Improve Sales and Reduce Costs With New Technologies

We have been marketing and implementing Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP and CRM systems to the small and mid market for the past four years. The companies implementing these systems have been amazingly successful, literally within months of going live with these systems. Business revenues have skyrocketed. Even during this weird economy we find ourselves in right now.

However what is amazing is how many businesses we visit where the business processes are poor and not enforced, management is inexperienced and there is limited use of technology. These businesses may be fairly successful, in spite of themselves, which is fantastic, but this merely hides the real challenges within the business. Management seems to be oblivious to the fact that the staff are really working long hours copying, scanning, making spreadsheet reports, trying to reconcile spreadsheet reports, reconciling inventory, wondering if Purchase Orders are closed, checking ship dates, and so forth. Lots of busy work which does not close sales, improve customer service or make any money. At the end of the week the staff are tired and frustrated and nothing has been reconciled.

We have seen these businesses hire coaches who try to get every body working smarter, not harder! They have done assessments, held workshops, retreats, and run strategy sessions. All this has lead to shuffling paper at an improved rate with a smile on their collective faces. Sales have not improved, costs have increased and unfortunately nothing is reconciled. The team, however are happy.

These people have no need for coaches or corporate cheerleaders they need systems! They need a way to get the drudge work out of the way so they can do what needs to be done to get products or services in the hot little hands of their customers!

Systems are generally not the realm of experience for most business people, so they avoid thinking about them. Hey our accounting package is good enough right? What would we need with anything more?
Yeah right…

In talking to the owners and managers about their issues, strategies, dreams and desires, discussions usually end up with a focus on sales and costs. Sales are down and costs are up. So we look at the sales process. There isn’t one. No support tools besides an e-mail package and printed copies from the accounting package and the ubiquitous spreadsheet. Occasionally we see a basic standalone CRM package, occasionally they have multiple users. Unfortunately their use is sporadic and unenforced. On the accounting side, the usual applications are often seen in organizations which have outgrown them. Then, of course, there are a multitude of spreadsheets. Every employee runs their section on a spreadsheet. This information is not shared as it is commonly believed to be of value to that person alone! Somehow we as consultants thought only large businesses could be siloed! Believe me a five person business can be so siloed, nothing gets done effectively and it gets worse as you add people without improving the systems.

The statistics of companies that implement systems are astounding. A random sampling of case studies shows this:
Increase revenue up to 41% per sales person
Improve lead conversation rates by over 300%
Decrease sales & marketing costs by 23%
Decreased IT operating expenses by 90 %

Wow, that is pretty impressive in anyones books. So you would think that with the opportunity of improving the financial position of the business, owners would be falling over themselves to at least entertain a discussion of what software systems could do for them. After all, figures like these really show that using modern systems is a No Brainer.

Bong – You are Wrong!

This is not the case. Most business owners are not computer savvy and end up using IT consultants to create, so called systems, by linking or integrating a simple CRM package with a basic accounting package or creating a new database that shares some information or other. The IT guys know how to write code and make simple solutions or even very complex solutions. Often these developed solutions could have been purchased by a known vendor with a great product at a fraction of the price of this wonderful development. The next problem is these programs and linkages need to be maintained and developed further as the technology improves. So business owners become IT shops and their budget starts to increase. Maybe not significantly at first but then staff are added to do this work, or to complete the reporting via spreadsheets because the systems do not provide the data. These staff costs are an IT cost. It does not take long before businesses are spending a considerable amount on IT.

So the question becomes; what business are you in? Developing software? Or servicing your clients and customers?

As a business person you cannot hope to keep up with things that are peripheral to your business. Things like systems. It is hard enough keeping up with your business, suppliers, staff, taxes and Medicare discussions. Leave the world of systems to system people. After all you don’t second guess your doctor, lawyer or CPA. So do some research to get an understanding of the possibilities of what your business could look like with a system in place, a full end to end system. From accounting to HR, operations and marketing, all managed under one application on the internet, from anywhere, anytime. What you thought you knew two or three years ago, has changed. If you only looked at systems last when you were employed many years ago, you will be amazed at what can be achieved that will suite any budget and skill level. It is quite amazing.