CRM SOFTWARE BEST PRACTICES
Last period's article on Sales Force Automation (SFA) best practices received several positive comments so this period we are continuing the CRM best practices with marketing strategy and marketing software recommendations.
CRM Marketing Best Practices
- Use better tools to cast a wider net. Start by taking a look at your website. Is it little more than an electronic marketing brochure or does it encourage customer interaction? Does it provide a blog or other social media tools which personify your company and reach out for customer interaction? The Internet has become the preferred platform for connecting, collaborating, community-building and conducting business. Particularly in a down economy, customers are constantly searching for more cost-effective solutions. Only those websites that engage these customers have an opportunity to grow their business from these customers and others.
- Sharpen the focus of your marketing campaigns. For outbound campaigns, the more precise the marketing target population the higher the response rate and the greater the campaign ROI. Macro level target market definition may be loosely focused around target market, target groups, target geographies and target solutions. Greater precision can be achieved with database marketing techniques or if prospect or customer specific characteristics, elements, behaviors or history can be used to segment target distributions and personalize the message. Don't send the same marketing collateral and message to everybody. Segment the target population and personalize the messages.
- Nurture leads before distributing them to the sales force. Research from the Harvard Business Review indicates that nearly 30% of all sales leads are not followed up timely or followed up at all by sales staff. Marketing professionals often distribute new leads to the sales team only for the sales team to discover that the majority of leads are exploratory requests or early stage tire kickers. Distributing largely unqualified leads conditions the sales team to become skeptical, cynical or apply only precursory qualification to new prospects. To give every new lead the attention it deserves, cultivate every suspect by implementing a program whereby only qualified sales leads are distributed to the sales team. Unqualified leads can be segmented, placed into automated marketing campaigns and cultivated until qualified.
- Connect the missing link between marketing and sales. Marketers often lose track and remove themselves from accountability for lead conversion once the lead is handed over to the sales force. A better approach is to provide marketers real-time lead views by type of lead, product, territory, salesperson or other segmentation so that accountability is shared. Marketers can be alerted or become informed if leads to a distributed segment or salesperson fall below the norm, otherwise fail to advance or need outside assistance. As previously referenced, most companies forfeit much of their marketing results due to leads which are not followed up on a timely basis, not followed-up more than once or not followed-up at all. Creating a shared responsibility between marketing and sales and providing real-time visibility of all leads which are getting cold, have become idle or have not received the attention they deserve can significantly increase the number of sale opportunities.
- Upgrade your call scripts. Inside sales representatives normally make the first customer impression. While call scripts provide structure for guided conversations and content consistency, they are too often too rigid. There is a fine balance between the use (or over-reliance) of call scripts and the amount of training provided to agents to supplement call scripts. Experienced management recognize a combination of scripting and training ensures that inside sales staff are received with credibility, convey the correct message and retrieve the right information. Generally, scripts should be followed, however, used as guidelines. They should also be used in conjunction with a proactive and personalized dialogue. Staff are essentially using the call scripts as call guides so that they don’t appear to be giving canned presentations. Although scripts are less expensive than training, people on the other end of the telephone can immediately tell if the sales representatives are strictly reading from a script.
- Measure campaign effectiveness in real-time. Veteran marketing professionals know they can dramatically influence campaign results during the campaign - but only if they recognize issues in real-time. More mature CRM or SFA software systems permit marketing staff to track and highlight campaign progress and quickly determine early response rates. This information permits staff to take action for ineffectiveness, missteps or operational break-downs while such an impact can still be meaningful. For instance, most campaign effectiveness dashboards are integrated to SFA software and display response rates, lead conversion rates, opportunity conversion rates and other meaningful benchmarks by territory, line of business, sales person or other criteria. The campaign owner can then quickly identify and facilitate bottlenecks or a lack of progress, such as if certain territories or select sales people are not advancing campaign leads in an acceptable fashion or in line with other organizational resources.
- Consider new campaign types. For example, over the prior 18 months, nurture marketing campaigns have for most organizations generated significantly higher response rates than other online media techniques. Nurture campaigns take advantage of multiple target touch points, distribute a sequence of complimentary collaterals and distribute a series of themed and progressive messages (often achieving a crescendo effect) as part of a single campaign.
- Add science to the marketing process. You can't manage what you can't measure. Companies often base their marketing investment decisions on guesswork and allocate the marketing budget based on the number of programs instead of individual program effectiveness and payback. Further, continued investments often recur based on a pattern and with little to no change based on individual program return on investment (ROI). Methodical marketing measurement can illustrate the anticipated and actual ROI for every marketing program, list the programs in a relative and comparative results ranking, display the trends of each program over time and allow marketing budget dollars to be allocated to the highest value marketing programs.
- Marketing campaign ROI is often the proof of campaign usefulness and validation of the marketing budget. However, ROI is not enough. Campaign analysis KPIs (key performance indictors) should accompany every campaign and include response rates, opportunity conversation rates, forecast adjusted (weighted) values, forecast total values, deals won, deals lost, total revenues generated, campaign rate of return (ROR), cost per response and cost per sale. Other factors along with variance analysis may be based for any particular campaign type. Quantifiable analysis yielded from campaign results permits sales and marketing professionals to rank and prioritize campaigns based on effectiveness, make adjustments for improved future performance, increase lead conversion rates and redirect marketing investment dollars toward the most successful programs.
CRM Customer Support Best Practices
Next periods best practices will continue the CRM theme and will consist of Customer Support and Customer Service best practices.
CRM Software Best Practices
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