CRM is one of the most effective ways to manage sales prospects and then segment them into any number of categories. It is a database driven technology that allows your sales staff to track prospects through the sales process and develop promotional campaigns specifically targeted to companies within each segment you manage. Using a CRM system, your staff can identify those prospects by their previous purchasing history with your products and those of your competitors, their geographic location, by the products or services they offer and any other attributes you want to track. It is a powerful tool that increases the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales outreach efforts while also providing a number of management tools that allow for the assessment of your organization’s sales program.

There are a number of CRM systems available, at a variety of prices and functions. Most can be installed on a computer network or are internet based for use by sales staff that is geographically scattered. They also include reporting functions and managing the flow of customers through the sales pipeline for better financial projections. Some of the top brands available are SalesForce, a customizable cloud-based system (www.salesforce.com). The company offers a number of pricing options and a full program of customer support. Other companies offering CRM products include ACT! (www.act.com) and Goldmine (www.goldmine.com) which offers both cloud-based and a version that can be installed on your organization’s network or PCs. This is not a complete list and there are other companies offering a full range of products at varying prices.

Another solution that is very low cost and effective is to build a CRM-type database using Microsoft Access which is part of the Microsoft Office Suite. Although this solution does not offer all of the features that are available with most of the other programs, it does serve many of the same functions. It can be linked to an online calendar, as well as email marketing programs.

No matter which program you use, a CRM program provides you with the names and contact information of companies that meet the specific criteria you ask of it.

Here are some examples:

“Give me the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of everyone who advertised in our association magazine in 2018, but has never exhibited at our convention.”

“…the names, phone numbers and email addresses of companies that exhibit at our convention but have never been a sponsor.”

“…the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of companies that purchase advertising from our competitors, but not from us.”

“…the names, phone numbers and email addresses of companies that manufacture widgets.”

“…the names, phone numbers and email addresses of companies that are headquartered in the city in which our annual convention will be held in 2020.”

Each of these queries will then provide you with the names and contact information of those prospects that meet the specific criteria you requested and you can then develop a marketing message specifically targeted to just those customers which contains a unique value-driven message.

A well-designed CRM system used to support your sales team’s efforts will result in more efficient use of our staff’s time, provide valuable information and intelligence to the sales management about the environment in which your products compete, and help to generate more revenue. And in today’s highly competitive environments and changing media landscape, segmenting your customers and prospects and customizing your communications with them will assure your success in the year ahead.

Robert is the Principal of Advertising Sales Experts, Inc. He has over 30 years of experience in all aspects of publications and trade show sales and management. He has worked for both commercial and association publishing organizations and has lead national sales teams which have consistently exceeded their sales goals. He has also been an active member of the association community including serving as Chair of the ASAE Communications Section Council and has been a frequent speaker at ASAE and other industry events. In addition, Robert is an adjunct member of the faculty at the University of Maryland where he teaches courses on marketing and sales management.

Robert is the Principal of Advertising Sales Experts, Inc. He has over 30 years of experience in all aspects of publications and trade show sales and management. He has worked for both commercial and association publishing organizations and has lead national sales teams which have consistently exceeded their sales goals. He has also been an active member of the association community including serving as Chair of the ASAE Communications Section Council and has been a frequent speaker at ASAE and other industry events. In addition, Robert is an adjunct member of the faculty at the University of Maryland where he teaches courses on marketing and sales management.

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