Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors
August 4, 2016  |  ByMark Dancer, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow
NAW-Top 10 Benefits of Adopting a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)

1. Manage customer contact information. Perhaps the most basic of benefits, CRM helps salespeople create and maintain a database of customer information from basic information about names and positions, to personal information about business goals, professional affiliations, and family members.

2. Manage sales pipeline or territory results. CRM has the potential to transform a salesperson from order taker to opportunity manager by reflecting each distributor’s process for developing opportunities or optimizing a territory and tracking progress across a phased approach.

3. Provide access to customer data for salespeople. More than one wholesaler-distributor admitted that salespeople often wing it when the time comes to visit a customer, answer a customer question, or solve a customer problem. A more generous description of this reality is to believe that salespeople act on experience and judgment gained over many years.

4. Provide data for coaching by sales managers. From a best-practice perspective, sales managers should spend at least 50% of their time coaching salespeople.

Benefits of Adopting a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)
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5. Improve handling of leads and prospects. Developing new accounts and finding new sales opportunities are time-consuming and frequently low-yield processes. When sales results are going well, lead generating and prospecting are neglected, resulting in a complete lack of momentum when new business efforts have greater urgency.

6. Automate reports for salespeople and management. One of the most immediate effects of CRM is the ability to create up-to-date dashboards and reports that are both standard and customizable.

7. Provide data for management decisions. Sooner or later, experienced users of CRM live by two rules: (1) no decisions can be made without real and current data and (2) only data that comes from CRM can be used for decision making. Combined, these two dictates can have a profound effect on decisions made by an organization’s leaders. Customer priorities are up front and center.

8. Execute marketing programs through salespeople. More and more, executives told us they are working to achieve a healthy collaboration between marketing and sales. New levels of internal collaboration are becoming a priority for building a high-performing sales organization.

9. Optimize product mix sold to customers. On the margin, the primary tools for influencing discretionary sales efforts are sales incentives and marketing programs, including advertising. Incentives work because salespeople are naturally achievement-oriented, and compensation is the ultimate measure of success.

10. Improve accuracy of sales forecasts. One of my favorite quotes, attributable to Laurence J. Peter, formulator of the Peter Principle, is, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” In the street vernacular of sales planning, a similar outcome is described by “garbage in, garbage out.”

Adapted from Getting the Most Out of CRM: Best Practices for Wholesaler-Distributors

The full study delivers sage advice from CRM-experienced distributors, and it will help you avoid common mistakes, minimize frustration, and achieve the full potential of CRM for your business.

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Mark Dancer, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow

Mark Dancer, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow

Mark Dancer founded the Network for Business Innovation to drive awareness, advocacy and excellence for B2B innovation, and to enable an exchange of ideas between leaders on business transformation, technology adoption, social impact and community engagement. For more than 30 years, Mark has worked with leading companies to achieve go-to-market excellence across a wide range of industries in developed and emerging markets.

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