Can you imagine if you woke up tomorrow and the President of the United States was on television calling out your customers for sending their top performers on reward trips? What’s worse is that your business makes a living by helping those same companies incentivize their sales people to outperform last year’s sales numbers and, by doing so, they were allowed to go on those trips? Ouch – I hope you are diversified (or have a ton of money saved away to get through this).
This isn’t a hypothetical situation. It is very real. I had the pleasure of working with a successful sales incentive and travel company leading up to and through the financial / real estate collapse we have all been enduring. It was a perfect storm for them. Not only did they have a focus on the automotive and mortgage businesses, but they also excelled at the incentive / rewards and recognition travel industry. Again – try to imagine the President addressing the world around that time and put your business in their place. “Stop sending your employees on elaborate trips.” “New regulations on the mortgage business will protect the consumer.” Both of these spelled disaster for their business. How can you reward someone for beating sales goals if new regulations are put in place that essentially cripple your chances of outpacing last year? Were the trips that top sales people were earning really elaborate or were they a fitting reward for their efforts? Did they adequately reward them for their sleepless nights thinking about how to exceed their quotas? Perhaps for the most elite they were excessive – not too many people would disagree. But what about someone whom just earned the long weekend trip to Las Vegas that includes a $100 spa gift certificate and a free dinner? In the end, when the President speaks, everything gets cut in order to avoid the storm that social media could impose upon your company.
So what does this have to do with CRM? As the first quarter of 2011 passes us by (did you notice?), we should take a chance to gauge where we are with our business and our annual goals. Where is your business now compared to where you wanted it to be at this time? Are you overexposed because most of your business comes from too few customers? Perhaps most of your business comes from one or two sales people whom are both nearing retirement age. Do you focus primarily in an industry that is at risk right now – or could be in the near future? Ugh! Does the mere mention of “reviewing where we are vs. annual goals” make you cringe because of how long it will take to produce that level of information? If it does, we need to look at how you are using your CRM system.
The company I reference in my story above was smart. They chose to focus on the Fortune 100 companies and, like any business, they have their sweet spot of success. But they never lost site of diversification. Their CRM data pointed out the exposure that not diversifying would put them in and they took action before the crash. When times are good nobody wants to rock the boat. But looking at CRM data objectively not only allows you to track how you are doing against goals – it should allow you to expand and grow your business in a smart way. They did, and they are doing very well still today. If you woke up tomorrow and the President was telling your customers to pull back the business they were doing with you, would you be prepared?