It’s important to be selective with the systems you implement, though some shouldn’t be skipped. Here are three essential systems to have in your business:
In the tech world, CRM is an acronym many associate with email marketing. While email marketing is part of a CRM system, there’s much more to it.
A CRM makes it easier for you to manage your relationships with customers by handling important customer-facing functions.
At the core of every CRM is a database that houses customer data: name, contact information, demographics, and any other information you choose to store. You can store their birthday, profession, favorite color, and even what kind of pets they have (if that’s relevant to your business).
This database is used for more than email marketing. It gives your sales reps immediate access to customer data, and allows them to add more data as it’s collected from their calls. A CRM system will enable your sales reps to schedule appointments, calls, meetings, and set reminders for following up. They’ll be able to designate where the customer is in the sales process, and make notes about what they need to do to close the sale.
A CRM automates specific marketing interactions (like emails and even phone calls made by sales reps). It provides your business with the data you need to make future marketing decisions, and top of the line CRM software (like Salesforce and Infusionsoft) to track sales opportunities, send those opportunities straight to your sales reps, and manage the entire customer journey.
An ERP system is what will help you free up your cash flow by managing the complexities of your manufacturing and distribution processes. This includes supply chain management and overseas operations.
An ERP system can do what can’t be done manually. Professionals at Acceo explains that using an updated ERP system is essential for success:
“Businesses that leverage the most current version of their ERP system consistently outperform those using older technology in areas like average days sales outstanding, complete and on-time delivery, adherence to internal timetables, inventory accuracy, percentage of financial report accuracy, timeliness of data availability, and customer satisfaction.”
If you want better cash flow, an ERP system will let you input everything from orders and quotes to vendor purchases, material purchases, and labor in order to accurately calculate variables and provide you with a plan for the future.
The importance of thoroughly training new hires can’t be overstated. The biggest problem with training, however, is that some businesses hire outside agencies to do it. They send their employees to a downtown office and expect them to be fully trained when they come back. This approach doesn’t always work.
If your employees need to pick up some hands-on technical skills, then by all means, send them out for training by the experts. If you need your employees to learn job functions that require making decisions that affect your company, don’t send them out to a company that doesn’t understand your business. The best person to do the training is either the manager or the owner of the company.
Andy Grove, author of High Output Management, has inspired many leaders with his chapter titled: Why Training is The Boss’ Job.
Andreessen Horowitz from BusinessInsider.com shares how reading this chapter changed his career.
Many managers want to take a hands-off approach to training because they feel like it’s not in their pay grade. The author linked above used to believe that, but Grove’s book changed his mind.
While working for Netscape as the director of product management, he tried Grove’s approach. He started training his teams directly and watched their performance improve instantly.
Horowitz says, “I wrote a short document called Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager which I used to train the team on my basic expectations… I was shocked by what happened next. The performance of my team instantly improved. Product managers that I previously thought were hopeless became effective. Pretty soon, I was managing the highest performing team in the company.”
By directly training his staff, he was able to help them understand and exceed his expectations. Employees want to do their jobs well, and when you’re the boss, training them directly gives them that opportunity.