distributors don’t provide world class customer service for the bragging rights, we do it because it attracts profitable business.  We don’t spend nearly 60% of our gross margin hiring the very best people to look flashy, we do it because great people create better results.  The same analogy can be made with inventory, efficient warehouses, or top flight computer systems; we do it because there is a return on our investment.   The clearer the cause and effect picture, the more dedicated we become to putting the tools to good use.

Extending beyond all of this, the book outlines a plan for implementing your CRM system once you determine the right path to follow.  Better yet, the implementation plan is designed to help you harvest the low hanging fruit first – reinforcing the whole ROI idea.  The plan steers expectations; including some of the inevitable pushback from those who will resist even the slightest change.

Since this is a book review here are a few other interesting points

The book is written in a conversational tone.  It’s an easy and enjoyable read.  I started reading it on a flight from Minneapolis to the West Coast and finished it somewhere over Colorado on the way back.  Along the way, I took copious notes and made a number of points to share with colleagues and clients.

The book contains links to at least a dozen worksheets, spreadsheets and other supporting data.  This is worth the price of admission in its own right.

Brian Gardner knows what he’s talking about and it shows.  I would absolutely recommend anyone thinking about implementing a CRM system or just thinking about how process might work in their sales department to pick up a copy. 

You can buy your copy from Modern Distributor Management.

Post Script One:  Thinking back on this book, I see plenty of information which could help a struggling distributor “re-launch” their current CRM System to drive better payback.

Post Script Two:  If you have a book that you feel would be of value to colleagues on the front lines of Wholesale Distribution, we are open to your suggestions to the group. 

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