Category: Business Growth
If you're serious about growing top-line revenue, you need to organize and consolidate all the data in various areas of your business into one place so you can leverage it.
Your business likely has lots of data in different places. Your sales people might have point-of-sale customer lists or a prospect list they got from a trade show. Your accounting department likely has customer sales histories. And so on.
The problem is, many managers never sit down and analyze the data to figure out what it's telling them. They are "drowning in data but starved for information." If you take the time to critically examine your data, it can help you run your company more efficiently and more effectively. Leveraged data can become a key component of your customer relationship management (CRM).
How do you start? Think of the process as resembling a pyramid, with the bottom being the broadest:
1. First you capture, integrate and enhance the data.
2. You analyze the data to identify strategic insights, giving you information.
3. You use the information to develop knowledge that sparks the right customer interactions.
Let"s examine how you capture, integrate and enhance the data.
Capturing the data is getting all the assorted lists floating around in Excel, sales
people’s files or other places into one CRM platform where your company can profit from it. Make an inventory of every piece of data in your organization.
A sales person might say, "Oh, I've got a list," and pull it from her drawer. Inside her desk, that information is not doing anyone else in the company any good.
Integrating the data is integrating it with other systems within your organization. For example, a manufacturing company will have a CRM housing sales and marketing information, but it will also have an Enterprise Resource Planning system with all the manufacturing information as well as an accounting database with specific customer sales history. Usually you’re duplicating information, or Sales has one address and contact information for a customer while Accounting has another.
Integrating the data gives you one version of the truth, which allows you to better service the customer.
Let's say you work in Sales in a company without integrated data. Your main focus is closing the deal. When a customer asks when his order shipped, you have to ask Manufacturing to find out. If the customer has a question about the invoice, you have to talk to Accounting. If the data is all integrated in one place, however, you can easily, quickly find the answer for the customer.
Enhancing the data refers to putting it in a form where your business can benefit. First you fill in the gaps in the information, making sure you have correct contacts, addresses, phone numbers, etc. Then ask yourself what information you need to grow your business.
The average company loses half its customers over five years. To retain customers, your data might include customer service logs, buying patterns and contract expiration dates.
To sell more to your existing customers, your data might include information on the products customers have—so you could sell them a new or add-on product.
To attract new customers, you might include data on a prospect's type/amount of equipment, buying patterns, competitors.
How do you develop strategic insights from your data? Put together a cross-functional team—the president/CEO, functional area managers and key performers, to:
-Analyze the data.
-Develop decision-enabling reports, with key sales and marketing processes and key performance indicators to measure your success.
-Develop marketing and sales strategies.
-Set goals, objectives and metrics which are financial, sales-related and marketing-related.
I realize the prospect of bringing all your data together might be daunting. Most
mid-market companies are stuck at the data level. Some have risen to the information level but struggle to get to the knowledge level.
But if you truly care about your business, you need to care about your data. Captured,
integrated and enhanced data allows you to make the right offer through the right channel to the right customer at the right time. The bottom line: More top-line revenue.
Chuck Williams is dean of the College of Business at Butler University. Melissa B. Beckwith, project manager with the Butler Business Accelerator, contributed to this article. For more information on the College and its "real life, real business" approach to business education, visit www.ButlerRealBusiness.com or e-mail Chuck at email@example.com.
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