Digitisation, Success Story

ALPHAPLAN-CRM for SMEs

Data analysis for corporate success

Lesedauer: 7 Minuten

11. April 2021

ALPHAPLAN-CRM for SMEs  Data analysis for corporate success

What is CRM? It’s nothing new, yet it’s nowhere near as widespread as it could and should be – especially in SMEs. ‘Customer relationship management’ – it sounds complicated, but it is of course something that has been around since long before the digitalisation of business processes. A good salesperson knows their customers and their needs extremely well and builds an individual knowledge base – one which unfortunately the company would lose in the case of an employee’s departure. Moreover, this knowledge base would have been unavailable to the entire (sales) organisation. A remedy was provided by merchandise management systems or CRM systems, which are common today. For a long time, CRMs were available as add-on programmes or modules and often had their own database. ALPHAPLAN’s approach has always been to view merchandise management/ ERP data and CRM data as one unit and to make the entire merchandise management data available to the Customer Relationship Management for targeted evaluations.  

Kai Grulke, armed with scientific analysis methods, is deeply involved in the topic and gave an overview of the numerous CRM application possibilities in ALPHAPLAN at the online event “ALPHAPLAN Live” on 23rd February, 2021. He describes some of them in the interview.

The introduction mentioned what CRM is in principle, but what does ALPHAPLAN offer?

Kai Grille: CRM is not something that delivers data at the push of a button, but rather an interplay of various factors, which should enable a 360° view of my customers. It’s about more than just sales processes. All merchandise management processes provide data, which leads to more knowledge about the customers and their behaviour in the business relationship.

Could you give some examples?

Of course. Firstly, something basic: winning a new client is much more difficult than keeping an existing one. That is exactly why it is worthwhile to make targeted evaluations of the data and information available in the company – and in our case, of course, stored in ALPHAPLAN. More specifically:

  • Better customer understanding for marketing by monitoring the success of activities (e.g. campaigns). Error analyses and information for the next activities. Newsletters could be designed in a more targeted way. 
  • Preciser sales forecasts. Analysis of buying behaviour over longer periods of time, additional information from responsible salesperson (e.g. in the form of notes in ALPHAPLAN), possible re-evaluation of open offers.
  • Greater customer loyalty results from the broad knowledge base. The customer is better understood, I can better respond to them and to their current needs, communicate with them in a more targeted way. The customer feels good and may remain with me long term.

These are general objectives, but how does the ALPHAPLAN work specifically?

That can only be partially described here. I’ll start with addresses.

The address is the starting point for practically everything. I have contact persons for it and can assign information directly to them. I can also view statistical data on sales transactions: tables with annual comparisons, enquiries, proposals, preliminary orders, orders, delivery notes, invoices, credit notes, complaints, service calls, etc. The basic data accumulates in day-to-day business, it just has to be appropriately processed. 

Even enquiries are recorded in the system?

Yes, and this is exciting: with an enquiry I record the first expression of interest and, if necessary, I give a quote. If this does not result in a qualified offer or possibly even an order, I can investigate the cause. Even in this case, it does not take me much effort to record the customer enquiry yet it provides me with valuable data. If the enquiry does result in an offer or an order however, I have already prepared the sales quotation document.

You mentioned that CRM is not something that delivers data at the push of a button – what is the non-existent button for the CRM function is replaced by?

By tables, whose composition meets most of the CRM needs of SMEs. For example, there is the table of operations: a very useful tool, not only for sales, but for all employees with customer contact. All customer transactions are clearly displayed in the table: communicative transactions (e-mail, appointments, conversations) as well as document based, commercial transactions (invoices, enquiries, PDF files). Everyone in contact with the customers knows the current status as well as the history. 

So knowledge is power?

More like: knowledge makes one capable of action! But remember: data alone says very little, it must be interpreted and evaluated. We provide the tools and methods for this – and 30 years of experience.

Of course, statistics are a part of CRM, but they’re not rocket science! Every entrepreneur thinks about which product groups or items develop in which way with which customers and makes annual comparisons. 

What does an entrepreneur need ALPHAPLAN for?

Firstly as a data supplier, secondly to provide sophisticated and proven functions. They often already contain certain queries of the data stock, since these form the basis of every evaluation. Our extremely powerful search system is therefore the central component of this. However, it would go beyond the scope of this interview to even attempt to describe it in detail, so I’ll just give a few key terms. The system works with search words and their combination with the aid of logical operators. This can be very complex if targeted results are to be accurately filtered out of a huge database. Of course these queries can be saved to then be available at the push of a button.  

Another area of our CRM is opportunities. This is about sales opportunities, which I will briefly explain using this example: A customer is considering buying a new machine. Additionally, I know he would prefer a certain manufacturer, he is overall rather inexperienced in his field and he needs advice. Furthermore I can estimate the expected turnover and maybe I also know the available budget. The phase in which this opportunity arises (e.g. exploration, qualification, review, offer, negotiation or closing phase) is just as important for the sales planning as the overview of appointments along with any recorded notes. A wide variety of information relevant to the process can be recorded, used and, if necessary, subsequently evaluated.  

At its core, an enquiry is an opportunity. The opportunity however theoretically collects all information up until the customer order – and could even live on with all this data as its own project within the project business. Interesting questions here are, for example, the internal time required until an order is placed or the customer’s altered requests in the case of an offer have been revised several times. This link significantly improves sales handling processes and the overview of all relevant information.

Another key term is Purchasing-CRM. Typical questions include: Which suppliers do I order from relatively often? A bar chart quickly provides information. Possible follow-up questions: Am I dependant on this supplier? Can I balance my purchasing better in order to minimise dependancies and subsequent risks?

Additionally – Address-CRM. We were talking earlier about individual data by address, now we are talking about aggregated data across all addresses. Enormously significant statements are possible if I have some mastery of the system. Here are some examples:

  • Net sales in current year
  • Comparisons with previous year
  • Share of customer(s) in total turnover  
  • Question: Which of my customers make up more than 10% of the shares of my turnover? Furthermore: Which customers contribute more than 5% to the total turnover? Which of them has not been contacted for more than 150 days? The resulting list is a starting point for sales activities. 
  • Again, certain search settings for recurring queries can be set up (and saved). 

The list of examples can be extended as needed. Companies set up their standard queries and can use ad-hoc evaluations to deal with specific questions. The entire database of merchandise commissions is permanently accessible. Over the years, a real goldmine for CRM has developed out of this. The possibilities just have to be recognised and used.

What can CRM gold miners do to unearth their hidden treasures?

First of all, I would recommend watching the “ALPHAPLAN Live” video on the topic. 

Other than visiting our homepage alphaplan.de feel free to contact me directly at:  kgrulke@cvs.de or
+421 35017-300

Read more stories from this supplier.

CVS Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH

Otto-Lilienthal-Str. 10
28199 Bremen

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