The right IT set-up is a tool that will help you achieve commercial success. More and more sales managers are starting to realise that software is essential if they want their department to achieve the best results. That's a start. We still see plenty of room for improvement at many companies, however, and tools that don't meet the requirements of today's account managers. Below are two situations I encounter in many organisations:
Situation 1: Additional features in the back office package also form the basis for the company's commercial activities.
Situation 2: Sales, marketing, and customer service all use a mishmash of apps and platforms, each of which holds a small piece of the solution.
The back office as a CRM tool
This first situation is something we come across in many of the more traditional companies. They have been using a back office tool to streamline the non-client-facing parts of their services for years. This might entail production, planning, or invoicing. The developers of these ERP packages are constantly working on increasing their profitability. As a result, they keep developing more and more features – to the extent that some companies are now even using these types of packages to manage their customer data.
As efficient as that may sound, the opposite is true. After all, what can you expect from a package that was basically developed as a quick and easy way of managing your administration when it comes to such things as marketing automation and email marketing? We all know the expression: "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is." This is certainly the case for these back office solutions: they don't offer sufficient additional options to be able to be used as a customer management tool, and they won't help your account managers achieve your commercial objectives.
A mishmash of applications
In newer, less established companies we see something else happening: an overkill of tools that gets crammed into the organisation in no time. A tool is brought in for online conversion, a second one for newsletters, a new app for database management, one for customer feedback, another one for marketing automation, and so on. As a result, each department starts developing its own toolbox. On their own, sales, marketing, and customer service may be able to keep this up, but when that company wants to link all those different data streams to gain more insights – that's a different kettle of fish. "We've sent out 1,000 e-mails, how many deals do they generate, and how many of those new customers are still satisfied after six months?" When you have all these various tools that hardly talk to each other, answering such a simple question can become quite complicated.
How to optimise your commercial process
Does our IT solution provide the right insights? Does this particular way of working result in more qualified leads, in more deals? And does it attract and retain the right kind of customers? These are questions every company should ask itself. And if you're unsure about the answer, have a chat with a fellow entrepreneur who is a bit ahead of you when it comes to optimising their process, thanks to the state-of-the-art software they're using. What matters is that you have access to data that helps you perform better. Data that helps you optimise your commercial process and tells you which settings to tweak to close more deals. This is the key benefit of having the right IT tools and something a mishmash of applications or a back office tool with a few additional features will never be able to offer you.