April 20, 2023 at 9:09 p.m.

Who Owns the Pickup?

CRM and magic quadrants

By Richard Koenings-

Acronymania, will the suffering ever end? Is it the son of Covid?
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is one of the current buzz terms, but it merely obscures a simple truth all businesses consciously or intuitively know and understand, “stay close to your customers and your customers will stay close to you.” It’s right up there with a phrase used by one of my mentors: “Manage change or change will manage you,” but that’s another article. These truisms don’t need acronyms, they need common sense. 

A spreadsheet
So let’s be basic. For starters, a simple spreadsheet will do just fine. You do not need a fancy/expensive/complicated software program to do that. We’re talking small business here. Make a list of you customers and their address, and rate them an A or B, or C. A’s are the highest sales value/frequency customers with C being the lowest value/frequency customers of your base. I suggest 3 categories and a simple way to prioritize your attention.
Next column is the contact person(s) and phone/email, probably have two people listed. This is the ‘relationship’ person you or one of your people connect with at the company. Managing a customer relationship is not just a selling/transaction connection, but it’s also a staying in touch with on a periodic basis connection. 
After that comes the products/services they most recently purchased and dates and then the last contact date/person if separate from the last purchase. 

A Word document
For at least the “A” customers and maybe all or most depending on the numbers involved, I would recommend a separate customer activity sheet that first describes the customer and contact information, but then has a chronological listing of sales dates and items and value but also non-sales contact dates and names, not only the names of the person sold to or contacted but also the person who did the selling or made the contact. Thoughts for future possibilities of product and contact should be entered for later review.

A to do list
A regular review of the overall spreadsheet and customer activity sheets will give you a “to do” list for the coming week as well as ideas on what other of your products and services would be appropriate for you to discuss with the customer.
That’s all that’s to it and now you have a fully operational “CRM” program that one person can keep up on and use for planning, and it didn’t cost you but some time on your computer, an Excel spreadsheet, and some Word documents. Get fancier, and more expensive, when the volume and people involved require it. Make these simple documents available for updating by whomever has the required information. The information can be provided to an administrative person to keep up and available for review by those in a “need to know” position.
This same documentation approach can be duplicated for prospects not yet customers. You still list them by size, still identify contacts and product possibilities and, who you could use as a referral/reference. 

The magic quadrant
This is for fun and how you view yourself in relationship to competitors and your industry.
Draw up a four-box figure, lower left box is named Niche players, lower right is Visionaries, upper left is Challengers, and upper right is Leaders. Where do you see yourself now and where do you want to see yourself tomorrow? 
A Niche player can be fully content with that descriptor, today and tomorrow; nothing wrong with staying where you are, that’s a lifestyle position and perfectly fine. It’s at the top right, if that’s your objective, that you will need to chart a path to achieve this different position in your industry/location. If you want to be a Leader you will need a vision, a plan, and the energy and stubbornness to challenge and succeed. It’s not a better route, it’s just a different objective.

The summary message
There are two points in this article. CRM is absolutely a requirement for a sustainable business, but expensive software and programs are not necessary. At its height it includes contact management, reports and dashboards, sales analytics, sales forecasting, and social media management. 
What do you get from all that? A lot of information that costs a lot to maintain and keep current. In our Northwoods environment and size of business and needs there’s a much simpler way to get the results at a minimal price with the most effective information, what is referred to as “actional information,” what you can actually use in your business to improve and extend your operations. 
Oh, and then there’s the quadrant exercise, just for fun to see where you are in context and where, if anywhere else, you’d like to go, now or at another time.

Next up
It’ll either be churches and funeral homes or real estate and insurance. How’s that for some contrast? 
Richard Koenings is an instructor and professor at Nicolet College and Concordia University, an executive manager of small and large businesses, a founder of three businesses, and has 30 years of experience as a business lawyer.


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