In search of control – the business owner’s quest

businessa.jpgAs a business owner there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being in control. It’s that calmness and focus you get when you know exactly what’s going on, when you have the levers available to make changes in your business, and when you have a view of the future to head off any problems and maximise any opportunities.

So many business owners search for this control, but for many it remains elusive. Indeed, for many business owners this lack of control is the number one frustration in their working lives.

There is a solution. Business owners who invest in a CRM platform report that it delivers control in a host of ways.

 

Sharper marketing

Firstly, CRM gives you insight into who your customers are, what they like and what they tend to buy. This allows you to segment them and more precisely target your marketing efforts, vastly increasing the returns you achieve on your marketing activities.

According to Jupiter research, highly relevant email messages can generate nine times improvement in revenue and 32 times more improvement in net profit over non-segmented broadcast campaigns. This is not only far greater control – it’s also far higher profits.

 

Control over sales

Equally, CRM removes all the guesswork about who in your sales team is delivering the best results. It gives you the facts on who is generating the most quotes, closing the most orders, and generating the highest value orders. Not only does this allow you to give these top perfoƒrmers additional responsibilities, but it also gives you a model for future recruitment, and a set of behaviours to use when training the rest of the team – doing all this should hugely boost overall team performance.

As well as giving you greater control over sales and marketing performance it gives you far greater visibility of the results they are likely to produce. You can look at the current open opportunities and so work with the sales team to focus on the right ones, putting forward the right proposals. This produces a more reliable stream of sales. Armed with this information on income you’re better able to make a whole host of decisions on stock levels, resourcing, investments and so on. Uncertainty is replaced by control.

 

Lower costs and happier customers

It’s not just in new business; CRM gives you more control over existing accounts. It shows you which are your best customers – the ones that takes the least time, cause the fewest problems, and generate the greatest profit. You can focus on them and grow those accounts so they become a greater proportion of your business.

And finally, when it comes to delivery, CRM provides the control you need to be streamlined, efficient and ultimately profitable. You can spot the issues that are common to all your customers, fix those issues and then train your staff to resolve them more quickly in future.

This not only cuts support costs, it also raises customer satisfaction and contributes to the virtuous cycle you’ve kicked off in your business. How to start the cycle? Look into a CRM platform today, and get ready to feel in control again.

Try Workbooks CRM for free

Customer in the spotlight: French Duncan

french-duncan-resource.pngIn this month’s ‘Customer in the spotlight’, we discover how CRM helps chartered accountancy firm French Duncan to save valuable admin time and positions the business strongly for future success.

With 200 staff and 15 partners working across five offices throughout Scotland, French Duncan is a busy, fast-growing chartered accountancy firm with around 9,000 clients, many of whom are in the hospitality sector.

Workbooks has helped French Duncan move with the times in a fast-changing sector, where the commoditisation of compliance services, digital transformation, increased competition and clients’ growing expectations are shaking up the profession.

Not long ago, French Duncan accountants might have met clients once a year to discuss their annual accounts, but now clients have an open communication channel to the firm that they might use at any time. And when they do, they expect a quick response. Workbooks has given the firm a mechanism to record these transactions and the advice offered, as well as charge for this value-add service.

single-customer-view-small.pngNew business prospecting at French Duncan is also being transformed by CRM. Workbooks’ sales and marketing automation capabilities mean senior partners and practice managers can efficiently prospect for new clients and cross-sell/upsell to existing clients. For example, the firm uses Web Insights to track who’s visiting its website and generate prospects based on the material they view there.

One of the key factors that set Workbooks apart for French Duncan was the customisable single client view it offered, providing a way to view all the key data for each client on one screen. Workbooks also helped the firm consolidate and centralise its client records. At a conservative estimate, this saves each person in the firm ten minutes per day of searching for client information. That equates to about £500,000 per year in saved time alone.

Feedback on Workbooks from French Duncan staff has been excellent. They love how easy and intuitive it is to use, how straightforward it is to tailor to individual requirements, and how well it fits into each individual’s workflow. 

For more information about how Workbooks helped French Duncan get in shape for the future, view the video case study.

 

View the Case Study

 

 

Gaining a competitive edge through customer experience

gaining-a-competitive-edge-through-customer-experience-big.pngAs markets mature and competition intensifies, products and services converge, and companies become increasingly hard to differentiate. But if you want to generate growth – and who doesn’t? –  you must find ways to stand out. And one of the most effective ways to do that is to offer a better customer experience than your competitors.

Customers have never been more spoilt for choice, so you must ensure your company is focused on them like never before. Offering a consistently excellent experience to your customers – whoever they engage with and for whatever reason – is arguably your best way to generate loyalty. 

This is about putting your customers’ needs at the heart of everything, then ensuring they have the best possible experience at every touch point and throughout every type of transaction. Get it right and satisfaction will grow, service costs will fall, and you will stand a better chance of generating the kind of loyalty that could even turn a customer into an ambassador for your company.

A recent PwC global survey discovered that about three-quarters (73%) of people believe customer experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions. In fact, 65% of US respondents said a positive experience with a brand is now more influential than great advertising. But only half of the respondents felt that companies are providing a good customer experience today. 

So, how can CRM help you improve the experience you offer your customers?

Improving the experience at every stage

icon-1.pngYour customers want to be fully informed before committing to any purchases – much more than they used to. You must think carefully about what this means for your business and adapt your strategy and spending accordingly. CRM will help you do this by tracking trends and analysing data to help you make informed decisions.

Post-sales, your customer service must be exceptional. Every customer must be made to feel special. If they feel valued, they will value you in return, they will remember you, and they will recommend you.

icon-2.pngBy offering a single and comprehensive source of truth about every customer – from the first marketing contact to the latest service case and all the back-office functions that hold your company together – CRM helps you to deliver this level of experience.

It connects your processes, helping them to flow seamlessly. It puts the right information in the hands of the right people at the right time. It offers a clear view of the cost to your business of servicing your customers, helping you refine your service in ways that maximise profitability but still keep your customers satisfied.

Find out how fast-growing online bathroom retailer Soak.com used Workbooks to create an exceptional experience for its customers.

 

Align your organisation and prioritise to succeed

align-your-organisation-and-prioritise-to-succeed-big.pngMaking sure sales and marketing teams are properly aligned should be a priority for any business leader looking to generate growth.

But behind this simple truth lies a complex reality. At most organisations, there is at least some misalignment between the two functions. And that’s hardly surprising when you consider the myriad activities associated with sales and marketing – with many people dealing with multiple intertwining issues relating to numerous clients, all with their own specific requirements.

Chief executives want to know their sales and marketing teams are delivering in line with expectations. And if that’s not happening, CEOs must recognise the problem quickly and then understand exactly what’s going on, so they can confidently address any issues.

starts-with-you-icon.pngIt starts with you

The first step to achieving this optimal alignment between your sales and marketing functions is to recognise the importance of doing so – and prioritise it for your business.

This starts with developing the right strategy for your business and making seamless sales and marketing a key element of that strategy. Then you must surround yourself with the right people. If your executive team understands the importance of close collaboration between the teams, you’re much more likely to achieve it.

Then – and only then – it’s time to look to how CRM can help to achieve this crucial harmony in your business. CRM shouldn’t be applied in isolation to an organisation where sales and marketing are not aligned at a strategic and operational level. The teams must share a common language, agreed mutual KPIs, and a commitment to alignment. 

Without those elements in place, CRM tends to be ineffective. But once you’ve done the work to align the teams, CRM becomes the final element that enables your company to get maximum return from its salespeople and marketers, to become more customer-centric, and ultimately to be a higher performing and more successful organisation.

single-truth-icon.pngSingle truth

CRM does this by giving everyone across your business a definitive source of information about each customer, from initial marketing activity, through sales and customer service, to finance and order processing and other back-office functions. It connects processes, helping them to flow; it puts the right information in the hands of the right people at the right time, helping to make every engagement with the customer optimal.

For your sales and marketing teams, CRM collects information from across the business and offers it in easy-to-understand, real-time dashboards and reports. That means everyone can see the sales pipeline, allocate tasks between departments, and make any changes needed to their campaigns.

This clarity of vision means you can track leads and understand what’s going well and what needs your focus. It helps sales and marketing pass leads between each other at the right time – neither too early, where the sales approach can alienate prospects, nor too late, when the moment might have passed.

CRM also enables salespeople to share learnings from the time they spend with customers. This gives more focus to marketing activities and helps to deliver ever more relevant content through the right channels. The marketing process is honed, which in turn makes the sales process more effective, in an ongoing virtuous circle.

For more information about how you can use CRM to help your sales and marketing teams work better together, download our report: Aligning Sales and Marketing for Business Success.

 

Download the whitepaper

Being in control of your business

being-in-control-of-your-business-big.pngFor most CEOs control is a key issue. They know where they want to take their organisation – most have a 12-18 month strategic development plan. They know what needs to happen for them to get there. The challenge for most is getting control over the organisation to make it happen.

 

At its core this is an issue about visibility. If you know what is happening in your organisation you can make decisions about what to do. This happens across many different parts of the organisation. You need to understand:

  • What level and type of investments in sales and marketing will grow your business.
  • Where you incur operational costs and where these can be brought down.
  • The strategic decisions that are best for your business.

If a CEO can get visibility on all those topics they will be able to have a positive impact on shareholder value. And for many organisations, CRM is a key tool in achieving that visibility and control. Indeed when we recently surveyed UK SMEs, 70% already used CRM – and more than 60% of those who didn’t were planning to roll it out at some point in the near future.

 

CRM gives them insight into their customers – who they are and what they want. This information allows them to make decisions that affect the customer experience. It may be that there is no strategic imperative to improve the customer experience, or it may be the key to unlocking the future of the organisation. Whatever it is, CRM gives the CEO control over it.

Equally it allows them to see which salespeople are delivering, which marketing campaigns produce results, which products sell, which channels are effective, and so on. It arms the CEO with facts, so that they can make investment decisions confident of the outcomes it will produce. 

 

Aside from customer retention, growth and acquisition, the other primary lever the CEO has for controlling the business is operational costs. While 66% of respondents to our survey said improving the productivity of customer-facing employees was the primary benefit of CRM, and 62% pointed to enhanced customer experience, 49% said reducing operational costs. It’s an increasingly important benefit for CRM users.

If you know where you are spending money, you can make decisions on how to spend it most efficiently. CRM gives you that knowledge – that control. More and more CEOs are recognising this, and are using CRM to gain control of their organisations. Find out how in our whitepaper: CRM to Grow your Business – A Guide for Management. 

Download the whitepaper

CRM to drive revenue growth

crm-to-drive-revenue-growth-big.pngRevenue is the lifeblood of every organisation and so it is a key metric for all senior executives. CRM helps drive revenue growth by enabling you to optimise the investment you make in sales and marketing, and by giving you a better understanding of who your customers are and what they want.

 

icon-for-sales.pngFirstly it allows you to identify issues with your sales and marketing activity. It gives you a clear view of whether your investment in the sales and marketing people you hire and the marketing campaigns you run are delivering the results you need. 

It allows you to compare the performance of salespeople and teams, spotting those who are not delivering and then providing the appropriate interventions. It allows you to easily see which routes to market are not working well and take steps to address the problem. It may be that some of your products are less competitive than others, or marketing campaigns that perform worse than others – once you know this you can pinpoint issues, take steps to address them and target spending in the right places.

On the flip side of this, it allows you to identify opportunities. It shows you the high performing salespeople, the successful routes to market, the products flying out the door, and the marketing campaigns producing stellar results. Armed with this knowledge you can increase investment in those areas and look to replicate their success across the business.

 

icon-for-customer.pngFor most organisations tackling these two aspects of internal performance will significantly boost revenue growth. However there is a third way CRM can contribute. Ultimately growth in sales results from delivering value to your customers and giving them a reason to purchase from you instead of the competition. By far the best way to achieve this is to get to know them and understand their needs.

This involves a deep understanding of what sets your company apart from its competitors, what makes people loyal or disloyal to you, the trends that will affect you customers and business – and the ones that are already doing so. 

Most businesses have this information in patchy, unstructured ways. CRM prompts you to gather this information from your customers, and to store it a single, easily accessed place. It then allows you to segment, crunch and analyse the data to provide actionable insights. 

 

This combination of improved internal performance and detailed customer analysis, is the foundation of revenue growth. Get it right and the effect can be transformative – and for many organisations the first step to doing so is to implement a CRM solution. 

To find out how CRM can help you gain more control over your business, read our whitepaper: CRM to Grow your Business – A Guide for Management. 

Download the whitepaper

How to be agile and drive efficiency

be-agile-lg.jpgThe most successful businesses are agile, they are efficient, and they seamlessly synchronise the vital functions of marketing, sales and customer service, presenting a unified and coordinated front to customers.

The only sustainable way to achieve this level of synchronisation is by building all three functions on the same solid foundation: an integrated CRM platform that connects everything and everyone, making it easier for teams to work together, to share knowledge and to anticipate issues.

But how does a CRM solution such as Workbooks add agility and efficiency to each of these important functions?

crm-for-marketing.pngCRM for marketing – CRM gives you the tools to execute your marketing strategy and measure ROI, whatever the channels.  With Workbooks you can prioritise your marketing resources efficiently, ensuring your sales teams follow up the leads most likely to convert. It provides details about who visited your website and what pages they viewed. It helps you to manage your marketing team’s day-to-day workload better. And it gives you instant access to key information, such as campaign return on investment, lead volumes by source, and lead conversion.

Every interaction with a prospect furthers your business intelligence as you capture knowledge, map relationships, segment your data and tailor your communication to improve the overall customer experience.

crm-for-sales.pngCRM for sales – Workbooks helps you to capture the knowledge you need to improve sales prospecting, helping you manage opportunities better, drive up conversion rates and share best practice.

It improves your insight into your sales pipeline and performance, helping you refine the sales process and optimise each sales cycle so your sales team can forecast more effectively.

CRM can get quite granular when tracking sales and account teams performance – How active is each sales rep?  Are leads followed up and within what timeframe?  How many meetings, emails and calls are taking place?  With CRM you can see where development is required and focus your training and coaching, significantly enhancing the abilities of your salesforce.

crm-for-cust.pngCRM for customer service – Workbooks puts all the information you need in one place, making it easier to manage customer service cases. Your teams will get better at spotting common problems and recurring issues, which saves your business money and improves customer satisfaction.

You can host online self-service from your CRM platform too, helping customers to find their own solutions and thus freeing up your service team to concentrate on higher value activities. Over time, CRM builds an increasingly detailed picture of agent skills and knowledge, enabling the automatic routing of cases to the agent best qualified to resolve them.

 

To find out more on how your Marketing, Sales and Customer Service teams can be agile and drive greater efficiency read our Management Guide – CRM to grow your business.

 

 

Are you in control of your business?

There are two fundamental ways to achieve the growth that all businesses depend on: increasing revenues and reducing costs. To influence either of these key measures you need clear visibility of what’s happening in your business – and that’s where CRM comes in.

Turning data into intelligence

CRM helps you track and segment information about your customers and your market – and then turn that information into valuable business intelligence that will help you grow. 

It informs your thinking about what sets your company apart and how you can secure brand loyalty, helping you to stay ahead of the curve in your efforts to give your customers what they need. 

quote-1.pngBy tracking KPIs, performance, stages of the sales cycle, qualified-out opportunities and more, CRM gathers the sort of information that helps you make better decisions. When you have the power to interrogate data from across the business, glean patterns and trends or identify issues, you obtain insights that drive innovative thinking. 

The way CRM supports decision-making is best summed up by one of our clients, Nathan Aspin, Managing Director of Aspin, which make sales order processing apps. He says: “It allows me to understand what is working well and what needs attention. This helps me focus my time on what matters, where my input is required and where I can add value. I get a clear view on quotes, and so am able to confidently forecast what is coming in and can plan resource more accurately”. 

Improving agility, efficiency and effectiveness

CRM gives you agility and efficiency across marketing, sales and customer service. 

marketing-2.png   Marketing:

CRM helps with customer profiling and targeting, gathering business intelligence, and running email campaigns and events. It enables you to prioritise your marketing resource effectively, ensuring your sales teams follow up the leads most likely to convert. It helps you to deliver campaigns on time and it captures key campaign information.

sales.png   Sales:

CRM helps you manage opportunities better, driving up conversion rates. It improves your insight into your sales pipeline and performance, helping you refine your sales process and optimise each sales cycle. You can deliver professional quotations in minutes and turn quotes into orders with a single click. It will automate lower-value interactions, freeing up sales and account teams to focus on higher value interactions. It will automatically notify account managers when contracts and subscriptions are up for renewal too, helping to prevent any nasty surprises at renewal time. 

marketing-1.png   Customer Service:

CRM puts the information your customer service teams need in one place, helping them to track and manage support tickets and manage cases. They’ll get better at spotting common problems and recurring issues. You’ll also be able to use your CRM platform to host online self-service, posting solutions to common problems for customers to quickly and easily find their own solutions, freeing up your service team to concentrate on higher value activities. 

Reduce costs

Reducing costs in your business doesn’t have to take a lot of time or even a lot of effort. In many cases, it’s about making smarter choices when deciding where to invest.

You’ll be able to dispense with any redundant legacy systems – and the costs associated with them. The detailed view CRM gives you of individual customers and their purchasing history can lower your production costs by helping you only produce what you know there will be demand for. Use it properly and your CRM will also cut admin costs – including stationery, travel and reporting. 

Take control of your business

1.pngMore and more business leaders understand the benefits of CRM and an increasing number of them are implementing it to get more control over their businesses. When we recently surveyed UK SMEs, 70% already used CRM – and more than 60% of those who didn’t were planning to roll it out at some point in the near future.

Most CRM users cite contact management, opportunity management, sales analytics and forecasting, lead generation, workflow management and customer service as the primary functions of the system.

Modern businesses need CRM to flourish – even to survive. CRM gives you visibility of your business, it allows you to take control over it like never before, and that gives you more power over your own destiny. 

For more information about how Workbooks can help you gain more control over your business, read our whitepaper: CRM to Grow your Business – A Guide for Management. 

 

Download the whitepaper

CRM and the virtuous profit and costs circle

For all the complexity associated with running a business, there are a few simple rules that never change. One of the simplest of all is this: if a business wants to flourish and keep its shareholders happy, it must push profitability up and costs down.

The rule might be simple, but every business owner knows how hard it is to stay on top of it amid the controlled chaos of the average working day. With so much to think about, it’s too easy to lose focus on the factors that influence these key measures. But CRM can help, by offering an uncluttered view of how well your business is working.

 

Clarity on costs

1.pngCRM offers clarity on the cost of running your business – helping you figure out how your teams can do more for less. It helps you understand what sort of return you’re getting on your investment in sales and marketing and the real cost of customer acquisition, informing your decisions about what to spend money on and how to optimise resources.

Are you as clear as you need to be about your customer lifetime value? Do you know how to improve it? CRM helps you define more clearly your ideal, most profitable customers and how best to manage them.

The other crucial metric CRM keeps you focused on is service cost. You need to know exactly how much it costs to service your customer throughout their life cycle and CRM helps by tracking and measuring engagement, touch points and customer enquiries, calculating exactly how much it’s all costing and helping to guide your strategy decisions.

Think too about the internal workings of your company. How much time and money are you wasting through poor processes, inefficiency, or low staff productivity? With CRM, you can substantially improve and streamline processes, embed best practices and reduce inefficiencies throughout your business.

If you run a B2B services business, the cost of acquiring and managing clients is a significant overhead. You need to understand those metrics and CRM is an invaluable tool to help you keep on top of this, by tracking lead numbers and understanding your lead-to-conversion performance.

 

Working smarter, not harder

2.pngReducing business costs doesn’t have to take a lot of time or even a lot of effort. In many cases, it’s about making smarter choices when deciding where to invest. CRM informs those choices.

By automating and simplifying processes, CRM frees up your staff to spend time focusing on what will deliver the most value. You’ll be able to ditch redundant legacy systems – and the costs associated with them. You’ll be able to predict demand more accurately thanks to the detailed view it gives you of individual customers and their purchasing history. That means you only produce what you know there’s demand for, thus lowering your production costs. CRM will also cut admin costs – including stationery, travel and reporting. 

As CRM improves your customer experience, your customer satisfaction will also climb. Then your customers themselves can turn into a marketing asset as volumes of referrals and word-of-mouth advocacy grow.

Download our Whitepaper, CRM to Grow your Business: A Guide for Management, to find out how you can achieve tighter cost control, more informed decision-making, slicker operations, better service and, ultimately, happier customers. 

 

Download the whitepaper