November 03, 2009

Is Your Sales System, or Database Working?

A checklist for getting the most from your most vital Sales & Marketing Tool.

There is one essential ingredient of effective sales and marketing in all companies - that is an up-to-date and easy to use database. It drives the sales process – from sales prospecting to account management – making the contribution of all those in sales and marketing focused, efficient and clear.

Here is a checklist to help you examine how effectively your company is using, what is potentially at least, it’s most important sales and marketing tool:

1. How widely used is the database?

· Do the user logs show regular use by key people?

· How up to date is the information?

· How thoroughly used is it (e.g. prospecting, nurturing, tasks completed, etc.)?

· Do key accounts have next actions assigned to various people and dates for completion?

· Do all priority account have an owner?

2. How easy to use is the database?

· Have users received training?

· Is good documentation available?

· Is support available? Has it been taken advantage of?

· Are key features being used?

· Is there a consistent approach to how information is updated across all users?

3. How much information does it contain?

· Number of accounts (clients, past clients, prospects, etc.), opportunities, contacts and leads?

· By sector/market?

· How representative are accounts of your company’s:

o ideal customer base/target market?

o the companies sales and marketing activity for this year?

4. How up to date is the information?

· How recent are the last modified date on key accounts, last date on actions, cases, etc.

· Is contact information on the accounts and contacts up to date?

· How much screening / cleansing of the data is undertaken?

5. How thorough/detailed is the information?

· How well kept are records, for example are there web and address details, company description, contact information, notes of actions/meetings, accurate ratings, etc.

6. How does the database comply with best practice and the law?

· Does it comply with any legal requirements re direct and database marketing (e.g. TPS (Telephone Preference Service) in the UK)

· Are opt-outs offered on any emails sent

· Does your company have a privacy policy (is it on emails, web sign-ups, etc.)

7. How well it is managed

· Does one person have responsibility for it?

· Who is responsible for keeping the information cleansed and up-to-date?

· Is administrative support available for users in such time consuming tasks as finding telephone numbers, entering new companies, mail-shots, etc?

· When is the last time there was a discussion on how the database was to be used, or developed?

· Are campaigns using the database measured for their effectiveness?

· How customised is the database to your company’s needs? Are there redundant fields? Are there important fields missing? Have drop down menus been customised?

8. How effectively is it guiding sales activity?

· How regularly do sales people log into it?

· Can the company’s present sales and marketing targets be readily identified from the database?

· Is it used as part of sales campaigns?

· Does it have up to date opportunity/forecast information?

· Are top ranked accounts easy to find and do they have next actions allocated to them?

· Can the activity level of sales people been seen from the database?

· Is it used to trigger next actions in respect of advancing sales cycles, progressing opportunities, nurturing prospects, etc.

9. How effectively is it employed:

· As a marketing tool (mail-outs, email campaigns, etc.)?

· How easy is it to use in monitoring and reporting on the success of campaigns, reporting on activity, etc.

· How effectively is it employed as a sales pipeline forecasting and management tool?

· For customer relationship management, fulfillment and other purposes?

· How well does it integrate with other systems, e.g. accounting systems?

10. How effectively is it being use in account management?

· Are customer accounts prioritised or categories in the database?

· Does it have details of account revenue targets and plans?

· Does it record notes of meetings, cases, etc.

· Does each account have an owner?

· Are the names of all decision makers, influencers in the account company identified?

· Are there a list of tasks completed and next actions in respect of managing and servicing the account?

11. How does the database perform in terms of:

· Accessibility?

· Security?

· Back-ups?

· Availability (e.g. down time, remote access, etc.)?

· Service/support?

· Does it integrate email, document storage, calendar, etc.?

· How good is the reporting function?

· What degree of customisation is available (e.g. customisable down menus, etc.)

12. Cost and payback

· What is the annual cost? Licence costs and software (if used) together with time spent gathering and updating information, undertaking mail-outs, set-up and customisation, etc.

· What is potential value of this information?

· What would the cost be if purchased, or gathered in other ways?

· Does it save people time, or make them more efficient?

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