We hear technology experts talk about “CRM” or Customer Relationship Management as a critical part of any company’s sales strategy. Harvard Business Review reported that companies who implement CRM increased sales 10% to 30% on average! After all, it is where GreatVines got its start and a core part of our solution. These days we more regularly refer to “Sales Execution & Management” which involves creating objectives, setting goals and tracking highly specific sales activities in the field then measuring the actual impact of these activities. We even published an eBook called “Executing With Excellence” which covers the benefits of the fully integrated approach, and highlights basic CRM as 1 of 5 critical steps.
It may seem daunting for a startup, or even established brands, to go from email, spreadsheets or even paper to our sophisticated tools and analytics supporting an entirely new sales methodology. So let us put aside objectives, goals and fancy reports for a second. Let’s focus on some simple things your team can start doing immediately to improve customer and key account relationships across your entire organization. You should be able to present and train your sales team on these core concepts in only 30 minutes.
1. Enter 2 or 3 Contacts for each Account – We don’t need an entire life history here but it is pretty simple to capture the First and Last name of the decision maker at each key account. With today’s busy schedules, it doesn’t hurt to get a phone number either, since often a mobile phone will be the most effective way to reach someone. If you have or can get a business card, you should also record their email address. Almost all Direct-to-Consumer communications is managed today by email, why not email marketing to trade influencers? Bonus points to the sales professional who goes the extra mile and records the Contact’s spouse, birthdate, favorite product, activity, hobby or sports team.
Jonathan Green, Owner
Wife and 3 kids, loves Sparkling wine
2. Schedule events using an integrated calendar – Listen, I know you love your Franklin Day Planner, and have used it at every step of your career since college. Unfortunately these notebooks are impossible to search quickly. Want to know how long it has been since you last engaged with a customer, or remember where the secret entrance to some hotel bar is? If you already use Outlook or Gmail calendaring, simply integrate it with GreatVines using one of the many plug-ins or tools. However the critical piece is linking these calendar events to your Accounts. This way you have a complete history each time you look at their record.
Account Visit: September 14th, 2-3pm
Location: Rear hallway next to gift shop
Review visit history and notes
3. Enter a brief summary of each interaction – With GreatVines we talk about the importance of the “Account Visit” but we still conduct a lot of business by phone and email, outside of the Account. Unless you have a complex configuration, recording these interactions are as simple as clicking “Log A Call”, selecting the Contact you interacted with (or quickly creating one) and typing in one or two sentences. Selecting a call “Type” can also be helpful in the future to differentiate between phone calls and a more engaged visit. Many reps simply dismiss call logging as only useful to their superiors. Truly effective reps realize these call summaries are key to maintaining a seamless, long term relationship with your buyers, who after all, are some of your most important brand ambassadors. Try to build continuity between visits by building off your notes or summary of the last visit!
Log A Call: Account Visit
Date: September 14th, 2pm
Contact: Jonathan Green
Notes: Spring promotion was a success. Wants to bring 500ml Cherry in November. Bring POS next visit.
4. Audit and update Account fields regularly – While this may sound complex, it really isn’t. Most of our customers get their Account data fed by an ERP system or third-party provider such as Nielsen or VIP. However this usually has only a limited set of information that truly describes the Account. You and your team likely spent a lot of time defining attributes you wish to see on each Account. Make it a priority to look at these fields each time you visit and make edits as needed. Is the store size accurate? Did they add a coldbox next to the entrance? Is this a good account to hold a promotional event? Keep it simple but keep it up to date! Outdated information is generally useless. Think of how easily you can target Accounts for future activities when the recorded attributes are accurate?
Account Format: Fine Dining (was Casual Dining)
Outlet Size: 2000-3000 sq feet
Delivery Day/Time: Thursday mornings
Consumer Demo: Gen X and Millenials
5. Create (and close) Follow-up Tasks – This one actually needs little to no explanation. How else do we keep track of all the day-to-day activities we must accomplish to “move the ball” forward with each Account or Customer? The important thing is to “Close” the tasks when they are done! Once the list of “Overdue” tasks pile up, we start ignoring the list entirely. Never let a task slip through the cracks!
Now you have accurate information on the Account itself, you know who you are meeting with, when you last met with them, what was discussed and what you may need to do next. This information should be used to improve your interactions with these customers and create new opportunities for growth. And always create the next calendar event or reminder task for your next interaction when you complete the last one, even if you don’t yet know when that is.
“Hi Jonathan, nice to see you. How are Stacy and the kids? How was your fishing trip? Last time we met we discussed a fall promo for Cherry. Can I have my marketing team follow-up with your staff? Also I brought the POS materials we discussed! Can we schedule a follow-up visit next month?”
Lastly if you are a sales manager, you are not off the hook! It is even more critical that managers participate in CRM training and use the system as often as possible. You need to lead by example and learn along with your team. Sales reps are less likely to go the extra mile if they don’t think you are engaged in the solution with them.