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Mining for gold in your data

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They say the economy is getting better – well, maybe  It’s an election year so people are being cautious with their money as they await the outcome in November.  The market is like a yo-yo and job reports are even gloomier.

What this all means is we as business owners need to find creative ways of generating income and revenue.  This can be marketing campaigns, reducing prices, and even looking at new ventures or ideas.  So which direction do you take? How do you know what avenues you should travel to find that pot of gold?  I believe it’s living right in front of you inside your customer data.

The time old expression of looking for gold in “them thar hills” doesn’t just apply to gleaming metal deposits.  It also applies to business data that lies hidden behind minutia in your database.  It is the old adage – you can’t see the forest for the trees.

If you frequent my blog, you know we support Sage ACT, a contact management application.  Its main purpose in life is to keep track of everything about a customer, all in one place.  If it is being used properly, it is loaded with data gems for you to mine.

Here are some things that I suggest you look for in whatever system you use to keep track of your customer interactions.  What I am going to be describing and recommending here pertains to ACT but I think you will get the main idea and can probably do something similar in your CRM of choice.

First off, as I’ve said before in other blog articles, it is cheaper to go after current clients than to find new ones.  Therefore the first set of recommendations is geared towards your existing customers.

Bring them back to the fold

A good CRM application will allow you to search for data based on dates.  Try looking in your data for customers who have not been touched in any way for a year.

In ACT , this is as simple as clicking on Lookup – Contact Activity – and then choosing “Not Changed”.    Use the resulting lookup to develop a call campaign.   Send them marketing materials geared at “bringing them back” – offer them reduced services or provide coupons for price reductions.  If you have started using social media, point them at your Facebook page and Twitter account. 

Set up a “smile and dial” day in the office and assign a group of names to each of your staff.  When you call the clients, ask them why they haven’t called on your services or bought your products recently.  It is helpful to know why a customer has stayed away.  Are they out of business?  Have they moved in a different direction? You can use the results of the questions to help develop other approaches to bring back “missing in action” customers.

I have found that reaching out to a long lost client has some interesting results.  It is very common to hear them say “I’ve been meaning to call but have just been focusing on business.”  Haven’t we all.  That’s probably one main reason these clients haven’t done business with you recently – it’s because you have been wrapped up finding new clients or working with ones who have called you.   It is a case of getting caught up in day to day activities instead of doing heavy duty marketing and cold calls.  And yes, even if it’s an existing client, it’s a cold call because you are making the call out of the blue. Those are tough – I don’t like to do them and neither does my staff.  We’ve been doing a campaign recently to let customers know about new products and services we are offering.  It is actually working.

Look for trends

Using reporting or dashboards, look for trends in your data.  Are you selling a lot of a particular product? Are you selling into a vertical market, such as hospitals, medical fields, manufacturing or service industries?  If you are not seeing a particular industry, look at ways to attract customers from that market.  Buy lists from sources such as Hoovers or InfoUsa.  Import them and focus an email and call campaign around those markets.

Another area to look at in your data is location.  Charts and graphs can quickly help you identify data by state, city or zip code.  This is what I call data lost in minutia.  We tend to focus on one client at a time, or a group of clients in a region.  Having a way to see the data from 50,000 feet enables you to identify opportunities.  Here’s a real example from my own database.  The following dashboard shows contacts by state and the right panel shows states with no contacts.  That has become a mission of mine now – to get at least one customer in Wyoming.  Looking at your data on a day by day basis, you miss things like this.

 Using a similar approach, look for trends with products sales by day of the week.  One of my clients had an ingenious idea.  He asked me to build him a dashboard that showed which day of the week had the most opportunities created.  He also wanted to know which day of the week had the most call volume.  Based on the results shown on the dashboard, he had some of his staff come in on each day of the week.  They then tracked how many sales were achieved by day of the week.  He did this for two months.  Immediately they noticed that for their business, Tuesdays and Thursdays were high selling days.  It totally changed his approach and increased his revenues by 20% the first three months.  Again, his staff was lost in their day to day routine.  They were not paying attention to which day brought in the most revenue.  By taking an innovative and focused approach, they got great results.

There are lots of fancy terms for real data mining – clustering, predictive analysis and so on.  What I am saying here is don’t try to do something fancy in the beginning.  Just take a look at your data from higher up – don’t focus on the little day to day things.   If you track customer complaints are they coming from a specific area? Are they around a specific product?  You might simply be selling into the wrong group.  Do you track why you lose a deal?  If so, study those results for trends.  It might be as simple as picking the right day of the week to focus your calls.  It’s all there for you to find.   The secret is in knowing where to look.

Happy selling.

Written by pregen

June 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm

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