CRM--R stands for relationship: two companies focus on relationships to grow sales, increase customer retention.Customer Relationship Management (CRM (Customer Relationship Management) An integrated information system that is used to plan, schedule and control the presales and postsales activities in an organization. ) has been around long enough to experience cycles. With an early emphasis on managing times and touches with customers, CRM later evolved into an information technology term, or the computer mechanics that track those touches with customers. Some young executives possibly are unaware CRM is more than software.
Now two innovative firms are putting the relationship back into CRM. Beck Ag Com Inc., Omaha, Neb., is the leading U.S. provider of Word of Mouth (WOM WOM - write-only memory ) marketing and sales strategies in agriculture. AgCall, Calgary, Alberta, is the market frontrunner in designing and implementing CRM solutions that include on-farm sales calls with contract sales professionals, managing in-field research, handling performance inquiries, telemarketing telemarketing, the practice of selling goods or services to customers by means of the telephone or of surveying consumer preferences in telephone conversations. and other related services--the focus is on providing a personalized per·son·al·ize
tr.v. per·son·al·ized, per·son·al·iz·ing, per·son·al·iz·es
1. To take (a general remark or characterization) in a personal manner.
2. To attribute human or personal qualities to; personify. brand experience.
At first glance the two could be competitors. However, company leadership realized commonalities and saw how each company could complement services that the other offers. That vision is now reality as a strategic alliance between Beck Ag and AgCall was created to provide unique, complete marketing and sales solutions for clients and their customers.
"This partnership between AgCall and Beck Ag provides marketers with one source for fully integrated WOM marketing and sales strategies designed to accelerate adoption of products and/or service offerings," says Gordon Butcher Gordon Butcher is one of the founding members of The Warumpi Band with his brother Sammy Butcher, Neil Murray, and George Rrurrambu. He came from the Aboriginal settlement of Papunya in the central desert region of the Northern Territory in the early 1980s. , president of AgCall. "The two sales and marketing consulting organizations now can provide marketers with even stronger sales and marketing solutions."
"It's rather revolutionary," says John Finegan, CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. of Beck Ag. "We saw we had clients in common and opportunities to complete the circle. Clients tell us it takes five to seven calls to close a sale. We know this can be condensed con·dense
v. con·densed, con·dens·ing, con·dens·es
1. To reduce the volume or compass of.
2. To make more concise; abridge or shorten.
a. into one to two calls when you engage peers in a Beck Ag forum and have a follow-up follow-up,
n the process of monitoring the progress of a patient after a period of active treatment.
follow-up plan sales call from a client's sales representative or from Ag Call's sales professionals."
This alliance comes as WOM marketing is becoming a larger part of the overall marketing and sales strategy inside and outside of the boundaries of agriculture.
"Marketing in general has been moving to a more personalized approach since the advent of customer relationship management," says Finegan. "And more marketers in the ag sector are becoming aware of WOM marketing. Effective WOM marketing and sales strategies strengthen a company's relationships with its customers and develop the loyalty marketers desire. That's what creates long-term profitable business relationships."
HOW'D THEY DO THAT?
AgCall and Beck Ag have built their businesses on knowing and engaging customers and their experiences. These two companies seem to acquire in-depth customer connection effortlessly ef·fort·less
Calling for, requiring, or showing little or no effort. See Synonyms at easy.
effort·less·ly adv. . How do they do it?
WOM marketing is defined as "communication about products and services between people who are perceived to be independent of the company providing products or services in a medium perceived to be independent of the company." The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA WOMMA Word of Mouth Marketing Association (also seen as WMMA) ) presents a simpler definition: "the act of consumers providing information to other consumers."
Beck Ag and AgCall create the strategies that make these definitions come alive. Using patented AgTelePanels, AgTelecoms and other tactics designed in unique, voice-to-voice forums, Beck Ag creates an environment where shared experiences help prospective customers verify (1) To prove the correctness of data.
(2) In data entry operations, to compare the keystrokes of a second operator with the data entered by the first operator to ensure that the data were typed in accurately. See validate. the value of the product or service discussed. The dialogue, professionally moderated and sometimes featuring experts, accelerates the decision-making process to buy, resulting in faster and larger purchases.
Butcher says many AgCall specialists are producers themselves. "This heightens credibility of our representatives and lowers prospects' resistance because they're dealing with peers," he says. "When you multiply mul·ti·ply
1. To increase the amount, number, or degree of.
2. To breed or propagate. this with the power of Beck Ag's peer-to-peer or WOM strategy, successes for our clients greatly multiply.
"We're bombarded with upwards of 5,000 promotional messages a day," Butcher adds. "It's critical to have prospective customers ready to receive--and act--upon a marketer's call to action. We help make that happen."
COMPLEMENTING SALES SOLUTIONS
Finegan and Butcher quickly point out that the solutions they provide strongly complement marketing communications Marketing communications (or marcom) are messages and related media used to communicate with a market. Those who practice advertising, branding, direct marketing, graphic design, marketing, packaging, promotion, publicity, sponsorship, public relations, sales, sales plans. "Agricultural marketers are stellar at awareness building," Finegan adds. "Especially with new products, the need to verify is greater. Our strategies help prospects to verify their purchase decisions.
"In order for a WOM strategy to work, we must have the awareness and familiarity that marketing communications generates," Finegan says. "We all go through an awareness and verification phase before we buy anything, especially higher-ticket items. Beck Ag's and AgCall's approaches provide the needed forum for validation See validate.
validation - The stage in the software life-cycle at the end of the development process where software is evaluated to ensure that it complies with the requirements. and verification, which results in acceleration of the decision-making process and ultimately adoption.
"Forward-thinking agencies realize the need to engage experts," he says. "Their core competency A core competency is something that a firm can do well and that meets the following three conditions specified by Hamel and Prahalad (1990):
Ross Harvey Ross Harvey (born 25 April 1952 in Vancouver, British Columbia) was a member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1988 to 1993. His background was in information and research. , director of strategic services for AdFarm in Calgary, Alberta, says the results generated by Beck Ag and AgCall reach far beyond a single event.
"We've implemented a variety of approaches, from grower roundtables to AgTelePanels," he says. "We like word of mouth or peer-to-peer marketing because it diversifies how we deliver our messages. It's measurable. It creates spin-off The situation that arises when a parent corporation organizes a subsidiary corporation, to which it transfers a portion of its assets in exchange for all of the subsidiary's capital stock, which is subsequently transferred to the parent corporation's shareholders. opportunities in channel communications, direct mail and point of sale, as well as others. More importantly, WOM marketing fills a tactical void. It complements rather than replaces advertising and sales.
"Our clients appreciate the ability of WOM marketing to target. By sharing experiences between users and non-users, or even users and users, a huge amount of credibility is added to the message," Harvey explains.
It also builds awareness and sales. Research conducted by Beck Ag shows participants in WOM programs consistently recognize marketing communications materials such as ads and brochures at a higher rate than prospects and customers who are not part of a WOM program.
More importantly, sales continue to increase after a WOM marketing event. Purdue University Purdue University (pərdy`, -d`), main campus at West Lafayette, Ind. research shows increased sales of $26.70 for every $1.00 invested over a three-year period. (see "Research proves impact of WOM marketing")
WHERE DOES WOM FIT?
WOM marketing strategies can apply during any stage of a marketing cycle:
a) Launch phase--when there is a need to build a low advocacy base
b) Growth phase--when the advocacy base is stable, yet sales increases are needed
c) Maintenance phase--when the product/service is profitable but there is a need to stave off stave
1. A narrow strip of wood forming part of the sides of a barrel, tub, or similar structure.
2. A rung of a ladder or chair.
3. A staff or cudgel.
4. Music See staff1. competitors
d) Repositioning--when an older product needs to be revived re·vive
v. re·vived, re·viv·ing, re·vives
1. To bring back to life or consciousness; resuscitate.
2. To impart new health, vigor, or spirit to.
3. or a new use for an existing product is to be introduced
e) Issues management/crisis management--when there is an opportunity to educate customers with facts about issues such as labeling, environmental awareness or when media attention has been raised
f) Product performance management--typically crop protection and seed offerings generate some performance-related inquiries from customers. AgCall and Beck Ag have combined to offer a turnkey See turnkey system. solution for their clients to manage these potentially negative situations and turn them into sales opportunities that can retain and even grow customer business. Their approach integrates on-farm visits with opportunities to learn from experienced product advocates.
Whatever the stage of the product life cycle, Butcher says fully understanding the situation is paramount to creating strong WOM marketing and sales call strategies.
"The real strength of our partnership lies in the fact that both companies first work to realize client needs and challenges, then we custom build a solution," he says. "This can be from pre-launch stage through advocacy building and to retention. The strength of this approach allows clients to have the tools needed to acquire customers and retain them for a long time."
Finegan concurs. "We provide a hybrid of marketing and sales. We can come in toward the end of the marketing phase (awareness building) and right at the beginning of a sales strategy," he says. "If a customer/ prospect participates in one of our forums and receives a follow-up call from the client's sales force or an AgCall sales professional, there's a much higher probability the sale will close at that time. It is an effective way to drive adoption."
In addition to innovation in marketing strategy and sales tactics for clients, WOM affords new opportunities to Beck Ag and AgCall.
Butcher concludes, "Because we are willing to further explore the market and are truly dedicated to helping customers succeed, and succeed, our partnership will allow customers to realize the power of word of mouth through the synergy The enhanced result of two or more people, groups or organizations working together. In other words, one and one equals three! It comes from the Greek "synergia," which means joint work and cooperative action. we offer."
RELATED ARTICLE: WOM marketing growing.
Andy Sernovitz, CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, says marketers who use WOM and peer-to-peer strategies are tightening relationships with customers, enhancing customer loyalty and creating customers who are more receptive receptive /re·cep·tive/ (re-cep´tiv) capable of receiving or of responding to a stimulus. to new products from the same company. He says WOM strategies now comprise approximately 10 percent of all marketing communications budgets, a percentage that is quickly growing. He also notes research recently completed by NOP (NO oPeration) See no-op. World that showed "91 percent of the public would be likely to use a product or service recommended by someone who had used it themselves."
"Word of mouth is moving to the front of the decision process and will impact all other advertising budgets," Sernovitz says. "What this means is before you even begin to create an ad or other promotional tactic, you're going to think about why people will talk about it."
RELATED ARTICLE: Research proves impact of WOM marketing.
An agricultural marketing research study conducted by Purdue University Agricultural Economics Agricultural economics originally applied the principles of economics to the production of crops and livestock - a discipline known as agronomics. Agronomics was a branch of economics that specifically dealt with land usage. department evaluated the long-term impact of Beck Ag-produced conferences that occurred from December 1998 through March 1999. The teleconferences involved 415 grower participants and ranged between eight and 12 participants per conference. Purdue surveyed 16 percent of the grower participants, most of whom farmed between 1,000 and 1,500 corn and soybean soybean, soya bean, or soy pea, leguminous plant (Glycine max, G. soja, or Soja max) of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Asia, where it has been acres.
The client was a crop protection/seed company marketing an insecticide insecticide
Any of a large group of substances used to kill insects. Such substances are mainly used to control pests that infest cultivated plants and crops or to eliminate disease-carrying insects in specific areas. to growers. Conferences were strictly peer-to-peer and had no company representatives participating in the calls. Beck Ag moderators with ag industry backgrounds facilitated the AgTelecom[R] programs.
Long-lasting and measurable positive impact came from the conferences. Even after the third year, grower participants were still increasing their product use, generating greater sales for Beck Ag's client.
SALES INCREASES GENERATED FOLLOWING PARTICIPATION IN BECK AG COM INC. FACILITATED WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING STRATEGY Year Acres/Grower $$/Grower 1998 (base year) 53 $ 636 1999 (1st post-conf. year) 205 2,460 2000 225 2,700 2001 265 3,180 Year Total $$ (415 participants x $/grower) 1998 (base year) $ 263,940 1999 (1st post-conf. year) 1,020,900 2000 1,120,500 2001 1,319,700