When you study Philosophy, and you don’t plan on going into law or the priesthood, there is often a big question in front of you: “What am I going to do when I grow up?” My journey started with a sales position at Dale Carnegie Training, an organization that teaches people to communicate with diplomacy and tact, become a more persuasive communicator, an effective leader, and also reduce stress.
I recommend their course to any business person who is looking for a way to improve his/her overall effectiveness in and out of the office. However, as a 24-year-old right out of school it was difficult for me to walk into the office of a CEO and tell him or her that they needed to improve their interpersonal and communication skills. So, I did what came natural to me: I stuck my head into the data of my CRM tool and my computer.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a process, not a technical solution that sales and marketing teams utilize to manage the sales cycle. We manage our prospective clients, current clients, past clients and the sales cycle to relate activities and communication to close sales. My first CRM tool was a combination of a paper system and electronic solution. Since that time I have used electronic solutions like ACT!, Seibel, Salesforce.com, Dynamics CRM, and Kentico EMS to name a few. The potential in all of these systems to help in the sales cycle is overwhelming. Just like the overwhelming amount of information to corral in my first paper system the electronic solutions can be a 100 times more overflowing with data.
We are bombarded with more and more data every day. Whether it is via email, social media, website requests, text messages, RSS feeds, phone calls, and even the US Postal Service. It is more information than we can reasonably comprehend without some way to filter the important details as it relates to our potential and/or current customers. At the same time we also must act on the information we receive at a faster pace. A good CRM tool that integrates with your back-end systems and communication channels is becoming a must-have solution rather than a nice-to-have solution. It helps us to decide where our time is best spent, what new products and services makes sense for existing customers, who might be paying attention to our marketing, and forecasting for the future.
To be clear, a CRM system does not make a successful sales person — which was clear from my experience with Dale Carnegie — but they can help an organization make better decisions by managing the extreme amount of data we consume these days. Although I was a complete failure at selling Dale Carnegie Training, it did introduce me to a technology that is near and dear to my heart — and fortunately helped me develop the skills that got me my next job in the IT Industry. At the same time, the skills I learned from selling at Dale Carnegie have also taught me skills that have made me successful at selling IT solutions. Technology solutions will not replace the skills of a good sales person, but they can give us a better understanding of the landscape in which we are working. The key is ensuring that the data from our disparate systems is able to flow between these solutions. An integrated solution gives us a 360-degree view of our business and allows us to make the best decisions to move our business forward.
What is the solution for your organization? Every organization is different. I talk to companies every day that need data filtered from their ERP system to their website, from their website to their CRM tool, from CRM tool to their accounting system, etc. Many organizations want to mine communication from all of their social media outlets to their CRM tool to focus their marketing efforts and determine what is working and what is not working. There are all sorts of inefficiencies to overcome when we have siloed technology solutions. Fortunately for me, it is much easier to talk to a CEO about organizational efficiencies that can be gained through their technology solutions than it was to tell them they needed a Dale Carnegie course. My interest in technology all started with my first taste of CRM tools in the world of sales at Dale Carnegie.
Question? Is your CRM tool a silo of data in your organization or a hub of customer-serving data?
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