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Ten Things You Can Learn from Your CRM System: Page 2

By Jennifer Schiff     Feedback
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You can pinpoint the most effective marketing strategies. "At one time I thought of [our] CRM system as a sales tool, but it is the secret weapon in my marketing toolkit," said Carissa Newton, the director of marketing at Delivra. "It not only helps me track leads from inception to close, but it lets me demonstrate the ROI that each of my marketing efforts yields. I know the source of each lead and how much it costs to convert that lead!"

You can learn how often you really need to call prospects. "The right CRM system can provide terrific insight into what's working in your lead generation effort," said Jenny Vance, the president of LeadJen. "For example, call history can be analyzed to show which call and which message generated the most appointments, opportunities and sales wins. From there, you can determine how many call attempts are needed to get the best results. This varies by industry, so having access to call history data is valuable."

You can discover what your closing cycles really are. "Our CRM surprise [using ServiceTycoon] was the ability to track the closing cycle with customers," shared Stuart Reisch, the co-founder of Transform, which designs, manufactures and installs custom cabinets. "From the initial customer contact to the number of appointments required to close the deal, we learned what percent of purchases were made at 15 days, 30 days, 45 days, etc. This revelation helped us in the down economy as were able to educate our design force as to the change in closing trends."

You can improve the quality of communication with your customers. For Jean Heaton, marketing manager at Citrin Cooperman, one of the most valuable lessons she learned via CRM was the importance of interacting with customers. Instead of just sending out automated replies or form letters, take the time to chat or email with your customers, she said. Find out what their concerns or problems are, and do your best to resolve or address them. Not only does that build good will, it builds customers for life.

You can learn about outstanding customer issues and resolve them faster. "Imagine closing a large deal and then having it held up because of a dispute over a relatively small invoice," said Niranjan Samant, vice president of Sales and Client Services at Equilar. Thanks, however, to Equilar's CRM system (Salesforce.com, which is integrated with the company's financial system), "now Finance can alert reps to credit issues in advance, so they can reach out to the customer to push it through," he said. As a result, "deals are signed quicker, customers are satisfied, repeat business improves and forecasting becomes more accurate and valuable. It avoids any hold ups at the end of the quarter and keeps my team happy." It has also improved Sales' relationship with the company's Finance department, an added bonus.

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to eCRM Guide and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping small and mid-sized businesses.

This article was originally published on February 9, 2011
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