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Agrimarketing : September 2012
customer record was their complete agronomic information ---soil tests and detailed maps by paddock, and detailed maps showing their historic record of fertility levels. He can also see detailed records on each order they had placed this season along with brief notes made by the order desk and the store along with notes from any contact that the customer had with Ravensdown's office staff --- highly useful information in planning his call as soon as he had a confirmed appointment. This is all critical information necessary for building his 'next call strategy.' He was ready to go to work. SALES MANAGER'S VIEW Because their new Integrated Farm Plan strategy was so important, Darryl, Steven's manager, was keen on monitoring the progress of each of his eight account managers and two key account managers. Darryl knew that some of them had been less than enthusiastic about the Integrated Farm Plan strategy from the first moment and might require some additional coaching. Through the same CRM system, Darryl could track the progress of each of his direct reports as they begin to calendar appointments and submit call reports over the next two weeks. This would provide highly useful data for his coaching strategy. SENIOR MANAGER'S VIEW CRM reports were always a focal point for the National Sales Manger 's (Ross) weekly teleconference with his sales managers. Jointly, they would evaluate Ravensdown sales strategies based on the individual, regional, and companywide experiences, reported and summarized in reports that are available to management staff. Ross is keenly aware of the importance of management --- even top management, to be a full participant in making the CRM program effective. For example, in his involvement in a special program with Lincoln University, he is working on a committee with a leading dairy farmer who mentioned his strong interest in grass seed genetics. Ross made certain, on that same day, that he added this information into the CRM system to flag the salesperson about this newly revealed interest that might have relevance to the account manager 's ongoing relationship with this important account. CRM AND MARKETING CRM provides information critical to bringing sales and marketing together Marketing is all about analyzing customers and buying patterns, segmenting customers into meaningful groups with similar needs and buying patterns, developing unique programs and strategies for important segments that are most effective when carefully implemented by a sales force who knows how to effectively utilize marketing strategy. Marketing has access to important sales information to shape more effective marketing strategy. CRM creates the opportunity for sales to have more direct input into the development marketing and marketing communications strategies. SECRET OF CRM SUCCESS As Aimer emphatically puts it, "Everyone Needs To Be Committed!" That simple mantra is key. The old adage of "garbage in....garbage out" could not ring more true when applied to a CRM system. Everyone with customer contact must be committed to reporting information into the system .... accurately and in real time, every time there is customer contact. Without this commitment, the entire system falls apart. This means everyone, including top management who often have very important customer interaction and must demonstrate their commitment to CRM through their own behavior. As Aimer says, "My mantra is that culture is everything. Culture is the behavior people exhibit when they are on their own, not under the eyes of their supervisor. Not only does everyone have to be committed, everyone has to believe in the company strategy and direction. There has to be buy-in that this approach is in the best interests of everyone. "Our sales team must believe that our InFront system is there to support them in achieving this outcome. It adds value to them as individuals and as a team, to collaborate. That is the only way we will win. The challenge of the man- agement team is to make the system essential to our sales people --- so essential that it becomes as important to them as a company car or telephone in carrying out their role of understanding their customers' needs," Ross concludes. A CRM system must become engrained into the culture of the organization. Anything short of this is doomed to be a waste of resources. That commitment must begin at the very top of the organization and consistently flow throughout the organization. Aimer is quick to point out the cost of developing an effective CRM system takes a great deal of time. "It is one thing to acquire or develop the software," he says. "It is quite another to get acceptance and adoption of the system throughout the organization, to train salespeople to use the system as a call planning tool, to report call activity promptly, to make sure that sales managers are requiring their direct reports to use the system, and to integrate all of this with the marketing department's strategy development for each priority segment and product category." THE BOTTOM LINE CRM programs can be a powerful tool for agribusinesses, especially those with complex relationship with their customers. But it takes a serious commitment from top management who are willing to support CRM in both word, deed and dollars. But value and serious competitive differential advantage can result from an effective CRM system. It is a difficult and costly program to create and implement but a powerful tool when implemented effectively. AM September 2012 Agri Marketing 61
AgCareers USA 2012