This article is part of a four part series and is relevant if you are considering a new customer relationship management system. Â See Part I here.
Inconsistent Practices – Speculative Endeavors
Inconsistent information management practices is a fancy way of saying that the business system is used differently by people holding the same role — common in sales organizations. Â In my mind, the key reason the practices are inconsistent is because salespeople are working in more speculative activities. Â Speculative activities demand more creative behaviors to produce a customer commitment. Â Despite management science and academia seeking to make sales processes sound like a cause-and-effect rational phenomenon using words like sales pipeline, a customer does not make a commitment with any regularity like a machine which produces assemblies and finished goods. Â In my observation, each customer moves to make a commitment at inconsistent velocities with different concerns in mind and under varying time horizons.
Contrast the Sales function to the Accounting function which relies on measuring concrete and predictable events where commitments are made by both internal employees and respective customers. Â Is it any surprise that information quality suffers around the Sales function relative to the Accounting function? Â Poor information quality means you can’t trust you can make good assessments from the summaries and listings produced by the CRM business system. Thus you must rely on other “touchy feely” ways to account for the “noise” inherent in sales and marketing related reports.
The Estimate and the Sales Order Specify the Future
NetSuite helps because it was designed to capture the key actions in the entire sales lifecycle. Â Most CRM solutions do not offer two superior NetSuite transactional events: the Estimate and the Sales Order. Â These transactional documents represent customer conversations around specific products and services offered. Â An Estimate is the precursor to the Sales Order which is the ultimate meaningful customer commitment (the sales has closed). Â It is important to note that there is a single product master behind these transactional events. Â That means that the descriptive language, prices, structural relationships, and stock / inventory information is the “Single Source of the Truth” of “what” is being offered driving all parties (salespeople, order entry, warehouse management, etc.) to act in concert. Â These transactional events help make the sales practices more uniform compared to other disintegrated CRM offerings.
In a NetSuite environment, the sales organization can easily measure how many estimates and sales orders they have to better predict future revenue. Â If an estimate is not well crafted, it is highly unlikely that a customer will commit to the sale. Â Hence, more care will be produced in the estimate document development and delivery to close the sale. Â The Estimate document will simply become the Sales Order once the customer agrees to buy. Â No duplicate data!
Understanding the differences in sales and marketing practices and aligning action with Estimate and Sales Order transactional documents work to minimize the challenges produced from inconsistent information management practices. Â Taking care of this concern will help you succeed in your implementation. Â We have addressed the duplicate data problem and now we can move on to the remaining two in subsequent articles:
- Multiple Information Origins
- Salesperson’s Perceived CRM Benefit
If you are ready to move up from your current CRM system and want to ensure success, we should talk.