Keeping track of sales

May 31, 2013 

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.

~Pablo Picasso

Being in business requires that you keep great accounting records both for the IRS and general financial management. An equally critical tool is a good sales tracking system that monitors your sales activities and makes sure potential sales are not lost in the hustle of each day.

I recently had an experience as a consumer that illustrates just how vital this is.

Having been a runner since 1970, my knees just do not like all the pounding anymore. I have been looking into bicycling as a lower-impact alternative and went riding with some friends recently.

Fortunately for me, my friends let me borrow one of their bikes as the bike I have is meant to go through 12 inches of mud and is just awful on pavement. I enjoyed the 20-mile bike trip with my friends so much that I knew I wanted to get a road bike.

I went to many different bike shops trying to figure out what I wanted and test riding the bikes. There are so many ways to configure

a bike; from the features you want it to have all the way down to the material for the frame. It just takes some time to ferret out all of the relevant factors.

Once I decided the type of bike I wanted and how it was to be configured, I went to the store that carried the brand and talked to the store manager. He said would have to order it for me since they did not have my size in stock. He also said he would have it in two days and would call me.

After four days of waiting and calling twice without getting anyone to respond, I finally gave up on this local store and am now looking for the same bike outside my local community. I really did not want to go outside of my community, but this situation caused me to lose complete confidence in this business, and I was left with no choice since they are the only store in town that carries the brand of bike I wanted.

I think that what happened here is the manager just did not keep good enough records to remember who I was and what I had ordered. In the end, he lost my business because of it. He could have kept me as a customer -- and quite possibly a number of others who likely had a similar experience -- if he just had sales tracking software for his business.

Sales tracking software allows you to keep track of all your leads and information on each customer, and there are many products out there. I would recommend Quickbase (which is done by the provider of QuickBooks) and SalesForce, but you need to find the software solution that works for you. The typical cost of these starts around $100 a month but goes up from there as you grow your company.

Now go out and make sure that you have a great sales management program in place that will serve your business and all of your customers.

Jerry Osteryoung, the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University, can be reached at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com.

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