Most areas of business are now using the term ‘Customer Relationship Management’ or ‘CRM’. What exactly is CRM? What does CRM stand for? But more importantly, what can CRM do for your business?

It’s About Efficiency

CRM is a way to make your business more efficient. You’re building and strengthening customer relationships to keep them coming back, and you’re gaining new ones too. In addition to streamlining your internal business processes, CRM systems effectively integrate your marketing, sales, and customer service functions, making it easier for everyone in your company to work together. Every business, no matter how big or how small, can benefit from modern CRM systems, no matter how many employees are involved.

One Bucket of Data

Access to comprehensive customer information and contact history is one of the biggest benefits of CRM systems. Most businesses know what they’re doing inside and out. However, data is often spread out across the company. There’s info on spreadsheets, in databases, on laptops, in email directories, on paper, and in people’s heads.

It all comes together with Customer Relationship Management systems. You can save a ton of time and effort with their features. Your sales will improve, your marketing campaigns will be more sophisticated, your forecasting and lead management will be better, and your customer service will be better. And that’s just the beginning. In some areas, CRM systems have helped businesses understand their customers, services, and products better. A new CRM system can transform an entire company if it’s implemented correctly.

Here’s An Example

I’ll give you a practical example. Answer the phone to a customer who usually deals with your colleague. Instead of asking them to hold while you look up their information or asking if they mind a callback, you instantly know everything they’ve done with you.

  • In the last month, they’ve had three phone calls.
  • If necessary, you can see the full details of each conversation.
  • Likewise, you can see all the emails they’ve received from your staff and their responses.
  • You know what they’ve bought in the past.
  • They’ve needed your help.
  • You know what marketing materials they got.
  • Approximately six weeks from now, a significant sales opportunity will present itself with a 70% probability of success.
  • You are aware that they did 10% more business with you last month than they did a year ago.
  • You are aware of the person’s position within the organization, their role in decision-making, and how they learned about you.
  • You are aware that sometimes this customer is more concerned about the delivery time than the price.
  • It does not take you long to start talking to them in a knowledgeable manner with the familiarity of a long-term friend.

As far as I am concerned, that is how it should work.

Do all businesses benefit from CRM? The answer is no, not always. A CRM system can be effective, but only if it is deployed and used properly. It is not difficult to locate stories of high costs and broken promises when one searches online.

It’s All About Implementation

To be effective, a new CRM system must be carefully planned, realistic, integrated, and well-managed. CRM systems impact many aspects of a company, so a successful CRM project requires a wide range of skills and experience. As important as choosing the right software and installing it on your system can be aspects such as business process analysis, effective change management, and developing an appropriate training strategy. In contrast, a professionally implemented system that is customized to suit your company and business needs can produce impressive results.

Traditionally, CRM systems were either developed internally or based on expensive and complex software packages designed for companies with hundreds of users.

Which CRM Should I Get?

Over the past few years, the market has undergone significant changes. A variety of affordable, powerful CRM software packages are now available for small and medium businesses. Each has its own features and characteristics and can be customized to meet the specific business needs of a particular organization. Small and medium-sized companies can take advantage of popular, proven CRM software platforms such as

  • Salesforce
  • Sage CRM
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • SugarCRM
  • HubSpot
  • ActiveCampaign

Hire a Consultant

As important as choosing the right software is choosing the right CRM business partner. CRM software providers are typically resellers who enhance the basic package with additional features. From resellers tied to one supplier, to companies that provide CRM systems as well as ERP systems, to independent CRM specialists. Take the decision seriously, just as you would when choosing a supplier for any other business investment: it should be a long-term arrangement. For your CRM project to be successful, your CRM provider should be familiar with your business and possess many, if not all, of the skills and experience, mentioned previously.

So what exactly is CRM? Essentially, it is a combination of business strategy, software, and business processes, which if properly implemented can result in significant, tangible benefits for your organization.

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