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How to choose the right CRM partner

Which CRM partner?With so many suppliers offering similar Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions and services, how do you choose the right one? For me, there are 10 key things one needs to consider when choosing a partner. Here is my check list.

1. Research the Supplier

Research the company’s profile to confirm their expertise and history. Check whether they have a solid track record in developing solutions for your sector and if they’re an accredited supplier.

2. Check Customer References

Always ask for references and contact those provided by the partner. The more the merrier.

3. Review Support

Review evidence of a track record regarding response and resolution times that the supplier provides.

4. Personable

You, the customer, must feel valued so the personal relationship is vital as this should be a long term collaboration.

5. Knowledgeable

Software by its very nature is ever developing, a partner needs to be abreast of change and be able to demonstrate experience and know how.

6. Account Management

A consistent point of contact is imperative throughout so do ask questions about service levels.

7. Beware of Hard Sell

Avoid the hard sellers, a good partner will listen to your requirements and not sell you products or services that you don’t need.

8. Don’t Rush the Process

Desperation to change can often lead to a poor decision so make sure things are done in a timely and orderly manner. Don’t be pressured into making a rash decision.

9. Be Wary of Evasive Responses

Credible partners should provide timely, knowledgeable answers so if the supplier doesn’t it should ring your alarm bells!

10. Read the Small Print

Ensure clarity of services offered at all times. Apply due diligence and review the proposals, service agreements and contracts. It can save you money in the long term.

If you would like to discuss your CRM or BI needs, please call Advantage on 020 3004 4600 or email info@advantage.co.uk.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, is this the best version yet?

The CRM market is changing fast and the method for delivery. Expectations for growth are that over 50% of all CRM solutions will be deployed in the cloud.

This trend is definitely reflective of the way people now work, especially sales teams. In many companies, sales and marketing teams meet face-to-face less and less but the need to be more connected to each other is more apparent now than ever.

Microsoft CRM 2015 is the first release that attempts to bridge the gap between sales and marketing, removing the need for marketers to use many disparate systems and allowing the sales executives to really engage with the marketing process.

So what are the top 5 benefits of CRM 2015 from a sales and marketing perspective?

1. Microsoft Dynamics Marketing - The 2015 update of Dynamics Marketing helps organisations streamline campaign creation and improve segmentation with graphical email editing, A/B and split testing, integrated offers and approval workflows. Sending bulk emails campaigns and monitoring their progress directly in CRM has never been easier.

2. Enhance Mobile Sales - Ever been in a meeting and wanted to add details directly into CRM with your mobile device because you didn’t have access to a wireless network? CRM 2015 will allow users to create drafts offline and update this data back into your CRM when you get back online.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Enhance Mobile Sales

3. Enhanced Business Processes and Rules - Ever wanted to build branching logic into the current Business processes or Rules? CRM 2015 will allow branching rules (IF Then Else) and combine multiple conditions in one rule. The possibilities are endless for truly guided sales processes!

4. Sales Hierarchies – personally one of my favourite! The ability to visualise a company in terms of parent child relationship and the overall revenues. Quickly interact with key members of your team who are working on related accounts. In time we hope this hierarchy visualisation will expand to other records in CRM, especially custom!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Sales Hierachy

5. Search - CRM 2015 will allow cross record searching. This type of search functionality is long overdue. Checking to ensure a lead isn’t already entered as an account, opportunity, contact etc. is a one click process!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Search

To find out more about CRM 2015 download the Microsoft Preview guide from our website today! Click here.

Saving money is easier than making it: How to benefit from P2P

P2PPictI suspect it’s happened to all of us. The invoice that appears out of the blue unexpected and with no budget from a supplier you’ve never heard of. Organisations are scrutinising their spend like never before, keeping a tighter hold of the purse strings is now high on many businesses “to do” list.

So how do you increase control, reduce the costs and avoid the unexpected?

Many people are turning to “pre-purchase” approval solutions, where previously only once an invoice was received would an approval process, be that electronic or paper-based be employed.

Pre-purchase approval processing allows organisations to stop the purchase being made in the first place if the items/services aren’t correct, deemed unnecessary, too expensive or would take you over budget.

Approvers can ensure that the organisation is placing orders with the right suppliers for the right products/services, those that offer the best value for money, rather than employees purchasing from the first supplier that comes to mind, this in itself can create substantial savings.

Once the approval is confirmed the organisation can place the order with the supplier and have visibility of upcoming liabilities that will be incurred, and assuming the invoice matches the order the “post purchase” approval that previously was required, may no longer be necessary.

Adding processes to control spending is beneficial, and no doubt your costs will decrease through the use of the new approval process and rejection of unnecessary/ unjustified spend, but what you don’t want to do is implement a process that becomes so paper-intensive, disjointed or time-consuming that your spending more man-hours and hence money on the process than you are saving.

There are multiple options with Microsoft Dynamics GP that can help you to take control of your purchase process and drive down your spend, from functionality provided within GP for basic payables transaction batch or purchase order approval, through to enterprise procurement solutions that are finance system agnostic and go beyond just managing your approval process for purchase orders and invoices, to include expense claim approval, supplier onboarding and contract management, so there is a solution suitable for all requirements to help automate the process you wish to put in place.

Take a closer look at the options in our webinar on Purchase to Pay (P2P) at www.advantage.co.uk/events.

Where’s the “Eff” in Profit?

EfficiencyPictWhilst we’ve seen a definite upturn in the economy we’ve also seen increased competition from abroad and in some sectors prices still rising whilst incomes remain the same so we’re still in a challenging market place and we can’t afford to be complacent.

More than ever we need to look at how we can better generate profitability both from our customers and prospects through sales but also (and probably easier) from within the business by reducing costs through buying smarter and reducing costs, and increasing efficiency. Small business changes that will change your business will increase your efficiency, reduce costs and errors, and possibly increase your quality.

So how do you increase efficiency through technology? Here’re my quick win areas.

Automate tasks

Take a long hard look at your business processes and as far as possible automate. Look for efficiencies across the business, they don’t have to be major but they could create a major impact on overall efficiency and your bottom line.  Then look for software that can be used to automate through workflow or email communication.

Cleanse your data

From the moment contact data enters your database, it starts to decay. Within a couple of years more than 30% of your data could be out-of-date. The cost of mailing to inaccurate addresses and redirecting mail can be significant. Regular cleansing of your contact database will bring dividends and save you time and money.

Streamline communications

A CRM system linked to an email platform allow you to manage your customer communications and relationships from a central point with much greater efficiency. The analytics contained in these systems can tell you how effective and efficient your marketing campaigns have been.

Digitise

Digitise your documents so they are easier to send, share, store, search and they won’t get damaged or lost. WWF recently carried out a study that suggested a typical company could reduce its paper usage by 20% by simply highlighting to staff how much paper they use in a month.

Improve collaboration

Improving collaboration between employees, partners, suppliers, and customers is another way to boost efficiency. Take advantage of new collaboration technologies like interactive calendaring, videoconferencing and webcasting.

Outsource IT

Is managing IT infrastructure the best use of your time? It may be advantageous to outsource your infrastructure and support to a managed services provider. It can free your time to focus on running your business rather than your IT.

7 Reasons why London SME’s left their IT Support Companies

ReasonsLeavingIT2The Managed Services team at Advantage has been winning new SME customers for over a decade. An informal survey of our new customers reveal why they left their old support provider.

1. “They didn’t listen to us.”

Providers seemed more intent on selling what they wanted to sell over what customers actually needed for their budget range.

2. “Problems never seem to be permanently fixed.”

Some providers ‘stalled’ in fixing low level but recurring issues.

3. “It was hard getting their full attention.”

Some providers operate with too few staff where IT Support was a part-time job for them.

4. “They didn’t use a ‘best of breed’ model.”

Some providers use a limited and aged range of solutions based on their limited and aged capabilities.

5. “It wasn’t clear where our data was and who owned it.”

Some hosted providers were unclear on where customers’ data was, who owned it, who had access to it and how (and even if) it was being backed up.

6. “We didn’t get clear reports about what they were doing.”

A lot of customers could not give specifics on what their provider did for them.

7. “They just weren’t proactive about resolving issues.”

Some providers wait for things to go wrong rather than pre-empt issues and they sometimes hope the problem (or the customer) will just go away.

We understand the ‘devil you know’ principle is comforting for busy London SME’s but providing quality outsourced IT isn’t difficult for a provider with the right staff, the right capabilities and the right attitude.

If you feel you’re accepting a mediocre standard of support and relationship – it’s time to change. It’s time to contact the Managed Services team at Advantage – because we think you deserve better.

If you would like to discuss your IT needs in more detail, please call Advantage Business Systems on 020 3004 4600 or email info@advantage.co.uk.

Contact Advantage Business Systems

Advantage Business Systems Limited (Main Office)
No. 1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8JR, UK

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