Now that the UK economy is back in growth, most small businesses are likely to have updated their business plans and their sales forecasts in an upward direction.
With your business plan and corresponding marketing plan, the next step is to ‘go to market’ with your product or service offering. Most businesses have marketing collateral to support the communication of their products, services and their features and benefits. Collateral typically includes Product/Service brochures, flyers, sector specific case studies, websites, blogs, testimonials, industry awards and accreditations, short videos and online demonstrations and photographs.
With all of these in place, you are now ready begin Business Development (BD). To do BD well, you need a focussed campaign, and a way of organising the data that you collect. The campaign should support one of the marketing objectives in the marketing plan and have a meaningful name, a clear objective, one or more goals or targets, a timescale and a budget.
As prospects respond to your team’s phone calls, appointments, adverts, exhibition follow-ups and web inquiries, information needs to be captured and shared. The best way to manage this information is in a CRM system.
Some recommended CRM systems include Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Oncontact, Sage ACT and NetSuite.
The time taken to record information in a CRM system is time well spent, as it will be vital for follow-up calls and meetings, help you remember the sales stage that each prospect is at and what needs doing next to close the deal. Most CRM systems allow you to categorise leads, assign tasks to specific people and to see a dashboard view of your sales pipeline. My recommendation is to try a CRM system for a month. Another point is that only key staff will need a licence for the chosen CRM system, so be frugal about how many actual user accounts you will need. Make sure that you have one place for storing contact details and keep data duplication to a minimum. Get organised with a CRM system and reap the rewards.