“Do you know what you should do? You should go to the Chamber of Commerce!”
This slogan is often ridiculed whenever there are problems with the Chamber of Commerce. Whether it is about the price/performance, the nine-to-five opening hours of the website or something else entirely. Apparently people experience the Chamber of Commerce as a bureaucratic institution that adds little value. However, the joint Chambers of Commerce have improved much in the past twenty years. And with the results of that you can improve your sales and company operations.
One of the main tasks of the Chamber of Commerce is the management of the Commercial Register. The commercial register is now since a year ago part of the system of key registrations that is used by the government. While in the past only companies would be in the commercial register, nowadays you need to be able to locate all legal entities. That includes municipalities, foundations, churches and farms without staff.
No hassle after approving: know your customer
Put simply: if you deliver to legal entities in the Netherlands and not to consumers (B2B: business-to-business), then you will be able to locate every customer in the Commercial Register. If a customer is not in the Commercial Register, then that means: either it is not a legal entity (so it would be a private individual) or it is someone that has neglected to register. This is the first advantage of the Commercial Register when it comes to a good order: if the customer is a private individual and you believe he is a legal entity, then you might end up surprised when it comes to the delivery in the case of a dispute. A private individual in the trade traffic is extensively protected by laws and legislation, while this is only true to a lesser degree for a legal entity. That is because it is professionally engaged in a profession and therefore needs less legal protection.
If your customer is not registered, but he is a legal entity then this is already a second advantage: you can still close a deal, but you do not exactly know with whom. If there is a discussion, then the search is on. A small legal entity or a con artist is hard to track when they are moved or changed their name due to a take-over. However, with a Chamber of Commerce number, you can easily and accurately retrieve more data to locate the customer. Since it is required according to the law that a company provides the correct data to the Commercial Register.
Of course to be able to profit from this you will need to make sure that together with your customer you include the CoC numbers of both parties . That gives your customer the security of who he is doing business with and vice versa. Because all the advantages that you experience as a supplier, are there for the customer as well of course.
The third advantage: big companies usually have hundreds of legal entities, but whom do you send the invoice to and who pays it? All these legal entities are all neatly entered into the Commercial Register. And often it is the ‘mother’ who is also responsible for the requirements in the case of a bankruptcy; you can find this in an eventual active so-called ‘403-statement’ (which can álso be requested at the Chamber of Commerce). But who is it that has the duty of obligation? The company Janssen BV? Or the company with the imaginative name of Janssen II BV or Janssen XXVII BV? So prevent that endless back-and-forth-sending of invoices by actually using the company name and address from the Commercial Register in your correspondence. Unless, of course, you have agreed upon another postal address.
But you should also know your prospect!
A manager or administrator is happy if he can execute a signed order easily and properly, also thanks to the three mentioned advantages. But what good is that to a salesman? “Nothing”,you might think. But in the selling process you can also gain profit by using the data from the Commercial Register. That already starts with the cold calling.
It is likely that you work with marketing campaigns with a head and a tail, in which you need to contact your target group to figure out who you can service with your services and products. Especially if you do this by a combination of telephone and personal contact this is an expensive technique. An experiences telemarketer can make about twenty calls a day with the right person about a non-trivial product or service, but for this he needs at least sixty calls in total. A marketeer can only bother you if he adds something of value. That twelfth attractive offer to switch to another energy supplier, is not something you are really waiting for.
By determining your target group properly when it comes to size, area, sector, etcetera you can prevent frustration and spend time on those companies that can actually service you. The Commercial Register helps with this. Not only does the Commercial Register prevent that the same company has to receive a call three times because it has three trade names, but you can also use the trade register to determine your target group. In the Commercial Register you will find not only name and address data, but also a coding of the economic activities of the company and its size. Currently that happens on the basis of so-called SBI codes (Standard Company Classification). It is very easy to assemble your target group and order it for a small amount. You can do that with the CoC but also with other suppliers. For a small extra fee you can also order the name of a functionary, although the quality of those is sometimes limited.
But also in account management for example you can have a lot of enjoyment from the Commercial Register. Because you can retrieve a legal entity exactly, you can easily assign your account managers to your relations. And the Commercial Register also helps to discover which companies no longer exist, which companies have moved and which companies have merges, so that your account manager had to spend less time on administration and had more time left for the customer. And then it is of course quite useful that you can retrieve the last registered annual figures with a few clicks before you sit round the table with your customer for a conversation about how you can help him further.
That is very nice, but where do I find the CoC number?
That is quite easy nowadays. Almost all legal entities are required to mention the CoC number on outbound letters and e-mails, orders, invoices and offers (on the CoC website the full rules for company correspondences are listed). If they are not on there, then you can easily search in the Commercial Register on the site of the CoC. Unfortunately the Commercial Register is not always available 24/7. Alternatively you can make use of OpenKvK. Although OpenKvK is not the primary source of data from the Commercial Register, it is accessibly 24/7 and you can retrieve automated data easily and free of charge. For an automatic link you can also make use of www.webservices.nl. This last option also shows an extensive mixture of data on top of the Commercial Register.
Any advice when it comes to the organization of my administration?
Yes, we have learned a lot from the implementations of, among others, Invantive Vision and Invantive Estate. If you think you have need of this, please leave a comment below and tell us where your relations (customers, suppliers and prospects) administrate in. If there is sufficient demand I will promise to write a blog about this.