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CRM and controlling

Figures – an important basis for sales and other departments. These figures only become really useful, however, if they are available having been prepared and evaluated. That is because only then do real situations become recognizable and practical decisions can be made on the basis of this – be it in relation to the customer's buying behavior, the achievement of targets or long-term planning.

Sales, orders received, outstanding items... These and more figures are provided in the ERP system. For sales staff, these figures are only of real use if they are available to them in a raw format. If the figures from the ERP software are transferred into a CRM system, it generally offers detailed evaluation options. These analyses assist the sales department firstly in looking after customers, and secondly they provide a constant, updated overview of the department's processes. Sales is all about knowing the customer or prospective client very well in order to ensure support that is as customized and as professional as possible. This knowledge goes beyond simple address and contact management. To obtain a comprehensive picture of a customer, detailed evaluations of their buying behavior can be a major advantage. If the sales employee knows, for example, his top 50 customers and his own sales per customer, he knows how he should weight his support for each individual customer. If he is looking at his sales on a territory-wide basis, he can respond accordingly to each region. If he knows which customer has bought which article, he can offer that customer other matching articles. The more comprehensively a CRM system analyzes data and figures, the more comprehensive is the sales department's knowledge of the customer.

What applies to sales staff is also of major importance for sales managers and business managers. These individuals need to make targeted decisions quickly and also be able to plan long-term. And this is only possible with a sound knowledge base. Simply stacking up figures is not enough; they have to be prepared and evaluated, ideally with just a few clicks. Monthly and annual comparisons, as well as cumulative overviews, ideally day-accurate, offer a general view of past periods, from the overview to the detail, e.g. at goods group level down to article level. Territory-by-territory overviews make it clear where sales need to be actively stepped up, while customer overviews offer an all-round view of all or individual customers. If sales employees' goals are documented in the CRM system, target/actual comparisons offer an overview at any time of how those goals are being achieved, allowing improvements or countermeasures to be instigated in good time. Beyond the sales department, these types of analysis also provide a precise general view in the service sector: Which products are generating particularly high numbers of complaints? Does a product need to be improved? Which customers are generating particularly high numbers of complaints? Maybe they are using a product that isn't right for their needs. Are the lead times for processing complaints as good as they could be, or do processes need to be adapted?

Evaluations are also indispensable for marketing campaigns. That is because only companies that know their customers and prospective clients in detail can choose the right target group for their campaigns. If a mailshot is planned for specific accessory articles, for example, the customers that are using the product for which the accessories are intended can be selected in a highly targeted manner. Or a marketing campaign can involve writing to customers whose sales fell over the last quarter.

The evaluation options in CRM systems are of inestimable value for employees and managers. They provide valuable clues as to where and how processes can be optimized. When figures about sales, articles, complaints, etc. are prepared and analyzed, it is possible to learn where action needs to be taken to make process management even more efficient.