Become More Customer-Centric and Streamline the Sales Cycle with CRM 2011

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As a Microsoft Dynamics CRM consultant, I see firsthand how an effective CRM strategy can help an organization’s employees collaborate more effectively to improve a customer’s experience and positively impact a company’s bottom line. Not only do I directly see it on the front lines of my customers’ implementation and configuration projects, but also as I interact with businesses in my personal free time. For instance, I recently went car shopping for my wife. As we got to the negotiation stage, the “dedicated closer” at the dealer approached me concerning my request to receive a pretty substantial discount as a result of an affiliated partnership I have with an insurance provider. In theory, a potential car buyer goes to this insurance provider’s site, shops around, selects the model and amenities needed, and then receives a discounted quote along with the closest dealerships. Basically, the insurance firm sends the dealer business, the dealer provides a kickback to the insurance company for the referral, the buyer gets the car at his preferred pricing rate, and everyone wins. In my case, though, I had unintentionally bucked the system and visited the dealer twice previously and engaged in brief discussions prior to utilizing this online discount mechanism. Since I didn’t originally walk into the dealer with the discounted preferred pricing, I created some minor drama at the last minute. Anyways, the sales manager was disgruntled that she would have to pay a referral fee even though the lead (me) wasn’t really referred after all. Complicating matters, the dealer’s sales rep had not entered and recorded my visits in their prospect/customer tracking system, though. In fact, the three times I went into the dealer, the sales rep and one of his associates always jotted down my contact details and buying time-line on the back of a business card, which was stored on top of a desk along with many other note-cards and small crumpled pieces of paper with scribble. Thus, the dealer had no way of proving I had entered their dealership on my own rather than with the help of the insurance company. In the end, the sales rep was apparently briefly reprimanded for not updating their tracking system thus making it more difficult to prove my prior visits.

I am not sure how the whole referral fee tracking and kickback was resolved, but the sales manager had no choice but to honor the discounted quote, luckily for my sake. Moreover, days after the car was purchased, I oddly started receiving auto-emails from the sales rep promoting why his dealer and automobile brand were the best and to contact him if I had any other questions concerning my evaluation and purchasing process. After a couple more emails, I finally just unsubscribed. The funny thing is I initiated all contacts with the dealership throughout the buying process. Not once did I receive a follow-up call or note. I even made it clear that this vehicle was definitely in the running and a decision needed to be made by a certain date.

I bring this story up because such questionable sales and service behavior is unfortunately quite prevalent in many sales cycles for large ticket products and services across various industries. Not receiving a follow-up call to a buying inquiry or request for information may cause some interested clients to wonder if their business relationship is truly appreciated or even desired. Constantly receiving an ill-timed and inappropriate follow-up email campaign similarly can often be a turn-off for  valued, influential, and noteworthy prospects or customers, as they may doubt if their business needs are actually understood and if their data is being kept secure and up to date. Merely having to go through the motion of having to sort through and delete unnecessary email correspondence from a vendor, supplier, contractor, or partner can actually cause some high-end clientele to have second thoughts about proceeding with a transaction or continuing a relationship. If a vendor cannot distinguish between something as simple as when one single prospect turns into a customer, how will they be able to accurately handle a more complex scenario where a company expands exponentially and has key contacts across various business units located in multiple offices offering a wide array of services throughout different regions of the globe?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 puts these concerns to rest and vastly improves the performance of Sales teams. By equipping top-producing sales reps across industry leaders with a full CRM suite of Marketing, Sales, and Service functionality, CRM 2011 enables firms to better manage and maximize their most critical client relationships. Since CRM 2011 contains contextual data visualizations and is located directly within the familiar Microsoft Outlook application, users will experience a quick learning curve compared to the competition and instantly gain productivity. Employees will have a centralized, real-time depository at their disposal with data they can trust. Client interaction history, upcoming meetings and activities, senior decision makers, contract signers, referral sources, customer buyer patterns, company and competitor profiles, sales opportunity details and won/lost results, and individual and team sales goals and forecasts can all be tracked in CRM. Thus, sales reps can spend less time on administrative tasks and searching for data in disconnected, cumbersome systems. Instead, they can focus more on prospecting, qualifying, executing account sales plans, and closing interested buyers. Additionally, performance indicators for the key metrics can be reported on in CRM with the use of comprehensive and dynamic dashboards and charts, which can be leveraged by Senior Management or for personal use. All in all, CRM 2011 enhances communication and the sharing of information between sales and service employees to streamline the sales cycle and ultimately improve the prospect buying process and ongoing customer experience.

Post by: Kevin Wessels, Customer Effective 

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