Relationship Management Turns Prospects into Lifetime Customers

Article excerpt

One of the continuing puzzlements of marketing life is the disproportionate amount of energy and resources that is allocated to generating leads. Where the real effort should be put is in managing those leads and turning them into contented, revenue-generating, lifetime customers.

Most small-to-medium sized companies lack the internal discipline, infrastructure and automated handling and tracking systems that will guarantee that a lead is managed and manipulated on a second-by- second basis. Yet, automated lead management tools are proven, freely available and exceptionally affordable.

Customer relationship management systems serve the purpose of integrating the marketing, sales and customer service functions so that all forms of client communication including telephone, fax, e- mail, letter correspondence and the face-to-face meeting can be monitored and managed through one centralized application.

This, in turn, provides the marketer with the ability to maintain an up-to-date client and prospect profile, deliver on promised actions, send information and materials quickly and efficiently, and follow-up in a timely and disciplined fashion.

Most customer relationship management systems will incorporate lead tracking, telemarketing, customer call-ins, after-sale customer service, accounts receivable history, as well as day-to-day activity review and weekly and monthly monitoring.

The marketplace is now flooded with contact management software, but the stalwarts are Goldmine, TeleMagic, ACT and Microsoft's Access.

Goldmine, with more than 700,000 current users, appeals to the small-to-medium sized company or the individual department within a larger organization. It's ideal for an operation with five to 100 sites and, like all customer relationship management software, works well in organizations with a high volume of customer and prospect interface including banking, insurance, retail and brokerage firms, particularly stock brokers.

At a cost of $20 to $500 per user, Goldmine provides an out-of- the-box solution that can be set up independently by the user or with the help of a third-party consultant or solutions provider.

Says Executive Vice President, Jon Ferrara, "After 10 years in the business, Goldmine has developed a system that allows the marketer to speak with one voice to the customer."

Goldmine's current 4.0 Standard Edition tracks and itemizes the specifics of every contact interaction, including what, when and who touches each contact.

Its real benefit is that it bridges the gap between complex and expensive sales force automation software and the lower-end contact management programs.

Says Ferrara, "For small to medium companies, with revenues in the $200 million to $500 million range, and as few as 10 customer relationship management users, Goldmine can gather, store and analyze customer information in order to win and, more importantly, retain customers."

Another major competitor in the category is TeleMagic. According to Jeff Multz, Principal of the Atlanta-based Emerging Market Technologies and a TeleMagic reseller, the program provides the benefits of increased sales and profits, enhanced customer and employee happiness, and allows more "touch" with customers and prospects, delivered cost-efficiently. …