Keeping everyone in the know - even in a small company - can be difficult, especially when it comes to sales. Effective communication and information sharing is essential to ensure everyone is up to speed, as Rachel Miller explains
It’s not just big companies that have problems with internal communication, small firms can face the same challenges. In other words, the right hand doesn’t always know what the left hand is doing.
At the same time, some employees - especially sales staff - like to work independently and do not always share information. “Sales people can be very secretive,” says Robin Daniels, senior manager, product marketing at CRM specialist Salesforce. “We call it sand-bagging. They tend to hide - sometimes when it’s not going well - but also so they can jump up and be the hero when they make a sale.”
In the long run, secrecy is not a recipe for success. “Clear communication from sales people to everyone else in the business is really important,” says Daniels. “For instance, everyone needs the latest information so they’re not misleading customers. You need one copy of an up to date price list, rather than lots of old lists floating about. Having one version in a central system is vital. You also need single versions of your marketing materials so all the details of your products and services are up-to-date.”
CRM (Custom Relationship management) systems offer a level of transparency that can be very good for small businesses. It means everyone can see where leads are coming from and who is following them up. Sales and marketing can work together and leads can be routed to the right sales people instantly and not left to go stale or slip through the net.
When it comes to marketing campaigns, a CRM system can also provide a dispassionate analysis of success for all to see. “A CRM system can measure return on investment on all marketing activity and campaigns,” says Daniels. “It can link what was spent on something like an exhibition to how much business the event subsequently brought in. So everyone knows exactly what works. Everything is traceable.”
Communication works both ways. If a customer is dissatisfied or has a query, then that information needs to be shared, whether informally or on a CRM system. Otherwise, a sales person could easily put their foot in it when they call. “It means that when a sales person calls up, he can say, ‘I see you rang last week, has that problem been fixed?’”, says Daniels.
That level of customer care has to be good for business.