In any market environment, the survival of a company relies heavily upon having solid relationships with those we do business with. After all, in the end it is our clients and customers who make our success possible. However, some businesses fail to nurture those relationships, and in doing so fail to realize the full potential of those relationships. The problem often is not the product or the client base, but rather a failure to build and maintain strong relationships.
Since your success relies on these relationships, it makes since to nurture strong, continuing business alliances with your clients. This is the responsibility of the market-facing people in your company, which often includes sales, marketing, product support, billing and public relations, among others. Today, most companies rely on an enterprise application called a “Customer Relationship Manager” or CRM, to help manage these important customer relationships, and many businesses these days turn to the ‘cloud’ as the platform of choice for their CRM. There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- Cloud computing puts the exact organizational tools you need right at your finger tips, no matter where you are geographically
- Cloud computing reduces expenses related to technology and infrastructure
- Cloud computing reduces headcount requirements associated with IT and system administration
- In the case of your CRM, cloud computing allows your sales teams to have clear visibility into their performance any time any where globally, and facilitates communication between a deployed sales force and the management team
That two-way communication between front line sales and the rest of the company can be vital to the relationships we have with our clients and customers. Any time a sales rep runs into a snag with a customer, she can post that issue in the CRM and everyone who needs to be involved with solving the problem automatically becomes aware of the issue, and clear communication during the resolution period is maintained. This is true even if the client is in Australia, the sales rep is in India and the customer resolution team is spread out from San Francisco to London.
In the end, everyone benefits from stronger organizational strategies and stronger customer relationships. Ultimately, a cloud based CRM may be just what your business needs to build stronger relationships with your customers.
Businesses around the world are being forced to balance the pursuit of innovative growth opportunities with the increasing risks associated with pursuing them. While many governments are being compelled to adopt dramatic austerity measures to reverse devastating cash flow problems, businesses have adopted conservative budgetary approaches to protect precious assets from economic risk.
In such times of uncertainty and risk-adverse business environments, one attitude remains prevalent: the best approach for mitigating risk is to preserve cash. Reports that companies continue to sit on huge cash reserves demonstrate that this approach is widely followed.
Unfortunately, austerity measures, uncertainty and reduced investment in innovation directly limit a company’s growth potential. Although seasoned executives still understand the correlation between risk and reward, today’s business conditions are influencing many business leaders to forgo “break-through” growth strategies in exchange for maintaining the seemingly safer status-quo.
Visionary executives, however, also recognize that simply maintaining the status-quo contains the inherent risk of losing their competitive advantage and missing potential business and strategic opportunities. These executives understand that change is inevitable, if not desired. The question then becomes, do they take action to manage change; or, do they risk being the victim of it?
Innovators and skilled strategists understand that creating new efficiencies within business processes protect precious cash reserves, regardless of the economic environment.
One approach for mitigating risk is to make more informed decisions by collecting and leveraging information. When properly designed and implemented, sales profitability intelligence gives business leaders accurate and actionable information about the profitability of their sales transactions, products and product groups, sales reps and sales teams, promotions, campaigns and other sales initiatives.
When fully understood, information becomes intelligence, and sales profitability intelligence is crucial to optimizing a company’s profit potential – especially during times of increasingly slim profit margins.
The transparency provided by this intelligence is also useful in protecting cash while feeding innovation by exposing:
- Human Error
- Misdirected Strategies
- Unnecessary Overhead Costs
- System ‘Gaming’
- Even Fraud
Additionally, such information, when effectively analyzed, uncovers critical opportunities for achieving greater economies of scale without creating major disruptions in current business operations.
Consider your organizational DNA
If you suddenly had the means to evaluate every revenue-generating base, and its associated cost, within your organization, imagine how your organization could leverage the net costs and benefits found in:
- The specific financial value to your company of every sales transaction
- The effectiveness of sales commissions to produce that value
- Validation of your sales commission strategy on sales force behavior
- Bottom-line benefits realized from specific promotions and campaigns
Ultimately, the proper application of knowledge will mitigate risk better than most strategies. Some would define that as wisdom. Wise executives will recognize the powerful and far-reaching impact the efficient collection and proper application of knowledge has on their success.
At a time when ‘analysis paralysis’ and a prevailing mindset that no decision is better than a wrong decision permeate business strategies, innovative executives can seize upon a significant competitive advantage by simply making informed, fact-based decisions to pursue innovative opportunities. While many linger in states of confusion and uncertainty, for the wise executive the current environment presents a rare opportunity to incorporate new innovation with very little financial exposure.
To learn how sales profitability intelligence can unlock the door to risk-free innovation for your company, visit my company at www.glocent.com
The world of marketing has gone through a number of dramatic shifts over the past 10 years. Companies that embraced the advent of the web and its convenience to (and its rapid adoption by) their customers have flourished while those that did not adapt to this new era have passed into history. Think of high-flying Blockbuster Video when Netflix entered their world. Blockbuster held on to their old model too long and is struggling – Netflix has taken their top spot. Same thing with Borders – Amazon has taken their place.
And now the world of marketing is changing again – and in an even more dramatic and significant way. This time Social Media is the change agent. People who are “plugged in” have known this for some time. Now it is time for the rest of the business world to wake up and catch up or be left behind.
Only a few years ago, marketing and branding were almost exclusively outbound activities. A company would deliver a message to the market about their goods and services in a marketing program that was intended to increase revenue, increase brand recognition, elevate their goodwill in the marketplace, etc.
Today’s successful company will still do marketing programs, but for most companies, equally important to outgoing marketing programs – and for some even more important – is social marketing. That means blogging and being otherwise socially present and socially active on the web. It means constantly monitoring applicable social sites and search engines in an attempt to respond quickly to customers who have a complement as well as those who have a beef. And the successful company of the 21st century cannot just be reactive and defensive. They will have to be proactive and social leaders in their field.
“Businesses are being Humanized” says social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk. If you are a marketing professional or a business owner/manager and if you haven’t seen Gary’s interview on MSNBC, you should. He has a book out entitled “The Thank You Economy” – all about the power of one-on-one attention – and his interview is eye-opening and very much on point.
Opening up your company to the social world in this way that can be risky. It makes a lot of marketing pros and business managers very nervous. Previously, all communication with the market was of an “official” nature and had to be approved up the chain of command. You can’t do that when you are responding in a social setting. Social Media requires constant attention and constant communication in small bites. If you send it up the chain of command, by the time it gets approved it is too late to respond and you have lost the opportunity.
Social Marketing is here and it’s now. It must be done and it must be done right. Even more risky is ignoring this paradigm shift and not going social at all.