The Zoho CRM Enabled
Business Growth Engine™

What is the Business Growth Engine™

The Business Growth Engine™ is a Zoho CRM enabled sales operating system that enables faster, more profitable, and scalable growth. The engine combines proven business growth concepts and strategies, proven time management concepts, and digital methodologies to improve productivity and reduce effort and cost.  When a business owner or sales professional puts the Business Growth Engine™ to work in his or her business, they:

  • Generate more and better leads
  • Convert more prospects into loyal, long-term customers — more quickly
  • Generate more repeat business and referrals
  • Are more organized, focused, and productive
  • Are much less stressed

It’s called the Business Growth Engine™ because once this operating system is put in place and engaged, the business begins to move forward and — as it does — it gains speed and momentum. Eventually, the business accelerates to a point where it produces more and more income with relatively little additional effort.

The Business Growth Engine™ operating system is composed of 5 primary, interdependent processes, and a dashboard to monitor the performance of the system:  

  • Lead Collection and Qualificationcapture and qualify prospects from your various lead generation activities, e.g., web forms, networking events, webinars, social media, advertising, referrals, etc.
  • Lead Development – establish a relationship with your prospects and nurture and educate them until they are ready to buy
  • Conversion (sales) – engage in a FOC– USED sales conversation to convert a high percentage of ready to buy prospects into orders and customers
  • Fulfillment Management – deliver your products and services with the experience desired by your BEST Customers in order to set the stage for a long-term relationship
  • Customer Base Development – build a relationship with your BEST Customers in order to generate repeat purchases and referrals
  • Dashboard – monitor the performance and well being of each of the primary processes and the system as a whole 

The Business Growth Engine™ leverages a specially designed Zoho CRM system to enable, enforce, and manage the system.  These components and tools are used to:

  • Collect and organize prospect and customer data for sales and marketing purposes
  • Ensure that the processes are followed and required work is performed at the RIGHT RIGHT time, in the RIGHT way to drive outcomes
  • Ensure nothing “falls through the cracks”
  • Focus, organize, and prioritize you and your team’s time and effort
  • Streamline and automate sales and marketing tasks
  • Collect and provide management and performance metrics required to monitor and track results and identify performance problems and/or process bottlenecks
  • Improve the effectiveness the efficiency (costs) of the system as a whole — ensuring that the system generates maximum results at a lower cost

How It Works

The Business Growth Engine functions much like a conveyor belt or assembly line functions in a factory.  Raw materials — which are leads created by your sales strategy drop into the system at one end.  And, finished goods — which are orders and loyal customers — drop out of the other end.  The transformation occurs as the leads pass through the various processes in the system.  

The Business Growth Engine™

The Business Growth Engine Processes

Here is a high-level overview of each of the Business Growth Engine components.  The details of each of the processes are beyond the scope of this overview.   Specific details of each, how they work, how to design them, and how to configure your Zoho CRM system are things that you will learn when you engage me to help you build a Zoho CRM enabled Business Growth Engine for your business and train you and your team how to use it.

Lead Collection and Qualification

The first function in your Business Growth Engine is the lead collection and qualification function.  Its purpose is to collect, qualify, and sort ALL incoming leads resulting from your sales/attraction strategy, and to make sure that no leads fall through the cracks.  

Leads entering the system are time-stamped.  They are processed — manually or automatically — using the process you design and your qualification criteria.  Disqualified leads — those that fail to meet qualification criteria — are discarded. Qualified leads move on to the Conversion function.

Lead Development

Nearly 90% of the prospects you attract through your marketing activities are NOT ready to buy.   Most are in the early stages of the buying process.  They are interested but are still gathering information.  The Lead Development process of the Business Growth Engine has two primary purposes:

  • Build trust – form a relationship and establish credibility
  • Educate – build a case for buying what you sell AND buying ONLY from you

This is accomplished through the use of a series of relevant interactions such as email, phone calls, and direct mail.  The process utilizes engagement tracking technology to determine when it is time to engage in a more active sales conversation.   Prospects who are ready to buy are transitioned to the next process in the system — the Active Sales Conversation process.

Active Sales Conversation

Once a prospect arrives here, they have been pre-qualified.  They have been educated and provided with information.  Now, it’s time to get involved in a FOC– USED, high-touch sales conversation.  And, that’s the purpose of this process.

The purpose of the Active Sales Conversation process, then, is to SYSTEMATICALLY convert ready to buy customers into buying customers using a proven process. It defines the steps you follow and the order you perform those steps.  It also involves HOW you do it — your sales technique — the questions you ask and HOW you ask them.  It also involves the tools you use and the information you provide to your prospect — and WHEN you provide it — to help them decide whether they should do business with you — or not.

Once a prospect places an order, they become a customer.  They exit this process and enter the next process in the line — the Fulfillment Process.

Fulfillment/Delivery Management

The purpose of the Fulfillment/Delivery function is to ensure that all new and returning customers become  — and continue to be — super loyal, highly motivated customers. This is accomplished by designing a process that delivers a buying experience that is valued and/or desired by your ideal customer — a process that ensures complete customer satisfaction and a WOW experience when and as you deliver your products and/or services.  Once an order or service has been delivered, AND the customer is WOW’d and wildly satisfied, they move on to the Customer Development function.

Customer Development

The purpose of the Customer Development function is to drive exponential growth by increasing customer retention and generating repeat sales and referrals from existing customers.  This is accomplished by designing and utilizing processes that nurture and build strong customer relationships, track and leverage previous customer purchases, provide special “customer only” offers, provide ongoing extra value “surprises”, and “over the top” customer service.

The Dashboard

Like any engine, the engine operator needs feedback to know how well the engine is performing.  In the case of the business growth engine, information is provided to a dashboard from each of the engine’s functions.  That information is converted into Key Performance Indicators — or KPIs — specific to each function and each individual business.  The dashboard lets the growth engine operator know how well each of the key functions are performing and how the engine is performing as a whole.  It provides information on various work queues and helps the operator identify production bottlenecks and potential performance issues — allowing them to take action — BEFORE revenue and profitability are affected.

Business Growth Engine™ Technology

The Business Growth Engine is a TECHNOLOGY ENABLED sales operating system.  So, technology is a key component.  Since it is key, it is important that you use the RIGHT technology — the RIGHT way.   There are several different technologies that are typically involved in nearly every sales operating system.

One of the most important technology components is your CRM system.  There are many you can choose from, and over the course of my 30+ years in the sales technology/sales process business, I’ve worked with nearly all.  There is one set of technologi, however, I have settled on — Zoho CRM

Before I get into the specifics of how Zoho CRM is used to enable the Business Growth Engine™, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what CRM is and what it isn’t.  

What CRM IS — AND what it ISN’T

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.  CRM is not a “thing”. It is a business strategy. And, the goal of that strategy is to MANAGE the RELATIONSHIPS with prospects and CUSTOMERS so they become loyal, long term customers — whom you can leverage for ongoing revenue and referrals.  That’s its purpose. Now, I know this is a bit of an oversimplification, but in essence THAT is the purpose for developing and executing a CRM strategy.

Next, the execution of your CRM strategy, requires that you develop and execute a series of business processes — the Business Growth Engine™.  The Business Growth Engine™ defines HOW you manage the relationships with your prospects and customers as they progress through the buying journey into and through the fulfillment journey into and through the customer development journey.  It’s critical that these business processes be performed properly and consistently — the same way every time. They must be performed efficiently. They must be measured. And, that brings us to a very important concept — the true purpose of a CRM system.

The True Purpose of a CRM System

The true purpose of a CRM system is enable, enforce, manage, and measure the business PROCESSES that are used to execute YOUR CRM strategy.  A CRM system is a set of tools — including data — that help you and your team do that. So, let’s take a look at the various ways you can use Zoho CRM to enable the Business Growth Engine ™ processes.

Zoho CRM System Tools

Zoho CRM provides a variety of tools to enable, enforce, streamline, and measure your various, custom  Business Growth Engine™ processes. There are 100+ different tools available — which makes it possible to design and build highly effective and highly efficient business processes.  In this article we’ll examine the most common and most effective.  

Now, before I dig into this topic, I want to provide another quick caveat.  I’ll be providing a high-level overview of each of the tools and how they are used — in general.  The details of how to configure and/or use each of these tools is beyond the scope of this article.  However, both of these — how to configure your system and use each of these tools — are things that you will learn when you engage me to train you and your team how to use Zoho CRM to Enable Your Business Growth Engine ™.  You can learn more about that here.

Contact Management

When it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) its all about contacts.  Contact management tools make it possible to keep track of all the details that are important to you and the execution of your CRM strategy.  Zoho CRM contact management tools include the ability to keep track of the various interactions you and your team members have with your customers, prospects, referral partners, suppliers, and other business associates.  Interactions include calls, emails, tasks, meetings, etc. Contact management tools make it possible to filter and segment your contacts based on defined criteria for marketing and/or other communication purposes.

Other Business Application Integration Tools

One of the reasons I am a Zohoholic (or Zoho fanatic) is the company’s commitment to providing a full suite of business management tools such as help desk, HR, financial management, team collaboration tools — all of which can play a vital role in a business’ CRM strategy.  In addition, Zoho products — including Zoho CRM — provide and can access the most common set of Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) which makes it possible to extend system functionality. Using the combination of native tools and integrations with other platforms, a business can build incredibly dynamic and powerful Business Growth Engines that provide significant competitive advantage.

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation makes it possible for you to have the Zoho CRM system perform certain functions — automatically — based on triggers and/or criteria that you define.  It ensures that things that need to get done — get done — how and when you want them done. For example, you may set up a workflow automation that automatically schedules a task for you to make a follow up call to check on customer satisfaction 1 week after an installation is complete.  Or, you may automatically send a welcome email when a new record is added to your system. Workflow automation helps improve productivity and keep sales and marketing costs down.

Module customization

The modules of the paid versions of the Zoho CRM system can be customized to support the data you need to manage and enforce your processes and collect metrics you need to manage your Business Growth Engine activity and its effectiveness.  Typically, module customization works in conjunction with workflow automation and process enforcement features — providing the data required by these features. Module customization is also a key feature for reporting purposes. Zoho CRM reports and dashboards can be created that utilize data stored in various module fields.

Process Enforcement and Management (The Blueprint)

One of the most powerful Zoho CRM system tools is the Blueprint tool.  The Blueprint tool makes it possible to enforce your process execution — making sure that your processes are followed and that tasks and process steps are followed in the same order — the same way — every time — by everyone.  This is critical to ensuring that the information you need to collect is collected and that all the steps in a process are performed the right way. Using the Blueprint reduces training costs and it helps you identify where improvements need to be made, and when improvements and/or process changes are made, the system guides system users through the new process.

Task and Event Management/Task Module modification (tracking)

One of the essential tools in the Zoho CRM toolbox is task and event management, and the Zoho CRM provides a comprehensive set of task management tools.  Tasks and events are the work items that are performed within each of the Business Growth Engine ™ processes — for example making phone calls, sending emails or texts, making cold call visits.  This is true whether tasks are performed automatically — or not. The Zoho CRM task management tools provide each user with to do lists and individual and shared event calendars. They provide process managers to ensure that tasks are getting done in a timely manner.  They ensure that things do not fall through the cracks. Tasks and events can be integrated with other task management systems and calendars — for example Outlook and Google.

Email Integration

The Zoho CRM system can be integrated with various email systems including IMAP and POP3 systems provided by Internet Service Providers (ISP’s), Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, and Google Gmail and Google GSuite.  These features allow you to send emails directly from your CRM contact records. Emails received on the integrated platforms can be easily seen, accessed, and responded to from within the Zoho CRM contact record.  All emails — sent to an individual contact from ANY team member — can be viewed and responded to — all from within the contact record. This provides a COMPLETE history of email interactions with every contact in the database for which you have a valid email address.  And, that helps you dramatically improve the quality and cohesiveness of customer interactions.  

Email Templates

The Zoho CRM system email template tools allow you to create and reuse email templates.  Templates can be accessed and used in automated applications (i.e., as part of a workflow automation) and/or can be used to manually send an email based on a template.  Templates reduce time and effort associated with contact touches and ensure that messages are consistent. In addition the system provides feedback on the performance (open rate and click rate) of each template — making it possible for you to identify those that work well and those that need improvement.

Mass Emails/Email Marketing

The Zoho CRM system provides the capability to create and send highly targeted email marketing campaigns.  While limited in scope and the number of emails which can be sent within specific timeframes, the feature is adequate for the majority of requirements.  Like the email template tracking, email campaigns open and click rates can be tracked. Many of my customers use email campaigns in conjunction with contact filters to identify and schedule follow up calls with those who have opened and or clicked on links within emails.   

Interest Scoring

Another very popular and powerful tool in the Zoho CRM toolkit is the Interest Scoring feature.  The scoring feature helps you to gauge the interest level of customers and prospects — which is critical to the success of your conversion and customer development efforts.  Using the scoring feature you assign values to various customer actions such as opening an email, clicking on a link, visiting your website, interacting with you on social media, etc.  The Zoho CRM system then tracks these events and keeps track of each contact’s score. Then, based on your process rules, it triggers a workflow automation such as raising an alert or scheduling a call when a contact’s score reaches a specific point.  For example, you might set a threshold for a “live” contact when a contact’s score reaches 40. Using scoring helps you identify which contacts have the most interest and it allows you to focus your sales efforts on those which show the most interest — those who are exhibiting buying interest.

Web Site Forms

The Zoho CRM system provides the ability to collect contact and leads directly from your website through the use of web forms.  Web forms are placed on various landing pages. Interested prospects complete the online form. The collected data is added directly to your Zoho CRM system.  Then based on your process rules, the added database record can trigger a workflow automation — such as assigning the lead to a specific sales person based on interests and location, placing the record under Blueprint control, scheduling a call, or sending an email — and/or all of the above.  Forms can also be programmed to automatically collect lead source data for marketing effectiveness reporting.

Social Media Integration

The Social Media integration tool for Zoho CRM allows you to track and take actions based upon various social media interactions with your profiles and/or pages.  You can quickly identify connectors, promoters, and detractors and take appropriate actions. Additionally, you can automatically add contacts to your database who post, comment, share, like, etc.  And, you can assign scoring values to the various social media interactions.  

Web Site Visitor Chat (SalesIQ)

SalesIQ is a Zoho CRM feature that allows you to embed a web chat feature on your web site — allowing you to interact with your customers when they engage with you.  New records can be added to your database and chat session conversations with existing prospects and customers are available from within the prospect and/or customer record — providing you with more complete interaction information.  You can assign scoring values to various SalesIQ interactions.

Opportunity Tracking

One of the most important tools in the Zoho CRM database — and the cornerstone of the Business Growth Engine ™ Conversion process —  is the Opportunity Tracking module. The Opportunity Tracking module allows you to keep track of the various sales conversations that you and your team members are having with prospects and customers.  Track and keep track of the various players and their role in the sales process. Track where the opportunity is within the sales process. Create quotes and attach documents so all of the information associated with a sales opportunity can be quickly accessed.  Utilize a weighted forecast methodology to assign forecast values based on the sales stage, and much more. An absolutely essential tool for staying on top of and advancing sales opportunities to a close.

Custom Reports

Zoho CRM provides a powerful, custom reporting tool that makes it possible to create custom reports based on information contained in single modules or multiple related modules.  Create tabular reports, summary reports that aggregate information by multiple criteria, and pivot reports that make it possible to create multi-dimensional reports based on multiple criteria.  Custom reports make it possible to keep track of the various Business Growth Engine activities and results.

Custom Dashboards

Utilize a combination of various canned and custom reports to create information packed dashboards — organized by role and or function.  Dashboards allow you to consolidate and see various reports in a single page or view to quickly view KPI’s and other important information.  Dashboards can be created for each of the Business Growth Engine ™ functions and for the system as a whole — providing a view of KPI’s and operational data for each.

Execution and Time Management

More effective time management is one of the primary benefits of implementing a Business Growth Engine.  The system keeps track of where a given prospect or customer is within the buying cycle or customer journey. The combination of process orientation, work queues, and task management tools helps a business or individual organize and focus work effort.  Individuals and/or teams use these features in conjunction with time blocks and routines to ensure that they always know what needs to be done at any given time to maximize production.  Activity management metrics provide individuals and system managers with data to analyze production and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.  All of this combines to increase productivity while simultaneously reducing time, effort, stress, and anxiety.

Business Growth Engine™ Origins

I am asked regularly how this came about.  Here’s the 411. 

I am a technology-enabled business process fanatic.  I have been ever since I first began to work in the field nearly 40 years ago. And, for most of that time my focus has been in the area of CRM-enabled business sales and business development.  In that time, I’ve read 100+ books and attended dozens of seminars. I’ve had the privilege of implementing and teaching 50+ business owners how to use CRM to optimize, organize, and systematize the sales and business development growth aspects of their businesses.

Over the course of time, I identified a common set of business processes that were common to nearly all of the material I had read and learned.  And, I observed that the most successful businesses I had studied and/or worked with had all systematized and leveraged these same processes. So, several years ago I developed a framework — built on these business processes — around which I began to design, build, leverage, and teach small business owners and sales professionals how to use and more fully leverage their CRM platforms.  I call this framework the Business Growth Engine™. I have used the framework countless times now since 2010.

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