Available products and services range from simple address books to full business suites. So, how do you determine which is best for your needs.
Picking a product for any business can be one of those science projects. There are so many choices available, and its confusing. There are products that don’t even spell their own names “correctly” but they’re industry leaders. A few examples are Toggl, bit.ly, and others. These are great utilities and tools but, come on… do we have to be sevants to find them?
Ok, so picking one or more products is our goal here. And, just to set the record straight, I’ve experienced hundreds if not thousands of these SFA and CRM and xyxyx products. I do represent or have represented a number of CRM’s over the years, so yes, I might be a bit biased and will try to be self aware of that as I write.
First, you must determine your business model. Are you a manufacturer, a distributor, provide professional services, an agency (as in governmental services) or something else? I will normally write from a perspective of manufacturers, distributors/sales organizations, or professional services providers.
Assume you are a distributor. If that is the case, then your needs are based on relationships between you and a manufacturer and an end-user. i.e. Manufacturer –> Your business –> End User / Consumer. These relationships require a product that can handled those interactions. You buy from the manufacturer, perform a sales job, and provide a product to a consumer. I know, you’re saying, that sounds dead simple… dah! Those in business know there’s no “simple”.
So, lets look at what capabilities are needed.
1 – Need to have a database that can have my manufacturers in it. Their contact information, our account information, the ability to communicate to them, and so on.
2 – Need to have a database that can have my customers in it. Their contact information, their account information, their history of transactions, the ability to communicate to them, and so on.
3 – The ability to keep #1 and #2 separate but together. In other words, I want only my purchasing team to have access to information about the manufacturers. I want the sales team to have access to customers and prospects.
Many products available today provide feature #1 and #2 but some do not have #3. #3 is a very important piece of an entrepeunaur’s success. It comes back to that “by low and sell high” mantra. But, as a business leader, you need to keep the pieces in order for things to work. #3 is called record level security or better yet, field level security.
A record is the form you see on the screen typically. A field is those single pieces of information on the form, like name, phone number, address, and so on. Highly configurable systems provide these features.
Remember we’re in web time now meaning one click away and the rest is history.
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