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Finding The Right Crm Solution For Small Business Sales

Customer relationship management (CRM) vendors once only catered to the big players when they developed a CRM solution. The solutions were complex, some still are, and were difficult and time consuming to implement. Its obvious, and has been for some time, that small businesses can get value from a quality CRM system, which is why more vendors are making their solutions compatible to new markets.

You need a way to track contacts, keep a schedule of your sales opportunities and organize your tasks, which has been the traditional role played by CRM for many years. You should expect more out of your CRM though. You should be able to use it not only for tracking contacts, but also for improving relationships with them.

Now that you have a choice of solutions from which to choose, you need to ask yourself some questions about what your needs are now and what theyll be in the future. You need to look into opportunities where your CRM can help you organize data about your clients and that help you draw conclusions that lead to better sales opportunities.

Vendors offer a variety of options today for your CRM solution. To find the one that is right for you, you should put together a team that can make a wish list of functions that will assist them in doing their jobs. Perhaps automation is important to your company? Pick a CRM solution that offers automation in the areas you need it. Maybe your sales team doesnt work around the typical goals related to sales successes, which means youll be looking for something other than the typical CRM. You can find CRM that allows you to customize and work the way you need it to.

Another tradition among the typical vendor is a lack of attention to the sales department needs. Sales departments have historically been left out of the CRM conversation, particularly in the area of reporting. Its obvious that most vendors arent lead by former sales reps because the tools involved with sales reporting are inconvenient at best, which is why the salesforce equipped with the wrong CRM solution will rarely send back reports.

Even with small businesses, the salesforce has a massive impact on the viability of the company. Since the salesforce is highly mobile, they deserve a mobile application that allows them to send reports from their mobile devices, whether its a smartphone, tablet computer or both. These reports need to be easy to generate, include automation so they are sent to the right individuals, and include camera functionality so specific information from signatures to displays can be sent easily along with the report. Companies like Front Row Solutions are currently working with clients with excellent mobile CRM solutions.

Crm In Sme – The Changing Scenario In India

CRM is one of the most exciting areas that organizations are looking at these days. We have seen a significant spurt in demand given the accelerated growth and competitive scenario emerging on the business landscape.

Let us look at THREE scenarios here which are clearly emerging in the Indian SME market from a CRM perspective,

First, standalone CRM solutions which many organizations are implementing. I am taking the example of a Brokerage House that has a Customer Service team and a Sales Organization. For a brokerage, the customer service team is the heart of their business as prospects and customers are constantly calling them with requests, issues, requirements, account set up and what have you. This internal Call Center has to be CRM enabled to manage this steady flow of telephone calls, emails and other contact points from their prospects and customers. Invariably their telephony systems have also to be integrated with the CRM. All elements of the Call center have to be truly integrated for seamless delivery of customer service. Likewise their sales team needs also to be tightly integrated in to manage leads allocated by the Call center. This could be within the CRM system or even via SMS to alert mobile sales persons of potential customers. Imagine the customer delight, if you log in your requirements and within minutes the appropriate sales person calls you to set up a meeting. Indian brokerages which are on a high growth path given booming stock markets have realized the importance of CRM systems that will truly drive their business growth. The need has got cemented with brokerages rapidly expanding across multiple locations and the need to manage remotely branch operations. Further many organizations which started small have grown exponentially in the last one year. We have seen the emergence of a high growth industry in the Financial Services business.

Secondly, more and more organizations are seeking end to end solutions with best of breed offerings. The classic example is of ERP integrated with CRM. This is increasingly seen as a trend in the Indian market now. By having this integrated solution, the sales, operations and finance organizations can work together as a team to manage their customers, deals, payments, receivables, inventories and orders. This can powerfully transform the way organizations are run and reduce lead times and improve information flow. This approach has to be taken by organizations seeking exponential growth in an economy where things are happening. Here again we are witness to a new trend that has emerged in the last 6 months or so across SME businesses. This seemed to have been a major requirement for larger organizations until sometime back. This again reflects the rapid growth potential seen by SMEs in India today. This technology driver has accentuated the need for employees to become more result oriented as well as increasingly accountable.

Thirdly, hosted offerings are here to stay for SMEs looking for CRM application. The trend we see is of relatively smaller SMEs adopting this approach quickly as this minimizes investments in hardware, trained technical manpower and infrastructure. It also helps them get off the ground rapidly. CRM is best suited for SaaS (Software as a Service) model given the fact that sales persons are generally on the move and can therefore work from any location as long as internet bandwidth is available. The other major driver of SaaS is the fact that organizations prefer to get started with vanilla applications which makes sure that they focus on user adoption in the initial phase. Further this model makes it easier for SMEs to decide if they wish to rent or buy as the on-premise should always exist in case organizations decide at some point in time to move the application in-house. Flexibility is a huge advantage from a deployment and investment perspective. Lead management, Sales force automation are the two major areas of CRM that are best enabled though the SaaS model.

Automotive Dealer Management Systems, Are You Using Your Tools Correctly

The potential of many of the UKs dealerships will never be realised unless they start to use the tools they are provided with in the correct way. There is also a good argument that some dealerships are working so hard to achieve their potential that their old antiquated DMS cannot provide the tools needed. Many dealerships need to change their DMS solution because of this. However some view change as troublesome and worrying. There is a simple question that needs to be levelled is your dealership achieving what it should if the answer to this is no then a review of your DMS is essential.

I am often asked about what changes are needed to dealerships to gain that competitive edge? The simple reply to that is you know your dealership, staff and customers better than I. What I can say is that without dedicated, trained and motivated staff even the best DMS in the world will fail. People and process are the most important things in any dealership. Lets be clear about this, DMS is just a device used to achieve set down objectives. It helps if your DMS contains all the tools necessary.

Many in the industry now see that tools such as Showroom systems, Customer relationship management (CRM), analytical reporting, Internet marketing and time management systems are essential. These all should be available integrated into the DMS. There are many of these products available as stand-alone but few integrate, this means yet more work for the user duplicating information.

Choosing a DMS that suits your business is a bit like choosing a business partner, it needs very careful thought and consideration. The following were listed in the last issue as relevant questions to ask and are still essential today.

How will it give us a return on investment and over what time?
Where will it cut costs/enhance efficiency?
Is it designed to grow with our business?
Is it capable of operating multi-company, multi site, multi-franchise?
Will it communicate efficiently with customers on the web, in the call centre and on the dealership floor?
How good is the CRM part of the system?
How easy will it be for staff to adapt to the system? What training is required?
From talking to other users of the system, how good is the suppliers customer support?

Once you have chosen and implemented the DMS that’s where it begins. So many dealers forget that constant training and reviews of process need to be addressed. It is recognised that the average dealer should book at least two days training a year. A decent DMS provider should always be prepared to share their experiences on good working practices. I also think that as business partners the dealer and the DMS provider should document process controls. Simple but effective training training training.

I’d echo other industry observer’s recent comments about the current obsession with running a hosted DMS solution. It’s imperative for a DMS to have access to web services providing third party data delivery, and indeed using the internet as a transport mechanism for multi-site connectivity is a cost effective solution. However, running a DMS over the web where the server is in a datacentre all too often ends in tears. The UK communications infrastructure is not mature enough to reliably run a remote web server based application as intensive as a DMS with adequate performance. How many problems do you have with slow Internet connections? We offer the service, but we don’t actively promote it. Keep your DMS server within your business.

Most dealers owe it to their potential to review the DMS market. I believe that Gemini Systems Dealer Management Systems should be one of the systems reviewed.

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