Currently I am supporting a company in the food business (B2B) to improve their customer acquisition. The challenge for many SME sized companies in the sales arena is that their prospective customers’ data are not up-to-date. This leads to sales staff wasting time while focusing on the wrong areas and maybe missing new prospective customers who have settled down in their sales region. The key challenge here is to integrate marketing efforts with field sales activities.

Let’s take an example: your marketing or sales support department may carry out telemarketing or direct mail campaigns, or a combination of the two to generate interest in the marketplace for your products and services. If, however, this is based solely on purchased marketing lists that are not properly integrated with your CRM database, one of the two may not be up to date. For instance, your field sales staff may have lots of information on various customers or prospective customers that is missing in the database and which therefore cannot be used for individual mailing pieces that may be much more successful than standardised ones.

Just figure a sales representative driving around in his sales area and suddenly noticing that there are many more companies than there are contained in the marketing lists that he has got. So what is the key impact here? Well, you have two sources of information that are not properly integrated, so it will be much harder to convince prospective customers to buy your products and services. Your sales representative may have crucial information about e.g. the new companies that have settled down in that area, change of key decision makers, word of mouth regarding new demands and so forth. Your CRM database, on the other hand, may provide useful information regarding past telemarketing or direct marketing activities or campaigns run with this prospective customer and possibly even feedback that this customer has given. That feedback can be absolutely crucial for your sales to convert a lead into a buying customer.

So what’s the lesson here? It is vital to have your sales staff doublecheck your marketing lists and add crucial information that they may have. It is important that you keep your sales staff motivated to do this, since it is a an additional burden to their daily work. The other hand they will profit a lot from a better information base.

Further, on a more technical level, you need to have one single database, and not a variety of purchased marketing lists that you (think you) will one day (which will never come) save into that database. If you have several sources of information which overlap: how can you make sure that new information you need for the next pitch is added to the source that your sales staff will use for that particular next pitch? Think about it.

Jens Moeller Consulting Ltd.
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