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You thought you did everything right. You spent weeks, maybe even months researching CRM systems and picked out what you thought was the best system for your company. You launched this new system with all the hope in the world that it would go smoothly and all of your users would absolutely love it and comprehend how to use it effectively. But try as you might, it failed. WHY? Why did it fail after you put in all that hard work?

Listed below are 5 common mistakes made when implementing a new CRM system:

  1. The CRM failed to provide immediate value to the sales force.
    A CRM system must provide value to your sales team. If they view the system as a data entry tool that provides no immediate value, they will not use the system, causing the implementation to fail.
  2. You failed to identify all of the business processes that impact customer relationships.
    Before implementing a CRM software solution, you need to define your CRM strategy. What are the business processes that impact your customer relationships and how can you use software to manage those touch points?
  3. Your users could not identify clear goals to accomplish or definable metrics for success.
    What are your goals for your CRM implementation? What do you define as success? What is your timeline for determining if the project is successful? Without a plan, your implementation is destined to fail.
  4. You unknowingly let your IT department take the lead on the CRM project.
    While IT plays an important role in a CRM implementation, they should not have the lead role. A successful CRM implementation is led by someone within your organization who is familiar with your customer relationship management strategy, such as a sales or marketing leader.
  5. Failing to build a customer data integration strategy.
    Implementing software applications that are unable to communicate with each other creates islands of data, which diminishes effective communication and reduces efficiencies with your organization. Your goal should be to centralize customer data, not to compartmentalize it.

A large percent of CRM projects fails each year, leading people to believe that success in a Customer Relationship Management software implementation is unattainable. At Tour de Force, we have a 98% customer retention rate, proving that success is attainable. A successful CRM implementation can generate substantial returns. Payback within months and Return on Investment (ROI) of more than 100% is by no means impossible.  This cannot be accomplished, however, in an implementation that focuses on a set of generic best practices, or with a system that cannot be configured to match your specific business processes.


At Tour de Force, our CRM/BI system is everything you need it to be. We have strict implementation programs in place and a success team to help you every step of the way. And once you’re up and running we won’t stop holding your hand. We will be there through it all. Join us for one of our webinars to learn how Tour de Force can be the CRM/BI system you’ve longed for, or click here to read more on how to build a successful CRM strategy.

By: Cassandra Evans



CRM and sales management go hand in hand, and one without the other is typically not as successful as both pieces working together.  CRM systems make it much easier for a sales manager to effectively manage their sales team. While the sales manager needs a CRM system, the CRM system also needs the sales manager to fully buy-in to the use of the system in order to drive user adoption.

Tour de Force empowers salespeople to become better at managing their customers’ expectations.  With Tour de Force, your sales team spends their time selling and managing sales opportunities instead of tracking down information and putting out fires.

Here are the top 3 benefits of integrating CRM and sales management:

1. Easily set and track sales goals

Our Sales Planning Module allows you to set sales goals for your sales team and track progress on an individual, branch, region, territory, and/or company level.  The sales numbers are pulled directly from your company’s ERP system, saving managers and salespeople from time wasted filling out spreadsheets and reports.

Our Business Intelligence Summary shows run rates, goals, annualized % to goal, % to goal, and even next year goal! These metrics can be viewed at multiple reporting levels, from an individual sales person to a branch or region, even at an account level if your company sets goals specific to individual customers.

2. Optimize time management

Contrary to popular belief, CRM is not big brother!  Tour de Force provides a set of features that were developed to assist salespeople in becoming more efficient and more effective by reducing the amount of time spent on administrative tasks and streamlining their workflow.

Tour de Force is highly flexible and is mapped to your existing business processes during your implementation.  We work with sales management teams to identify your key objectives so that you are able to balance the features that are rolled out to your team.

3. Improve KPI (key performance indicator) tracking

Tour de Force makes it easy to create custom dashboards and scorecards that can be used to track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your sales team. Dashboards, reports, and scorecards can easily be accessed on the fly from within the Tour de Force Info Center, or they can be automatically sent out on a scheduled basis, ensuring that both managers and salespeople know if KPIs are being met.

To learn more about Tour de Force’s capabilities for sales management and sales teams, or to schedule a discussion about what Tour de Force might be able to do for your business, please Contact Us.

By: Ashley Parinello



In recent Forrester research (*), Forrester identified the biggest challenges to addressing customer management capabilities based on survey data. The top three challenges identified by this survey were:

  1. Creating a single view of customer data and information, cited by 47% of survey respondents
  2. Creating customer insight to drive decision-making, 41%
  3. Gaining cooperation across the organization to support customer management improvement efforts, 38%

Wholesale distributors, manufacturers and other leading B2B businesses who are already Tour de Force clients have had the advantage of addressing these key challenges head on from day 1, while others without Tour de Force have struggled mightily. So, how does Tour de Force address these challenges?

First, Tour de Force creates a consolidated, 360° view of all customer information, whether that data originates in Tour de Force or is gathered from external systems, including the client’s ERP and email systems. The level of integration Tour de Force provides with its customers’ ERP systems, which is unmatched in the industry, allows Tour de Force to import accounts, contacts, orders, quotes, invoices, inventory, and purchase orders, along with over 1000 analytical data points about customers and vendors every day. This, coupled with Tour de Force’s ability to automatically log all email associated with customers and vendors, and to make that information viewable in concert with other key customer data, enables clients to view all customer-related information in one common place, which is in Tour de Force.

Second, because Tour de Force goes beyond traditional CRM solutions delivering full business intelligence, or sales analysis and reporting, customers can utilize the analytical data noted above to view this information in scorecards and dashboards, to slice and dice this data in grids, and to receive and consume information via automatic alerts and notifications, either on the user’s home page or via email notifications. This combination of capabilities enables users to consume information in their own preferred ways.

Finally, Tour de Force enables cross-functional business process optimization. Clients can utilize these capabilities to manage areas such as quote to order processing, job and project management, case management and support, and more, which yields substantial overall improvement vs. utilizing a series of stove-piped solutions that don’t communication with each other.

This combination of capabilities helps Tour de Force clients overcome the three biggest challenges to addressing customer management capabilities, as identified by Forrester Research. For more information about Tour de Force or to schedule a discussion about what Tour de Force might be able to do for your business, please Contact Us.

(*) Source: Forrester Research, “Benchmark Against Best Practices to Optimize CRM Performance”

By: Dave Litzenberg



At Tour de Force, we have discussions all the time with sales executives and owners of small and mid-market wholesale distributors and manufacturers, along with sales and executive leadership from major divisions of large enterprises. Two years ago, the response we received when asking whether clients wanted to run their CRM solution on-premise vs. in the Cloud was overwhelmingly on-premise (roughly 95%+ of the time); however, we’ve seen that trend shift significantly since then. Over the past 3-6 months, we’ve been hearing 70%+ of the respondents say they are open to either option which makes most sense for their business, with those who have preference for Cloud CRM vs. on-premise running at roughly a ratio of 75-80% to 20-25%.

What are the main benefits of cloud CRM for clients as opposed to running their CRM solution on premise?

1. Accelerated time to value
By replacing the process of specifying, acquiring, and deploying on-premise IT server and storage with provisioning a comparable Cloud instance, the time to go from project kickoff to go live has accelerated by numerous weeks, which is variable depending on how readily available the client’s IT infrastructure team, if one exists, is to focus on this subject matter. In fact, there have been a number of instances where clients have had to delay projects altogether due to the lack of IT resource availability to focus on the project for an extended period of time.

2. Reduced involvement for IT resources
Because the IT infrastructure and application deployment are owned and maintained by the Cloud solution provider, who provisions what is necessary to support the client and performs application upgrades, the client’s IT resources, if any exist, are unneeded for these tasks. As a result, there isn’t a delay to wait on client IT resource availability to initiate or upgrade Cloud-based solutions.

3. Accelerated access to improved application functionality
Because the solution team’s resources have IT ownership for performing solution upgrades in the Cloud-based model, upgrades are performed on a more frequent basis with more consistent results than when relying on the client’s IT team to perform these tasks. As a result, Cloud solutions can be deployed in smaller functional increments than those that require more enhancements to be rolled up as a release when deployed by the client’s IT team in an on-premise solution model.

4. Improved speed of access, data security and business continuity
Because Cloud CRM solution providers have resources specifically trained in the disciplines of establishing and securing hosted IT infrastructure and associated network access and business continuity with access to the best solutions available in the market, most small and mid-market clients achieve a significant improvement in application performance, data security and business continuity as compared with running the solution on their own IT infrastructure, which requires internal or third-party IT personnel to plan and implement these solutions.

5. Reduced capital expense
There is major competition for capital funding in wholesale distribution and manufacturing companies, especially in the areas of upgrading facilities and equipment. Cloud-based software deployment, where the common software licensing model is based on subscription charges over time, is generally funded as an expense; whereas one-time perpetual software license charges, which has traditionally been the most common approach used for on-premise software deployment, typically requires capital funding.

Tour de Force, whose combined CRM, SFA and BI solution was purpose built for wholesale distribution and manufacturing, offers our clients a choice of running our industry-leading solution on-premise or in a hosted model with Tour de Force Cloud. Please contact us for more information on the benefits if Cloud CRM or to discuss a potential project.

Tour de Force Cloud

By: Dave Litzenberg



Tour de Force Cloud

FINDLAY, OH – March 16, 2016 — Tour de Force, Inc., the leading combined customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI) enterprise software solution provider for the distribution and manufacturing industries, today announced the release of Tour de Force Cloud.

Tour de Force Cloud is a web-based combined CRM and BI solution that provides analytics, reporting, and dashboards. The system integrates with a client’s existing ERP/business system to extract ERP data and pre-calculate over 1,000 key data points about each customer, every single day – to transform raw sales data into actionable reports and analytics, which can be put directly into the hands of a sales team. This actionable data can be used to identify trends, optimize business processes, and ultimately, increase sales and revenues. In addition to providing a full range of business intelligence functionality, Tour de Force Cloud also provides accelerated tools for managing relationships with customers, prospects, vendors and more, including Account and Contact management, and automatic Email Logging without the need for manual user interaction.

“Since 2001, we have been focused on providing a robust software solution that offers customer relationship management, sales force automation, and business intelligence, along with many other advanced enterprise features,” remarked Matt Hartman, President/CEO of Tour de Force, Inc. “While the Tour de Force on-premise Enterprise solution meets the needs of many organizations, we realized we weren’t meeting the needs of organizations who were looking for a software solution that doesn’t require servers within the four walls of their company. The great thing about Tour de Force Cloud is that we have been able to provide many of the same features that are part of the Tour de Force Enterprise application, such as extensive ERP integration, very powerful reporting and analytics features, and basic CRM features that an organization can use to maintain their contact database and manage customer interaction, at an accelerated pace all within a web browser. Their data is now maintained by Tour de Force, eliminating the maintenance of on-premise servers by their organization.”

Whether a small business with few, if any, internal IT resources or part of a large enterprise where corporate IT is stretched thinly, Tour de Force Cloud accelerates the clients’ time to value by eliminating the need to acquire, configure and maintain on-site application and database server infrastructure. While Tour de Force has traditionally been used extensively in the distribution and manufacturing industries, Tour de Force is also used by other leading B2B organizations including those in the construction and technology industries among others. Tour de Force customers can gain the benefits of saving time accessing actionable customer data, optimizing business processes, leveraging institutional knowledge, growing sales by streamlining and standardizing sales processes, and increasing sales revenue with sales planning tools.

For more information about Tour de Force, Inc. and Tour de Force Cloud, visit www.tourdeforceinc.com.

By: Rechelle Bischoff



CRM projects, just like all other company expenditures, compete for scarce resources of people’s time and money. As a result, a CRM project’s business sponsor, in conjunction with key stakeholders in the business, is responsible to build a strong business justification to get the project funded.

CRM project benefits can be broadly categorized into improving revenue, reducing cost and improving efficiency. Cost reductions and efficiency gains can come both from the business functional side, to produce and service customers which drive the revenue, and on the information technology side, by reducing costs, such as charges for licenses and maintenance, and through simplifying the overall IT solution architecture and footprint, such as eliminating custom integrations.

Revenue improvements can come in the form of capturing more of existing customers’ overall spend and through selling a more profitable product mix to existing customers. These can also come from improving customer retention through reducing or eliminating irritating things that erode customer satisfaction, and by adding new, profitable customers.

Cost reductions can come in the form of identifying which customers are truly profitable through gaining visibility to all of the previously hidden costs of servicing the customer. This includes analyzing customer return volumes and quote to order hit rates, especially in a highly technical or engineered quoting process where scarce resources are consumed in the creation of quotes. Strong CRM systems, which are integrated with client’s ERP systems, can also reduce or eliminate inefficiencies of personnel having to do double data entry of quotes, orders and contact information into multiple systems.

Finally, on the IT side, there may be software licensing and maintenance costs which can be reduced, such as eliminating the need to acquire additional ERP licenses for sales personnel, eliminating brittle custom integrations which cause IT personnel lots of work for care and feeding, and by enabling business personnel to be able to report and analyze data on their own rather than requiring IT personnel to create custom reports for this to occur.

For those looking to quantify a business case for a CRM project, we are offering free download access to a research note from Forrester titled, “Quantify the Business Value of CRM.”

By: Dave Litzenberg



A new year is upon us and many business professionals are looking for ways to save time in the workplace in order to get more done
during the day and calendar year. Saving time on mundane tasks leaves opportunity for more sales, and more sales means more revenue.

If saving time is a goal for your organization this year, consider these 5 ways that Tour de Force can help you manage time better and generate more sales.

1. Alerts & Notifications
Alerts & Notifications delivers automated email reports to Tour de Force users on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on the time requirements of the associated information. Rather than waiting for someone to create and send the report manually, Tour de Force compiles the information and automatically sends it out to specified users.

2. Build Your Own Reports (BYOR)
BYOR enables organizations to build reports based on relevant data with flexible reporting options. These reports can be designed for executives, various levels of management and sales representatives. For example, BYOR can calculate and report on goals versus actual sales, or even sales commissions per rep. These reports can be automated and set as the home page when users initially open the Tour de Force Info Center. This frees up time for employees to perform other duties rather than building manual reports day in and day out.

3. Grid Management with Short Cuts
Tour de Force is built with grids to allow for easy access to any information at any given time. Users can filter and sort any grid within the platform with the ability to save their views for rapid access to that same data at a later date. Specified data can be selected based on various criteria within the grid and the sales data can be viewed for one or more accounts. Furthermore, filtered lists of contacts can be exported for an email blast, or passed directly to Act-On utilizing Tour de Force’s integrated the Marketing Automation feature.

4. Web/Mobile Sales Call Reports with the ability to use Talk to Text
Users can convert appointments and tasks in Tour de Force Web with one button. Users can then select to add notes by selecting the talk to text icon on their smartphones and talking through notes which then appear on screen. Using this capability, sales reps will no longer have to type notes after a sales appointment.

5. Global Search with Recent Items and Favorites including Inbox Navigation
Users can save time looking for information needed on a daily basis by using the Global Search, Recent Items and Favorites from the Outlook toolbar, Tour de Force Info Center and Web/Mobile. The Tour de Force system automatically tracks user activity, which is then available to be recalled from Recent Items. Any item within Tour de Force can also be saved as a Favorite. This makes it easier to find information users would like to be easily accessible over time, such as top Accounts. Inbox Navigation allows users to open an account or contact record while viewing an email in Outlook using the Tour de Force Outlook Toolbar. Appointments can also be created from an Outlook email via the Tour de Force Outlook Toolbar.

We all want to save time and sell more. Tour de Force allows you to save time by automating every day processes, freeing you to generate more sales to meet or exceed your 2016 sales goals! Please Contact Us for more information.

By: Rechelle Bischoff



Have you implemented a CRM system, only to struggle with user adoption? Is your sales team reluctant to use the system because it’s not convenient, takes too much time to update, or they simply don’t see any benefit in it? Or are you hesitant to invest in a CRM system, fearing it will fail?

Ask yourself the following 4 questions to determine whether your CRM system is a data entry tool that is destined to fail or if it’s actually delivering value to your sales team.

1. Does your CRM system provide one source for all customer and prospect data?

Unless your CRM is the core application that your sales team visits in order to find all key information about their customers and prospects, chances are they are viewing the system as a data entry tool. If the CRM is one of many applications that the team is required to use throughout the day, they are much less likely to use the system and will focus only on the mission critical applications that they can’t live without.

2. Does your CRM system provide immediate access to sales data?

Your ERP system is the backbone of your operations, tracking all sales, inventory, orders, quotes, etc. Many ERP systems, however, don’t deliver this information to your sales team in a usable format. While they may be able to access a past sales order, they don’t have access to analysis, trending, key performance indicators, or sales dashboards.

A strong CRM system that delivers value to your sales team will provide extensive integration with your ERP system in order to provide actionable business intelligence to your sales team: reports, analytics, dashboards, and other key sales data that will allow the salesperson to easily analyze where potential sales lie, and where they’re losing sales. This goes well beyond simple field mapping from the ERP system by making the data easy to review, analyze and pivot to find key elements and make decisions about which actions to take as a result.

3. Did your CRM implementation put a focus on your sales team throughout the implementation process?

Most CRM implementations place a heavy focus on training your users how to use the system. While this is an important part of implementing any new software application, successful CRM implementations will also focus on why your users should want to use the system. When implementing a CRM that will ultimately deliver value to your sales team and will become a mission critical application, make sure your implementation team focuses on the ways that the system will deliver immediate value to your sales team and addresses any reservations that they may feel regarding the new system.

4. Was your CRM system developed for your industry?

Many CRM systems are developed using a horizontal approach – they are designed to work in virtually any industry. While this is a great approach for a CRM vendor who wishes to penetrate many different markets, it often leaves the end user stuck with a feature set that doesn’t really match the way they do business. To truly deliver value to your sales team, it’s important to find a CRM vendor that knows your industry and is flexible enough to be able to address your organization’s unique CRM requirements. The way organizations approach their markets from a marketing, sales and customer service perspective should enable competitive advantages. A strong CRM system with industry focus should be a key enabler to delivering your business strategy and competitive advantages to the market.

If you have implemented a CRM system that isn’t delivering value to your sales team, it’s time to take a look at Tour de Force! Our CRM and business intelligence solutions were developed specifically for the salesperson in the wholesale distribution and manufacturing industries. Our focus on delivering value to the sales team has driven over 14 years of successful implementations delivered by an outstanding team with extensive wholesale distribution and manufacturing industry expertise and experience yielding a customer retention rate of over 95%. Contact us today to learn more!

By: Ashley Parinello



With so many CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) software packages available today, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one is right for your distribution business.

Whether you and your company are brand new to CRM or you’re an experienced user who is unsatisfied with your current product, this guide will help you during your selection and review process. It covers six important areas to consider when looking at CRM providers and supplies questions to ask when interviewing or reviewing different CRM offerings, in order to ensure that you select the right CRM for distributors and the distribution business.

Today we will review the 6th and final area to consider when selecting a CRM solution.

Area 6: Implementation Services

How can we be sure that the company we partner with has the capability to successfully implement our CRM system and professionally train our staff?

Selecting a CRM system for a distribution company is serious business. Almost all phases of your company business will interface with the system, including sales, sales management, marketing, customer service and support, corporate management, IT, and often credit/ collections as well. The process requires thorough planning and committed corporate leadership. It also requires a CRM partner that is experienced with and committed to the distribution industry.

Customer retention rates are an excellent indicator of how satisfied companies are with their CRM suppliers. You might be surprised by the high rate of unsuccessful implementations there are industry-wide. How can you know if the companies you are evaluating are truly capable of successfully implementing a professional CRM for the distribution business?

CRM Interview – Ask these questions to determine if the CRM provider has a proven history of successful CRM implementations in the distribution industry:

  • What is your retention rate for distribution clients over a five year rolling average?
  • Can you provide us with a written implementation process which includes the various roles our staff will play and the roles your team members will play in preparation for and during implementation and training?
  • Will you provide us with several contact referrals that are using your product and our specific ERP system? We would like to contact them regarding their experience.
  • Will your company be performing the integration to our ERP system or will we need to work through a third party integrator?
    • If we will need to work though an integrator, can we speak with several clients in the distribution industry that have been using your system for several years?

 

Download the full Guide to Selecting a CRM for your Distribution Business.

 

By: Ashley Parinello



With so many CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) software packages available today, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one is right for your distribution business.

Whether you and your company are brand new to CRM or you’re an experienced user who is unsatisfied with your current product, this guide will help you during your selection and review process. It will cover six important areas to consider when looking at CRM providers and supplies questions to ask when interviewing or reviewing different CRM offerings, in order to ensure that you select the right CRM for distributors and the distribution industry.

Today we will review the 4th area to consider when selecting a CRM solution.

Area 4: Gap Analysis

What’s the importance of Gap Analysis, and how can I determine that the CRM system can provide it effectively?

The distribution business is all about maximizing penetration at existing and new accounts. You may have some of the business but what about the business you are not currently enjoying? How do you put together sales plans for addressing that missing business? How do you develop marketing campaigns to gain additional market share faster?

Gap Analysis is the process of being able to look at customer purchase history and determine what they should be purchasing based on what is currently being purchased. A CRM with Gap Analysis should allow for easy lookup of sales by type & quantity of specific product purchased. For example, the customer has purchased products A and B, but not product C. Your knowledge shows that these customers are great targets for product C.

With Gap Analysis in your CRM you should be able to quickly run a report to “Show me all customers in X territory that have purchased product A & B but not product C in the last 18 months”. With this data you should be able to overlay other criteria for specific marketing campaigns such as “Select all contacts with engineer in their title”. Now you can launch an email campaign from your CRM system targeting all customers that have purchased product A & B but not product C in the last 18 months and send it to all contacts in the database (or territory, or zip code, etc.) with engineer in their title. This is the kind of targeted sales and marketing that a CRM with Gap Analysis will allow you to do.

CRM Interview – Ask these questions to determine if the CRM system provides effective Gap Analysis:

  • Can you show me specific examples of your Gap Analysis tools and how they can segment by specific types of products that have been purchased?
  • Can you show me how your system can sort all customers who have purchased, for example, products X & Y but not product Z – over some defined period of time?
  • Can I directly create an email or direct mail campaign to the specific contacts within these accounts (that meet the product X, Y & Z above) that have a specific job title such Purchasing, Engineer, Manager, or any other job title that we’d like to specify?
  • Can you show me how I could run a Gap Analysis for the following scenario?
    • I have a specific family of products that are being obsoleted for more current products. How you would sort for all of item codes in that product family and the associated sales history over the last 24 months, so that we could send an e-mail marketing campaign introducing the replacement products with associated information and links to our website to anyone who had purchased from that product family in the last 24 months?

 

Download the full Guide to Selecting a CRM for your Distribution Business.

By: Ashley Parinello



With so many CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) software packages available today, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one is right for your distribution business.

Whether you and your company are brand new to CRM or you’re an experienced user who is unsatisfied with your current product, this guide will help you during your selection and review process. It will cover six important areas to consider when looking at CRM providers and supplies questions to ask when interviewing or reviewing different CRM offerings, in order to ensure that you select the right CRM for distributors and the distribution industry.

Today we will review the 3rd area to consider when selecting a CRM solution.

Area 3: Mobile CRM

What’s the importance of mobile access to CRM data, and how can I ensure that my sales team will be able to access the key information they need while in the field? 

Time is money.  In today’s hectic world, your sales team needs to be able to take advantage of mobile technologies to arm themselves with the data they need to close more sales in a shorter time span.

Most CRM systems provide basic mobile CRM capabilities such Account and Contact information for your mobile devices. They may also provide Opportunity Pipeline information. The real question is whether the systems you are looking at will provide your sales and sales management teams with live customer sales data, allowing them to maximize their effectiveness and compress your sales cycles.

To gain maximum effectiveness from their mobile devices, sales should be able to quickly look up an Account, see the customer’s sales history, and determine the specific areas where they are not getting business. The mobile CRM should then allow them to look up the appropriate Contacts that handle that portion of their business, call or schedule Appointments, enter tasks and expenses, and review past communications with that Contact.

CRM Interview – Ask these questions to determine if the CRM system provides mobile access to the key data your sales team needs:

  • Does the CRM system provide complete sales data directly from the ERP system to our mobile devices?
  • Will sales be able to quickly see what has been ordered in the last few days, months, or years, saving them the need to tie up inside sales representatives with these questions?
  • Can sales easily see each unique customer Opportunity, the sales stage it is currently at, and launch a next action from their mobile device?
  • Can the sales call Activity be quickly logged into the mobile device of Field Salespeople when they come out of the call?
  • Can new Outlook Appointments or Tasks be scheduled directly from the customer Opportunity within the mobile device?
  • Can Sales perform a quick Stock Check of available inventory from their mobile device while standing in front of the customer?

Download the full Guide to Selecting a CRM for your Distribution Business.

By: Ashley Parinello



With so many CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) software packages available today, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one is right for your distribution business.

Whether you and your company are brand new to CRM or you’re an experienced user who is unsatisfied with your current product, this guide will help you during your selection and review process. It will cover six important areas to consider when looking at CRM providers and supplies questions to ask when interviewing or reviewing different CRM offerings, in order to ensure that you select the right CRM for distributors and the distribution industry.

Today we will review the 2nd area to consider when selecting a CRM solution.

Area 2: ERP Integration

What’s the importance of a CRM with ERP integration, and how can I ensure that the CRM provides the ERP data that my sales and marketing teams need?

In the most basic sense, a CRM is a database to store Accounts and Contacts. Almost all CRM systems provide a simple method to log new Accounts and new Contacts to this database. In addition, most provide various forms of Opportunity or Pipeline Management tools.

In order to be successful, salespeople and sales managers at distribution companies need more than basic Account and Contact data about their customers. What they really need is to be able to look at an Account or Contact record and also have the ability to see up to date customer sales and margin data by territory, account, product group, order number, and line item. This allows distributors to effectively pursue new business where they are not currently getting it and to drive up margins where they are currently below acceptable levels. Without being able to easily view and analyze your sales data tied to your customer records, it can be challenging and time intensive for your sales and sales management teams to effectively drive new business or uncover new opportunities within your existing customer base.

Many CRM companies claim to be able to integrate to your ERP system.  Unfortunately, each CRM company’s definition of ERP Integration is different. When reviewing the CRM offerings of different companies, it’s important to choose a CRM company that has experience integrating to your ERP system in order to get the highest ROI from your CRM investment.

CRM Interview – Ask these questions to determine the ability of the CRM system to integrate to your ERP system, as well as the types of data they are able to import from the ERP system:

  • Does the CRM system have an existing interface to my ERP system, or will custom software need to be written by a software integrator?
  • If custom software is necessary to integrate to my ERP system, what does that entail?  What will level of involvement will be required of my company?
  • How much time will it take to build a custom integrator, and how much money will it cost?
  • Will data from the ERP system be available on mobile devices for our sales team to be able to access at any time?
  • Does the CRM system have a history of direct integration with a number of ERP systems including my particular ERP system?
  • Will our salespeople be able to see sales data such as Sales, Gross Margins, Gross Margin % and Bookings YTD by:
    • Sales Territory?
    • By Customer?
    • By Vendor?
    • By Vendor Product Group?
    • By individual order to the line Item Level?
    • Past year and Past Two Years?
    • Actual sales performance versus YTD goal?

Download the full Guide to Selecting a CRM for your Distribution Business.

By: Ashley Parinello



With so many CRM and Sales Force Automation (SFA) software packages available today, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one is right for your distribution business.

Whether you and your company are brand new to CRM or you’re an experienced user who is unsatisfied with your current product, this guide will help you during your selection and review process. It will cover six important areas to consider when looking at CRM providers and supplies questions to ask when interviewing or reviewing different CRM offerings, in order to ensure that you select the right CRM for distributors and the distribution industry.

Today we will review the 1st area to consider when selecting a CRM solution.

Area 1: Outlook Integration

“What’s the importance of a CRM with Microsoft Outlook integration, and how can I asses the level of integration provided?”

The vast majority of distributors utilize Microsoft Outlook for their business needs. Salespeople, marketing staff, business managers, even the President of the company all open their laptops or PCs every day and the first thing they look at is Outlook. In Outlook, they review their emails, tasks, calendar appointments, etc. For most people, Outlook then remains open for the rest of the day, so that they can continue to stay up to date on their emails, tasks, and appointments.

The success of a CRM implementation depends strongly on whether or not your sales team finds that the application is convenient and easy to use. If a sales team finds that the application is cumbersome to use, they will not adopt the CRM and the implementation will fail.

A CRM with Outlook Integration solves many issues in getting salespeople to use the CRM. It gives them one portal for quick access to everything – not several different logins to navigate. While most CRM providers say they integrate with Outlook, it is important that you know what level of integration the CRM provides.

CRM Interview – Ask these questions to determine the depth of Outlook Integration that a CRM solution provides:

  • When I open Outlook, is there a toolbar for the CRM that allows me to access the CRM database and perform all key activities directly from Outlook?  Or do I have to open a separate application to access the CRM?
  • When I am in my email inbox, can I view information about the Contact or Account that sent the email, or perform actions for the Contact or Account, without leaving Outlook?
  • Can I initiate a Task directly from Outlook?
  • Can I set a new Appointment directly from Outlook?
  • Can I open an Account or Contact record directly from Outlook?
  • Can I log an Activity – like a call report or call summary – directly from Outlook?
  • Are my customer emails automatically logged to the proper Account so I always have a history of the email communications to and from any contact within an Account?  Do I have to use the CC: or BCC: fields to log the emails?
  • If I initiate a new Appointment or Task from the CRM, will that Task or Appointment automatically show on my Outlook Calendar or in my Outlook Tasks?

Download the full Guide to Selecting a CRM for your Distribution Business.

By: Ashley Parinello



Have you implemented a CRM system, only to struggle with user adoption? Is your sales team reluctant to use the system because it’s not convenient, takes too much time, or they simply don’t see any benefit in it? Or are you hesitant to invest in a CRM system, fearing it will fail?

Tour de Force CRM was developed with the explicit understanding that a CRM that does not deliver immediate value to its users will ultimately fail.

Tour de Force delivers immediate CRM value to your sales team by giving them the tools they need to be more efficient and more effective, which in turn drives the biggest motivator for a sales person – their paycheck.

  • One source for all customer and prospect data
    Tour de Force is built upon the one application that sales people typically keep open throughout their entire workday – Microsoft Outlook. Everything a sales person does in a typical day can be done directly from the Tour de Force toolbar in Outlook, without having to open a separate application.
  • Immediate access to sales data
    Tour de Force integrates to your ERP system, delivering sales history directly to your sales team’s fingertips. This gives them the ability to easily analyze and identify where their potential lies and where they’re losing sales.
  •  Anytime, anywhere access
    Users can access Tour de Force Online, Offline, or through Tour de Force Mobile CRM, ensuring that they are always able to access the critical data that they need.
  • Focus on delivering value to your sales team throughout the implementation process
    Tour de Force is a highly configurable CRM system, and during the implementation process we work with you to configure the software to YOUR business processes. As part of every implementation, we conduct a “What’s in it for me?” presentation directly to your sales team, before their “Go Live” training session. During this presentation we review the ways in which Tour de Force will immediately deliver value, and also address the reservations that they may be feeling about using the new system.
  • Extensive feature set built around the needs of the sales person
    Tour de Force provides a robust set of features, many of which were developed to specifically address the needs of the sales person. In addition to our existing feature set, we also have some very exciting new features that will be part of our next release:

    • Coming soon…Alerts & Notifications Module
      The Alerts & Notifications module allows a Tour de Force user to receive Email Alerts at timed intervals, or when certain events occur. For example, an Outside Sales Representative can receive an Email Alert any time a new Contact is added to one of his Accounts, or a Regional Account Manager can receive a daily Email Notification that includes all the open orders in her region from the previous business day.
    • Coming soon…Inventory Check
      Inventory Check in Tour de Force will allow a user to perform inventory searches such as Qty. on Hand, Qty. on Order, Qty. Allocated, etc. The Inventory Check feature will be available on Tour de Force Mobile CRM, allowing your sales team to easily access inventory information anytime, anywhere.

By: Ashley Parinello



CRM Alerts & Notifications

November 4, 2011

Manage Sales Effectively & Efficiently

Driving sales revenues to meet or exceed company goals is the primary responsibility of most sales managers. Effectiveness in this role can make or break a company’s financial year. The stakes are very high for all involved…

…yet most companies do not provide their sales managers with live customer sales data (from their ERP systems) and current sales pipeline opportunity management (from their CRM) in a simple, combined way that allows sales managers to excel in their roles.

Progressive companies have moved to CRM platforms that enable an integrated sales management approach fostering excellent salesperson “Coaching” by their sales management personnel. The best of these platforms integrate fully and seamlessly with company ERP databases.

Immediate benefits can be gained with tools as simple as Alerts & Notifications that give sales managers all the live data they need to easily see sales performance, assess current actions by sales, and enable constructive coaching sessions with the sales personnel to drive sales faster and compress the sales cycles. The net result is increased effectiveness from the sales force and new respect for the sales managers from the salesperson’s viewpoint – they are now working constructively as a team to maximize sales.

Here are some simple examples of Alerts & Notifications that can be automatically sent to the appropriate managers on a daily basis by email. No formatting or pushed reports from IT or Operations are needed.

Top 10 Accounts - Email Alert

CRM Email Alerts of Top 10 Accounts YTD

To see more, all the manager has to do is click on the Open link and they are whisked right into the CRM database for the appropriate Account, Opportunity, Activity or other record type that is listed in the Alerts & Notifications. Now they can see any detail they want. This saves invaluable time searching through databases or pushed reports looking for key data. Alerts & Notifications can be set to provide this data to your sales management team on a daily basis or when certain events occur.

Here are some more examples of what is possible when your CRM is integrated seamlessly with your business system ERP:

 

New Accounts Entered Yesterday

New Accounts Entered Yesterday – CRM Alerts & Notifications | Tour de Force CRM

 

Sales Pipeline Management is Critical

Pipeline Opportunities Entered Yesterday

 

Tour de Force CRM Alerts and Notifications - Opportunities Modified Yesterday -

Pipeline Opportunities Modified Yesterday

 

CRM Alerts and Notifications for your Sales Managers and Sales Teams

New Activities Entered Yesterday in Tour de Force CRM

Imagine the coaching possibilities if this type of data was available for your management team on a daily basis! Envision your sales manager being able to look at key metrics like these on a regular basis – without having to dig through numerous systems and files. Here are just some examples of what is possible:

  • All Pipeline Opportunities that have not moved forward in the sales stage process for the last 30 days.
  • All new Opportunities just entered that are over $5,000 (gives you a reason to strategize with sales to up the odds of closing).
  • All customers that are currently running below 70% of last year to date.
  • All “Key Accounts” that are not tracking at or above YTD Goal.
  • The number of customer Sales Opportunity related calendar appointments scheduled in the last 30 days – by each individual salesperson.
  • All open Opportunities scheduled to close within 30 days.

Alerts & Notifications also allows you to set up email alerts when certain events occur in your business system ERP or your CRM. This means selected people or groups could be alerted when, for example, any new customer order for over $5,000 is received. The Salesperson can now immediately call and thank the buyer, as can company management, building customer rapport and loyalty.
Alerts & Notifications can be set up to alert any individual or group on any data occurrence selected by management. The possibilities are limitless!
Of course, with a CRM that is integrated with your business ERP system data, the manager can easily dig in and find anything he/ she wants about Accounts, Contacts, Pipeline Opportunities, Branch, Territory & Customer Sales Data vs. Goal YTD and anything else within your ERP database and your CRM. Pretty powerful stuff!

Alerts & Notifications are just one of the many ways that forward thinking companies are dramatically increasing their revenue streams and their company profit.
Whether you and your company are brand new to CRM and sales force automation, or you are an experienced user, Tour de Force CRM is glad to assist with consultative business and technical support designed to help you maximize your company sales and effectiveness.

Contact us today for more information.

By: Ashley Parinello



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