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CRM, The Credit Crunch, and you

Steering SMEs through the downturn

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So the first white paper to tackle The Recession tips up in the Reg Library.

As with all vendor-produced papers – this one is from Sage - there is an underlying pitch. To whit: small and medium-sized companies should invest in CRM systems (and hopefully Sage's CRM technology), even as they cut costs.

Cost reductions are not enough to steer businesses safely through the downturn, They must also examine how they can safeguard revenues and profitability, and particularly within their own customer base. And CRM is uniquely positioned to help companies through the most challenging market conditions, Sage argues.

This is entirely sensible, going by The Register's own experience. Tech advertising is holding steady compared with many markets. And we don't rely on banks to smooth cash flow bumps. However, our customers, mostly very big companies, are imposing much worse payment terms – 60 days official terms is pretty standard with US companies, which translates into 90 days before the money flops on the doorstep.

This is our Credit Crunch – squeezed by the customers, as opposed to the banks. It means that means we must be more efficient in everything we do.

The Register is by any measure a small business: we use a CRM system - in our case Salesforce.com, which is the de facto standard for publishing companies. CRM drives the entire sales process, helping us to focus on the best opportunities, and to improve reporting. Good hook-ins into our accounting software systems - Sage Line 50 and Quickbooks - makes life a lot easier for the finance guys. We are also making a substantial investment in our own in-house systems to drive down marketing costs and improve customer service.

Sage's take on operational improvements is below:

CRM: A business imperative for companies during the global economic downturn.

Do you work in, or own a small or medium-sized business? How is the Credit Crunch affecting your company? Are any of your suppliers as outrageous as Alliance Boots. Does CRM work for you? Please share your experiences below. ®

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