Monthly Archives: April 2013

Why link CRM and Accounting Systems?

As I have mentioned before, one of my favourite “quick wins” for a business is connecting up their accounting system (be it MYOB, Quickbooks (now Reckon Accounts in Australia).There’s so much benefit in doing this, I thought it deserved a post of it’s own.

Get data to the sales team

If you already have an accounting system, you’ll have a whole array of customer data – names, addresses – what you sold & when you sold it.  You’ll know the total sales value for customers, margins, profits and a whole heap more.

This data can be provided to the sales team – in summary form if preferred – or in detail too.

CRM+Accounting

Streamline Account Setup

In most businesses the customer hits CRM first (it’s a lead or opportunity) and then, at some stage (either when an account is requested or the first sale made) it needs to be sent to the accounting system.   By linking CRM and your accounting software, the transfer can be performed with a single click – no waiting for accounts, and no giving sales team access to your MYOB/Quickbooks.

One Master Product List

Do you have an excel price list, MYOB/Quickbooks price list, shopping cart price list and CRM price list ?   Are they in Sync?    With CRM linked to your accounting system, you maintain your prices in one place and they can be shared with the other systems as needed.

Implement “Missing” Features

One of the great benefits of linking your Tall Emu CRM to your accounting system is you’re able to implement missing business features.   For example – we have implemented an automated invoice reminder system – which can automatically remind people when invoices are overdue, or schedule calls to them.

Take orders efficiently

What’s your order-taking process like ?   With CRM and Accounting system linked up, you can create the quote – sale – invoice – collect payment using eWay – and transfer the whole lot to the accounting system of your choice.

Targeted Marketing

What blog post would be complete without the good old “find all the people who bought X but not Y and send them an email”?

Using the data from your accounting system opens up a whole array of possibilities for you.

5 ways to make your CRM project successful

I read a headline somewhere on the internet that a huge number of (other people’s) CRM projects fail.   Having done a large number of custom software development and CRM projects over the years, I thought that I would share some of the things I’ve learned.

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Many articles on the internet are targeted at companies with huge CRM budgets – corporates, rolling out to hundreds or thousands of people – this one is focused more on the smaller end of town where there aren’t million dollar CRM budgets.

While there’s obviously a lot more detail in a successful CRM implementation these five key points have served me well over the years.

1. Why even implement CRM?

Why are you implementing CRM ?  What are the specific outcomes you are looking to achieve from it ?  Do you know ?   Can you articulate them ?

I don’t mean “we want to maintain a 360 degree view of the customer and optimise our marketing outcomes” or other such nonense but actual concrete outcomes you want to receive as a result of your CRM implementation.

These can be as simple as  “we don’t have a shared customer database” or “we actually don’t know who our best customers are” or “everything is currently on paper/in excel“.

If you know what you want to achieve you have a direction and you can make a plan, and you can measure if it’s working.

2. Get Management buy-in

If you are management, you can skip right to step 3 – but in all cases the management of the company need to be on board, and commit to change and to support the process as it moves forward.

There will be users who may be resistant to change, and management need to make sure that this is managed.  There will be challenges – management will have to maintain support as they are overcome.

Implementing a CRM is not just “install, train, done” – if done correctly it is a long-term ongoing strategic process which is continously refined and adds value to your business – and management needs to treat it this way if they are to achieve the maximum value from the investment.

That doesn’t mean forking over money constantly to the CRM vendor or consultant – but rather, keeping an eye on the tools and processes used in the business and what can be done better if the cost/benefit analysis makes sense.

3. Get buy-in from the users

If the people who use the system on a day to day basis buy into the concept they will forgive the inevitable bumps in the road, oversights or mistakes.

We can get the users to buy-in to CRM by giving them some benefit that makes their life easier – this could be as simple as “now I can see data!” through to things like removing tiresome repetitive tasks, automating follow up tasks or easing the production of reports that used to take a long time.

Every user has itches that need scratching – find what’s irritating your users and what would make their lives easier and get it on the plan.   If your CRM implementation is top-heavy with management requirements (“gather me data so I can have reports”) then you run the risk of not having user buy-in and having to enforce the use of CRM rather than users self-police.
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4. Make a plan – but don’t be afraid to adapt

Make a plan and try to achieve some quick wins.  One of my favourite quick-wins is linking CRM to the accounting system:

  • You expose your invoice history to the sales team,
  • You remove duplicate data entry (data from CRM gets transferred back to accounts), and
  • You get efficiency improvements due to not handing bits of paper or email around.

If your planned implementation doesn’t hit all the right buttons, don’t worry – adapt the plan and try again.

5. Take Control

There’s nobody that knows more about your business than you – and while your CRM consultant may know CRM and how to apply it, at the end of the day it’s still your business. The consultant is there to guide you and make recommendations, not to prescribe how you should run your business.

With all my clients, they typically start off asking “is this possible” and “could we do that”.  Given a little time (as little as a few weeks, sometimes a few months) the conversation changes – the client understands the CRM and the possibilities and asks “how do I do this” or “how long would it take you and how much would it cost to do this

 

 

 

11 Reasons you might need a CRM

critical-thinking

  1. Leads are lost and / or are not followed up
  2. Your marketing people do not know what products and services to sell to prospects
  3. Do not know the status or next steps required for a lead or a case matter to proceed
  4. Customer information is not available in one centralized place
  5. Employees do not know what products or services customers have purchased
  6. Employees do not know who to contact when a customer issue arises
  7. Customer issues are not resolved in a timely manner
  8. Reports are not available that tell employees how the business is performing
  9. Orders are often taken on paper, email and fax
  10. Customer service agents repeatedly re-create the same resolution to a problem
  11. Employees have data in excel spreadsheet (xls) that don’t get shared or are a pain to maintain.

A list of 11 reasons why a business might need a CRM

critical-thinking

  1. Leads are lost and / or are not followed up
  2. Your marketing people do not know what products and services to sell to prospects
  3. Do not know the status or next steps required for a lead or a case matter to proceed
  4. Customer information is not available in one centralized place
  5. Employees do not know what products or services customers have purchased
  6. Employees do not know who to contact when a customer issue arises
  7. Customer issues are not resolved in a timely manner
  8. Reports are not available that tell employees or business owners how the business is performing
  9. Orders are often taken on paper, email and fax so are not shared or could be lost
  10. Customer service agents repeatedly re-create the same resolution to a problem
  11. Employees have their own data in excel spreadsheet (xls) that don’t get shared or are a pain to maintain and can’t be reported on.

7 NEW Ways “Customer Care” can be automated using CRM

 1)      Auto responder

Any contact with your business through a web form, can have an automated response created using Tall Emu CRM (TE CRM). No need to use a third party plug-in and your customer gets an instant message to acknowledge their interest. You can also add links or attach a PDf, which might give more information relating to their enquiry. There’s nothing like a good first impression.

2)      Web form posting direct to CRM

TE CRM enables you to create your own web forms and when these are pasted into your website will automatically post the data directly into your CRM. This can be configured to alert the right people within your company so they can respond.

 3)      Automate follow-up.

The time between lead or customer contact and the follow-up can make all the difference between a successful sale and a lost opportunity. In TE CRM you are able to create an automated follow-up process.  This can be done by personalised email, fax or SMS to the lead or a reminder sent to the sales person to give them a call.

 4)      Share data amongst all parts of the business (where appropriate).

This enables the customer’s contact history to be available to all the people within the organisation.  So now when a customer calls, there is no excuse for a call not to be responded to in a personalised way.

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 5)      Dynamic Segmentation or Dynamic list building

This automatically and continually adds people to a list that has segmentation rules set. An example of this would be renewals. You could set a rule that says 30 day before a renewal date is due, an email gets sent to the client informing them that it time for renew. As this is automatic, not one customer will gets left out.  If this was a mission critical service, like software or web-hosting or insurance cover, then this prompt would save a lot of heart ache. The application of this feature is endless.

6)      Ring Ring “Good morning Mr Smith, I am David, how can I help you”

We support over 30 PBXs that can be integrated with TECRM.  This means when a customer calls your company the CRM will tell your staff who is calling. The inbound call triggers the customers call screen to open. Even better who took the call and how long it went for will be automatically recorded.  No more relying on your staff to do the initial data entry of this customer interaction.  The call screen pop-up can be configured so that it requires a comment on the nature of the call or a selection made from a drop-down.

7)      Tailored your communication to a New Lead

Your customer’s history is now in the CRM and with that you can segment and tailor the way you interact with them. But how do you do the same thing with a new lead that has only filled in your enquiry form or download an eBook?

Using our website tracking technology we collect depersonalised data on every visitor’s interaction on our websites but as soon as they fill in a web form they make that data personal. It can tell you where they found you i.e.  Google AdWords or direct or by what keyword, and the pages they visited and how long they spent. You now have talking points when you get on the phone. You can even use this insight to ear mark them for a future email marketing campaign.

Using Excel to run your business ?

One thing we see a lot of is companies using Excel to run their business.  This post is going to talk about the appropriate use of Microsoft Excel in business, which really I can summarise in two points:

What is Excel good at?
Financial calculations, and viewing CSV files.

What should you never, ever use Excel for?
Everything else.

We’ve seen companies using Excel to manage invoices, timesheets, list of leads, opportunities, quoting, billing, scheduling – you name it, we’ve seen it – and while the people doing this may be really smart, they’re using Excel when they should be using another tool – a database.  Once they’ve been shown another way, the response is always the same: This is so much easier!

Now this broad sort of analysis is likely to have some Excel experts in tears.  “But, but, youcan make Excel do lots of stuff if you know what you’re doing with it” – you can also use a kazoo to make music :)

Let’s talk about Excel and Databases

A lot of people manage lists of data in Excel; For example, all of the “January” sales are in a spreadsheet called “JanuarySales2008.xls”, and so on with “February2008″ and thru to the end of the year.

Invoices to a customer might be in a spreadsheet called “Invoices” and quotes or timesheets all in separate documents. By the time it’s February 2011, you’ve a lot of data in a lot of spreadsheets.

On the surface, this looks great. There are some limitations though;  the data is not stored flexibly,  so it’s hard to use it for the purpose other than which you initially intended – and only one user can update that spreadsheet at a time.

If you’re not quite sure what a database is, the simplest way to visualise it is a collection of Excel worksheets.  One contains customers. One contains invoices. One contains quotes – except all of them are cross-referenced (so you never type the customer details twice) and the other benefit is – a database is immediately and flexibly searchable.

That means you can ask your database  “Show me all of the invoices for January 2007” and you’ll see them.  Or, “show me all of the invoices issued by Tall Emu, between 2006 and 2011 that were created by Mike Nash” – and you will have them in a second.

If we compare back to our Excel solution above, consider when you need to do a report of the same nature.  How do you do it?    In Excel, you have 12 spreadsheets to review and work with.  In a database, you’d have one place to look and filter to get this information out.  There’s an immediacy of access to data, versus a lot of copy and paste.

How does this apply to CRM?

Any CRM is built on at least two parts.  The first is a database – this is just a big bucket of facts.  This customer has this postal address. This invoice was issued on 1st January 2011. This product currently costs $100.

The second part is the user interface; the program that you actually use to create, update and report on facts.   The more flexible and powerful the user interface, the easier it is to store, centralise and manage and your data.

The CRM system could be said to provide at it’s simplest level a pre-made database that allows you to store all of this information in a sensible way, to share it, to to work with, update, process and report on it.

To continue with the example above, if I wanted a report of “All of the invoices issued by Tall Emu, between 2006 and 2011 that were created by Mike Nash” – I’d search for this in CRM (a few clicks), and then right-click export it to Excel to work on the analysis of it.

Of course, TE CRM does much more than this – it interacts with marketing systems, accounting systems like MYOB interface and  Quickbooks interface are supported – but hopefully, this gives you an idea that there is a better way than Excel.