the WORKS Publishes Again
“the WORKS” is back after an eight year hiatus. Prior editions discussed computer applications in manufacturing; future editions will be more broadly based. The author, Robert Schuldenfrei, has spent the last ten years applying these techniques to marketing. This newsletter will report this work and formulate new concepts.
S. I. Inc. will distribute the WORKS to two distintly different populations. The first group is people with whom I have had contact over the years. Those people know me well, so this newsletter will be a way to learn what I have been doing recently. The second group is marketing professionals who may not have heard of my firm or me. For those people, the WORKS will be an introduction to what S. I. Inc. does and what we might do for them.
Read the feature story “Sales Gold From Accounting Straw.” You will see that my approach to marketing comes from information technology than can add value to a marketing communications firm. My recent work for a client of Serino Associates, Inc. is a case study in the integration of the new with the traditional MarCom disciplines.
This newsletter will appear from time to time to support the S. I. Inc. web site. Breaking news always appears on the site first. To learn what is taking place at the firm and with the author, Robert Schuldenfrei, just turn to the site: www.s-i-inc.com. Articles from the WORKS, in its entirety, will appear on the web site. This edition has already been posted to the site. This newsletter is not only to share what I have learned, but also to track the activities of S. I. Inc.
In marketing you are always selling. Can it be that you never heard that before? The principal, perhaps the only, purpose of the WORKS is to let the community know what S. I. Inc. can do for you. With that in mind, every issue of the WORKS will be packed with news you can use. The goal of these stories is to entertain, to enlighten, and to whet the appetite of MarCom firms and industrial organizations to what S. I. Inc. can do for clients.
At S. I. Inc., we practice what we preach. We distribute the WORKS in both electronic and hard copy editions. There is a thirty minute PowerPoint presentation called “This is S. I. Inc.” It comes with sound narration and serves as a virtual visit from Robert. Due to size this recording is on CD. Just send e.mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure that this commercial message is in your hands as soon as possible.
Everything that you see and hear in these materials was produced in house. That does not mean that we cannot work with professional media shops. It just means that when it comes to the production of high quality marketing materials, we are experts in low cost—no cost techniques.
We produced this newsletter using off the shelf Microsoft products. The copy was set using Publisher 2002. This was transferred to Word 2002 so that it could be distributed as an e.mail attachment. This would be done in the case of a request for the WORKS. The electronic distribution was formed as an HTML document and distributed by Outlook 2002 from a database stored in Access 97. Using Access 97 resolves some “interesting” issues of historic compatibility. I always build databases with Access 97, as they will work in Access 2000 and 2002. Newer versions are not backward compatible.
Back to Normal Times
I recently heard a Vice President of Sales of a high tech firm say: “I just hope that we can bridge this difficult period and get back to ‘normal’ times.” The sad news for him is that this never going to happen. For his firm, “normal” once meant a sales rep would walk into the customer’s shop and take the order. This is not selling! Those days are gone and they are not coming back any time soon.
Today, sales need to be earned. A future issue of the Works will discuss strategies the new breed of sales manager needs to know. And that VP—he will have to learn to manage sales, not just watch sales happen. For now, think satisfying customers’ needs, not scoring a sales coup. It is truly a new environment out there– stay tuned.
Sales Gold From Accounting Straw
Do you remember on page one where I said that each issue of the WORKS will have a feature story centering on a past engagement? This article is about using an existing accounting system that had only been used to invoice customers. S. I. Inc. turned that system into the Central Nervous System of the firm.
In a recent engagement, we took an existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, SAP in this case, and turned it into a high functioning Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. No new software, or SAP module, was added.
We were able to make this work because we noticed that you sell to companies, but you market to people. Thus, we utilized customer information from the Sales & Distribution module of SAP in establishing our company base and added Contacts (people) anchored to these companies.
In the beginning there was a fair amount of resistance to using SAP for CRM. SAP is a big, user-hostile, piece of software. There are much better CRM stand-alone packages we could have recommended. How did we justify using SAP?
The short answer is integration. Since the firm used SAP as the centerpiece of its business system, it was only natural to use it for as many purposes as possible. They had taken care to enter customer information into the Order Entry module for billing purposes. We did not want to duplicate effort by having them maintain additional customer data elsewhere.
But there were deeper reasons for using SAP as the CRM system. Most of the firm’s sales were what are known as “complex sales.” That is, more than one person was involved in making the sale from our client’s side. Further, more than one person was involved from their customer’s side too. Everyone needed to be looking at the same collection of data so that effective collaboration could be obtained. Since much of the data was being stored in SAP, we turned there to add more information to aid the Marketing and Sales departments.
When the account of one rep needed to be transferred to another, it was easy for the new rep to acquire the account’s information if it was in SAP. If each rep was using a different system, or no system at all, this transfer of knowledge would have been difficult or impossible to realize. Since sales reps are always coming and going, the sales information did not walk out the door even if the rep did.
The company data for customers was already in SAP when we started. SAP allowed for a rich set of user-defined attributes to be attached to both Companies and Contacts. We took advantage of this feature to describe attributes of the Contacts. For example, we noted the title and address of the Contacts who were working for the Company, but at many differing addresses far afield from the billing address.
Next we populated the Contacts file with names, addresses, and profile data. This information came from a number of sources. We centralized all of the sales reps’ address books into one big of file Contacts. We did this by having each rep send us his “black book.” The entries came to us in all formats: Outlook Contacts, Excel spreadsheets, ACT! files, and even paper forms. Each Contact was reformatted and uploaded into SAP. To add to the sales reps’ data we purchased collections of contact names from list brokers. These names were added to the mix. When the engagement ended, that file contained over 50,000 Contacts. That became the firm’s sales database.
Finally the client instituted a policy, at our direction, that all data goes into the CRM system first, before being used in any marketing campaign. Therefore, all direct mail addresses were loaded into the CRM system if they were not already installed. Then the mailing list was compiled.
Let’s trace what happens after a direct mail campaign begins. SAP generates a name and address file and the material is sent out. When a prospect responds to the campaign and contacts our client, a Sales Activity record is generated. Through SAP the sales rep is notified that there is a lead for him. His manager is also informed. The rep makes contact with the prospect and records his progress in the system. Perhaps a demo at the client’s site is in order. All communication for support, like a tech rep, is realized through SAP. The tech does not need to bother the sales rep because all the information he needs for his demo is threaded through the system. Even senior executives who may be involved with the call can be requested through the vehicle of the Sales Activity record. These records are the transactions of the CRM system.
A sale goes through many steps before the business is booked. It is an inquiry, a lead, a “hot” lead, a quotation, an order, a purchase order, an invoice, and a cash deposit. The CRM system tracks it from begining to end.
Sales managers can stay on top of hundreds of deals using the system because the sales reps keep a note trail by contact and customer. Every type of sales activity is logged into the system. This is management through the CRM system rather than around it.
For additional information:
Phone: (781) 329-4828
FAX: (781) 329-1696
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S. I. Inc.
32 Ridley Road
Dedham, MA 02026