Ignatov & Company Group - Business Consulting - Customer relationship managementWe provide consulting services in Customer Relationship Management to our clients since 2000.

Customers are those whom every company looks for in any market – and thus building of successful relations with existing, former and new clients is a single way to be in business. Searching for and attracting of new clients, strengthening of relations with existing customers, as well as convincing of the former clients to return back – all these techniques make it possible to have growing sales; marketing and customer support costs reducing is also a part of CRM strategy.

We have strong experience in CRM consulting projects done for large corporations as well as for SMB entities. As we see it, Customer Relationship Management is not “CRM software” – that is a popular point of view among many companies in the emerging markets – but a complex strategy for optimization of marketing, sales, and customer support, i.e. all aspects of interaction with customers. Software solutions are just automation tools that assist in implementing CRM strategies – while primary attention must be paid to optimization of the business processes. Organizational changes and synchronization of internal business procedures are among the major steps at transition to “Customer-targeted” business style. 

Case study

Challenge

The Russian producer of energy machinery decided to boost sales with expansion of the customer base and improvement of relations with the clients; the company hired “CRM consultants” who advised to start CRM software program. After almost 2 years of software integration the company decided this process would become “infinite” and not bring the expected results. We were hired – initially as independent expert to evaluate if the CRM software project was implemented correctly.

Approach

After analysis of the situation we came to conclusion the problem was not in “improper” implementation of the CRM software project – but in general strategy; the target company still used the Communist-era approach with focus in production rather than in sales; technical staff dominated in the company and it defined the corporate policy; the company’s main target was to produce excellent machinery that won domestic and international technical awards. At the same time the marketing for that machinery was presented only with sales to the “traditional” clients in the countries of the former Soviet Bloc and with participation in specialized fairs and exhibitions. The same people who earlier had sold machinery within the COMECON (by inter-governmental contracts) were responsible for worldwide marketing.

It was clear that installation of the modern CRM software and training for staff (to use the software) would not solve the problem – until the full change of the company’s strategy.

The first step was in convincing the client’s owners and executives that sales had to move production (“market-centric” approach); in such context it was clear the work with clients became the main activity.

A plan for corporate restructuring was adopted with us – with focus in a) strengthening of the marketing/sale and customer support departments; and b) preservation of the strengths of the company’s production divisions; i.e. it was not the replacement of “production” with “sales” – but it became the enforcement of excellent “production” with strong “sales”.

To define the structure and role of the “upgraded” sales/marketing departments it was necessary to see clearly the market perspectives of the company’s machinery. A market development project was done with us concurrently with a restructuring and organization changes; in particular we assisted to identify the possibilities for competition in “traditional” (CIS and CEE) and new (EU, APAC) markets; we also identified new potential customer groups – for the company’s existing and prospective machinery; an aftermarket strategy was developed – with focus in aftermarket support as a separate business unit.

Based on that input the marketing/sales organization was developed for the target company – with launching of: division responsible for sales in “traditional” markets (CIS/CEE), division for sales in EU, division for sales in APAC, division for large international projects, and customer support division. A special group for market research was created – as well as a group responsible for business coordination between the sale divisions and other departments (especially with production units and R&D center). It was decided to reorganize logistic department – by split into “procurement logistic” and “sales logistic” and re-subordinating of the “sales logistic” to the sales/marketing coordination group.

The HR requirements were adopted (for existing sale/marketing staff as well as for newly hired sale/marketing managers).

Best practices analysis was done with us – to identify the most effective techniques used in different sales pipelines; such work was done for each of the sale/marketing divisions (“traditional markets”, “EU market”, “APAC market”, etc.); there were two principal options – either to use the same sales methodology/approach in all markets or to use separate methodologies for each of them. We advised the second approach – i.e. to build “adopted” sales/marketing pipelines for each of the target market areas rather than to use the “unified” pipeline; based on our knowledge of the emerging markets in CIS/CEE, APAC and other regions we could definitely say that marketing/sales in Russia would be quite different with marketing/sales in Germany, while marketing/sales in China would differ with Russia (despite the fact China is also an emerging economy). As the result – the best techniques were selected/advised for each of the pipelines.

Only after all these “strategic” steps the target company became ready for CRM software project; the main tasks were: a) to provide sales force automation for each of the regional sales pipelines (taking into account these pipelines were different in techniques and methods); and b) to integrate these particular solutions into a single IT system. At this stage we continued to be the strategic consultant – while a specialized IT consultant was hired as a sub-contractor. 

Value

A client’s business was refocused from “production” to “sales” approach; corporate reorganization was done – with the key goal to strengthen the role of sale/marketing divisions; market development project was done as a part of the job – with finding new potential markets/customers for a client’s products; regional sales pipelines were identified and separate workgroups were launched for each of them; most effective sales/marketing techniques were identified and advised for each of the regional sales pipelines; requirements to CRM software solutions were adopted; and CRM software project was successfully implemented in a reorganized company.

As the general result – expansion of the customer base in various markets (both developed and emerging), strengthening of the loyalty with the existing customers, synchronization of the internal business processes (with customer needs as the starting point).