Register, renew, refresh: These simple words represent the three "R's" of sales, and the cornerstone of every successful marketing program. Most important, they can make or break your ability to strengthen brand loyalty and improve revenues year after year--even in a slowing economy.
The "register, renew, refresh" process is based on knowing who your customers are and understanding the cycles in their buying behaviors. To gain this type of insight, you must first take the time to assemble quality end-customer information. One of the best ways to do that is to establish procedures for effective registration of all products sold, along with associated service contracts.
A successful product and service registration program gives the supply chain ongoing access to important customer- and product-specific data related to goods sold, including end-customer contact information, customer purchase order numbers, manufacturer sales order numbers, product serial numbers, service level information, service contract numbers, and service expiration dates.
By having this data available, the supply chain gains visibility into product and service lifecycles. This, in turn, unlocks the ability for companies to "renew and refresh." In other words, to market to an installed base; renew service contracts; make follow-on "product-refresh" and accessory sales; and build stronger ties with customers.
Unfortunately, most marketing and sales executives don't have access to the data that they need to effectively manage the lifecycles of products and services sold. Yet the data most likely resides within the walls of their own organizations, as well as in their partners' organizations. It exists in sales-out systems, point-of-sale systems, CRM and ERP platforms, and in all types of databases.
The challenge is in mining, aggregating, and organizing this data so that it becomes a powerful catalyst for your company's sales and marketing strategies. The process of building this data core is not simple. It involves gathering the customer transaction information mentioned above from multiple parties and multiple systems across the supply and demand chain, and bringing it together into a single system of record.
To put the power of the data core in perspective, consider a situation in which a customer's service contract is about to expire on a business-critical email server. Having an active service contract allows that company to secure quick, cost-effective repairs or a replacement with minimal business interruption. Not having a service contract means paying full cost for repairs or replacement, delays in service, and lots of anxiety, including potential revenue loss should a server failure occur.
Ideally, the server manufacturer would be reaching out to the customer 90 to 100 days in advance of the contract expiration to make the need for service renewal known. Yet in the majority of cases that kind of outreach fails to happen. The reasons why are numerous, but they mostly have to do with the lack of a centralized system of record for managing service contracts and registrations.
With such a data core in place, savvy marketers can also move well beyond managing basic service renewals. They can leverage the intelligence it contains to measure buying behavior, or implement customized marketing and sales campaigns to an installed base. They can use it to generate automated notifications to customers or channel partners, or to build customized reports that track sales by SKU, salesperson, region, and many other variables. And, they can employ the data core to drive contact with customers when product upgrades or new accessories are available, and at other strategic points in the service and contract lifecycle.
Simply put, a data core built around the "three R's" philosophy can be used as a tool for giving customers more attention than ever before. And while customer care is vital, the "three R's" approach clearly also provides a path to stronger revenues, making it easier for your company to improve sales, year after year.