Another techie acronym from the IT guy? Not this time! CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. So, CRM software is simply a program that allows you to manage the relationships you have with your customers as well as leads and prospects. Chances are that you’re utilizing some form of CRM without even realizing it, but the chances are even better that whatever you are doing to manage your customer relationships can be improved on. Here are some reasons to adopt a CRM platform:
Scalability and Organization
You can probably get away with using a program like Microsoft Outlook to manage a few customers (or who remembers a Rolodex!?), but if you plan to have more than that, you need to consider CRM. A good CRM tool will allow you to effectively and efficiently manage anywhere from a few dozen different customers up to thousands. As your business grows through sales and expansion efforts, so, too, does your CRM platform.
Every piece of sales-related information goes into your CRM — from sales records and transactions to demographic data about each customer. So, with just a few clicks, you can typically retrieve all manner of important customer information from one place as opposed to cobbling data from multiple sources, digital and analogue.
Better Customer Service
Think about having all your prior history with a customer in one place: all purchases, all quotes, all customer service issues, preferences and even communication style. Now, imagine the impact on customer service if all that data, or relevant parts of it, were displayed on a single, easy-to-read page whenever your sales staff followed up on leads or with existing customers. That’s exactly what most CRM packages provide. Now that your sales team is armed with specific customer information, it will be able to recommend products, solutions and services that are specific to each of your customers’ needs — eliminating the “sales pitch” struggle.
Management of New Relationships
When you come back to the office after your next business networking event, you will finally be able to do something with all those business cards you picked up: All the information from those cards will go into your CRM as new leads. You will be able to add not just names and numbers but also any other information about the contact including title, role within the company, and demographics that relate to you and your business. For example, if you own a payroll management company, you may want to include the number of employees in a contact’s business when you put the lead in your system. Putting in as much information as possible during this phase will give you the greatest amount of flexibility down the road for future sales and marketing efforts as well as eventual customer service efforts. Most CRMs include tools to automate your processes. For instance, you can have your CRM configured to automatically email those contacts you just input from last night’s networking event. Or, through integration with your website, it can send out emails when a lead visits your website or even a specific page within your website.
You can use CRM to adjust your marketing campaigns in real time based on information that’s gathered instantly from your marketing efforts. As an example, you may come to learn that promotional emails and newsletters have a higher “click-through,” or read rate on Wednesday afternoons rather than Friday mornings. With that information, you can adjust your marketing accordingly.
And because most CRM platforms integrate with a number of other business functions, you can analyze customer calling activity, demographics, conversion rates and key performance indicators to help inform future business decisions.
Implementing a CRM solution can only help you better manage your customers and improve on your sales efforts, resulting in improved relationships and an increased success rate for closing new business. This will serve to put you ahead of the competition.
There are many different CRM platforms on the market today. You have choices between cloud-based and locally installed or more “general purpose” packages like Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Act! or Zoho, as well as industry-specific CRM packages. Talk to your technology partner today to find out more about your options and what may be the best CRM for you and your business.
MICHAEL REMER is founder and president of ComputerCare LLC, an IT services company providing a full spectrum of IT solutions and services to small and medium businesses.