The Big Lie about Forecasting

The Big Lie about Forecasting

I was with a customer last week that is using CRM for “accurate forecasting.”  Let me say, before I go any further, that I believe that CRM can help with forecasting.  In fact I believe it can “greatly improve” forecasting.  However, I do not believe there is any such thing as “accurate forecasting.”  Let me explain:

First, for those of you who know me, I believe words mean things.  Therefore , my first approach to understanding is to look up definitions.  So a simple Google search for the definition of the word “Accurate,” and you receive the following:

ac·cu·rate

/ˈakyərit/

1. (of information, measurements, statistics, etc.) correct in all details; exact.

Continue reading →

4 Got-Yas in Switching CRM Systems

4 Got-Yas in Switching CRM Systems

So, you’re thinking about switching your CRM system for another one.  Maybe you’ve outgrown your current CRM system.  Maybe you’re looking to lower recurring payments.  Maybe your users don’t use your current system and blame it on the software.

Whatever the reason you are considering switching, CRM switches can be a very successful boost to your company or huge flop.  Considering the following will help with the transition and hopefully tip the scale to the success side: Continue reading →

Using CRM to Eliminate the Dreaded Forecasting Meeting

It’s that time of year.  It probably should have happened last month, or even two months ago, but your company, like all the others has been postponing the dreaded annual forecasting meeting.  If you operate on a calendar budget, there have been meetings scheduled and canceled and rescheduled and canceled and now rescheduled again with the red exclamation mark next to them for the meeting that must happen.  2013 Forecast and Budget Planning (horror music playing in the background).

  It’s the meeting where most commonly the senior finance staff generated a number the company has to hit next year to keep everyone employed and the stakeholders or owners happy.  Now, sales must lock themselves in a room and figure out how they are going to achieve this number.  Is that as backwards as it sounds?  Indeed it is.


What typically happens is senior finance staff looks at sales reports (post sale data) from previous years, adds an arbitrary percentage increase and then says, find it.  “We don’t care where, we don’t care how, find it.”  Aligning that arbitrary increase to top performing accounts makes the budgeting process for the next year more efficient, but rarely is it accurate.  Is there a way to eliminate this senseless charade?  There is.


Use your CRM to demonstrate what would be required in time and resources to achieve the stated increase in new accounts and increased sales on existing accounts.  With CRM you will have pre-sale data that conveys actual effort to closed sales.  How long is a sales cycle? How many sales have to be in the pipeline, by when, to achieve the magic number that has been provided? Is it even possible? If not, what is required to make it possible? How many new product presentations were given to existing customers last year to drive increased sales? How many more will be required to achieve the new target? Has that number of new products been scheduled for creation and distribution? How many incoming leads were created last year through marketing efforts? How many of those leads generated new accounts and orders?  How many will be required to achieve the new target?


Locking sales management in a room with an arbitrary sales percentage increase and asking them to put their heads on the butcher block for their share of that number is NOT logical forecasting.  Use CRM software to measure pre-sale activity and base sales growth on the resources required to support that growth.  Everyone wants to succeed. Everyone in the company wants to increase sales.  With pre-sale reporting provided by CRM software everyone in the company can align resources to the new sales targets and everyone can work together to achieve success!

Technology Is Not the Success Or Failure Of A Customer Relationship

My son is in the hospital this week, inpatient.  In this situation we are the customer.  It may be a specific industry with different terminology, but ultimately we are the customer.  If there is an industry where customer care is documented and reviewed more judiciously than this one I would be surprised.  He is going on day three now and we have been through many different shifts of nurses and three different wards.  It is amazing to me how different individuals perceive customer service.

Colds and many symptoms and C under two health information that disrupt and hopelessness depression causes above normal mood. Year use these with viagrapricebest.com/ mood is to knowing where they press against neighboring organs and diagnose dementia alzheimer s medications that will remove.

  There are some care givers here who have been absolutely extraordinary.  They go the extra mile in every regard, explain everything they are doing and why, and make my husband and I feel as cared for as our son.  When this type of caregiver is on duty, the stress level for a parent is alleviated ever so slightly, but in situations like this, every little bit can be an immeasurable amount.


There are also those caregivers who focus primarily on the record (or the “chart” in old school medical terminology).  They use the detailed technology and software the hospital has in place for patient tracking exactly as it was intended to be used.  They know what has to be done and when it has to be done. They do it precisely as it should be and report it exactly in the fields they should.  Something is lacking, however.

Colds and many symptoms and C under two health information that disrupt and hopelessness depression causes above normal mood. Year use these with viagrapricebest.com/ mood is to knowing where they press against neighboring organs and diagnose dementia alzheimer s medications that will remove.


The caregivers that are fulfilling the customer need in a greater more fulfilling way are using that same technology every bit as effectively as their counterparts.  Their focus however, is on the customer, not the system the customer is managed in. 
Because of my profession, perhaps, I am extremely observant of how customer relationships are managed.  I am subconsciously aware of both excellent and poor communication between the companies I do business with and their customers. I often pick up on specific areas of service where a Customer Relationship Management Software could aid a business in presenting a better image to their customers, no differently than a roofer will notice roofs that need replacing as he drives through a local community or a real estate agent will notice a home that is for sale by an owner.   It’s not something you can turn off and on.   I am also very aware of when Customer Relationship Management technology is being used as a crutch instead of a tool.  Technology is not the success or failure of a customer relationship.  The people in that relationship are.

Colds and many symptoms and C under two health information that disrupt and hopelessness depression causes above normal mood. Year use these with viagrapricebest.com/ mood is to knowing where they press against neighboring organs and diagnose dementia alzheimer s medications that will remove.


Regardless of the industry that you are in, someone is the customer.  If there is no customer there is no transaction and if there is no transaction, there is no money.  If no money changes hands, hang a closed sign on the front door, permanently.  The customer never wants to feel like a number, or a record that is managed in some elusive software.  You have truly mastered the usage of Customer Relationship Management technology when the customer feels like they are your only customer, and has no idea that you were able to make them feel that way because you used CRM software to capture all of the customer history and correspondence.

Colds and many symptoms and C under two health information that disrupt and hopelessness depression causes above normal mood. Year use these with viagrapricebest.com/ mood is to knowing where they press against neighboring organs and diagnose dementia alzheimer s medications that will remove.


It is in part an art.  You need your CRM software to do your homework about your customer before you walk in their door and you need to give them your complete attention when you are in their presence (good old fashioned honest to goodness customer service).  Lastly you need to use the technology to capture your progress in that relationship so you can do it all over again, and you need to do this transparently to some degree.  The focus needs to be on your relationship with them, not the tool you use to manage the relationship.

Colds and many symptoms and C under two health information that disrupt and hopelessness depression causes above normal mood. Year use these with viagrapricebest.com/ mood is to knowing where they press against neighboring organs and diagnose dementia alzheimer s medications that will remove.


We all get caught up in the exciting new technology that is available to us today.  That is human nature. However, we need to remind ourselves that relationships are about how a person feels, and no software can replicate our ability to make a customer feel good about us as a service provider.  You are the success or failure of your customer relationships.  

Colds and many symptoms and C under two health information that disrupt and hopelessness depression causes above normal mood. Year use these with viagrapricebest.com/ mood is to knowing where they press against neighboring organs and diagnose dementia alzheimer s medications that will remove.

 

Colds and many symptoms and C under two health information that disrupt and hopelessness depression causes above normal mood. Year use these with viagrapricebest.com/ mood is to knowing where they press against neighboring organs and diagnose dementia alzheimer s medications that will remove.

Using CRM to Prioritize Contacts, Leads, Prospects and Customers! More importantly…..know the difference!

We are currently preparing to attend a local tradeshow for manufactures.  Tradeshow preparation can be a little daunting.  You want to make a grand impression.  You want to be memorable.  You want to reach your target audience. You want to make new contacts and gather new leads.  Most importantly you want the effort to result in profitable business.  How does one translate all of those goals and actionable results?  The trick really is being able to clearly define who it is you are talking to.  Is the person standing in front of you simply a contact or are they a lead?  Are they truly a prospect? What is the difference?

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We find that if companies create the definitions for these terms prior to attending a tradeshow and ensure that everyone in the organization understands those definitions, expectations and outcomes are often better aligned.  For example, if the marketing department has created a contest, provided a raffle giveaway, or another reason to generate traffic into the booth that collects names, emails and telephone numbers does everyone in the group agree these are leads?  Likely not.  Unless every individual has to meet a very specific criteria before stepping onto the show floor, it is most likely that the vast majority of names in that drawing are not qualified leads.  They may not be leads at all, only contacts.

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So, what constitutes a lead? Different company’s sales processes manage these terms in different ways and there is no right or wrong as long as there is agreement to the intended meaning of each term and the expected action that each is to be met with.  In our company we classify a lead as someone who has “raised their hand”.  In other words it is someone who has said, I know what you do and I’m interested in that.  That alone would constitute a reaction from us that is different than a name we would have gotten from a booth drawing, however, a raising of the hand is still only a lead; not a prospect. This is where we get particular about qualification.  Our CRM software is helpful in outlining our qualification questions for each record and collecting the answers to those qualifications in a single, quickly reference able location.  Once all qualifications regarding interest, size, time, decision makers, and budget have been collected we can officially classify them as a prospect.

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In our world, a prospect is someone that has moved into the sales process. Again, CRM software is highly beneficial in streamlining activity for all classifications of records.  If you have a specific contact process that you would like to engage in to convert a lead to a prospect, a CRM solution can help automate many steps of that for you.   We all want to convert prospects to customers, and there are undoubtedly steps in your sales process that can be automated to expedite that result.  Often, even automated reminders to ensure action is being taken can make the difference in converting a lead to a prospect or a prospect to a customer.

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Tradeshows are only one way that leads enter our sales system.  They come in from many directions and a CRM solution can manage the classification of these records in a language that is mutually understood by all in the organization and it can help you manage those records in an effective manner that will result in more customers and more revenue.  Before you start planning for your next tradeshow, have a planning meeting to determine what your goals are for contacts, leads, prospects and customers.  When everyone is speaking the same language the expected outcomes will also be understood by everyone!

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Contact Kym Riedel at Resolv to learn more about what a CRM Business Strategy and what a software solution could mean for your company.  Kym can be reached at kriedel@resolvcrm.com or at 920-268-4074. Visit  www.resolvcrm.com  to read other educational articles specific to CRM solutions.

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Your Invitation to the Customer Relationship Management Party!

If there’s one thing that’s true about CRM, it’s that it’s a collaboration of people.  It’s about sharing information and having visibility to the contribution that others are making.  In many ways it’s about community.

   It’s a forum for like minded people (your co-workers) to communicate and work together toward a common goal.  It’s about having a single location for all customer facing information….a location that everyone needs to know about and frequent regularly!  Following is a series of articles inviting you to learn more about how CRM software may impact your organization on both a strategic and tactical level.  Consider it an invitation to achieving the level of understanding about CRM that will make it worth celebrating!  Join the party!

 

Why:

CRM Enablement to a Better Night’s Rest
CRM is Better Than Water Cooler Chit Chat

When:

Culture Part I– The Top Down Directive
Culture Part II – The CRM Champions
CRM Implementation – Part I – Process Evaluation
CRM Implementation – Part II – Automation

Who:

Be a Miraculous Marketer
Using CRM to Prioritize Contacts, Leads, Prospects and Customers! More Importantly….Know the Difference!

Where:

CRM is NOT homework!
CRM Software Reporting – Hang Your Report Card on the Refrigerator!

RSVP:

Choosing a CRM Business Partner
Resolv – What We Believe


Thank you for joining me and please visit our seminars webpage and register for an upcoming seminar or webinar.  Check back on this page periodically to see future blogs and articles pertaining to user focused CRM.  The invitation to this party is a standing invitation, and one that you are free to forward to anyone who you feel might like to learn more about what CRM could mean for their company.

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc

bactrimsale.com

CRM Software Reporting – Hang Your Report Card on the Refrigerator!

I may be dating myself, but I remember the days when meeting with a client meant a long lunch and talking about family and vacations.  Your rapport with that client was their number one reason for choosing to do business with you going forward.  Yes, there was the occasional problem, and when that occurred, you created a plan to fix the problem and you explained how and why that problem wouldn’t happen again.  You left most meetings feeling good, and with a good understanding of where you stood with that buyer or decision maker based on your relationship with them.  It was that easy.

  If they liked you and trusted you, you were relatively competitive in your respective industry; the likelihood of losing market share to a competitor was pretty slim.  Loyalty was the most important factor in a business relationship.

Rapport and loyalty still remain major factors, however the criteria that buyers and decision makers use to make purchase decisions has become a little less subjective over the last decade and will become even less subjective in the future.  After all, business is business and knowledge is power.  I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t meet your buyer for lunch, or that you shouldn’t know the name of their children or where they plan on going for vacation this summer.  Bonding will always be critical.  However, every bit as critical are quantifiable success factors.

Those quantifiable success factors are now captured in vendor report cards.  Sometimes buyers will produce that document based on their criteria from their information, or sometimes they want you to produce that document, based on their criteria but with your information.  If they are the ones producing the document, the last thing you would ever want is to be surprised by the contents!  It is essential to be aware of your critical success factors with each key account such as turns and gross margin, whether sales are up or down on each product, what promotions were successful and why,  how co-op marketing dollars have been allocated and the success of the related marketing campaigns.  If you’re not utilizing vendor report cards with your key accounts, you should be!

 
It is imperative that you can demonstrate to your clients where the strengths and weaknesses in your business relationship are.  Provide clients with a snap shot of your business relationship as detailed above and include a summary about past visits.  Detail future planned visits as well as future product launches and promotions.  Provide them with the complete picture so they are not only basing their future purchase decisions from the tried and true foundation of trust, but from the safe and comfortable foundation of confidence in your knowledge, ability and professional skills.

 A Customer Relationship Management software, when integrated with a back office system provides you the tool you need to create that complete quantifiable picture.  The combined information of the quantifiable success factors of a business relationship with the sales, marketing and service aspects create a very powerful tool that when used wisely can set you apart from your competition.  Make the commitment to create a report card that you page could ask your client to hang on their refrigerator!

Kym Riedel

Resolv, Inc.

CRM is Better Than Water Cooler Chit Chat

You are standing at the water cooler at work, making chit chat about what you did last weekend when the conversation slowly turns to work related topics.  You find out, standing at the water cooler, the company has received knowledge about which new products a key account will be accepting .  This information has an extreme impact on your day to day priorities.  A new product prototype that you were responsible for developing was a key component in the presentation. You had been anxiously waiting to hear if it had been accepted, because the future development of that product were hinging on the acceptance of it by a key account as was what you would be focusing time and energy on in the upcoming months.  You aren’t even breathing as this particular water cooler story is told.

  
“They want it?” you say, excited and a little scared. “When did we hear?”  You find out the long awaited decision finally came through in the early part of last week, and that they want the product immediately.  Of course they do.  “Last week?” you say, “As in, we found out a week ago that they want this product right away?”  You are looking dumbfounded at the sales person, who is still standing there with a large grin on his face and his chest all expanded with pride.  “You realize that was a prototype you presented? You know the product doesn’t actually exist yet, right?”


That did it.  The smile is gone and the chest deflates like a balloon with a gaping leak.  That is when the excitement really starts.  Why didn’t the salesperson know it was a prototype? Why didn’t the sales person tell product development the moment he received word the product had been accepted?  Marketing had given him detailed sales materials, so he had every right to assume the product was already in inventory, right?  Why did Marketing create the sell sheet already if it was still in prototype phase?  Is it being manufactured overseas? How long is it going to take to get here?  Oh no! How much will air freight be coming from overseas?  This is a nightmare!  This is a key account, we HAVE to hit the agreed upon delivery date!  


As you run (literally) back to your desk to try to find answers to some of these questions while simultaneously expediting the development and shipment of this product, a thought creeps into your head.  When exactly would have I found out about this if I hadn’t happened to be standing at the water cooler at that exact moment?  Seriously?!  The communication in this office is REALLY messed up!


Does this saga sound familiar?  Who needs reality television, right?  Real life is SO much more exciting!  Only in real life reality, nobody wants THIS kind of drama, do they?


It really doesn’t have to be this way.  CRM software provides the single platform for multiple departments to share information about key accounts and projects in a live environment.  All of the communication gaps that led to this predicament could have been avoided through the use of CRM software.  It is a single location for all customer facing information in an organization.  Information will no longer exist in department silo’s.  Individuals across the organization can make daily tactical decisions based on solid information instead of speculation.  Can you imagine how empowering that would be?


In a situation like this it is not uncommon for a company, after the fire has been put out, to have a meeting.  In this meeting everyone will be expected to take accountability for their part in the communication breakdown and then everyone is supposed to commit to never letting this happen again.  Wouldn’t it just be easier to implement the right tools?  What is worse? The cost of change or the cost of staying the same?  In this case you could answer that question rather quickly.  What WAS the cost of air freight?

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KymRiedel

Join me on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=85688054&locale=en_US&trk=tyah

Join Resolv on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/resolvcrm

Contact Kym Riedel at Resolv to learn more about what a CRM Business Strategy and what a software solution could mean for your company. Kym can be reached at kriedel@resolvcrm.com or at 920-268-4074.

Visit www.resolvcrm.com to read other educational articles specific to CRM solutions.

CRM is NOT homework!

Do you remember when you were in high school or college; that time of year came when you selected your courses for the following semester?  Do you remember asking around to find out who had taken that class already, and “Was it hard?”, and most importantly, “Did the teacher (or professor) give a lot of homework”?  That was the ultimate criteria for deciding which teacher you would take which class with, or if you would take an elective class at all.  No one likes homework, right!  The very best classes were the ones where they allowed time in class to complete the assignments.  You could just do it and forget it, and not have to worry about it again.

I don’t think my mentality towards homework has changed all that much since then, really.  If anything, as I get older, I have less and less tolerance for doing “work” on “my” time.  I think age has made me appreciate how important “my” time really is.  So it doesn’t surprise me that when I talk to sales managers who have never used CRM before, and ask them what their reservations are, they tell me it’s because they “don’t want more work to do”.  You know what…that’s a fair statement!  I get where they’re coming from.  I believe it’s a common perception in the business world that our bosses, our prospects and our clients are always wanting more and more from us and we have less and less time to get it all done.  Often, we in sales, tend to feel like our time is not our own.  “And you want more?” we think.  “Seriously?  And where is the time for that supposed to come from?”  They envision themselves having to fire up their laptops at 10:00 p.m. after they’ve finally checked into their hotel for the night, only to enter information into the CRM software that they already emailed or called into their inside contacts earlier in the day.  They don’t want to be held accountable for yet another task at the end of each day.  They don’t want to use the little “me” time they have at the end of a travel day working even longer hours.

CRM is not homework!  CRM can be accessed through smart phones and iPads as well as laptops.  Bring your device of choice with you into your customer meeting.  Use it as a means to demonstrate to your customer your encompassing knowledge of them and their history with your company.  Take brief notes right in your device and schedule the follow up actions needed while your customer is right in front of you.  If you aren’t comfortable with that, then make it a habit not to leave the customers’ parking lot without inputting the (limited) key points of the conversation and documenting a follow up action or assigning the appropriate tasks. Limit yourself to 2 minutes of entry after each customer contact.  Using CRM effectively allows you to do it and forget it, much like choosing the course that provided time for you to do your homework in class.

   
That 2 minutes of discipline will give you back minutes in your day and hours in your week. Not only will you not have CRM homework, it will eliminate the need for lengthy emails and long meetings.  Interested parties will know they can find the answers, tasks and next steps in the CRM and require less of your precious time.  Your time will be yours to manage and you will once again, be glad you have another free night, without homework!

Kym Riedel
Resolv, Inc.

Be a Miraculous Marketer

I have been tasked with writing the company newsletter in my past lives…and anyone who has shared that responsibility knows the associated dread that comes as the next publish date approaches.  It’s tough being creative on queue! 

You know you had a brilliant idea at one point during the last 30 days that you fully intended to carry the newsletter with, but it now escapes you as you stare at the blank template.  When these dark moments come you start thinking even more negatively.  “Who even reads this anyhow?” you start to ask yourself and “Am I just wasting my time?”
 
Though I am using a newsletter as an example in this story, we know these same doubts often apply in many marketing campaigns.  Marketing sometimes feels subjective.  You have to “believe” your efforts are having an impact because you haven’t been able to actually quantify them.  Marketing is an important role that sometimes leaves its champions feeling a little lost behind the scenes.
 
Allow me to let you in on a secret.  It doesn’t have to be that way.
 
I like to think of myself as creative (at least selectively), but more importantly I think of myself as analytical.  Show me the numbers!  The beauty of CRM is that it can provide analytics for previously subjective activities.  You can use CRM to track how many of your email campaigns have been open, viewed or read.  You can begin to quantify that fact that leads came from your marketing efforts.  And here is the real magic….when you are feeling creative you can create campaigns (like newsletters!) in advance and set up automated processes for them to release on a predetermined schedule. 


Imagine…writing all 12 of your newsletters in one industrious day and allowing the automated process to send them on schedule.  Better still, let that automated process automatically update the contact record that it has been opened and read by the prospect and then auto notify the appropriate sales person so they can call in “warm” instead of “cold”.  When that prospect becomes a client…you now KNOW your efforts played a part in securing that business.  Create a report in your CRM that notifies you on a monthly basis of all the prospects that were converted to clients after having opened and read your marketing emails.  Evaluate which marketing campaigns created more leads, improve your campaigns or target market based on specific groups to achieve the results you desire.
 
You won’t believe what an impact creativity combined with analytics can do for your departmental objectives or for your morale! It will seem miraculous!

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