Managing leads and customers with sticky notes? Time for a CRM?

Yes is the short answer, always. Look around at your desk right now, do you have more than 2 legal pads that you keep your sales notes on? Well if so, it is time to upgrade. Maybe you are running a small business where you are wearing many hats. You very well may be performing the tasks for a sales team, marketing team, and the admin team. All the more reason to use a CRM!

Lets start with the basics: A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management Tool. They are used to manage all of your prospects and allow for a more targeted, efficient sales and marketing effort. A CRM is the management tool that allows for internal and external growth by organizing potential money. The biggest reason a successful new company may fail is because they get overrun with sales and potential sales. This causes miscommunication with the customers and leads to dissatisfaction with current customers and prospects. Each and every customer or prospect needs to feel as though they are your only own and this simply cant be done with a legal pad. Sorry.

I was working with a very successful finance firm about a year ago that had seemed to have stagnated. The business had been around for about 10 years and quickly grew to a couple million dollars in gross revenue but could not seem to get to the next level. As I started getting into the books and the different departments I learned that they were not using a CRM. When I inquired further I found that each outside sales representative was responsible for drumming up business however they chose and there was minimal reporting of their success. This is a big no no. CRM’s allow for shared pipelines, monitoring of leads and progress, and most importantly are proven to be a more efficient streamlined sales process that leads to more sales. We quickly implemented a company wide CRM that office administrators had access to as well. This allowed for a streamlined calendar, timely reports for reps, and ability for managers to monitor their sales numbers. Within one month we saw a 20% increase in the sales pipeline.

The Sales team and sales process is the driving force behind every business. Of course, there are other departments that are integral to the growth of a company, the sales team is the heartbeat and ultimately what keeps food on the table. That is why the CRM is such a crucial tool to implement and guess what a lot of them are free or very inexpensive. (Remember something is better than nothing)

The critical elements of a CRM are as follow: Lead Assignment, sales representative monitoring, integration with advertising (No lost advertising dollars), instant scheduling with calendars, call logs, email tracking, and task reminders (Ex. email in a week). There are many more features but these are by far the most critical. Most reading this started their business because they were good at something, however, I would be willing to bet that most people did not start their business because they were good at running a business. Use the tools that are available to you even if there is a learning curve because you will see a nearly instantaneous ROI.

Taking my talents to South Beach

There are many factors to consider when expanding into new markets but the two primary thought points would be determining IF you can expand into a new market and the second would be the actual process of expanding. Expanding into a new market is predicated on your marketing capabilities, production capacity and most importantly, your ability to deliver. Those important factors help determine the”IF”. This is a decision that cannot be unilateral and must include department heads and management.

It’s important to consider the cost of expanding. That could include everything from physical space, manpower, marketing, and sales ability. The cost/investment must have an ROI that is worthy of the work and effort involved. This is an important point to make. I have worked with many companies that felt like they were leaving a lot of revenue on the table because they were missing specific markets. In many cases, once we crunched the numbers and looked at the timeline involved we determined that the ROI was not all that impressive and with a few simple tweaks, we were able to enhance their existing offering and the ROI was quadrupled.

I have also worked with companies where the due diligence proved that the expansion would be a fruitful and lucrative move. Do your due diligence to ensure the outcome you seek.

The bottom line and to answer the question of can I expand into a new market is yes. But it’s important to research the process and outcome in a way that reveals the ROI both short term and long term and make that decision based on the numbers and not on emotion.

Don’t be the last one picked at recess.

Personal efficiency is a highly sought after attribute. Far too many meaningless tasks get in the way and stray us from the must do’s. Eventually our to-do list has become a prodigious task that carries into the night or is delayed until tomorrow. In any case, efficiency = profit and it’s important to identify deficiency = profit loss.

Here’s a great example. I worked with a major coffee retailer that was losing money everyday. They were literally watching people come into the store and immediately do a U-turn and walk back out because the line was too long.

I am an avid coffee drinker and I like my coffee the way God invented it – black. It’s quick, easy and tastes like coffee. This company is known for it’s over the top, gourmet, 12 words in it’s name coffee. When a person orders one of those 12 word coffee’s it takes the person behind the counter quite a bit of time and if they are also ordering for friends, now you might as well pull up a chair and begin reading the news because you will be there a while.

I was in one of their busiest locations in my area and working with the District Manager we walked over to the line, which had 14 people in it, and I politely asked each person what their order was going to be. It turned out that of the 14 people 5 of them were ordering a simple black coffee. We sat and did the math based on a specific person behind the counter servicing customers who wanted a simple black coffee. He was astounded to see how many additional customers he could serve and what that translated into for profits.

The bottom line is the bottom line and it’s very important to take a look at what you are doing and how you are doing it. In many cases companies have a hard time seeing the forest through the trees because, as the saying goes, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had.