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Customer Relationship Management

Is your company recognizing the need for and/or implementing intranet or CRM (customer relationship management) at your dealerships? Have you been able to establish a successful infrastructure for effective CRM?
                              — Jim MacGregor, Vice President of Operations, Toyota Forklifts of Atlanta (Scottdale, GA)

Chuck Frank: We have implemented Microsoft’s CRM 3.0; prior to Microsoft we used ACT. We have spent a fair amount of time on team-member training and report generation through our CRM. We do receive tremendous value from the data extracted; we use it exclusively in tracking our customers and contacts. The key for us is to spend time with our team reiterating the importance of good and up-to-date data. We emphasize “processing clean” every day. In other words, we enter our daily activities while the information is fresh.

Our CRM is tied into the sales pipeline, opportunity tracking, job/contract archiving, cases/warranty items, cash flow forecasting, activity tracking and marketing initiatives. In summary, I am a big proponent of implementing, monitoring and improving your CRM solution. It is an important part of tracking customer activities and helping to make sure one of our customers is not forgotten.

Participating Board Members

Chuck Frank, MHEDA
Jerry Weidmann, MHEDA
Vice President
Duncan Murphy, MHEDA
Immediate Past President
Brad Baker, MHEDA Director
John Faulkner, MHEDA Director
Kevin Katona, MHEDA Director
Steve Strifler, MHEDA Director

Jerry Weidmann: We implemented an intranet many years ago. Each department has a page to provide information for our staff, links to resources and access to information that they require. The Wisconsin Lift Truck Intranet is the default home page for all company computers. Announcements are routinely posted to the home page of the Intranet to facilitate communication.

Many years ago we developed an internal “Sales Tracking System” for our sales department to provide much of the functionality of customer relationship management. It provides information about our customers, the volume of business our customers do with us, scheduling and call history information, quotations, lead management, and statistical reporting. This system, however, is not a fully integrated CRM.

In 2010, we are implementing Microsoft CRM linked to our business system. This software will replace our Sales Tracking System and provide significantly broader capability to enable all of our customer-facing staff and our managers to have a complete view of our customers’ businesses at their fingertips. It is our goal to enable our staff to see the entire customer relationship. Ultimately, we will be creating a portal for our customers to access their information.

The software is only one step to this journey. We need to properly integrate our business system, train our staff and build the capability into our business processes.

Duncan Murphy: CRM has been exasperating for our team. We think “CRM” is short for “crummy.” The software never does as much as it proclaims, users never utilize it the way they should or as consistently as they should, and, as a result, the data mined are suspect. I think because our industry performs more of an event sale than a series of sales, it does not lend itself well to CRM. Customers are hard to get in front of unless there is a reason to talk.

Now, after a deep breath, the need to organize and utilize your customer data is critical. We currently have Goldmine but find it hard to use. We have looked at Salesforce.com, which is easy to use but does not sync with our operating system. We want to be left with only one database to maintain. As you are doing, we are trying to define just exactly what we need the CRM tool to do, balance that with the amount of clerical work our sales team must perform, and come up with a system and a commitment to use it. This means heavy involvement by the sales team up front to get the backside implementation buy-in. We will be there by year-end.

Brad Baker: We have not successfully implemented a CRM package but have failed a few times. We did purchase Microsoft’s Navision (now called Dynamics) about 18 months ago. We have our systems side up and running and are starting the lift truck side. By spring we should have the CRM piece implemented.

One reason we chose Dynamics was that there is a CRM piece that is part of the systems database and it is compatible with Outlook. There is also Web integration so that we will be able to allow customers access to only their data on our server and let them view transactions, purchase orders, etc.

Our frustration with other failed CRM pieces in the past was bad synchronization with our mainframe data. We have had no luck with transitional software pieces or getting employee buy-in on the need to maintain two databases.

Whichever software you choose, make sure there is clean synchronization of data if that is what you want. Some good companies want to maintain multiple databases. Also, if your salespeople use Outlook, consider using something that is compatible.

John Faulkner: To make any system a success, you must have an internal procedure that requires the salespeople to take ownership. We use Goldmine in our dealership. We put the system in place in 2002, and it has been very successful. We had training for all of our salespeople in all branches, and I gave the directive that they must use Goldmine. Soon, the salespeople came to realize it was an asset to help with prospecting and making sales.

Our salespeople are responsible for keeping their territory information correct and entering new leads. Once or twice a year, we also do a postcard mailing to clean up our database for future mailings. Also, all quotes are entered into Goldmine and the salespeople must update the status of the lead (i.e., still active/lost).

The MHEDA Journal features a question-and-answer column in each issue. The Board of Directors share their knowledge and expertise by responding to questions posed by Distributor members. If you have a question for the Summer 2010 issue, please contact Rebecca Hein at MHEDA by phone at 847-680-3500, by fax at 847-362-6989 or by e-mail at rhein@mheda.org. Distributors who submit questions and the responding Board members have agreed to have their names published. If you would like to ask the Board a question and have the participating directors respond directly and confidentially to you, please indicate your preference for privacy when you submit your question.

We track where the leads come from (Web site, specific promotion, bids, referrals, etc.). We generate very useful reports from Goldmine, including a quote log that lets us know what products and dollar amounts the salespeople are quoting each month and a sales forecast report. We also try to capture as many e-mail addresses as possible in order to send out e-mail blasts.

Kevin Katona: DACO Corporation has been using Goldmine CRM software for about 12 years. Overall, we are quite happy with the capability. We upgraded to a SQL version about three years ago, which made it compatible with our SQL accounting program. Salespeople are now able to see sales histories for all customers from within the contact manager. We are also able to see any notes on orders. All price sheets and lots of other information are maintained in the CRM software. It is the single focal point for information in our company.

When we upgraded to SQL, we created a company intranet that allows all employees access to inventory, orders, purchase orders, etc. Since both programs are SQL-based, we can get useful information from either program relatively easily, and the system is lightning-fast. At this point, I could not imagine running our company without it or something similar.

Steve Strifler: We utilize Avidian Prophet for customer relationship management, and we have an intranet as well. Our intranet is not utilized for CRM purposes.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

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