Customer relationship management (CRM) refers to a system meant for managing a company’s interaction with its existing customers as well as potential customers. It usually involves the use of computer based or automated solutions to organize and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support. The main purpose companies aim to achieve with CRM is to grow their business by increasing customer retention and drive sales and growth.

Before now, traditional CRM arrangements involve the implementation of cumbersome data intake practices by sales and marketing departments as well as contact center agents. Sales and marketing teams are responsible for attracting leads and updating the system with information throughout the sales cycle, while the contact centers gather data and revise customer history records through service call and technical support interactions.

However, with many computer-based solutions available, CRM is now much easier and more productive. There are now many CRM software packages that are designed to compile information on customers across different channels or points of contact between them and the company. These channels include the company’s website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, social media, and marketing materials.

Aside consolidating customer information and documents into a single, easily accessible database, CRM software packages also record various customer interactions across communication channels, automate various workflow processes (such as tasks, calendars, and alerts), and help managers track performance and productivity based on the information stored within the database.

Essentially, CRM software can help improve the overall performance of your business. This is because they come with many features and benefits that can help any business grow. Here are some of them.

5 Amazing Ways CRM Can Improve your Business Performance

Customer service is almost as important as the product or service being sold. Often times a good product is not enough, especially in this day and age when almost everyone has a great product or service to sell. Nowadays, creating value means total service; which translates to pre-sale and post sale services. A small business CRM can help achieve this because it allows any member of your business team to access related information entered by other team members fast and easy.

For example, Negotiator A is assigned to the account of Mr. Q. Negotiator A inputs information relative to his or her conversation and transaction with the Mr. Q on the CRM. If for whatever reason, Negotiator A is not present (i.e. sick, on leave or has resigned) to take the call of Mr. Q, then any negotiator can just access the small business CRM to verify information and make customer care faster, more secure and more accurate.

1. Marketing automation

CRM software packages and other tools have marketing automation capabilities that can automate repetitive tasks in order to enhance marketing efforts targeted at customers in different stages of the sales cycle.

For example, as potential customers get introduced to your business, the system can automatically send them a welcome message introducing your business and telling them the benefits they stand to gain from your products or services. Similarly, after a new customer makes his or her first purchase, the system can automatically pitch them additional products and services that they might be interested in.

2. Contact center automation

This feature of CRM solutions helps to reduce tedious aspects of contact center agents’ jobs. Contact center automation might include pre-recorded audio that assists customers in solving their problems or leads them to the appropriate department for their queries.

CRM software packages can integrate seamlessly with telephones and other desktop tools used by customer service agents to reduce the time of calls and simply the customer service process.

3. Sales force automation

This feature of CRM solutions is also known as sales force management, and it helps to check duplicate efforts between sales personnel and customers. The software can achieve this by automatically keep tracking of all correspondence between sales personnel and customers. So, if your company’s sales rep tries to play games by showing off the same customer as multiple customers, they will be busted immediately.

4. Location based services/ Geo-location technology

Another important feature of CRM features is that they include technology that can automatically create and launch marketing campaigns based on customer’s physical locations. This feature detects customer’s real locations by integrating with location-based GPS applications.

Aside increasing conversion rates by creating custom, laser targeted marketing campaigns, this feature can also serve as a tool for networking and managing contacts in order to find sales prospects based on location.

5. Adaptation to multiple platforms

Because CRM tools are designed to help boost your marketing campaigns across all available channels, they can adapt with any channel to generate as much as possible leads for your business from that channel. For example, to monitor customer interactions on social media and generate leads from that channel, some CRM solutions can analyze social media feedback and address customer queries and issues, in what is known as “social CRM”. Companies can use the data obtained from social CRM to get deep insights into customer activity, preferences, and expectations.

Similarly, there is “mobile CRM”, which involves the use of CRM applications built for smartphones and other mobile devices. Such applications are fast becoming a necessity for marketing professionals and sales representatives, especially those who are always on the move and need to access customer information and perform tasks when they are not in their offices.

Like the desktop-based CRM solutions, mobile CRM applications also integrate with features that are unique to mobile devices—such as voice recognition and GPS—to help businesses gain access to important information about their customers and marketing efforts on the go.

6 Superb Ways CRM Can Help your Sales & Marketing Efforts

Customer relationship management (CRM) is critical to any business that wants to grow and exceed their sales goals. It is particularly helpful for small and medium-sized businesses, most of which face a wide range of sales challenges and usually fail as a result.

Have you ever heard of the saying “speed kills”? Well in business, speed creates more revenues and hopefully kills your competition’s business. By using a CRM client interaction program, your business becomes faster, more accurate and more secure. Just think about this, instead of leafing through tons of paperwork to determine the purchase date on an item; you can just type in a few security codes, the name of the customer and information pops out of the screen. This means you get to deal with more customers in a day and each customer knows that when they patronize your business, they get results fast.

If you own or run a small or medium-sized business, you can bank on CRM to grow your business by using it to manage your sales team and marketing efforts. And that is much easier now because there are computer-based CRM tools that are easy to adopt, such as Salesforce and Zoho.

As of present, many business owners are aware of CRM, and they know they need to leverage it to boost their sales and marketing efforts. But they don’t know exactly how to make it work for them. If you’re one of such business owners, then read on to understand six key areas in which CRM can benefit your business and positively impact your sale team.

a. CRM helps you track, convert, and follow up leads

Attracting leads costs money, and nurturing them costs money, too. Despite the cost, your organization, like other businesses, is willing to bear the cost of attracting and nurturing leads due to the long-term profits and other benefits. But what about leads that end up not converting? They make your company lose money.

With CRM to the rescue, you can effectively track and follow up your leads to ensure that they convert. Even if they don’t convert, CRM helps you figure out why they are not converting and what you can do to increase your conversion rates. By tracking your leads with CRM, you will not only manage them more effectively, but you will also manage the effectiveness of your lead sources.

b. CRM increases sales team performance

Your sales reps are humans, and as such are not expected to be perfect at everything. The only way you can face this reality and still have it work to your business’s advantage is to examine each of your sales reps for personal weaknesses. Some could be weak in appointment making, others in proposal development.

You can use CRM to assess the reps in each stage of the sales cycle, as this can help you identify the areas that need improvement and provide targeted training to improve those weaknesses. In essence, CRM can help you identify consistent bottlenecks in your business sales process that you can address correctly.

c. CRM helps you grow an effective sales team

By using CRM to identify the weaknesses of your sales reps and making efforts to improve those weaknesses, you are simultaneously developing a best practices and a sales training system. By understanding what works and continuously working on improving your sales process, you can build a template for training new reps quickly and making them productive within a very short period. So, there won’t be any downtime in your sales team’s productivity because even if some reps leave, new ones are recruited and made to quickly adapt to the system.

d. CRM helps you make more accurate and timely forecasting

CRM solutions like salesforce.com have powerful forecasting tools that your sales reps can use to quickly adjust quotes in the pipeline and modify close and delivery dates. They also offer dashboards that show graphical illustrations of your company’s key performance indicators in real-time. Having and using such tools can help you predict future trends as well as make well-informed timely decisions.

e. CRM improves closing percentages

It is widely believed that it takes between seven to nine touches to convert a prospect into a customer, but most sales reps tend to quit after two, three, or four touches.

An effective way to prevent your prospects from dropping off your sales funnel when they are already halfway into it is to come up with a structured plan for consistently contacting opportunities through the sales cycle. CRM can help you organize and structure such as plan for increased conversions. It also helps you prioritize your opportunities and manage them down a smooth pipeline from suspect to close. All you need is to be efficient with the best opportunities, and CRM can help you identify those opportunities.

Have you ever gotten a call from your sales representative or business partner telling you that your customer just walked in and wants to talk to you about a purchase he made a few months ago? He wants to make the same purchase, the problem is he forgot the serial number on the item purchased.

If you have a small business CRM, then your partner can just open up the database and tell him exactly what he purchased and make the sale right then and there. This means that you make a sale and your customer is not only satisfied but impressed at your efficiency and effectiveness. This translates to repeated business and more profits

f. CRM boost your productivity anywhere and anytime

Whether you are a business owner or manager, you need to be able to communicate with and manage your sales reps from wherever you might be. This is now possible, as most CRM software solutions are delivered over the web. This way, they allow you access anywhere, provided there is a reliable internet connection.

Okay, it’s the end of the month and you need to make reports like tax related reports, profit related reports, complaint related reports and inventory of items sold. The old school method would be to pour through the hard copy of the records and list it down one by one. With a small business CRM software, all you have to do is click the reporting tab and generate reports that you need.

4 Factors to Consider When Choosing a CRM Software

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is a program that allows the user/owner to:

  • Input data online
  • Save data online
  • Access data online
  • Secure data through online security protocols
  • Create functionality such as reporting tools, formula and computation, calendar tools as well as scheduling tools
  • Create other program suited for a particular industry

The most evident aspect of a small business CRM is data storage. However, what most entrepreneurs fail to realize is that a small business CRM can also be geared towards security, fast and easy access, reporting and scheduling. For example, Mr. A inputs business related information regarding his hardware store business. Some of the functionality that can be used are:

  • Access to information is limited to individuals who have the proper clearance. Different personnel can be given different clearance levels such as view only, view and input or view, input and correct entries.
  • Access to information is easily monitored. A small business CRM can be tweaked to include a report on those who accessed, inputted, corrected and downloaded information on specified clients.
  • Information on a particular client can be centralized and accessed by anyone with proper clearance. Therefore when a client walks in or calls in, the customer representative can ask security questions and easily know the transaction history for a smoother customer interaction.
  • Reportorial requirements can be done at the click of a button. A small business CRM can generate reports online anywhere, anytime provided the right program is installed.
  • Instant Access anywhere. Just imagine getting a call from a client when you are out of the office. With a small business CRM software, you can just open your laptop, go online and access the information remotely or via online servers.
  • Records are kept for posterity and shielding purposes. 20 years ago, this meant tons of paperwork, receipts, reports and memo’s stacked in steel cabinets. Nowadays, it can all be accessed via a thumb drive which lasts longer than paper copies that are susceptible to damage and spoilage.

So Based on the Functionality stated above:

  • Do not choose solely based on affordability.  Not because a software program is low-priced means that it is right for your small business, you also have to consider its functionalities in meeting your specific needs and requirements.
  • Know the difference between purchasing an actual small business CRM software program that you can install in your system and CRM services offered by most companies.  Evaluate their respective pros and cons and choose the program where you can benefit the most.
  • Your software program should be flexible and upgradeable.  To get more value from the program, choose one that can keep up with the progress of your small business, i.e. a program that can accommodate your growing list of customers is advantageous.
  • Get your small business CRM software from a company that provides strong technical and customer support.  You can have your peace of mind knowing that you can get the assistance in ensuring that your software runs smoothly at all times.
Ajaero Tony Martins