Category Archives: Sales CRM

Did You Know? Your CRM system will do far more than just manage your sales – if you set it up right.

As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of CRM (customer relationship management) systems in general;  having worked with and implemented many types of sales software systems over the past 20 years.

Right now I do quite a bit of work helping clients implement Maximizer CRM Live. It’s my personal favourite in terms of hosted CRM systems for SME’s.

Interestingly,  I’m finding that more and more business owners are open to using it “to the Max”.

Here’s a few examples of clients who’ve set Maximizer up to manage more much than they first anticipated:

Client A:
– Suppliers of a massive range of high-end security-related items to all business sectors
– Imported and locally manufactured products
– Ex stock and custom made items
– 300 or more customer orders tracked monthly
– Team of 12

This team uses Maximizer for tight management of their sales pipeline, internal and external sales team activity and KPI management, as a customer communications and documents repository and as a platform to manage their email database as well as track and send out their marketing campaigns.

But here’s the “Max-up” part: Once they received those confirmed purchase orders, they  have to track and manage all of those backorders very carefully – those coming in from overseas, those made-to-order bulk shipments and those stock items transferred in from bonded warehouses dotted around Gauteng.

What we did was convert their customer service module into a “Orders-in-Progress” admin system and hey presto – the entire team has access to a “one version of the truth” view of every single order being processed right through to invoicing and delivery. That’s the beauty of a system like Maximizer – it can be customised quite intensively.

On top of that  – we’re busy setting up further admin views to enable the procurement and operations department to easily match up supplier orders with all those back-orders.

Next on the cards is light integration with their customer sales figures from their accounting software.

Client B
– Local manufacturer, importer of parts and exporter of heavy machinery into Africa
– Custom made and ex-stock equipment with a range of add-ons
– Extensive global TV advertising and email marketing campaigns drive large amounts of
inbound enquiries to their website
– At least 200-300 new website enquiries a month
– Regular technical product updates emailed to customers
– Team of 21

Apart from managing their sales enquiry along with sales opportunities, customer information and marketing database very closely, this client asked us to develop a link to their existing custom-built website in order to pull every new enquiry directly into Maximizer as a sales opportunity, and then assign it a unique reference number. A huge benefit in terms of workflow and faster response time. Once the enquiry is in Maximizer, the sales team then takes each enquiry through their sales process.

What’s interesting here is that again, after a sale has been won, the client then needs to track pre-payments and shipments along with the rigorous and lengthy documentation of both imported and exported orders. If you export or import, you’ll no doubt know just how vital it is to track every Bill of Lading, every bank transfer, every customs and excise document along with the final freight costs – from those initial requests for freight or shipping quotes through to the date of delivery. To manage this, Maximizer was custom-configured to help their ops team manage every order seamlessly – right through to it arriving safely and securely at the customer’s premises.

So to sum up:
If you’re investing in a CRM system or already have one that is perhaps under-utilized then I’m recommending that you think further than just getting it to help your salespeople keep track of their sales opportunities. Or for you to manage your team’s activities such as making customer appointments.

CRM software is not just for your sales team. By the way, I must stress that having a sales CRM system in place these days is a baseline requirement – it’s no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s a must have if you want your sales team to be highly productive and hitting their sales targets. I see access to a well-implemented CRM system as a vital sales tool, much like a cell phone, a laptop or a car. It’s a minimum requirement these days to attract productive sales professionals.

As a sidebar: If you consider yourself a sales professional, my advice is: When you’re looking for a sales position and a potential employer doesn’t have a good sales system in place – keep looking. Unless you want to work until midnight and on weekends, drowning in filing cabinets and pieces of paper.

Over and above it being a sales tool though, a CRM system adds seriously value to many aspects of your business – if you let it. If you’re in the market right now,  take your time to research what’s out there then plan the rollout properly with the right team on your side.

It’s been my experience that effective CRM pays for itself within months. IF and only if you implement it properly.

B2B Sales and Artificial Intelligence … Are You Ready?

Ok so we’re starting to hear more and more about Artificial Intelligence (AI)  in B2B sales. If the word AI conjures up images of Arnie’s “I’ll Be Back” and gives you the shudders, then simply replace AI with the words “new technology”.

The big question is what does AI mean in laymen terms for us joe-soap normal sales folks here in undeepest, undarkest South Africa?

Remember about 20 years ago,  when CRM systems started replacing everything we reps did manually – like handwritten call reports, the A5 tickler box index cards for keeping customer info, the lever arch files of typed correspondence dutifully punched and filed? Took us all a while but many of us embraced CRM in some form or other (having said that, I’m still finding that many poor reps working for SME’s only have accounting software records to look at when it comes to their customer base). Get with the programme guys. Even the most basic CRM system has replaced much of the time-consuming stuff that your (expensive) reps are still doing manually. Free them up to sell more, more often!

All in all though, we’re quite a bit more effective and efficient. But .. still drowning in information, hence everything STILL needs to be simpler and faster – and better of course.   And this is where AI for B2B sales comes in.   AI is designed to further streamline what we do and set us free to do the truly human sales stuff (like talking to customers face-to-face). We shouldn’t fear it, in fact we should all be looking forward to it.

Have a mosey around Google sometime for B2B sales AI some time. Here’s what you’ll find is already out there for you to consider:

Clarke.ai:    No more manual note-taking of telephonic discussions, on Skype or in face-to-face meetings: Just takes a few clicks to add Clarke into your meeting, then “he” silently listens, records and analyses the conversation and instantly gives you (or all of you) a summary and to-do – which I assume of course could be automatically added to the notes tab in your CRM if set up properly.  Clarke uses NLP (natural language processing not the other NLP).  And yes, there is a cost (in dollars).

Chorous.ai:  Does something similar – it listens, records and analyses the conversation and points out key things such as when the prospect asks about pricing and how often – a useful tool if you’re trying to figure out their needs over the phone.

X.ai No more time-wasting email ping-pong on trying to schedule meetings: Just cc in your x.ai email address when you send someone a meeting request and give the programme access to your calendar. It takes over the ‘discussion’ by email on finding a suitable date and time for the meeting. Try it.   I could go on and on but I’m sure you’ve already come across a whole host of them too – especially chatbots and general AI found in B2B lead generation and ‘big data’ marketing. I’m guessing that LinkedIn will come out with a big launch of some brilliant B2B sales tech for us to use locally in the near future.

Want to read a bit more about the future of the sales profession in general now that machine intelligence is chomping at the bit? Check out Harvard Business Review article here

But let’s keep it relevant between you and I on a cloudy Monday afternoon in Gauteng .. on an average sales day … it really won’t be long before Maximizer CRM and many other international CRM systems out there will have a big selection of AI ‘add-ons’ for us to choose from. The future of B2B sales is bright.

Very bright indeed in fact. And we humans still feature in it. I’ve just returned from a CRM conference in London and the focus is B2B sales apps and AI.  It’s all about integration.

‘I’ll be back’ on this topic again soon. I have some AI testing of my own to do  🙂