CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management

But more importantly how can it help grow your business and your sales?

As with many terms, it means different things to many people. At its heart is a methodology and a strategy for keeping in manageable contact with customers and prospects to manage your sales pipeline and grow your sales.
And to underpin the methodology and the strategy, usually sits a system that enables you to keep track of your customer contact ( across different areas of your business )
Usually a software package, or information held in the Cloud ( you can login in via the internet anywhere to access your data ) a CRM system enables you to manage, trigger and track contact with customers and prospects. Cloud based systems tend to charge a price per user, and price points vary dramatically, depending on the number of the features provided.

What is CRM?

Used in both business to consumer and business to business sales, a good CRM package underpins marketing, sales and customer service activity to enable the appropriate frequency of contact with that type of customer or prospect. Website leads and contacts can automatically populate your CRM, and trigger activity for people within the business.
Reporting enables companies to track contact, focuses people on performance and sales pipeline, and most importantly creates a discipline in following through with customers and prospects.
The new breed of CRM systems can support your traditional sales and marketing activities, and develop your inbound marketing and lead nurturing activities both time and cost effectively.
What is CRM – how does it benefit a business?

CRM provides

  • Information – it will bring together all your contact with an individual customer so that you can see at a glance the interactions you and colleagues have had with that customer, saving you time and keeping you organised
  • Managing your sales pipeline – helping you to focus your own and your sales people time and energy into activity which generates new business
  • Organisation – often included is a task management system, where tasks and contact with a customer can be planned in, and reminders are set so that you keep contact with a lead / prospect nurturing them towards a sale
  • See at a glance tracking – information at your fingertips about your customers, your sales pipeline, your activity with customers
  • Reporting – more detailed reporting which helps you to manage your pipeline, your sales team and your sales activity
  • Segmentation – allowing you to segment your database in the ways you need to, e.g. by job title, by age, by interest, by industry, however you need to
  • Email marketing – Cloud based CRM systems enable you to send out emails, and track them – who has opened them and how many times.
  • Focused telemarketing, targeting those with an interest in your products. One of the big challenges in a telemarketing campaign is making sure that your data is sufficiently strong to enable calls to go to people who have a timely interest in your products and services. A good CRM system enable you to make calls where there is a stronger chance of a sale or a relationship. More about telemarketing and CRM here
  • Web to lead, code from your website imports leads straight into your database, the more advanced systems, allow you to set up autoresponder emails which nurture the lead to a sale. Freeing up sales time, by automating some of your processes.

How do I choose wisely?

If you are looking to implement a CRM system, it is worth taking the time to really think through what you need it to do.
Once implemented it will be an integral part of your sales and marketing activity and difficult to change when you’ve invested the time and energy into implementation.
We’ve just been through the exercise of changing our suppliers of cloud based CRM, and it can be quite a challenge. We’ve learnt quite a few lessons, and if it would be useful to talk through with us, please get in touch.
All of the systems out there vary slightly in their features and their price points. Here’s a process to help you think through which CRM system will help you most:-

What do you need it to do?

Write a list of the features that you need. Don’t forget to ask the people you will need to use this system to have an input into this.
Tip: Don’t forget to investigate their customer service. With cloud based systems this maybe overseas, and involve expensive phonecalls to solve problems. What sort of support is offered to get you up and running and conquering that learning curve of implementing a new system?

Weight their importance

Allocate points out of 10 for each feature in terms of their importance to you. For example is email marketing functionality more, less or of the same importance as task management to you and your business? It will depend on the existing systems you have in place. Put them into a spreadsheet.
Compare the suppliers you are looking at
As you start to look at suppliers, add them into your spreadsheet, Give them marks out of 10 for the features that you wanted; how user friendly are they? do they do all or just some of what you want them to do?
With your weighted list of the features that matter to you, you can do some simple calculations that enable you to narrow the range to two or three possibilities.

Find out for yourself with a free trial

Most cloud based systems offer a free trial from 14 to 28 days, get people who will be using the system to explore the user friendliness, but keep checking back with the list of features that you wanted. As you explore what a CRM system can do for you, you may tweak that list, but as you are exploring the systems, keep in mind the implementation of the system across the business and all the people who will be using it.
As with any new system, there may be some resistance to using it.
How will you sell the benefits of the system to the people who will be using it?
How will the system enable a sale, save time, effort, hassle and give confidence in this market place? All strong messages to customer facing people.
As with any business decision, the key question for you to consider is will the system bring a return on investment?
CRM is a way of working, a support of processes that should deliver you the peace of mind, and really clear reporting on how your customers and prospects are being serviced.

Understand more about managing customer relationships, call us now on 0845 450 0988

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