You are spending a lot of money in R&D creating new products. You should be able to see if your team is making progress turning that investment into new business. Creating real-time visibility relating to new product introductions and/or new strategic initiatives was number five on the VP of Sales list of critical destinations and one that requires the use of an online real-time access system such as a CRM or similar system. Looking at this from a CRM perspective, a number of steps can be taken in order to assist in reaching this goal.
Linking campaigns, whether native to the CRM or an integrated third party app such as Marketo, to leads and eventually opportunities is the first consideration that needs to be made. This will assist in determining the success of new product or strategic initiative launches and is a great way to measure ROI of your marketing campaign. Ideally, you will want to have all leads imported into your CRM, aggregated by account, track activities and then convert to an opportunity when applicable. The aggregation by account and/or location is optional but I think it gives better clarity of the conversion percentage.
Tracking product introduction success is almost automatic with a CRM that includes products/parts support, as you will be able to build pipeline reports, forecasts etc around a specific part number or product family. Utilizing history track you will also be able develop timelines relating to the ramp rates of new products, new markets and so on. These are great feedback mechanisms allowing comparative analysis of historical product introduction etc.
Strategic initiatives, such as collaborative selling with a partner, targeting a specific group of customers, or market segment can be easily tracked as well. Most CRMs allow and make it simple to add custom fields to note specific information such as associated strategic initiative, campaign, market segment, and partner for example, if not native to the CRM. While it is great to identify these requirements upfront, one of the great aspects of today’s CRMs is the ability to do customizations on the fly with minimal impact to existing data. One area to keep in mind is the ability to create the type of reports and joining or sharing with other data within the CRM, such as opportunities or accounts. Any limitations you find will typically reside in these areas so it is important to define these requirements before adding custom fields.
You can also track and measure the impact of training programs, certification projects and strategic account penetration plan execution and see what is really happening and the results instead of just getting reports about interactions that have taken place.
CRMs are a great tool for collecting, analyzing and reporting on customer based sales, marketing, support and custom data. Make sure you take full advantage of the customization features available and gain maximum ROI out of your investment.