Customer relationship management is an approach that is used to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers. CRM uses data analysis about a customer’s history with a company to improve customer interaction, drive customer growth and improve customer retention. A company’s CRM system stores all interactions with its potential and existing customers.
As your business grows, you would find out that manually keeping track of your prospects and customers with spreadsheets and random notes can be really difficult. It can even lead to poor handling of customers and customer information.
For small businesses, a customer relationship management system can be a lifesaver. These programs help entrepreneurs keep track of crucial data such as how customer interactions are going and who you’re reaching out to. CRM can help you sort through customer data in innovative and powerful ways, doing everything from helping you predict customer needs to processing sales and developing partnerships through the features offered.
CRM is often equipped with extensive capabilities that offices don’t fully utilize to the best of their ability, which can lead to an inefficient system. You have to find out ways that would enable you use this system effectively to uplift your business.
Benefits of using a CRM system
Better customer experience: It’s much easier to provide a positive buying experience when you know a lot about your prospect. Seeing at a single glance every blog post, email, and ebook they’ve opened and/or read, as well as key details like their company’s size, location, and vertical, gives you a major leg up on what your customer wants. You can personalize your messaging and provide more value from the start.
Realize which customers produce the most profit: By analyzing buying behaviors and other customer data, your business can gain a better understanding of who are your best customers. You can differentiate between the customer who provides the highest profit margins and those that simply run in to check price and such. You could use that information to provide them a better type or tier of customer service for better customer relationship.
Maximize per-customer profits: Data gleaned from CRM can help you lower the cost of selling to certain customers and help you increase profits from those customer interactions. It is a fact that not all leads turn to sales, so it would avoid you spending time on unprofitable leads.
Higher productivity: With a CRM, you can automate tasks like call and activity logging, reporting, deal creation, and more. The less time reps are spending on administrative work, the greater number of hours they have to get in front of prospects. Your revenue will increase proportionally.
Increased rep collaboration: A sales manager can instantly see how and when her salespeople are reaching out to and following up with buyers. An account executive can quickly fill himself in on an opportunity his sales development rep has prospected and qualified for him. Salespeople on the same team can learn more about each other’s best practices and stand in for each other whenever someone goes on vacation or gets sick. Essentially, a CRM boosts rep collaboration and efficiency.
Greater insights: Stop wondering how your salespeople are doing. A CRM will give you both a high-level and on-the-ground picture of rep performance, including team-wide and individual conversion rates by deal stage, average deal size, deal velocity — and that’s just scratching the surface. Imagine what you could do with this data-backed understanding of what’s working and what could be improved.
Analyze buying patterns: More understanding of customer buying patterns can, again help you spot potential high-value customers so that you can make the most of your sales opportunities with those customers.
How to Use a CRM System Effectively
You may have in fact been using a CRM system for years without having harnessed its full features. Here are things to take note of to ensure you put this system to effective use for the good of your business.
- Get your staff full trained in the system
No matter how many features your CRM software has, you won’t be able to utilize it effectively if your employees don’t know how to use it. Rather than hoping they can identify on their own the key features of the program, make sure you incorporate a thorough review of the CRM program into employee training for new hires. Go over all the features in detail. This training should be robust and should give employees ample time to get comfortable with the system. Consider a training system that lasts several days, as well as regularly scheduled refreshers and tutorials, so that your employees figure out everything the software can do and don’t forget it as soon as they walk out of training and stop regularly using half the features.
Employees often treat training programs as they would treat required school courses — one part waste of time, the other part a chance to relax. Don’t allow this to happen in your office. You’ve making a considerable investment in your CRM and you should insist that everyone takes the training process seriously.
- Utilize all the features in your CRM system
Spreadsheet capabilities are available in most CRM software, but employees may be used to opening up Excel for data processing, thus neglecting your CRM system. Never allow this to happen. You’ve invested in the CRM tool, so you may as well use it. Encourage everyone to ditch the Excel documents and any others that are not part of your CRM to make sure you get team members respecting the investment you made. To help, ask those training your staff on the CRM to highlight the ways this new tool surpasses old system capabilities, thus helping employees cut the cord for good.
- Utilize your CRM for all your leads
Once you believe your staff knows how to use the CRM system effectively, insist on processing every new lead using these tools. The more you put your CRM system to use, the more your employees would get used to it. The transition period from other office technology can be stressful, but it’s best to integrate the system immediately.
- Make good use of your dashboard
You should have a crystal-clear overview of your team’s performance so you can keep them aligned and give the right coaching and direction. That’s why a CRM dashboard is so handy: It’s like a control panel that you can customize to fit your specific needs.
Choose which statistics appear on your dashboard based on your sales objectives and process. For instance, if your team is supposed to sell more of B product this month, you might want to see a breakdown of units of B product sold versus C product. Or if you set activity metrics for your reps, you may want to have a section for the day’s completed activities. All these and more can be set up in your dashboard.
- Make feedback a priority
Your staff are going to be in the frontline when it comes to CRM use. Don’t let their experiences pass you by. Whenever you introduce technology, there are usually one or two team members who instantly embrace it. Talk to these employees about what works for them, what they’d like to see improved, what features they like/don’t like, and any difficulties they encounter. With their feedback, you’ll discover what you need to make this system as ideal for your company as possible.
Another thing your CRM can do is help you monitor and review the full details of every customer interaction. Take advantage of this by logging customer feedback when it’s given within the CRM program. Make it part of the documentation process. By doing so, you will create an effective database of feedback, problems and suggested solutions that customer service representatives can search through to identify weaknesses in your company’s setup.
- Consider direct customer engagement
CRM best practices should focus on the client, so consider direct engagement as you refine your usage. Find out if your customers are updating their information with you or giving you more details about themselves in their profile and use this information to target suitable customers directly. In this social media age, you may well find that many customers respond to this level of engagement.
- Incorporate your CRM into marketing
Most CRMs often come with features that can enable you to track and develop not just customer relations but marketing campaigns and their reach as well. By using your CRM to get immediate feedback on the deals and campaigns you launch with your business, you can figure out what customers are responding to and what they aren’t interested.
If your CRM has the capability of telling you what subjects or deals your customers are clicking on, interacting with or using, you can determine how to move forward with a campaign and how to modify marketing campaigns in the future. You can even develop a marketplace app that can help you.
- Use to track social media traffic
Many CRMs can track social media traffic about a company and/or its products. If this applies to you, your CRM best practices should include bringing clients and social media together at every juncture. As client relationships grow, collect details from their social media profiles to help foster long-term relationships. Obviously, you need to be aware of the legal implications surrounding data, so ensure you are compliant with the data protection act when using clients’ personal data.
Features to look out for to ensure your CRM is complete
Whether hosted or licensed, these are some common features you’ll want to look for in a CRM solution for your business. Without these features, then know that your CRM software may not be able to function effectively.
- Application Programming Interface (API): This allows the CRM solution to link with other systems, eliminating the need to enter information multiple times.
- Multiple contact information: Users should be able to organize and access information by a person’s name, as well as his or her company. That makes it possible to view all the interactions that have occurred with a particular person, as well as with multiple individuals within a single company.
- Dashboards: The system should provide a summary view of the sales opportunities underway across a company’s customer base and the employees working on them. With this, promising sales opportunities are less likely to fall through the cracks.
- Delegation: Employees should be able to use the system to electronically delegate tasks to their colleagues.
- Information entry and access: Employees also should be able to enter and access information from anywhere within the system. For example, if they’ve talked with a client on the phone, they should be able to enter details of the call under the person’s name. Once in the system, that information should be accessible through both the individual’s and the company’s name.
If your CRM system does not have these features, then know that you may need an upgrade. These features if properly utilized would ensure that your CRM system is more effective in the long run.
Your CRM does not have to be limited to its standard use in monitoring and tracking customer interactions. With some innovation and creativity, you can effectively incorporate the capabilities of your CRM into multiple business departments and help maximize and improve customer relations for your entrepreneurial business.