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CRM Part IV: Improving Sales and Customer Loyalty

In this, the final in a series of articles revealing how Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can transform your business to a new profitable level, we will address the selling and customer loyalty strategies that you can implement through CRM.

By Johnny Duncan

Since our goal is to shift toward managing the total customer relationship, today’s sign businesses must implement a blended sales and service approach, using a set of CRM-based front-of-the-shop applications designed to facilitate and empower the process.

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  • These integrated "customer facing" applications generally include a customer information system; a centralized business database; query, analysis, and reporting tools; marketing program planning, execution, and assessment tools; and sales force automation tools.

    We’ve already discussed the customer information system and marketing in both Parts I and II of this series, and in Part III we tackled the task of converting prospects to customers. Now, let’s dive in to the selling process through CRM.

    Seeking customers
    In the day-to-day operation of your business, you or your team members probably have contact with more customers or at least prospects than you might know. A list of typical possible contacts can include:

    • Contacts who visit your shop or office
    • Prospects who phone your shop or office
    • Your salesperson’s contacts
    • Contacts made by your installers
    • Contacts made by your service people
    • Contacts made by your existing customers
    • Contacts made through your vendors and suppliers
    • Prospects who email through your online store or site

    You could probably think of several more. The point is that potential customers are everywhere and all that you need to do is to make sure that all of these extended arms of your business are collecting contact information for you to input into your CRM system.

    CRM manages all these and other customer touch points, supplying one unified view of the customer across all channels. In this way, you and/or your sales team will have ready and automated access to comprehensive customer profiles, including accounts, products, past activity, current opportunities, outstanding applications, and service records. This means a customer can receive informed, on-demand, sales and service assistance that follows a process designed to resolve inquiries and provide opportunities to recommend additional products and services. Translated: more sales!

    Selling simplified
    J Paul Getty once said, “I buy when other people are selling.” It would be nice if all of our customers saw it that way. Unfortunately, we have to do more than put up a “For Sale” sign. In our competitive industry, we need to use all of the tools available to manage our selling process which includes our prospects.

    If you can’t keep track of your prospects, you can’t sell to them. A good CRM system simplifies the selling process by keeping track of all of your contacts in one central location. After calling on a prospect, all of the contact information, customer preferences, qualifying remarks, prospect’s budget, etc. is gathered and inputted into the your CRM system. This is where “profiling” becomes a good thing. Now you or your sales staff is armed with on-going, updated information that can be used for future calls to this prospect or customer.

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    Most salespeople know that it can take up to four calls before a prospect buys. If you are making 15 calls a day, that is a lot of information gathering and a lot to organize. CRM programs eliminate the headaches of information storage and retrieval.

    For example, Cyrious Software, which offers sign estimating and business management software in one package, allows you to manage practically every aspect of the sale, customer profile, the project, and more. The beauty of this software is that it allows the sign business owner to manage the customer’s needs which in turn translates to future sales. CRM software programs make it easier to sell your products and services because they force you to stay on top of the calls, as well as the specific requests of the prospects. By reminding you when you should be “remembering” to contact the buyer.

    Many sign companies follow the same formulas for bringing them closer to what they think their customers really want. Concepts like "customer focus" and "customer satisfaction" are warmly embraced. Today, who isn't focusing on satisfying customers? However, in today's ultra-competitive marketplace, if you're doing what everybody else is, you'll never get to where you want to be. It is incumbent for companies to set themselves apart from the rest of the competition.

    Selling techniques do not change when using a CRM system. In fact, a good CRM system enhances traditional selling techniques by availing at the sales force fingers all of the information needed to close sales. Usually, the biggest obstacle faced by companies who start a CRM program is the resistance of salespeople. Remember, change is difficult for most people, but once they see how CRM actually improves their performance, they will embrace the change.

    Seeking more
    While trying to find more business, we often try new techniques to drum up sales and reaching new markets. This is a darn good goal, but often overlooked are the existing customers already in your system. Those customers who were satisfied with your service in the past are more of a sure thing than the venture into the unknown.

    Research shows that companies lose half of their customers every five years. And it can cost up to 10 times more to recruit a new customer as it does to retain and cross-sell an existing customer. The industry rule of thumb is that 20% of the customers contribute to 80% of a business' bottom line. Therefore, it is just good business sense to utilize CRM tools and solutions to protect and enhance that bottom line by:

    • Retaining more customers
    • Identifying profitable customers
    • Converting more customers to profitability
    • Managing the customer life cycle

    It’s been determined that more than 80% of CRM investment focuses on matching products to customers ­ i.e. targeting, cross-selling, up-selling etc. The potential that CRM provides for selling to existing clients is great because you have in your system a profile that allows you to customize products and services for a particular customer. Therefore, it only makes sense that a past customer is going to remain loyal to your business because you’ve kept up to date with his or her likes and dislikes. Using your CRM system, you keep in contact with that customer throughout the year calling on them to determine changes in their needs and updating their information as needed.

    Today's successful sign businesses understand the need to widen their company’s focus beyond functional efficiency by adopting revenue-generating and customer-centered business practices that will optimize profitability, revenue, and customer satisfaction. They embrace CRM as a core business strategy that can minimize competitive inroads into their profitable customer base and maximize their growth opportunities.

    Perhaps it is time to implement some kind of CRM system into your business. Remember that success isn't defined by deploying any type of new software, but by customer-oriented goals. That is the whole purpose behind CRM and the reason that it works.

    The basics behind a good CRM system are the same with every product. To learn specifically about how to use CRM for your business, including customized features for inputting information specific to your business, read over the other CRM articles in this series, talk to other businesses that use a system, and contact CRM software providers for demonstrations and testimonies. Then, implement a system for your own business. Customize it as you go and use it as a tool to generate more sales and more customer loyalty. You won’t be disappointed and neither will your customers.

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