Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are swiftly becoming essential practice for many companies of all shapes and sizes. As a relatively easy way for companies to stay on top of their game and keep customers on side, the countless benefits of a CRM systems mean it should be common practice for every business.
Distribution companies in particular are a unique breed with industry concerns and challenges that set them apart from every other company out there, from a customer base that changes almost overnight to technology. You distribute your goods to retailers, dealers, wholesalers and even direct to the end user. But customer satisfaction is, and always will be, king. There are countless distributors out there and unless your customers are completely satisfied with your level of service, they’ll be off to your competition before you know it.
CRM holds an impressive amount of traction for distributors, helping sales people to become opportunistic, proactive members of your team, rather than the traditional reactive, transactional order takers.
The benefits of CRM systems are huge for distributors, despite them being often perceived by salespeople as another way for managers to tighten the leash and play big brother. Once the system has proved its worth and become a credible tool for your salespeople, they’ll wonder what they ever did without it.
We’ve put together some of the top benefits that a good CRM solution will bring to distribution companies and help you to achieve your goals.
This one is a no brainer. Putting all of a customer’s information at your fingertips in easy to use dashboards and record cards that provide everything from account sales and previous orders through to any complaints or troubles they have had will make every call more productive. This information is then visible to everyone across the business, from warehouse staff and operations through to finance, marketing and of course, your salespeople and management.
Too many distribution companies continue to rely on manual processes, reams of paper and countless files to service their customers. These mundane tasks can be streamlined and automated with the implementation of a simple CRM system. Companies can increase productivity and reduce time spent creating customer reports with the introduction of a CRM solution. Before you know it, you’ll be spending less time on admin and more time selling one of the benefits of a CRM system that all salespeople can definitely get on board with.
If you’re distributing to wholesalers, retailers, end users or dealers, you will be aware of the varying expectations held by each of these consumer groups. How are you managing their buying preferences? You’ll soon hit a wall if you treat them as one mass market. Each will need to be targeted as a specific segment, each with his or her own needs and expectations from you as a supplier. Offering a promotion to an individual end user will be different to offering a promotion to a nationwide wholesaler. The benefits of a CRM system in this instance will help you to manage the preferences of your customers efficiently with all the information you need in one place.
Salespeople that are using a CRM to manage their opportunities, pipeline and customer or prospect interactions have been proven to optimize their performance and productivity. While management will have a more accurate view of forecasted business, with potential revenue and an expected close date, salespeople will have a full picture of where they stand with each prospect in their pipeline.
CRM can be the facilitator for improved communication across any business. Often, the larger the business, the poorer internal communication gets. Distributors are not immune to this and things can get lost in translation, in the ether or just forgotten about. It is vital that orders are satisfied and customer promises are kept. This can become difficult, particularly for distributors who may have to fulfill orders from the end user who may have a simple one-off order through to the chain of retailers that you need to get a shipment to before the end of the month. When used effectively, a CRM tool allows every department to see every interaction with every customer, what stage they are in and what actions may need to be taken. This will help the level of service you provide your customers and allow the entire business to work as a proactive team to satisfy every customer.