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The sales manager's problem

Centralise your client database with customer relationship management

A central customer database is fast becoming a must for small businesses. Debbie Mayo-Smith went to one company and showed them how easily they could implement a CRM system.

The little black book

Quote�I have no reports. I don't know what they're doing.�End Quote

"How many sales people do you have?", I asked.
"Nine," the General Manager replied. "Eight here, and one overseas."

"Do you have a central customer database?"
"That’s my problem, we don't" answered the General Manager. "Every sales rep has their own database. They're on Outlook, ACT!, what have you. One is entirely dependent on his little black book. One of my biggest problems is that I have no reports. I don't know what they're doing, how successful they are, what sales are in the pipeline."

"What about your product sales database – isn't that useful?" I asked.
"No. It’s an old system and I can't get the reports I need out of it".

Three years of trying

It took me three years to get through their door. Monthly newsletters, quarterly telephone calls. Finally I was there, having coffee and meeting with the management of a large medical and surgical distribution company. I was hoping to run a workshop to help improve their sales staff's effectiveness.

Well, it was probably was going to lose the training opportunity for me, but honesty is the best policy. So I decided to help with a few valuable pieces of information that would solve their problems and reduce their cost of sales.

Quote�Seeing sales in the pipeline helps them calculate their future income and bonuses.�End Quote

"All the things you want to do: have a central customer database; get reports on sales activity; reports on future sales opportunities; track their success; know where they are at any given time; know the communication history with each client across the company. This is easily accomplished. You just need to do two things.

"First, to sell the idea of a customer relationship management programme to your sales team. Show them how they’ll benefit from it. For example, seeing sales in the pipeline helps them calculate their future income and bonuses.

"Otherwise, they won’t 'own' it and use it. Secondly you need to buy the customer relationship management software for each of the sales team. All the reports you mentioned you want are already reprogrammed.

"You mentioned one person uses ACT!. That is separately purchased CRM software, and you need to buy it for each of the others. Alternatively, let me ask you: what year Microsoft Office are you all on?"
"2003 Small Business" he answered.
"Do you use the Microsoft Exchange or Small Business Server?" I asked.
"Yes" was his reply.
"Well then, you already have a CRM system at your fingertips that everyone is 99% familiar with without spending another cent! Outlook with Business Contact Manager will do every thing you want."

The only problem I foresee is getting that one salesperson weaned off his little black book.

What next?

Order a free trial of Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003, a suite including Outlook 2003 with BCM.

Debbie Mayo-Smith is an international motivational business speaker and author. She specialises in simple, easy and practical ways to improve your personal productivity and business profitability. You can visit her website at http://www.debbiespeaks.co.nz, or subscribe to her Business Tip Newsletter.

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