Firms are now looking beyond their own business and focusing on customers once more.
I believe that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology is key in helping companies create strong bonds with customers. This can never be achieved if CRM is simply an Excel spreadsheet, as in many organisations. For CRM to be effective and deliver value, businesses need to take a more strategic, joined-up approach.
Most have information stored in various siloes and are unable to merge them. This means they cannot get a unified picture of their business.
If these data sources are merged in a single system giving all customer-facing staff with access to relevant information when they need it. Whether the data is accessed by employees in a call centre, marketing or the sales team in the field, companies can deliver consistent service in all their dealings with prospects and customers.
It also allows managers and business owners to get a much more unified view of their firm across marketing, finance, customer services and sales, and make better and more informed decisions.
Some mid-market organisations may have reservations about buying CRM applications, perhaps remembering software licences that remained unused in the past.
Where this has happened, though, I believe the implementations will often have been tactical, ill conceived and had little commitment from staff.
The key to making CRM a success therefore is to position CRM as a business strategy designed to optimise profitability, revenue and customer satisfaction.
This requires consultancy and facilitation to help an organisation define its priorities, enable process change and ensure a smooth transition. This is where resellers can add value.
But you will need to secure the buy-in, going beyond outlining the benefits of improved productivity, enhanced collaboration between departments and greater insight into customers. You will need to convince them how understanding customers better will enable them to win deals, keep customers and reduce costs.
Integrated CRM system is about managing a sales opportunity from the initial contact through to delivery and invoicing. It can also track e-marketing and advertising campaigns. And it can provide timely information on the sales pipeline, and it can be accessed by mobile workers in the field.
CRM should not be viewed as an option but an imperative, especially as we emerge from recession.
Steve Mance is sales manager at Viking Management Systems
Automation firms UiPath and Automation Anywhere close out their funding rounds with $265m and $300m respectively
View photos of last night's awards ceremony in London
View photos of all the winners from the 2018 Channel Awards
After a glittering awards evening in Battersea celebrating 25 years of the Awards, we are pleased to share the list of winners and judges' commended winners