CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.
It is an approach to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers’ history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth.
All CRMs store prospects’ contact information
- their name
- email, and
- phone number, as well as any other identifying information a company chooses to track
CRMs can also group multiple contacts at a company under one account, which is helpful for sellers.
Beyond contact info, CRMs log sales reps’ touchpoints with their prospects, including emails, phone calls, voicemails, and in-person meetings. Some CRMs offer the ability to track deal stages and reasons for closed-lost and closed-won deals.
Crucial Benefits of using a CRM System
It’s a centralised place for storing data.
A CRM will allow sales personnel to filter opportunities by the ones they ‘own’ and not have to wade through a myriad of paperwork.
2. It improves communication across an organisation.
It is easier for new sales personnel to access previous data by a former employee.
3. CRMs make managers’ lives easier.
Keeps data consistent and stops in-fighting between sales personnel.
It’s a sustainable, scalable tool for growth.
It is a useful tool when your customer base is growing. Information from the past can be easily accessed in future years by anyone within the organisation.
Increased revenue and profitability.
When everyone learns and uses the CRM, the CRM productivity increases, sales cycles decrease, you have the ability to provide additional products and services to clients and client satisfaction increases.
Better client relationships.
It allows you to know more about your clients which forges a stronger and deeper relationship.
Improved efficiency in serving clients.
If you know your clients needs and wants, the better able you are to serve them.
Improved ability to cross sell.
The more you know about your clients’ needs and wants the better able you are to provide the solution to their next problem.
Greater staff satisfaction
The more knowledge your staff have the more empowered and engaged with the organisation they will be.
In realistic terms, a CRM need not be a capital expense, there are free options in the marketplace. You only need to search for them.
Further, a CRM can be aligned to your Outlook account (if you use it); I am unsure whether it can be ‘attached’ to other email accounts; so that any emails that you receive or send are recorded in the CRM. You can then as an entrepreneur tailor any actions, such as sales or lead activity accordingly.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF HAVING A CRM
A CRM can be viewed as a technology for marketers, however, in failing to optimise your CRM solutions across the organisation, it fails to bring to light that a CRM works best as a company-wide system.
Often a business must change from a product or production orientated business to a marketing or customer-centric orientated business. Getting the entire organisation to use the CRM can be difficult. Employees are often reluctant to change. See my e-book on Promoting Innovation and Change Within the Workplace
In implementing a CRM, involves a significant amount of time in and investment in training. If you have a large organisation, there will be several departments that will need to be involved, e.g. sales, service, accounting, shipping, and management employees, along with the IT department.
It can be challenging to select the right CRM solution for your business’ needs and then building it into your IT structure.
Along with investment costs, there is the requirement of technical support and data server options. There is, however, the option to outsource this to a third party. The risk is that that your data is held elsewhere and can be problematic if the server goes down.
For the CRM to be truly effective, your technology, workflow and behind-the-scenes planning will only improve your long-term retention of clients if their experience is positive and their satisfaction with the products or service your business provides is significant.
It is therefore imperative that your business invests a significant amount in upfront training of staff to ensure consistency within the organisation. Performance and a revisit to hiring practices, and on-going monitoring should be undertaken on a regular basis.
Any lapse can lead to failed front-end delivery, which can ruin any efforts made in the initial stages of the setting up of the CRM.