Small Business - Sales & Marketing: The Basics
Written Date: 20/06/2017 15:27
Written By: Andrew Arscott
Article Category: Business Support
Sales & Marketing: The Basics
As with most things in life, unless you get the basics right, you are unlikely to succeed. The same applies to sales and marketing within business. All business, large or small, should have a sales and marketing strategy to help them succeed. Sales & marketing strategies will differ between B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) companies. This guide will help cover what needs to be done in a B2B environment.
So where should you start? By selecting your tools, after all, you cannot complete a task unless you have the right tools to do the task. The one tool that no business should be without is a Customer Relationship Management platform which is often referred to as a CRM. A CRM helps you track all of your customers and your interaction with them. Depending on what CRM platform you choose, you can have a host of other great functionality to help you run your marketing campaign and track leads and opportunities, automating tasks and managing finances.
There are a number of CRMs currently on the market, depending on which you choose, you will have differing levels of functionality, however most CRMs will adopt the same core functionality. They also range in price, depending on what your requirements are. Fortunately, most of the hosted CRM platforms have a sliding scale pricing and are very affordable. As your business grows and your revenue increases, you will be able to afford to increase your feature set with them. Most hosted CRMs are charged per user, whereas, if you choose to host your CRM in your own hardware infrastructure, you would be expected to pay a hefty license fee.
At Defiant Web Technology, we developed our CRM in-house. Many of our clients have this CRM integrated into their web applications. Building your own CRM can be very expensive, especially if you need an extensive feature set, for the vast majority of businesses, the CRMs currently available on the market will be sufficient to fit your needs, and as CRMs are customisable, they can be configured to fit your needs. If your business is a niche and you have specific requirements, you may require a bespoke CRM, or you may find a CRM online which allows custom modules to be built and integrated into it. This article will assume your business is suited to the standard feature set provided by all decent CRMs. If you have any questions about this, please send us a message and we will be happy to provide advice.
Which CRM is right for me?
To decide which CRM is right for you, you need to decide what functionality you require and how many people will be using it.
Initially, you will use the CRM to simply store the contact details of your existing clients, and input details of companies who you intend to target. All CRMs will offer this functionality, and as there are many too choose from, it can be difficult deciding which one to choose. To make things easier for you, we have taken the time to narrow your search to what we believe to be the two best candidates.
For the purpose of this article, we will assume that a hosted solution will be more suitable that an on-premise installation of a CRM. The reason for this is the time and skill required to setup and maintain the hardware to run a CRM is extensive, and the on-going maintenance required is difficult to achieve unless you have your own IT department. In addition to this the cost of a license for a CRM server can be in excess of £3000, so it's a very expensive license.
A hosted solution also allows you to access the software through any web browser, so you will be able to access your CRM no matter where you are via your mobile phone or tablet, or on your computer in your office.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM
Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM is a great solution for small businesses. It has a great deal of functionality which includes, sales, customer service, field service and project service automation.
As you would expect from the CRM, you are able to store details of organisations and contacts within the organisation. The fields are also customisable which allows you to store details specific to your business, rather than just generic fields. These customisable fields are also searchable using custom queries.
This software is feature heavy, and it's likely that you will use less than half of the functionality that the system offers, but it is there for you to grow in to. It is however not “cluttered” and is easy to navigate, many of the features are hidden and need to be configured before you use them.
The pricing options allow you to opt out of the functionality you do not require, so if you have no interest in using Dynamics CRM to invoice your customers, you would opt out of this and save yourself money on your license.
We have an on-premise installation of Dynamics CRM on our development server which we used prior to the development of our own CRM package. The full package you get for an On-premise install is extensive, and there are companies that exist with the function of configuring and managing Microsoft Dynamics CRM installations for other companies and do nothing else. If you wish to use Dynamics CRM to its full potential, you will undoubtedly need to call outside help to get it just the way you want it. We spent days configuring our system to work the way we wanted it, and still found that there was so much more than we could do with it.
Microsoft is considered the market leader in Business software; the vast majority of businesses use Microsoft Office for general office use and Microsoft Outlook for their email. Dynamics integrates with Outlook, Word, OneNote and other applications, so data can easily be shared without the need to duplicate data, for example emailing a quotation or invoices, the data can be sent directly to Outlook and it is also stored as a log in Dynamics, so you can quickly see all the interactions you have had with a specific customer. This is extremely useful as if you are dealing with hundreds of leads at the same time, you can quickly view the interaction log to remind yourself of the previous discussions you have had with this customer.
In addition to this, there are many apps available for iOS, Android and Windows phone, so you can always have all of the information available at your fingertips, so no matter where you are, you can quickly look up customers and your interactions with them; and its really handy for sales in the field, especially if you are visiting clients on a regular basis.
Usability & Support
Once you get your head around all of the features on the system, it is pretty straight forward to use. And you don't need to be an expert in CRM to get on with it. Microsoft provides a large amount of support documentation to help you get the best from the package. In addition to this, there is a large online community of forums and online guides which can be found using simple searches on Google. If you encounter any issues, Microsoft offers a ticket support system and are quite efficient at getting issues resolved in a timely fashion.
There are options depending on your needs and Microsoft also offer a free trial for you to evaluate the package so you can decide what packages you need.
Full pricing information and access to a free trial can be found here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/dynamics365/pricing
Insightly CRM is a cloud based CRM system founded in 2009. It is a CRM and Project Management Tool with a superb feature set, ideal for any new business. In addition to this, it has a free option, so you can try the package out without needing to make a decision whether or not to adopt this CRM before a free trial expires.
This CRM comes with its free option which supports up to 2 users. This is ideal for a new business to start using a CRM to see how it can benefit their sales and marketing strategy. The free version comes with limitations as to how many contacts that can be stored in its database and there are limitations on its more complicated functionality.
The pricing on this depends on how many users and what functionality you require. Again, with this, we recommend working your way up the pricing structure as you require more functionality.
The basic plan is a suitable start point, which starts as $12 per user per month when billed annually, or $15 when billed monthly. This plan will have enough functionality to get your started.
Full pricing details can be found here: https://www.insightly.com/pricing/
Like Dynamics CRM, this software integrates with Outlook, it also features as special email address, which when mail is sent to this email address, will automatically be logged against the appropriate contact. Insightly also have a feature rich app where you can access all of your contacts, view opportunities and more. The app is available on both iOS and Android.
Usability & Support
Insightly is really easy to use, it's simple and straightforward and has an abundance of support documents available online. In addition to this, depending on which package you opt to go for, you have email support available too.
Which CRM do I choose?
Both of these CRMs offer all of the functionality that you will need to get started. I suggest trying both, and seeing which you like best.
We originally used Dynamics CRM as an in-premise installation and found it to be excellent, likewise, one of our business associates uses Insightly, and believes that it's much better than Dynamics CRM. So, it's mostly down to personal taste. One benefit of using Dynamics CRM, is that if you grow to a point where an on-premise installation of Dynamics CRM Server becomes appropriate, it is easier to migrate the data from Dynamics 365 CRM to Dynamics Server.
Of course, there are many more CRM platforms available online and many offer a free trial of sorts, so please feel free to look around and find something that you like, as long as you have a CRM.
So, you have chosen a CRM and you are setup and ready to go, so what's next? Now you need to decide what you are selling, and what message you will use to sell it.
When a business decides they want to buy a product or service, they usually do it for one of two simple reasons, they either believe this purchase will increase their turnover, or the purchase will decrease their outgoings, or maybe both. Your sales approach should address this, take the following example.
If you want to sell a website, you would promote the fact this website will increase turnover by increasing visibility of this company and the products/services that they offer. If you want to sell web hosting, you would promote that you are cheaper than the competition and offer a better service, thus your customer can save money on their web hosting bill.
No matter what your product or service, you need to quickly convey the message that you can offer a service that will increase their turnover or decrease their expenditure. You won't have long to convey this message, so you cannot “beat around the bush”. Your message will need to be short and precise. I recommend developing a promotional PDF with information about the product you offer, this PDF should be able to be printed off and distributed in paper format, or delivered as an accompaniment to an email. You may wish to make multiple PDFs which cover different aspects of your offering.
Generating Sales Data
Once you know what you want to say to your potential customers, you need to identify who those customers are going to be. You may have already done this as your product may be specific to a certain market of people, however if you have not, now would be a good time to identify who you want to sell your product or service too. You should be realistic with who your target audience is going to be. There is no point in a confectionary wholesaler trying to market their products to self-employed electrician, the electrician will have no need to purchase these items, so it's going to be a waste of time and effort. Decide your list of potential clients, I like to choose by business sector, so, Accountants, Legal Firms, Training Companies, might be a few sectors I would consider in my initial campaign.
Next you need to decide how you are going to acquire your data. There are options available for the acquisition of data. The first one is a slow option, which involves you manually adding data to your CRM by searching phone books and Google. This option is the most time consuming and would realistically require a full-time member of staff to manage this, usually the Business Development Manager or Business Development Executive. There is a heavy level of research involved in this, and it would usually require trawling through websites such as company check and LinkedIn to find the company executive names. Never send an email to a general company email address like hello@ or info@. These will have a high chance of getting ignored. Only email a company if you have a name of a contact within the company as this has a much higher chance of being read.
The second option, which is much quicker is to purchase data lists of data suppliers. These lists often contain the name of a key executive in the business, who is likely to be a decision maker of the business. The downside to these lists of data is that they can be quite expensive. Usually £1000 per twenty thousand contacts, and the data they supply is not 100% accurate, so you will some useless data within your records.
The second option is the quicker option and will allow you to begin your marketing campaign sooner, however it does require a level of financial input which you may not be able to commit or it may not have enough of a potential return from the investment.
All of these contacts should be stored in your CRM, as many as you can possibly muster, and this list should expand on a regular basis. Anyone who contacts you needs to be inputted into the database, and any company you think would benefit from your services needs to be inputted into the database. Every month your CRM should grow by at least 10% if not more.
Developing your Sales Pipeline
The next step is building a “Sales Pipeline”. A Sales Pipeline is where you store the list of your potential sales. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to increase the size of your sales pipeline, how you choose to do this is down to you.
Sales is very much a numbers game. Do not make the common mistake of once you have a bite from a potential sale, focusing entirely on this until the sale is won. One of the purposes of a CRM is to track interactions with customers, so once you have made progress with a lead, record the details in the CRM and move onto the next potential lead, or if you have no further to follow up, continue your marketing to increase the amount of warm leads in your sales pipeline. In realistic terms, depending upon your target market and competition, you will likely only convert less than 10% of your sales pipeline into actual sales. One Golden rule, is the lead turns cold, don't waste time chasing it, flag it as a follow up in 6 months' time and move onto the next one.
That's all for this article, in our next Sales & Marketing article, we will go into further depth in how to develop and grow your sales pipeline, and talk about the different marketing techniques you might consider using.