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Why Are You Looking at an SFA or a CRM System?

You don’t need me to tell you that the “good old days” of selling are gone—the easy money has already been made. Customers expect a much higher level of sales rep knowledge, tighter execution, and deeper postsales support. Also, customers expect your Web marketing, sales, and support to seamlessly reinforce what you do in person and on the phone—whether your operations are ready for it or not. If you want to achieve higher customer lifetime value, your sales, marketing, and customer support teams must collaborate much more effectively than they did in the past. Think about how you want to give the revenue engine a tune-up.

Typically, a company’s most unreliable business process is revenue generation. This unreliability shows up as erratic forecasts, spotty rep productivity, one-off contracts, excessive discounting, rocky customer satisfaction ratings, weak profitability, and other unamusing issues. You wouldn’t let your production line be that unreliable. It’s time to make your revenue process a consistent, predictable engine—one that’s firing on all cylinders. While you’re at it, make sure you replace the old carburetor of spreadsheets with the modern fuel injection of SFDC.

The business case for CRM is all about profits. Those profits will come mainly from revenue increases: bigger deals, higher conversion ratios, more repeat business, and improved customer loyalty. Although CRM systems can also lead to cost reductions, putting the emphasis there starts the project out on the wrong foot.

Every executive in your company who reads this chapter needs to agree on the high-level business objectives you are trying to achieve with CRM before you make the investment. Although each company has unique goals, some precepts are nearly universal for SFDC customers:

  • The whole point of a CRM system is to get the most return from the amount you invest in marketing and sales (e.g., salaries, programs, travel, and customer dinners). The purpose of the system should be maximizing customer life-cycle profitability, which entails a lot more than just “getting more sales.”
  • Although growth may come from getting new customers, profit definitely comes from milking existing ones. It is 3 to 10 times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to upsell and expand existing accounts. Of course you need new customers, but SFDC can help you do that while also getting more profit out of every customer you ever won. This is why enabling the support and services team with CRM is so important.

There are dozens of good reasons why investing in an SFA or a CRM system can make a decisive difference in company performance—take a look at the following list. It’s a compelling list, but the temptation to say “let’s do it all” is a recipe for failure. Every one of these business objectives is within reach, but in most cases you will achieve only three or four of them in the first year of SFDC system operation. And to really get them, you have to keep the team focused consistently on those three or four objectives until they are actually achieved. So choose wisely and stand by your prioritization.

Higher Profitability

  • Lower costs for finding and closing new customers
  • Faster sales cycles and improved conversion rates
  • Larger order sizes
  • Higher profit from existing customers
  • Improved marketing and promotional effectiveness
  • Faster customer uptake of new products and services
  • Much better leverage of Web, partner, and distribution channels
  • Higher service margins by leveraging service, support, and training partners
  • Fewer erroneous orders and product returns
  • Lower customer service and support costs

Better Visibility, Better Decisions

  • Deeper, broader view of customers and operations
  • More realistic and real-time metrics of the customer relationship
  • Greater ability to see and predict customer behavior
  • Better product design decisions
  • More measurable business processes
  • Better pipeline and inventory forecasts
  • Greater visibility into product, market segment, and regional performance
  • Better partner and channel visibility
  • Smoother, faster collaboration across organizational boundaries
  • Tighter controls and improved compliance
  • More effective business processes
  • Tighter controls and improved compliance

Improved Competitiveness

  • Better competitive intelligence
  • Better leverage of social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook
  • Greater ability to spot and react to market trends faster
  • Faster, more effective responses to competitive threats
  • Faster growth in new markets and geographies
  • Quantifiable improvement in market reputation
  • Improved customer satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat business
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