Entertaining customers is a beloved sales tradition, but dinner invitations and ballgames only go so far. What happens when a customer gets a better offer from your competitor? At some point, you must show him the real value in working with you.
Making a sale is just one event in the entire customer relationship. The better we can manage everything else that goes on– maintaining good communication, responding quickly to questions or bid requests, paying attention to details–the stronger the relationship becomes. There are many ways to leverage technology and demonstrate clear customer benefits, such as increased revenue and lower cost of doing business.
Recently Clyde Companies, based in Orem, Utah, took a significant step in this direction by updating the customer relationship management (CRM) system used by its subsidiaries, Geneva Rock Products and Sunroc. Over six months, the ready-mix sales teams have moved from a generalized software program to a system tailored to their unique quote-to-cash pipeline, and the specific needs of their customers.
“We recognized the importance of mobility and simplicity,” says LaNette Andrews, systems manager for Clyde Companies. “So we wanted our sales group to have one application that would seamlessly provide CRM functionality and access to key business information.” The new CRM solution incorporates Clyde’s dispatch and telematics data, and is cloud-based, so users can retrieve and enter customer data from cell phones and tablets.
Before the new software was deployed, Andrews clearly defined the priorities, intentions, and business processes it would support, including process improvements. “A successful CRM system implementation also requires both management and sales support,” she says. “User input is essential to ensuring the solution is inclusive, and that it’s adopted.”
Clyde reviewed customer contact data to ensure accuracy before importing it into a new system. Several employees tested the new CRM system for two weeks. As the old system was phased out, sales teams were trained on the new technology. “It’s important that users recognize this as an essential tool that makes their jobs easier,” says Andrews. “We want our sales group to be able to focus on sales rather than system use.”
Now salespeople record customer meetings, phone calls, and emails in a mobile app, and sales managers receive reports on these activities; some of which are tied to sales performance incentives. Users can track giveaways and specific meeting topics, such as product promotions. The app generates alerts when it’s time to follow up on a project or schedule a visit.
By improving internal processes and providing better access to timely information, Clyde has equipped its representatives to respond more quickly and accurately to customers’ needs. When those customers are choosing a materials provider, Geneva Rock and Sunroc feel they have a distinct advantage.
While digital tools and communications are gaining popularity, there is no substitute for personal contact – especially in this industry. A tailored CRM system helps maintain the balance between digital tools and the personal touch. If handled right, technology can enhance customer relationships by making producers more effective partners.