Oct 10,2012 by JohnCheney

Hidden among the doom and gloom stories of economic woes there are signs of brightness on the horizon; and this brightness is being fuelled by Cloud solutions.

The SME Revival

After a rocky few years following the global financial crisis and then the Euro crisis, it appears that SMEs are well on the road to recovery. Industry analysts believe much of the optimism SMEs are feeling is driven by the benefits Cloud computing is delivering.

Recent research into the outlook for SMEs across Europe has revealed that:

  1. Some 25% plan to recruit new staff this year (rising to 40% in some countries)
  2. 18% will be investing in new technology.

 

Beat the economic blues with the Cloud

 

The Growth of Cloud Computing

Although Europe has been slower than the US to adopt cloud, and the UK the slowest country in Europe, things are changing. Gartner predicted 19% growth in the global Cloud market in 2012 compared to just a 3% rise in IT spending.

Predictions for top Cloud growth areas:

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (41%)
  2. Management and Security (27%)
  3. Platform as a Service (26.6%)
  4. Software as a Service (17.4%)
  5. Business Process as a Service (15%)

CRM Takes the Top Spot

  1. Gartner estimates 35% of all CRM implementations today use SaaS and, according to their projections, this will grow to over 50% by 2020.
  2. Forrester Research predicted the SaaS market will explode from $21 billion in 2011 to $63 billion by 2014.
  3. Commenters agree that CRM will top the charts in the SaaS space so if you are one of the many who will be investing in a new CRM, make sure that you choose the right one that delivers exactly what you need; as 18.7% of businesses don’t.

To find out more, download our eGuide Taking the plunge: making sure you get the right CRM partner.

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Sep 27,2012 by JohnCheney

Boost RevenueEvery business owner knows that if sales and marketing worked more closely together, more of the leads generated would be converted. But despite this, most businesses don’t have the two teams’ processes joined-up. They work in silos, not sharing information and not really believing that the other team is doing a good job.

Now that customers have so much more buying power than they did before, it’s time for businesses to transform the relationship between their sales and marketing teams; or run the risk of the digital revolution leaving them behind.

 

A recent article on Search CRM quoted the digital marketing CEO Phil Fernandez. While speaking at a conference, he said: “Nobody is happy about the state of marketing and sales. We need to kill the old sales cycle and create a new revenue cycle.”

 

 

 

What is a revenue cycle?

Simply speaking, Mr Fernandez is talking about joining up what the sales and marketing teams do so they work as a team; with everyone aware of what marketing is doing to generate the leads, which of them are the likeliest to convert and how sales are doing in closing them. This is easy with the support of the right CRM system. He calls this ‘Revenue Performance Management’ (RPM) - a process of identifying the drivers of and impediments to revenue growth, rather than seeing business as a lateral line from lead to customer, chasing short-term deals.

But even though the technology exists, the dysfunctional relationship between sales and marketing can’t be fixed overnight. It’s important that the Sales Director and Marketing Director work together too, to manage each team’s expectations of each other and also to show them exactly how joining up processes can transform results.

How does joining up processes transform what sales and marketing do?

Firstly, it gives them a continuous cycle of lead generation, nurturing, closing and recycling. If a lead that looked hot went to sales but the customer wasn’t quite ready to buy yet, you don’t have to watch that customer just falling off the radar until the sales rep calls again in three months’ time. With a joined-up process, the lead can be passed back to marketing. The marketing team can then provide more nurturing content to try and move the customer to the point of purchase.

The right CRM system makes this cycle easy to manage and, most importantly, makes it simple to extract the relevant information so that marketing and sales can both see which leads are worth spending time on. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it has compelling results. In the presentation, Mr Fernandez also included some impressive statistics that we’re sure all businesses would want to replicate:

  1. Companies implementing Revenue Performance Management see marketing contributing as much as 55% to the revenue pipeline. The least mature companies only see marketing generating around 17%.
  2. Companies using Revenue Performance Management to its fullest have salespeople spending nearly 70% of their time actively selling.


If you’d like to know more about how the Workbooks CRM system can help create an improved revenue cycle within your business, download our eGuide: The pitfalls of successful business planning.

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Sep 20,2012 by JohnCheney

4 ideasMany businesses are a bit obsessive when it comes to lead generation and new customer acquisition and have been known to neglect the customers they’ve already got. Once someone is a customer, a lot of companies think that it’s OK to bog them down in internal processes, passing them from pillar to post when they ring. If you don’t think that’s true then maybe these statistics, courtesy of allthingscrm.com, will show you what we mean:

  1. 94% of marketing budgets are spent trying to get customers to call in response to campaigns. Only 6% is spent on handling the calls.
  2. Business executives spend 15 minutes a day on hold.

 

 

When you went to all that trouble to get that customer in the first place, it seems a bit mad to then focus all your efforts on getting more new ones rather than developing the relationship you’ve already got. This is especially true when economic times are hard; as people want to do business with people they’ve already learned to trust and they don’t want the hassle and expense of finding a new supplier.

Four ways to love the customers you’ve got

A recent survey by Gallup has revealed that in the B2B world only one in seven customer and supplier relationships are optimal and only 13% of customers feel fully engaged. When you consider that their research has also shown that a fully engaged customer delivers a 23% premium over average customers - in share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth - it’s clear how valuable loyal customers are.

So, try these ideas to bring the love back to your customer relationships:

Idea 1 – Don’t just obsess about product development - remember that customers feel an emotional connection to your brand. Use the data in your CRM system to find out what business pains your customers are feeling. Hold round table events where you can discuss how you can help.

Idea 2 – Use the data you’ve gathered through social media comments about what’s working and what’s not. Then let the customers who made them know through targeted communications how you’re responding to their issues.

Idea 3 – Make time to talk to your customers and don’t let the only contact they have with your company be their calls to the customer service department. Use your CRM system to alert you to customers who have not had any interaction for a specified time then get your account managers on the phone to them.

Idea 4 – Invite them to take part in company case studies. This is a sure-fire way of finding out who’s really happy and who’s not and a really great way of getting closer to them.

If you’d like to know more about how the Workbooks CRM system can help improve your existing customer relationships, download our eGuide: Taking the plunge: making sure you get the right CRM partner.

 

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Sep 17,2012 by JohnCheney

Poll: Which Department Do You Think Should Manage a Company’s Social Media Interactions?

 

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Sep 13,2012 by JohnCheney

Despite its initial function as a way for friends to socialise online, social media has quickly become an important way for businesses to communicate with their customers; and for those customers to tell businesses what they think about their products and the service they receive from them.

 

Social Media

 

Statistics published in January 2012 on the Digital Buzz Blog revealed that:

  1. 56% of people are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan on Facebook
  2. 34% of marketers have generated leads on Twitter and 20% have closed deals on the site
  3. 30% of B2B marketers are spending a lot on social media marketing; yet 30% of those are not tracking its impact on lead generation and sales
  4. 23% of all internet usage is on social media and blog sites.

There’s more to life than leads

Although leads are obviously important, the fact that many marketers are not tracking which of their social media activities turn into sales shows that it’s not yet perceived as an integral element of the lead generation process. It should be though; the right CRM system can help marketing departments track interactions to see which become sales and which end up going nowhere.

This is important information as social media is not going away. Smart companies should be developing strategies and KPIs for their activities. In response to the results of a 2011 survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers has said that every company needs to be developing its ‘digital IQ’, or integrating technology into its processes, to avoid falling behind. It’s not just about the technology; it’s about the people and processes that support it and whether or not it gets results.

Who should own social media?

Social media has been the domain of marketers since its crossover into the business world, but there are many who believe the real value from social media interactions can be delivered through the customer service department. CRM magazine recently published an article Social Media belongs in the Contact Center, which argues that this is the only department capable of managing large volumes of interactions in a timely basis. They do have a point.

But then what do they do with the leads? Many customer services employees won’t even recognise a lead when it’s sitting there on a Facebook page, as that is not what they are trained to do. So there is the danger that if marketing and customer services are not joined-up and can’t all access the same information, important business opportunities will be lost. Never fear, though – with the right CRM this won’t happen as all your business processes will be completely joined up and opportunities can be passed between departments with ease.
 

If you’d like to learn more about how the Workbooks CRM system can help improve your lead generation and tracking, download our eGuide: The business performance platform: if your CRM’s broken, we can fix it.

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Sep 10,2012 by JohnCheney

Poll: Which of the Powers That the Internet Has Given Customers Has Changed the Way You Do Business the Most?

 

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Sep 07,2012 by JohnCheney

The internet has transformed the way that companies do business and the way that customers behave throughout the buying cycle. In fact, it could be said that the traditional sales process has been turned on its head and never has the customer had more power than they do now.

 

Five Powers

 

1. The power to share their views far and wide

The rise of social media has been phenomenal and although it offers marketing departments a wealth of opportunities to interact with customers and prospects in new and exciting ways, it also give those customers a platform to voice opinions in ways they couldn’t before. It’s a sad fact that they won’t always be nice opinions; it’s long been known that customers who have bad experiences tell more people than the customers who have good ones.

2. The power to discover

Before the advent of the internet, anyone wanting to buy your products or services had to talk to someone in your company to find out more. Now they can just search online and, as well as finding out what they need to know about the specifics of  the product, they can uncover any negative comments people have made about it, or indeed you if you’ve had the misfortune to get slated online.

3. The power to speak up around the clock

Your email, phone number, address, Facebook profile, LinkedIn account and Twitter page mean you can be reached easily at any time of the day or night. Customers no longer have to wait for you to open to ask a question or make a complaint and they expect a fast response.

4. The power to compare

It’s not just your information that’s out there for potential customers to find. Your prospects can just as easily find out everything about your competitors, including reviews, prices and features. So you need to manage your online presence to make sure it looks good in such a scenario

5. The power to buy from anywhere, anytime

Never has it been so easy for customers to pick and choose who they do business with. No matter what product or service you are selling there is someone, somewhere selling it cheaper than you. With many B2B products and services, its not just the price that matters but nor is location so important anymore either . However, reputation is.

So, although it would seem that the ball really is in the customer’s court, smart businesses can use the power of their CRM to turn the advantage in their favour. Integrating your business processes so everyone in your company can access information on prospects and customers means you can be flexible enough to meet all of the challenges and opportunities the internet age brings.

The right CRM system can help you track which leads responded to your tweets or blogs, or even find out who came into your database via your company’s entry on a comparison website. Not all CRM systems are made equal though, so make sure that the one you choose really can join up your business to enable you to work smarter and keep customers happier.

To find out how streamlining your business processes with the right CRM system can enable your team to make the most of this new age of customer empowerment, download our eGuide:

Taking the plunge: making sure you get the right CRM partner

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Aug 30,2012 by JohnCheney

POLL: What’s the Best Way to Motivate Your Sales Team?

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Aug 28,2012 by JohnCheney

Change Your Culture: How CRM Ensures Your Customers Are at the Centre of Everything You DoEvery managing director you speak to says that they put their customers at the heart of their business. Even though they probably believe that this is true, most of the time it isn’t. Now we’re not pointing fingers here because it’s not because they don’t try; often, managers don’t have the right information and tools to really understand their customers or to see where business processes fall down. 

This is especially true in larger enterprises where departments tend to function with little or no interaction. But it happens in SMEs all over the land too – departments working in silos with no idea what their colleagues across the business are doing. With a CRM solution that joins up marketing, sales, finance and customer services, this doesn’t have to be the case.

 

  

View the Flip Book - 'Change Your Culture: Put Your Customers at the Centre of Everything You Do'

 

 

“Two years ago, the percentage of companies that put themselves in the category of "extremely" customer-driven was 48%. Today, it's 63%, and looking into the future two years down the road, 81% say their organizations will be "extremely customer-driven".

Source: NFI Research

 

‘Voice of the customer’

The latest buzz phrase in business is ‘Voice of the Customer’. A recent article in CRM magazine, Listening to the Voice of the Customer, looked at the solutions that smart companies are now using to gather customer feedback. These solutions are all about joining up all your business processes so that you get a holistic view of each customer’s entire experience with your company. In a nutshell, exactly what the right CRM system does.

Why is putting customers at the heart of your business so important?

Your customers’ relationship with your company is with every department. So although your teams work separately, to the customer they are one homogenous representation of your business. If you haven’t got all your business processes integrated, your sales rep could get on the phone to a contact to try and get them to commit to something without realising they have raised a complaint with customer services. Your company looks stupid and a customer who was already disappointed with your service has just got unhappier.

Recent research has shown that:

  1. 55% of consumers would pay extra to guarantee better service.
  2. A customer is four times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service related than price or product related.
  3. 68% of customers leave because they were upset with the treatment they received while speaking to customer services.
  4. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.

Everyone likes to think of themselves as special, and their problems unique. If your customers discover that they are just one name on a long to-do list being passed around countless departments, they will realise that your company isn’t taking their problem as seriously as they are; and that they are just a number in a system, not a valued relationship. According to Bain & Company, increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%.

The pitfalls of not working as a team

If the sales team don’t know that marketing are sending out a special offer campaign, they could ring a customer who’s just received it and try to sell them the product or service at full price. Ouch. If customer services don’t know that Company A hasn’t paid any of its invoices then they could promise them support or replacement products that Finance are not happy to give. A typical company's customers leave at a rate of 10% to 30% per year, according to Frederick Reichheld’s book The Loyalty Effect. We could go on, but we’re sure you’re getting the picture.

What’s the solution?

With the right CRM system you can ensure that these kinds of things don’t happen in your business. You can transform your company culture so that all of your teams can see, track and monitor every interaction a customer has with your business. You can turn them into one big team working together to deliver better customer experiences, which delivers more repeat business, which then turns into more revenue. That’s why it’s so important.

 

Want to find out more about streamlining your business processes with the right CRM system to enable your team to deliver a more customer-centric experience?

 

Download our eGuide: 'Dance to your tune: how to get your team excited about a new CRM implementation'.

 

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Aug 23,2012 by JohnCheney

POLL: What Do You Think is the Most Common Reason That CRM Systems Don’t Live Up to Expectations?

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