What Do You Need To Know?
Another simple question that gets complicated. The information that is important to sales, marketing and production all differ. Sales needs a record of who they are talking to in an organisation, a general record of how often and what is being said and how likely they are to buy from you. This should also continue once they have become a customer, recognising behaviour or drivers for people to buy again can be a vital tool for any business but in many cases as soon as a sale is made, that customer is passed on. In terms of carrying out the actual work, any sort of account management will need notes about how to deal with that customer, how easy they were to work with, best form of communication etc. As you can see that’s a lot of different information, all of which would be useful to share but as soon as you get past 50 customers is going to be a nightmare.
Who Needs To Know?
Another issue is who needs to know what. Although all of this information is potentially useful, some companies might be worried about personal date being passed around and I can understand to a point that some departments don’t want other departments looking over their shoulder. As long as the key stakeholders for marketing and sales understand what’s going on and can feed that back, that’s what is important.
Should You Buy A System?
I have used a variety of different CRM systems over the years, I’m not going to recommend any particular provider because nearly all business will need some level of customisation. This seems to be the reason why a lot of business decide they will make their own CRM systems…which almost always goes wrong and costs a fortune. A CRM can be useful but not if it’s going to tie you into a long contract, cost more than it will ever make and potentially tie up a lot of people’s time form filling for the sake of having transparency.
For a lot of companies a simple excel spreadsheet will be completely fit for purpose. I would think the most manageable way to do this would be to have 3 separate sheets with all the key information on them and then turn them over to one person to create an overview document. The front of this document would have a customer breakdown with key facts from each department which should include: Contact Details, Where they are in your sales chain, what you are selling them, how often you have communicated. For marketing I would recommend assigning a score to activity, so maybe a like online is 1 point, reading your newsletter is 3 points etc. You should also have a record of what communication they have seen over the last month. Last but not least production should keep a record of the last order they placed, for what and how much. In a very simple document you can quickly and easily get an overview on where various companies/people are in your sales chain. The other three pages can give you more detail. By copying this information over it means no one will accidentally over-write or delete something too.
A CRM is a useful tool, but obviously it’s key to have regular meetings. You don’t necessarily have to book an hour out but when a prospect buys from you it can be useful just to give production an overview of who you’ve been dealing with and any tips. “Oh if you email him he’ll respond” etc is always useful information.