CRM software is a type of customer relationship management software that helps businesses manage their relationships with customers.
It's not just for big companies, either; CRM can be used by any business that wants to grow through good customer service.
This blog post will help you understand what CRM is and how it can help your company succeed.
If you don’t have an accurate view of who your customers are and what their needs or desires are or will be at any given stage in their lives, or if you are losing customers to a competitor, that's a clear indication that you need a CRM system.
There are many technological components to CRM systems, but thinking about CRM in primarily technological terms is a mistake. Instead, CRM should be viewed as a strategic process to better understand and meet your customers’ needs.
A successful CRM strategy depends on bringing together lots of pieces of information about customers and market trends so you can more effectively market and sell your products and services.
With an effective CRM strategy, a business can increase revenues by:
- providing services and products that are exactly what your customers want
- offering better customer service
- cross-selling products more effectively
- helping sales staff close deals faster
- retaining existing customers and discovering new ones
These revenue gains don't happen by simply buying software and installing it. For CRM to be truly effective, an organization must first understand who its customers are, their value, their needs, and how best to meet those needs.
For example, many financial institutions keep track of customers' life stages in order to market appropriate banking products like mortgages or IRAs to them at the right time.
Next, the organization must look into all of the different ways information about customers comes into a business, where and how this data is stored and how it is currently used.
One company, for instance, may interact with customers in a number of ways, including email campaigns, websites, brick-and-mortar stores, call centres, mobile sales force staff and marketing and advertising efforts. CRM systems link up each of these points.
This collected data flows between operational systems (like sales and inventory systems) and analytical systems that can help sort through these records for patterns.
Company analysts can then comb through the data to obtain a holistic view of each customer and pinpoint areas where better services are needed.
For example, if someone has a mortgage, a business loan, an IRA and a large commercial checking account with one bank, it behoves the bank to treat this person well each time it has any contact with him or her.
What Is CRM Software?
Before shopping for CRM solutions, it’s important to have a good understanding of what customer relationship management software is so you know how it can help your business and what features to look for in a solution.
On a basic level, a CRM is a software tool to help your sales team make more sales by automatically organizing and applying data about your prospects and customers.
On a more advanced level, it can help all areas of your business by integrating your sales data with other important data such as marketing and customer service data, boosting your overall efficiency as well as your revenue flow.
You can think of a CRM as the digital version of a sales representative’s address book. At one time, sales representatives used Rolodex files or other manual methods to keep track of their prospects’ contact information so they could make sales calls and schedule sales meetings.
CRM tools are designed to do this digitally, automating the process of tracking customer information and managing sales activity.
CRM tools let you store not only customer contact information but also other information about prospects and customers.
This includes demographic profiles based on social media and other sources of data, information about the history of interactions with your sales representatives and customer purchase histories.
Your CRM can store this type of data about individual customers as well as about your customer base as a whole.
When combined with analytics, this enables you to spot marketing and sales trends among your prospects and customers, identify which prospects best fit your ideal buyer profile and see how many prospects you have who are ready to buy versus how many are still in an earlier phase of the sales cycle.
You can also see which products are most likely to appeal to different customers based on their purchase history and demographic profile.
CRM tools can also help automate the management of your sales process. You can automate processes such as sending out prospecting messages, scheduling sales meetings and scheduling follow-up contacts.
If you have a sales team, your sales manager can use your CRM to assign prospects to your representatives. Sales managers can see at a glance which of your sales reps are your top performers, which reps are currently available and which reps are best matched to your current hot prospects.
CRM can help both your sales department and other departments of your company. Today’s CRM solutions enable you to integrate sales data with data from your customer service department, marketing, product inventory, accounting, and other areas of your business.
For example, your CRM tool can prompt your call centre representatives with product upsell recommendations based on a customer’s profile and buying history.
CRM data can also be used to optimize your marketing and inventory management by letting you know which products are in the most demand by your target market. In these and other ways, CRM tools can benefit your whole business.
What To Look For In A CRM Software
There are a couple of facets you – as a small business (SMB) – should look out for when selecting your CRM software:
- Low budget: Small businesses and startups are always looking for the most cost-efficient option. That is why we’ve selected all budget-friendly tools (some of which are even free!).
- Low learning curve: The learning curve is also an important factor for SMBs. Most smaller businesses don’t have the time or resources to master complex, enterprise-grade software. There is no IT or CRM expert needed to use the tools listed below.
- Filtering/customisation options: Some tools dissect every minor interaction, which can not only produce an overwhelming amount of data but also keep you from your goal. Try a tool that has a wide range of applications but doesn’t overdo it.
- Integrations with other tools: It’s always good to have software that can take on all your other tools and mix data for the ultimate results. This way, multiple departments can benefit from the data in their own way, with their own tools.
- Customer Support: This is another big one. Because most SMBs have pretty small teams, it’s helpful to have a tool that offers sufficient support to get you up and running.
Frequently Asked Questions
Customer value is the perception of what a product or service is worth to a customer versus the possible alternatives. Worth means whether the customer feels s/he got benefits and services over what s/he paid. In a simplistic equation form, customer value is benefits – cost (CV = B – C).
The four types of value include: functional value, monetary value, social value, and psychological value. The sources of value are not equally important to all consumers.
CRM systems compile customer data across different channels, or points of contact, between the customer and the company, which could include the company's website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social networks.
10 Tips for Small Business CRM Success
As one of the most pivotal pieces of business software, a CRM system can either make or break your workflow.
This tool is designed to help, yet, similar to medicine, it can have side effects or contraindications. But when implemented properly, a CRM system can help you and your team in improving productivity, increasing sales, and becoming better-organized professionals overall. Here are the top 10 tips for how to use CRM for small businesses.
Don’t Pursue More Features.
To improve your CRM experience, begin from the ground up. As it’s usually the case, more doesn’t mean better. When choosing a small business CRM, don’t aim to get absolutely every business organization feature developed and accumulated by the CRM software during the past 30 years.
When your business is only developing, you don’t need advanced lead generation, call centre features or custom development capabilities. Stick to the basics. You can always add the complicated bits later, additionally saving yourself time, money and potentially improving adoption inside your team.
Put Clear And Specific Requirements
A CRM can boast of doing a hundred things, but if you can’t do a single one that is the most important to your workflow, then it’s pretty much useless. Before choosing a CRM, meticulously go through your work processes and draft a list of features and use cases that a CRM must have in order to work for you.
Keep in mind and a CRM might not have a particular feature as you’ve imagined or got used to. If you decide to go for a demo, ask the CRM vendors, not about a feature itself but rather explain what use cases you need it for.
Consider Integration Capabilities
An important aspect of almost any software today is how it works with other services you’re using on a daily basis. If you’re using a certain accounting service, check if a solution you’re eyeing can integrate with it. In case you’re using several services from a single ecosystem, then it makes sense to choose a CRM system that works with them.
Find The CRM Leader In Your Team.
There’s probably at least one person in your team or department who’s a fan of checking out new software and apps. Or someone who’s an organization freak and likes to keep everything systemized and scrutinized. Those people are essential to a swift CRM implementation into your workflow.
Don’t Overload Your Team With Novelty.
Usually, a CRM system is quite a complicated piece of software with an extensive list of features. Even if you’re expecting to use all or most of them, do not immediately demand everyone on the team to explore every nook and cranny of completely new software.
First of all, introduce them to the basics: how to create records, what fields to fill and with what type of data, how to assign tasks, check pipeline status, etc. What’s important is that you explain not only how but also why they need to do that. This is a rule to apply to any business process organization as it helps to understand the process and find better alternatives.
The Simpler, The Better
You perfectly know your sales process in such detail that a pipeline in a CRM would consist of a dozen stages and ten fields for each record. But is it really that necessary? Over-detailed processes can eventually confuse your teammates and make the pipeline or dashboard difficult to navigate.
Do Not Force Everyone To Use The Same Views And Reports.
A great CRM system can not only help in improving customer relations via a personalized approach. It can also add the same touch of personalization for the people who work with the system. Often it’s much better to create a single big pipeline or a folder and limit some elements to users (depending on their job responsibilities).
Always Rethink And Reinvent
What’s great about CRM systems is that they are flexible when it comes to structuring. Do not expect your first folder or pipeline structure to be ideal. As time passes, you might notice that having a new field or stage might help. Or you might decide that you’re not using some of the CRM data at all, so why are you even gathering it?
Almost every service today has a mobile app. CRM systems are not an exception. A mobile CRM might not be as comfortable to work with us on a desktop, but it certainly helps to have the possibility to check or update client data from your smartphone.
A mobile app enables you to quickly find the client contact data, create a task or put down a note before you get to a PC and forget the details. This is especially useful for those who work in the field, like real estate agents, lawyers, consultants, etc.
Remember, CRM Is For Its Users First
You, as a project leader or CEO, might need a the CRM most. For analytics, reporting, performance reviews and other business insights. It might be the best software for you but keep in mind that you’re not the one who’s using it the most. Your teammates, sales reps, support members are the ones who actually “feed” the CRM with data.
There’s nothing worse for productivity than working with unruly software, an over-complex interface or too many fields to complete. There will always be resistance to a new business management or collaboration app, but if you are using a CRM to increase sales, you’ll need to make it comfortable for the salespeople to work with.