Solid Strategies for Surviving a Slowdown (Part 1)

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Jim Walker, Initiate SystemsEditor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series written by Jim Walker from Initiate Systems. You can find Part 2 here.

As uncertainty accelerates, some companies not only survive, they prepare themselves to thrive during the subsequent recovery. Even in the best economic conditions, organizations look to do more with less, and in a downturn, they are forced to manage things even more tightly. Added market pressures force tough decisions. Less money results in contraction and consolidation of vital resources. Many companies turn to their most valuable asset, their customer data, to forecast and define their future.

A downturn opens rare opportunities to outmaneuver rivals by reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. Reliable and accurate customer data can provide valuable insight into changing market dynamics. Organizations that analyze their data to identify and avoid fraudulent and high-risk accounts can also reduce operating costs. Many use customer data to build and strengthen relationships and identify revenue opportunities. High quality, reliable customer data allows them to spot opportunities across lines of business or properly align a sales force with an up-to-date and accurate customer hierarchy. They can find pricing discount opportunities for customers or identify commissions over-payments.

The potential gain is substantial; however, the effectiveness of these initiatives is only as good as the underlying data that drives the results. Here are six proven business strategies that are fueled by real-time, accurate and complete customer data that master data management (MDM) can provide your organization.

Incent customers through improved pricing: Purchasing behavior changes dramatically in a recession. Consumers increasingly opt for lower-priced alternatives to their usual purchases. Customer upgrades and extensions not only improve your top line, they also increase customer retention and can be completed with much less cost. Knowing your customer will present pricing discounts or up-sale opportunities. However, complex business relationships, such a subsidiary and parent structure, keep you from obtaining a clear picture. Overlaying a trusted hierarchical structure on your customer data will provide an accurate view of rolled-up sales and introduce appropriate pricing discounts to garner new business in difficult times.

Never double pay a commission: Geographies or strategic sales territories sometimes overlap for sales executives. Managing this overlap for hundreds of sales resources across complex business relationships is difficult at best, and the potential overpayment of commissions is high. Identifying and removing the overlap requires you to have a clear picture of the customer and their organizational hierarchy. For instance, if two sales resources are selling into two subsidiaries of the same company, you may have missed an opportunity to roll up the sales and pay a single commission. Identifying and eliminating redundant commissions reduces operating costs.

Spend the right time on the right customers: Organizations are concerned for their own well-being as well as their customers’ and prospects’. Identifying and mitigating customer risk requires complete insight into accurate customer information, license positions and relationships. Overlaying a trusted hierarchical structure on customer data will allow you to roll up risk calculations so that you can analyze and identify a master account and apply appropriate risk strategies. This will help you understand your best customers and make strategic plans to maximize revenues associated to them. It will help you spend the right amount of time with the right customers.

Jim Walker is a Senior Manager, Field Marketing for Initiate Systems, a leading provider of master data management (MDM) solutions. Jim specializes in researching and writing on the effects of MDM on the enterprise. He has held numerous marketing positions at enterprise software companies, focusing on data management and security. He has also designed and implemented large scale enterprise systems as a technology consultant. Jim holds a MBA in e-commerce from Carnegie Mellon University and a BS in Computer Engineering form the University of Illinois at Chicago. He can be reached at

Click here for Part 2 of this series.

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  1. Solid Strategies for Surviving a Slowdown (Part 2) « Hub Designs Blog - 03/17/2009

    […] Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series written by Jim Walker from Initiate Systems. You can find Part 1 here. […]

  2. Solid Strategies for Surviving a Slowdown (Part 2) « Hub Designs Blog - 03/17/2009

    […] Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series written by Jim Walker from Initiate Systems. You can find Part 1 here. […]

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