Delivering for Best-in-Class Wholesaler-Distributors
September 8, 2016  |  ByMark Dancer, NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence Fellow
NAW-Top 10 Guiding Principles for Designing Your CRM Selection Process

1. Pick a partner, not just a vendor. While it’s important to pick a CRM tool with appropriate features, it is also important to evaluate the CRM vendor’s business strategies and culture ….

2. Know your sales drivers. CRM delivers the best immediate value when it is aligned with the specific drivers that yield sales or profits for each wholesaler-distributor’s challenges and opportunities. One distributor stated that the pipeline tool was effective because the experience proved the salespeople could close nearly 75% of the deals that were properly proposed ….

3. Know your people. Almost without exception, salespeople were described as initially skeptical about CRM’s potential to improve sales results. Many saw CRM as a tool for management to look over their shoulders or as a time waster, requiring too much data entry. These attitudes should be expected. At launch, successful strategies are based on a deep understanding of salespeople ….

4. Know your sales process. Over and over, and over again, executives stated that CRM works best when a well-designed sales process is in place and is followed by salespeople. “CRM helps to orchestrate our efforts so that salespeople don’t skip steps and so that marketing and management are responsive to requests from salespeople,” said one wholesaler-distributor ….

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5. Plan for implementation support. CRM implementation requires work, and it’s important to plan for efforts that include integrating CRM with your systems and databases; aligning pipeline tools to your sales process and metrics; training salespeople, sales managers, and CRM users; and so on ….

6. Thoroughly explore reputations and references. Our research began with an online search for CRM vendors. We found more than 300 company names. A few claimed to be aligned with the needs of wholesaler-distributors, but we seldom found in-depth product literature or marketing materials to support significant understanding of wholesaler-distributor business models ….

7. Don’t obsess about return-on-investment. Cloud-based services offer user-based pricing for CRM software-as-a-service solutions. The advantage for wholesaler-distributors is that software maintenance and version control costs are typically included in the pricing, minimizing ongoing expenses ….

8. Consider the cloud. Many wholesaler-distributors find the traditional, on-premise approach for running software to be familiar and low risk. “We are concerned about our data quality and backup, so we want the software to run on our servers. As a wholesaler-distributor, our customer data is all we have to ensure we survive,” said an executive ….

9. Start small. Many CRM packages offer a wide range of features, but it’s important to start with those that are a best fit with each wholesaler-distributor’s specific sales effectiveness needs and opportunities. Also, many wholesaler-distributors find that CRM should not be launched with all salespeople from the very beginning ….

10. Require compliance. Despite the need to build credibility with salespeople, many executives share a common perspective, “At some point, not too far down the road, the use of CRM should become mandatory—a condition of employment.”

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.

Looking for more insights into how to design your CRM selection process?
Click on the image below to receive the full top 10 list of Guiding Principles for Designing Your CRM Selection Process.

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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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