Everyone is glad 2020 is over, it was like no other in my lifetime and I sure hope 2021 will get back to normal so we can all get on with business. I am sure many of the changes that happened when we all faced a pandemic will stay with us for a while and some maybe forever. I wonder if business travel will ever get back the way it was or if companies have figured out they can save a lot of money by limiting it to just the really important meetings and use Zoom for the rest. I wonder if people figured out that working remotely works just fine and that they can get a lot more done if they don’t have to waste time commuting or just goofing around in the office. But what does this all mean for the way we manage the sales and marketing processes for our businesses?
When you did, you plan for 2021 I assume you identified the key performance indicators you want to achieve this year. If you did an honest plan, you also identified a set of things that need to happen or that need to get fixed this year. Maybe you want to launch a new family of products or enter a new market, maybe you want to get sales to forecast the coming months with some kind of accuracy, maybe you want to reorganize or change the way you go to market. All of these things need comprehensive plans with multiple stages and steps to get them done quickly and without major business disruption. The key to success is how you go about getting these complex, difficult things done during the year and keep the organization focused on them as the day-to-day issues consume you.
There is a solution to building a data-driven planning and keeping it on the front of everyone’s list of priorities. If you build a plan based on customer data and driven by a defined set of goals you can keep the attention on getting the job done by keeping the attention on what is happening with your customers.
New Product Launches and New Market Programs – With an advanced CRM system such as the one from NEHANET you can lay in a set of new business opportunities for customers or markets for parts that are still to be completed. If you identify them in the system as a special class of products you can build a customer-centric plan to drive them into the market and link that to the specific introduction milestones that all major new product initiatives have. With a link between milestones and business results, you can capture a detailed roadmap of what needs to get done and what the business impact should be if the objectives are achieved. People try to make a CRM system too pure – only allowing it to track business products that are already in production but clever people set up a product class that has product availability milestones and then customer penetration objectives that are linked to those milestones. This keeps the organization focused on the objective – getting the products released and getting into key customers with a plan to deliver revenue as a result of the product deliverables.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – In your plan, I am sure you have defined a set of goals for sales, marketing, customer service, quality, engineering that can all be tracked and that people’s income is dependent on. With an Advanced CRM solution such as that provided by NEHANET, you can define those goals and the measurement data by person, group, or business. As the year progresses the system tracks where things stand in real-time and you can show performance to goals right along with the business data in business reviews and on dashboards that everyone can see so you can identify where you are going off track and take corrective action quickly so you can recover before it is too late. Companies often get bogged down in data and problems without looking at where they are compared to where they said they wanted to be. A sophisticated KPI tracking system lets you build understanding across the organization about where they can contribute the most to make a difference.
Accurate Business Forecasting – Forecasting an electronic Component business is notoriously hard to do. Lead times are long, customer demands are quick, and providing management with a business outlook that they can use to load manufacturing correctly, make wise investments, and hire the right people all to depend on having a forecast or business plan that is as realistic as possible – a little aggressive but not too aggressive so it is achievable. Building a forecast takes a lot of information. You have to be able to see what happened in the past – was January always a down month but the business usually accelerated going into the summer for example. You have to be able to see what the customer is demanding right now – looking at the aged backlog and looking for holes in the backlog or unreasonable upturns or downturns. You have to be able to easily layout a forecast that fits manufacturing needs for a clear weekly demand. You have to be able to show a conservative forecast by customer program and product but still, show an upside with some defined confidence level so management knows.