The start of a new year provides the perfect opportunity to allow the developments of the past year to pass review and to draft plans for the coming 12 months. Below we present five resolutions for 2021 that we believe no sales organization should do without when it comes to optimizing customer management.
Resolution #1 – Set realistic goals: The cornerstone for success is the definition of goals to be implemented during the year. This may seem like a banal point to make, but in our experience this vital step is often neglected in practice. A clear vision for the immediate future provides the basis for effectively aligning market and sales activities and helps to prevent goals from coming into conflict during the year. Especially in the current time of crisis, this is essential to avoid flying blind and to make careful use of what are likely to be limited resources. If you haven’t already done so, set ambitious but realistic goals for yourself according to the SMART principle.
Resolution #2 – Use idle time as an opportunity: Due to the pandemic, many companies are unable to continue their daily business as usual. Particularly in sales, it is important to use this involuntary downtime in a constructive manner. A promising approach to this situation lies in tackling issues for which there is usually little time in the normal course of daily business. These can range from large-scale projects to rethinking sales organizationally or strategically. Targeted training of field staff (see resolution 5) and initiating exchange of knowledge in cross-functional workshops are also within the realm of possibilities. Give due consideration to which initiatives make sense and are possible in your sales organization.
Resolution #3 – Better align yourself with your customers: It is a sound assumption that companies will be struggling with the consequences of the current crisis for some time to come. To cope with this new reality in the coming year, companies need to be able to quickly respond to changes in the market and new requirements in the procurement behavior of their customers. You can analyze your customers’ needs in order to develop and expand your innovative approaches to interacting with customers. The sticking point doesn’t necessarily lie in the portfolio, but in the rendering of service. You can use digital technologies – ranging from Internet shops to chatbots – to make it as easy and pleasant as possible for your customers to work with you.
Resolution #4 – Added value instead of price: To safeguard their survival and to hit budgeted targets, many companies have been tempted to drastically reduce their prices at the end of the year. In the new year, such decisions may then be regretted by suppliers if customers do not accept the discounts granted as simply one-off deals, thus putting supposedly strong customer relationships to the test. This can be observed particularly in low-performing companies, where price is the dominant sales argument and the sales department does not succeed in demonstrating the added value of their product in an understandable way. Value selling is a fundamental lever for lasting sales success. Consider what value you offer or should offer to your customers and communicate this to them. Think outside the box to build and intensify partnership relationships.
Resolution #5 – Finally make data usable: Data is the new key resource in customer management. Unfortunately, we often find that the quality of the collected data leaves a lot to be desired. For data-supported customer management, it is not enough to merely consolidate sparsely maintained and outdated data in a central CRM system. Put your focus this year on cleaning up and updating your customer data in order to create a clean and seamless database that you can actually work with. Set a good example and get all employees involved in customer management to do their part to improve your data.