A successful business is built around successful relationships--between managers and employees, between colleagues, and most importantly between sales/marketing and customers.
Just as a business needs to manage a database of employee information, it needs to manage a database of its customers--their contact information, their role within their organization, and their interactions with the company. Of course, I’m describing a customer relationship management system (CRM). Without a CRM, a company risks missing sales opportunities and losing institutional knowledge of the conversations and interactions it’s had with customers.
A good CRM will help your sales team track prospects within your sales funnel and to identify opportunities to cross-sell or upsell customers. The CRM is also an important tool to help management understand the health of the sales pipeline. With good information, management can allocate activities to sales resources that will advance and close opportunities. And the CRM provides sellers with the history and current state of the company’s relationship with a client to help them hold more effective and intelligent conversations.
Some CRMs will either provide marketing automation or integrate with a marketing automation system. These CRMs provide automated workflows that will automatically contact a prospect by sending an email the day after the prospect visits a webpage or clicks a link in a marketing email you previously sent them. Or, perhaps, they could tag a lead as interested when they've opened four of your emails—notifying your team that it's time for a more personal touch. While CRMs that provide marketing automation tend to be a bit more expensive than their competitors, they can improve efficiency as they reduce the amount of manual work your team needs to do.
Benefits of a CRM
With a well managed CRM, you can:
- Understand sources of revenue and profit. By analyzing buying behaviors and other customer data, your business can understand which customers are driving profits and which are delivering revenue. With this information, you can tailor your product offerings and customer service.
- Analyze buying patterns. With an analysis of buying patterns, you can spot high-value customers to maximize your sales opportunities with those customers.
- Maximize per-customer profits. Data gleaned from a CRM can help you lower the cost of selling to certain customers and help you increase profits from those customer interactions.
CRM Features to Consider
Here are five important features to look for in a potential CRM:
- Supports integrations. Through API technology, applications can share functions and data. With an API, your CRM can integrate with other business application to automate workflows and reduce data entry, among other features.
- Search by contact. By organizing and accessing information by a person's name or by company name, users can view all the interactions the company has had with a particular person, as well as with multiple individuals within a single company.
- View of opportunities. To help sales develop promising opportunities, the CRM should provide a summary view of all sales opportunities across the customer base, as well as the employees who are nurturing the opportunities and the stages of each opportunity in the funnel.
- Assign tasks. Employees should be able to use the system to delegate tasks to colleagues.
- Store customer interactions. Employees should be able to enter and access information. For example, if a sales rep has spoken with a client on the phone, they should be able to enter details of the call under the customer’s name. Once in the system, that information should be accessible through both the individual's and the company's name.
Improving The Customer Experience While Increasing Productivity
A CRM is an important business tool. With the right CRM, you can deliver a better customer experience. Because you know so much about your prospect or customer, you can personalize your messaging and deliver more value from the start.
You can also increase productivity by automating tasks like call and activity logging, reporting, deal creation, and more. The less time your reps spend on administrative work, the more time they can focus on growing your business.
A CRM can also provide the insights management needs to assess workload and performance. You can review team-wide and individual conversion rates by deal stage, average deal size, deal velocity, and much more. With a data-backed understanding of what’s working and what needs to be improved, you can take steps to help employees who are struggling and reward those who are succeeding. If your employees succeed, then your business succeeds. And isn’t that what it’s all about?