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Know Your Customer! Using a CRM

Know Your Customer!

“Who are you going to meet with this week?” The District Sales Manager of the flower distributor was in a grumpy mood as she met with her key salesperson. She was getting ready for a meeting with the CEO to present the next quarter’s forecast.

“I am going to see Daisy Chain Retail, Flower Power Stores, Top Hat Tulips, Frank N Cents, and the buyer for all the Roses Are Red stores – you know they have 30 locations,” said the salesperson.

“How much has Flower Power purchased from us Year to Date?” The District Sales Manager (DSM) fiddled with the pen on her desk. “Your sales forecast estimated $2M in purchases for the year. Since we are at the end of the third-quarter, I am hoping you achieved at least $1.5M.”

The salesperson replied sheepishly, “Well, I am not sure.”

The DSM sighed audibly. “Do you know what they bought from us on their most recent purchase?”

“I can’t remember, have to look it up.”

“What about Roses are Red?”

“They have a new buyer.”

“Who is the new buyer? Will he purchase the same brands from us the last one did?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you know?” asked the clearly irritated DSM.

“Look, I can either spend my time making sales or I can spend it collecting and analyzing data,” the salesperson said, now clearly defensive. “I can’t do both.”

Have you heard this conversation in your offices?

If so, then you could probably use a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM).

Knowing your customers is mission critical.

Timely customer information is vital to a salesperson and to her manager. Knowing everything about the customer’s recent interactions with your company can be the key that takes the salesperson from losing a sale to making a deal. Think of the power your sales staff could exert if they have easy access to key data about each of your current and potential customers.

Here’s how the conversation between the DSM and her salesperson could have gone if the company had a CRM:

“How much has Flower Power purchased from us Year to Date?” the DSM asked, leaning forward in her chair.

“They’ve bought slightly less than our forecasted $1.5 million, but last year most of their purchases were made in November and December, so I’m certain we will end up surpassing our $2 million goal for the year with that customer.”

The DSM smiled, but only briefly. “What about the new buyer at Roses are Red? Is that going to be a problem?”

“I don’t think so. In fact, it could be an opportunity. Their last buyer would never purchase our orchids. The new guy may be open to taking a fresh look at our product and how we’ve improved.”

“You’re asking for Daisy Chain to pay their invoices upon delivery. What’s that about?”

“They’ve been 60 days late with payment for the past three months. They understand and have agreed to those terms.”

What's different in this conversation? The salesperson had access to order history over a span of years. She knew the specific orders from each company. She even had access to total purchase data so she could negotiate better terms. How did she get this? Her company had implemented a CRM.

What does CRM do?

A CRM system tracks every interaction with the customer: actual sales that have been made to the customer, the sales deals recently proposed, the marketing campaigns and results, the payment terms, the outstanding invoices, the repeat sales by product line, and even the total revenue of the customer. With the system in the cloud, this information is mobile ready and available to every salesperson anywhere they may be, at home or on the road. Knowing everything about the customer’s recent interactions with the company gives the salesperson the edge they need to make or close a deal, to up-sell or cross-sell, and to negotiate terms.

Meanwhile, managers will find a CRM system invaluable for focusing on results, forecasts, and achieving goals. They will be able to analyze customers by industry, channel, territory, revenue, purchasing, and other trackable metrics.

CRM will combine with your Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) to integrate the front-end and back-end of your business.

Together, these systems track all of the critical touch-points along the customer journey.

CRM deals with information about the customer and all the interactions that customer has with everyone at your company. ERP software handles the transactions with the customer and the products / services you sell, including purchase history, billing and shipping details, accounting information, and supply chain management details. Combined together, these systems will give your company powerful resources for your salespeople.

Know Your Customers / Do More / Sell More


Rubenstein / Justman Management Consultants (RJMC) is expert in integrating CRM with ERP. RJMC provides Project Management for important financial and operational systems selection and implementation. Give us a call today at 310-445-5300 - We Get Projects Done!

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