The time from Thanksgiving through Christmas is the peak consumer spending season and all indications are that this is going to be a good year for the retail industry. With signs of improvement in the economy and greater consumer confidence, it is predicted that both on-line and in-store purchases will increase in 2003. After a couple of lean years, how will retailers capitalize on the wealth of data they will accumulate from all of these sales transactions? What strategies do they have to create to enable them to continue the growth and profitability of their most valuable customers?

Some thoughts are given to these questions in the article How Can I Make My Operational CRM Investments More Effective?, which examines ways to gain intelligence from customer interactions. To be successful, organizations must move away from a product-centric mentality to focus on consolidating data from all product lines and customer channels. This data can then be analysed to create effective intelligence that will lead to increased profitability of the total customer relationship. The key to understanding customer buying habits is transforming data from their transactions into actionable intelligence, gaining insights into customer behavior and preferences. This requires the use of analytical CRM to effectively attract and retain customers and maximize return on investment.

Read the Entire Editor's Commentary.

March 23, 2004



Using Community Relationship Management to encourage CRM adoption among Minority-Owned Businesses

BroadChannel .com
The King Is Always Right


Destination CRM
The State of CRM in the Minority Business Community

Sales Processes and Technologies Are Out of Whack

Software Firms Modify Models to Woo SMBs


The Network Journal
SBA Changes Rules to Assist Small IT Businesses and Testing Labs

The National Black Chamber of Commerce Mulls Entrepreneurship Initiative

  Hispanic Business
A Certified Success
The Modern-Day Technology Leaders

Small Business Computing
Measuring the Value of CRM
Can Google Local Find Your Small Biz?

PPC for SMBs: Small But Growing Numbers

  CRM Mastery Web Log
Fantasizing About the Benefits of a CRM Initiative

Wall Street Journal
Relationships Are Key To E-Mail Marketing

How Flashy Web Sites Can Turn Off Customers


American Demographics

Why is there a lack of advertising in minority publications?

Thank you to all who helped us in writing about The State of CRM in Minority Business, especially:

Dr. Thomas Boston - Georgia Tech

Vicki Hamilton - The Weather Channel

Carlos Pagoaga - Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


When Opportunity Knocks, What Does It Mean?

Ok, we all know what a sales opportunity is. Basically an opportunity is a sales deal associated with a specific prospect. So now that we’re all in agreement about what an opportunity is, what is it really?

In order to get the most out of your CRM initiative it is important for everyone involved with sales to have a solid understanding of how opportunities are managed. This starts with answering a few questions:

How Are Opportunities Valued?

On the surface this seems obvious - $$$$. However opportunities can be measured in units, price per unit and expected net revenues to name a few. It’s imperative for everyone in the sales organization to understand how opportunities are valued. If sales management has a different idea of how opportunities are valued than sales reps do, confusion will reign supreme.

For example, during the course of the sales cycle additional resources are required during the customized product demo stage. The sales manager must determine the appropriate amount of resources to be used for each opportunity based on the information each rep provides. It’s safe to assume that reps feel their opportunities are always highly valuable and want the best available resources to close their deals. If there is no standard way to measure the value of an opportunity the allocation of resources is done subjectively. So the reps that are highly persuasive may end up “selling” their management on opportunities that add less to the bottom line than other deals.

From the sales reps perspective, knowing how to value opportunities will give them a better handle on what deals to concentrate their efforts on to maximize the value of their pipelines, increasing their bonus potential.

How Are Opportunities Pursued?

Now that the lead has been qualified and you’re ready to engage the prospect, what happens next? What are the milestones in your sales cycle you that allow you to estimate your chances of a winning the deal? What tasks do you need to perform in order to reach milestones? What are the resources you require to complete tasks? How long do you expect it will take to determine the outcome of the opportunity? By answering these questions an organization can begin to automate those time consuming tasks that are repeated for every opportunity.

If your organization offers multiple products and services focused on different industries, chances are milestones, tasks and probabilities will not equate across the board. Selling software requires a different approach than selling professional services. Also selling consulting services to a small company may be different than selling consulting services to a Fortune 500, or to the public sector.

A good exercise to perform which will pay benefits in the long run is to write a definition of what each milestone means to your organization. This step will enable each member of the sales organization to know exactly what it means when an opportunity reaches this particular stage in the sales process, and what tasks are currently underway to reach the next milestone.

Opening the Door and Closing the Deal

Implementing a full-fledged sales methodology maybe more than many organizations need in order to increase the effectiveness of your sales efforts. It can be a time consuming and costly exercise to implement. The cultural change that usually comes about could cause conflicts in the organization if a well thought out implementation plan isn’t followed. However, by answering some the above questions you can lessen some of the ambiguity that can be inherently apart of the selling process, creating more effective and efficient communication. Forecasting can become more reliable with a better understanding of how stages, probabilities and tasks correlate with each other. The end result should be less administrative time spent talking about opportunities and more quality time working them. Ultimately, by taking some time to get all parties involved with selling on the same page should allow for more time to close deals and less time to ask questions.


To learn more about incorporating opportunities management into your CRM strategy feel free to contact CRM Essentials


Brent Leary
Partner, CRM Essentials
  Tackling Customer Dissatisfaction
April 14, 2004

Acclerate your Marketing ROI with Marketing Automation

On Demand


Making Analytics Actionable: Web Metrics and How They Should Be Used

May 4, 2004 2PM ET


Take a sneak peak at the new community website for minority business entrepreneurs and executives to share their CRM experiences with those who are new to CRM technologies and strategies

Click Here for Minority CRM

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Solutions for CRM
CRM: A Change for the Better?
Having a compelling vision and strategy that employees can rally around is effective in building momentum for organizational change.
More info on CRM:
CRM Best Practices: Project Planning

Who Are Your Customers?

What is CRM?

Hosted CRM’s Killer App

ING Gazelle Index
4th Quarter 2003 results meets Nextel's Walkie-Talkie and WebEx Team to Offer a Complete Sales Automation and Communication Service

Microsoft Business Solutions

Can Bill Gates Fix CRM?

A Small-Business Case Study of Microsoft CRM (Part I)


Sales Cycle Acceleration With Eloqua Conversion Suite

Steps to Search Engine Success

May 24-26, 2004

2004 GMSDC Business Opportunity Expo

  April 21-22, 2004
Athens, GA

4th Annual GWEN Conference
  April 8 , 2004
Atlanta, USA

Georgia-Pacific Supplier Diversity Procurement Fair
CRM Essentials interviewed for Atlanta Constitution-Journal article.
Click Here

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Customer Advisory Boards: A Strategic Tool for Customer Relationship Building
The One to One B2B : Customer Relationship Management Strategies for the Real Economy

Customer Relationship Management: How to Turn a Good Business Into a Great One!

The Customer Marketing Method : How To Implement and Profit from Customer Relationship Management
The Relational Enterprise: Moving Beyond CRM to Maximize All Your Business Relationships