Required Reading: The Evolution of the CRM Value Proposition
Ask industry pundit Paul Greenberg virtually anything about the CRM industry and he'll provide you with a solid answer. Much of this knowledge is packed into his latest book, CRM at the Speed of Light: Essential Customer Strategies for the 21st Century
, 3rd Edition (McGraw-Hill). Greenberg chronicles the evolution of CRM, and explains how to increase customer value, resolve customer problems, and keep the customer service personal so customers keep coming back. CRM magazine spoke to Greenberg about these issues.
: How can any business create a truly customer-focused environment?
Each industry and each company has a unique set of customers or potential customers. What CRM can do for that is provide a company with an effect, an individual-customer profile on how you need to provide value to your customers and how to understand and get value from your customers so you can effectively allocate your resources. As long as you've got a customer, you've got an opportunity.
: How do companies get insight into their customers?
: In today's business market, customers need a personalized experience as something necessary to retain them. To provide that without giving the customer a hug or kiss, you need to know a lot about them. Whether you gather this information by offering them incentives, or getting it at time of purchase, the key is you gather as much personal information as you can. Then you have to take this data and figure out what is the best possible thing you could do for this individual. You also have to figure out how much value this individual is going to provide you over time. The problem is that it takes a great deal of time, data, real-time activity, and storage to do that. It's a huge job, but it's doable if you have the CRM tools and strategy to do it.
Other Page Turners:
A sales presentation can be perfect, but that doesn't ensure success, according to Patricia Gardner. In The Million Dollar Sale: How to Get to the Top Decision Makers and Close the Big Sale in Just Two Calls (McGraw-Hill), Gardner describes the key to closing the deal as adopting a team sales approach that brings every facet of the company into the sales equation. Equally as important is getting to know the Codebreakers--the salespeople from noncompeting firms already doing business with your clients. Finding them, knowing them, and working them are central to landing those bank-busting deals.
One of the most important forces behind a B2B purchase is value. Jeff Thull, founder and CEO of Prime Resources Group, says it's important not only for companies to realize the importance of value, but to match the value a company promises a customer to the value that's delivered. In his bookThe Prime Solution: Close the Value Gap, Increase Margins, and Win the Complex Sale (Dearborn Trade Publishing), Thull provides readers with the five most common barriers to realizing value, and offers the solutions that any part of a company can use to provide that value to its customers.