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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 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



What can management do to ensure user adoption?

Most sales and marketing executives clearly understand the benefits that a CRM/SFA solution can provide an organization, yet they often have one very common concern – “can we get our sales team to use it?”  This is a valid concern because without sufficient user adoption there will be minimal return on your CRM/SFA investment.

From a strategic perspective, what can be done to ensure that the sales force will embrace the solution?

Many times the best course of action to overcome this concern is to initially introduce only the features that will have the most direct benefit to the sales person.  As the sales team begins to see how the CRM/SFA solution will positively benefit them and they begin to embrace it, management can gradually add in the more administrative requirements.  Most often, key enhancements to business intelligence and other core enabling features can create quick ROI without immediately utilizing the full palette of CRM/SFA features.

As an example, a sales organization may offer the sales team business intelligence and advanced reporting capabilities so that sales can better understand customer opportunities, and then ask the team to start entering sales forecasts later in the process.  The key is to show the sales team “What’s in it for me?” early in the process so that there are less roadblocks coming from individuals as the implementation progresses.

The current state of where a sales team is in regards to reporting requirements and disciplines should also dictate the methods in which a CRM/SFA solution is deployed.  If a sales force is accustomed to the requirements of logging sales calls on an Excel spreadsheet and the CRM solution eases this entry process with a quick and easy activity form, it’s both a time saver and a big win for the sale team.

The fear of poor user adoption is a very valid concern; in fact it is the greatest culprit in most CRM/SFA deployment failures.  Before beginning any deployment, make sure you have a thorough implementation plan with a strategy to foster user adoption from the onset.

By: Ashley Parinello



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