i2live: Effective use of customer relationship management builds value, ensures nothing is overlooked, expert says; CRM best practices include assigning administrator to the system, adoption by senior executives, and clear deliverables, such as reports

LOS ANGELES , April 17, 2014 () – The effective use of customer relationship management, known as CRM, builds value in a business and ensures that nothing falls through the cracks, because sales and marketing teams have access to the same dynamic information on their company’s prospects, customers, vendors, suppliers and partners, said CRM expert Gene Marks.

“When you have those people in your database, your objective is to make sure that everybody has some type of follow-up about them,” said Marks in an April 16 i2live webinar entitled, “Best practices from smart companies who are using CRM effectively.”

“If you’ve given a quote to somebody, what are you doing to follow up on that quote?” said Marks, president of Marks Group, which provides sales and implementation of CRM.

“You met someone who says we might be interested in something, but not until the fall, who’s going to remember that you’re going to follow up on it? When a bid gets responded to, who’s going to know that bid gets responded to? Nothing should fall through the cracks in a good CRM system.”

But to be successful in using CRM, companies must assign an administrator who is in charge of the system and is responsible for the data, user administration, reports, templates and mass communications. This is not an IT person, Marks said, but a support person in an administrative role who is also a power user.

Next, senior level people must adopt CRM as the culture of the company, which is critical to its success, Marks said. Lastly, CRM must show clear deliverables, the most beneficial of which are good reports generated from a robust CRM database.

“Every single CRM system that has succeeded that we have implemented is because of reports—that is the silver bullet for CRMs,” Marks said.

Marks pointed to the most popular CRM reports:

Sales Pipeline Report: This is the most popular report and answers the question: “What is the status of our sales opportunities?” The report covers the company and contact, product, sales value, sales potential, weighted average sale, close date, account manager, and last action.

Aged Quotes Report: This report is a listing of the company and contact, the quote value, products quoted, account manager, and date of the quote. It answers the questions, “What is that status or open quotes?”

Detailed Call Report: This report answers the question, “What have our salespeople been up to this week?” It includes the company and contact, sales potential, account managers’ prior activities, next actions and general notes.

Summarized Sales Activity Report: This statistical report answers the question, “How are our salespeople doing against quota?” and provides the number of calls versus quota, the number of appointments versus quota, the number of first calls, the number of return calls, closed calls versus quota, and a comparison of all numbers to prior periods.

The Batting Average: This report answers the question, “What percentage of quotes have we closed?” It provides the number of quotes generated, the value of quotes generated, the number of quotes closed and the value of quotes closed, thus generating a batting average for each salesperson.

The Lost Sales Report: This report answers the question, “What sales did we lose and why?” and provides information on the company and contact, the quote value, products quoted, the account manager, the date of quote, the loss code and the loss explanation.

The Open Issues Report: This report tracks incidents, calls and problems, answering the question, “What service issues are open?” Information in this report includes company and contact, issue number, issue description, issue category, date opened, expected close, transaction history, pending actions and issue owner.
“You’re not going to do all these reports, just the ones that make the most sense,” Marks said, noting that his best clients use 20%-30% of their CRM systems and pick out the areas that will best serve their business.

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