Which of your products are purchased again and again? Which are usually purchased only once? Does that vary by customer segment? Which products have resulted in the most returns, complaints and service calls? The answers to questions like these can guide the focus of your sales, purchasing and training efforts, but the only way to get these answers is by tracking them in your CRM system.

What to track? At the very least, you should set up codes that correspond to your high-level product categories. Even better, set up codes that will show you which product lines or individual products are selling into which accounts. This, among other things, will help you to see which products have historically helped you to land and retain new business. If you’ve segmented your customers according to their potential cross-selling opportunities, you can use historical product information to increase your quote hit rate by offering products that speak to similar customers’ similar needs.

If you design your CRM system to integrate with your service and inside sales teams, you’ll also be able to determine which products are repeatedly resulting in emergency service calls and complaints. Once you’ve flagged a product as being potentially problematic, you can explore what’s causing the problem by reviewing the service and inside sales teams’ notes and by meeting with these reps. After you’ve identified the root of the problem, you can work to rectify it. For example, if you find that a product is being sold into the wrong applications, or you find that reps don’t understand the features and benefits of a given product, you can increase training. Or, if you determine that the product itself is faulty, you can discontinue the product altogether.

Learn about other ways you can use CRM.

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