How it Drives Sales

By: Melinda Elmowy

CargoWise edi, a leading provider of integrated international supply chain logistics management systems, suggests how IT enhancements can not only improve operational efficiencies for freight forwarders, but also improve and streamline the sales process for a more successful outcome.

"Successful sales outcomes are often determined by the degree of integration within a company's CRM program," says Gene Gander, VP Sales - USA of CargoWise edi. "In today's dynamic global marketplace, integrated IT-based solutions can play a significant role in driving increased sales for freight forwarders if sales and marketing functionality is integrated within the overall freight management and supply chain system."

Gander says that IT enhancements can provide critical access to sales department personnel by enabling them to view, measure and manage accounts from a sales account standpoint instead of restricting sales access due to existing security parameters. Providing the sales department with the appropriate access to account information via an integrated software platform can enable the sales team to better focus on core elements of the entire sales process rather than spending time tracking, scheduling and managing existing accounts in a separate system.

"Providing this functionality to sales and marketing affords increased efficiency by streamlining the entire process and it can be done at the cost of implementing a single system rather than implementing multiple installments or creating patches to existing software," says Gander. "Many companies in our industry have tried to patch together a CRM system with operations software without much success. There are good software solutions in the market if sales are operating in a vacuum, but none can match the integration of a system such as ediEnterprise within a single platform...and at less cost than using multiple systems."

Key drivers for an effectively integrated IT-enhanced CRM sales and marketing process provide:
&bullImproved communications for more timely customer service
&bullSupply chain visibility for sales personnel to better document shipment activity
&bullBetter management of time-sensitive product distribution
&bullCall notes that schedule the next call and upload it to specified Outlook calendars
&bullOpportunity management that provides sales forecasting and funnels relevant information to the sales and marketing department
&bullThe ability to deliver marketing campaigns using filtered database lists
&bullA cold call register for generating leads before they become prospects or customers
&bullNumerous sales activity reports and measurement metrics
&bullOptimization of the entire supply chain process
&bullCost savings over using multiple systems

While these elements provide increased efficiencies and improved communication between the sales person and potential customers, they can also be compared to other CRM systems, such as Salesforce.com, Goldmine or others that serve all industries. However, the true value of an integrated IT-enhanced sales and marketing tool is that it is built within the freight management system and written specifically for logistics and supply chain freight forwarding professionals.

Additionally, with an efficient, integrated IT system, sales quotes are made available for the operations team to see, and operations is alerted if they are rating a shipment that falls within quoted parameters. Customers can see requests for quotes online and the sales team is automatically alerted if a customer requests a quote for a rate that is not on file. Sales can also update Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) for customers and set up automated document delivery based on customer contacts. With these IT enhancements, there is no overhead communication to operations as files are cut and communicated automatically. Sales visibility and reporting is real-time to lane segments, by revenue and tonnage.

"We find that most freight forwarders benefit tremendously by integrating IT enhancements into their overall CRM programs," says Gander. "The added value of real-time integration into the sales process is a true driver in impacting the sales and marketing functions."

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