Customer Management Software for Distributors
Customer management software for distributors, also commonly referred to as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, helps distributors keep track of their customers’ and prospects’ details, profiles, interactions, and overall relationships. Wikipedia defines CRM as a process in which a business administers its interactions with customers … with the primary goal of integrating and automating of sales, marketing, and customer support. By centralizing all of your customer and prospect data and making it available to stakeholders across the business, customer management software for distributors can help improve your customer relationships and enhance your sales, marketing, and customer service operations.
What Does Customer Management Software Track?
Using customer management software, distributors can record basic information on customers and prospects such as individual contact details, sales opportunities, interactions and follow up needed. This record by customer or prospect lets all stakeholders across the business see the full history of that specific customer or prospect relationship immediately. This ensures that all stakeholders are aware of who needs to do what, improves coordination, and cuts down on “dropped balls.” In addition, the customer or prospect record can be used to record specific information learned from or about that customer or prospect, such as likes, dislikes, goals, targets, objectives, decision-making process, customer support issues, etc. Customers and prospects want to feel that salespersons are listening to them and understand their needs. So, recording and pulling up this type of information and having it available during every interaction with customers can significantly improve relationships and allow the delivery of better service and more targeted marketing. For customers you can also track what goods that customer purchased, what were the dates of their recent purchases, what prices they were charged and even their payment history. This information can give you an insight into trends in what the customer is buying, not buying, or could buy.
Customer Management Software Use Cases
There are many ways in which customer management software for distributors can improve your business processes. Essentially, by making important customer data available to all personnel, your business will make better informed decisions, improve outcomes, improve customer service, and reduce errors. This will in turn lead to better customer relationships and improve your business results.
Traditionally, the main use of customer relationship management software was for following up and closing on sales. Salespersons interact with customers and prospects and generate a lot of information from these interactions that needs to be recorded. With all this information, salespersons can manage their sales funnels to turn prospects into leads, then into opportunities, then into deals and then finally into closed sales. Too often though, salespersons record the results of calls or meetings on laptops, tablets or notebooks, which then can be easily overlooked. Customer management software for distributors ensures that this information can all be captured and recorded so that the information is not lost, important follow up can be calendared and tracked, responses, feedback and quotes can be captured and all of this greatly improves the likelihood of a successful sale.
Another important use case for customer management software for distributors is in marketing. Customer relationship management software allows incoming leads to be prioritized and properly categorized using a pipeline approach to sales. Most inquiries and leads that come in first need to be qualified, then typically require a period of nurturing with periodic calls, emails, and other content, before they become active opportunities and deals that salespersons can work on closing. A customer relationship management software solution can help with this by calendaring and setting up the regular communications necessary to progress leads to sales opportunities.
By keeping track of all customer interactions, customer management software can help support personnel better respond to questions. Also, all support personnel can see the same customer record and so anyone can respond knowledgeably to the customer’s inquiries. By incorporating customer management software with all of a customer’s transactions in an ERP system, support personnel can easily see and update the customer on the status of a particular transaction or record customer’s changed instructions for that transaction. The changed instructions can then easily be shared with fulfillment personnel to ensure that they are acted upon.
What Customer Management Software Can Do for You
Good customer management software for distributors can deliver many benefits for your business. This is particularly true if your customer management software or CRM is fully integrated with your business management ERP software system. These are the types of benefits you should see:
Improved Conversion of Prospects
By systematizing the sales process, you should be able to see improvements in the overall percentage conversion of prospects to closed sales. With access to the data underlying your sales processes, you can see where the bottlenecks are and refine the process. You can also weed out salespersons that aren’t making enough calls or don’t follow up. You can also identify the salespersons that stand out and analyze what they are doing that can be systematized and incorporated into your sales playbook.
Increased Sales to Existing Customers
Once you start to track all customers accounts, you can pull in business intelligence to analyze this data. Typically, what you are looking for are trends or insights in the data that will help you sell more. For example, you may want to look for customers whose purchases are declining and then find out why. Then you can take steps to reverse the declining trend. You may also want to look at what products are typically sold with other products and then identify customers that are buying only one of these. This is an opportunity to upsell the other products to these same customers. You may also want to look at what customers that fit a certain profile, purchase. Then you can find other customers that meet the profile but that aren’t making those purchases. These are also upsell opportunities.
Improve Customer Relationships
Distributors understand the value of good customer relationships. Your customers can easily get the goods they need elsewhere. By carefully recording everything you learn about your customers you can ensure that you know what they want and what is important to them. Some customers may be price focused, others may prioritize availability of the goods they need, and others may value service. Understanding this information in itself can go some way to building strong customer relationships – no customer wants to have to keep explaining their needs and wants. In addition, by making this information accessible to salespersons, warehouse personnel, delivery personnel, invoicing and accounts receivable personnel, they will all be able to act on it. This will ensure that you are focused on what your customers value and you can serve them better. Customer satisfaction leads to repeat business and cuts down on the cost of business development and new customer acquisition.
Improve Customer Service
When customers call in for updates, they want to get the latest information on their orders. By integrating all your ERP transactions into your customer management software for distributors, your support personnel will be able to go directly into these orders. They will be able to read the warehouse staff comments and give the best information available to the customer. In addition, if there are last minute changes, such as where to ship the order or which products need to be delivered on priority, all this can be communicated directly to fulfillment by the customer support personnel. This will improve customer satisfaction and also work to improve customer relationships.
Improve Business Processes
By tracking all customer interactions, you will be able to learn if there is a problem somewhere that customers are perceiving. This could be an issue with what products you are not stocking, or perhaps not stocking enough of, or your pricing, or your salespersons, or how you are filling orders. Once you are alerted to an issue, you can then re-engineer your purchasing, or inventory, or sales or fulfillment or support processes to proactively address the problem. Then you can reach out to the customer to acknowledge the problem identified by the customer and explain what you have done to fix it. This continuous responsivity to customer feedback is typically very gratifying to customers and also works to increase customer satisfaction and strengthen customer relationships.
If your customer management or CRM software is not delivering for you, let us show you how Accolent ERP’s built-in customer management software for distributors can help. Accolent ERP is a Cloud-based solution that runs in AWS and offers full end-to-end functionality for wholesale distributors. Accolent ERP includes its own customer management software for distributors and can also integrate with third-party CRM solutions.