The major driving factor for ensuring continued success and growth is a deep, long-lasting relationship with its customers. The old saying “the customer is the king” still prevails and will continue till eternity.
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That is why effective customer relationship management has been a significant area of focus for companies in recent years. CRM software is a system that allows you to focus on customer strategy along with financial and non-financial goals. It allows you to dramatically convert B2B data into insights that can improve customer service.
CRM solutions are designed to provide dynamic, customized client-focused information to everyone in the organization by integrating the sales, marketing, and customer support operations. The main idea is to integrate direct marketing tactics with indirect marketing efforts to ensure client retention.
What is a CRM system?
CRM, or “Customer Relationship Management,” is a cocktail of all the tools, techniques, strategies, and technologies needed and used by organizations to develop, retain and acquire customers. It makes sure that every effort that goes in at all points of contact with the customer strengthens the customer relationship.
The CRM full form in marketing may as well be ‘customer rapport and repertoire management’ since it enables companies to manage the entire lead repository and sales processes. For this, the CRM functions collect data from all possible channels to understand their prospective customers better. As a result, this software ensures that every step of the interaction with consumers leads to an increase in overall profits. The software gathers customer data from multiple channels and provides detailed information on overall purchase history, personal info, and even buying behavior patterns.
Source : martech.zone
A CRM tracking system helps companies to keep their customer data (like their personal information, purchase history, buying behavior, and more) up to date. In the absence of a CRM system, all the customer-related information gathered by business development executives or sales forces gets lost or forgotten. As a result, there are delays in follow-ups, sampling or filtering of leadsf business. This causes firms to lose a lot of business as data remains unsynchronized and scattered, which affects the overall productivity of the organization adversely.
How does a CRM system work?
CRM or Customer Relationship Management tool makes use of contact forms, phone calls, emails, or all other means of data collection to track and maintain customer data. It’s a highly ineffective system for recording many customer data online with ease. CRM works in integration with lead tracking software to generate and manage the leads automatically. This improves the overall efficiency and productivity of the firm to a large extent.
CRM is a feeder for the sales and marketing team. This means CRM functions govern and drive every step of the sales and marketing funnel by managing the request and services of the customers with proficiency. The capabilities of the CRM platform are not just limited to lead management. It also helps in proper analysis of the collected data, thus establishing a track record of the marketing and sales strategies.
Therefore, we can consider an analytical CRM that signals and controls the activities of all the marketing modules that aim at managing customer relationships. As shared earlier, CRM keeps all the customer-relevant information like contact details, profile, last contact details, etc., always updated. So, whenever a follow-up takes place, it should be customized and personalized based on this information.
With the application of a good CRM process, no leads go untracked or missed. The team properly follows all of them, with proper documentation of the fresh information. It also eases the process of cross-selling and up-selling the business opportunities.
Key Features of a CRM system
CRM software can ease the task of managing customers. But, how effectively the input from the CRM system is processed further defines the firm’s overall productivity. If businesses miss the opportunity or track of the real-time data provided by CRM, the productivity of individuals or firms will never rise.
Today, more and more firms are relying on CRM functions to increase revenue. But that requires proper sync of all the human and non-human resources of the firm. So. let’s understand how a CRM system can increase employee productivity and efficiency with the help of its features.
1. Workflow automation
CRM system comes with the flexibility of customizing its modules. CRM modules can be configured based on the marketing and sales need of the firm. When the sales team executes a particular task, it gets automatically reported to the supervisors and top management for performance evaluation.
For example, when a prospective buyer fills out the company’s contact form, the CRM software automatically directs the information to the sales department. When the sales department receives the information, it also forwards an acknowledgment response. Next, if the prospective buyer does not show any further progressive action, the CRM system automatically sends a follow-up message after 48 hours or 2 business days. If the sales team conducts the follow-up, then the same gets logged in the CRM system to keep track of all the obtained information.
Every CRM business is unique in its operations, and so is every CRM process. The best CRM software comes with the flexibility of customization. A customized CRM software responds better to the growing demands of the business.
Apart from the basic level of personalization, certain high-end CRM software systems come equipped with the highly advanced option of API. API provides all the technical specifications needed for thorough customization of the software parallel to the existing business system.
3. Customer service management
CRM software improves the productivity of the sales and marketing team by enabling them to acquire and manage the leads successfully. Here are few points to help you understand how CRM functions help the team boost productivity:
- Provides a comprehensive overview of the prospective customers from the first point of contact
- Keeps track of all the data from lead acquisition to sales closure and sales history.
- It makes logging all the data related to the customer easy and automatic.
- Makes use of the first name of the customer to personalize every future contact through acknowledgments and follow-ups. This helps the sales representative build a healthy and friendly relation with the client.
4. Tracking employee performance
Tracking employee performance instigates them towards better productivity. But on a large scale, a single supervisor can’t monitor a large team alone. For this purpose, he takes the help of CRM software. CRM tracks the number of working hours, tasks done, meetings attended, sales numbers, goals attained, and other credentials of each employee exclusively.
With the automatically measured employee performance metrics, the managers find it easy to review the employee performance and decide on the incentives. They also can identify the loopholes and take needed measures on time.
The social media monitoring feature and benefits of CRM software eases the task of the marketing team to individually visit all the social media platforms and monitor the company’s social media performance.
Social media CRM functions improve the productivity of the team by:
- Providing an insight on the social media performance of the brand through the number of likes, comments, and shares.
- Allowing the team to craft the marketing strategy as per the trending market dynamics.
- Providing insight into the customer’s profile.
- By managing the social media accounts of the company automatically.
6. Lead management
The CRM software of the company often works in sync with the lead management software of the company. So, this attribute of lead management ensures that the sales and marketing team can score new leads and filter them properly. All this is beneficial for the team in transforming the good leads into loyal customers.
A productive sales manager then assigns all the silent leads to various other members of the sales force for regular follow-up until the actual sales take place.
7. Pipeline Management
Pipeline management makes it easier for you to identify where in the sales funnel a particular deal is. You can even search or filter deals based on the stage and perform bulk actions, such as sending mass emails. This feature also helps you understand where most of your deals fall off so you can optimize the individual stage of the funnel.
8. Real-time data
CRM data is beneficial for all business operations, as it pulls out real-time information from all the devices, applications, and appliances when needed. This feature/role of CRM thus benefits the firm’s productivity by:
- Helping the team make well-informed sales and marketing decisions.
- Providing an instant snapshot of consumer behavior.
- Providing an overview of trending market demand and supply.
9. Analytical study
CRM analytics saves a lot of time for the team by providing them with a well-organized analytical study of the collected data. This CRM function helps the team in making relevant sales decisions related to product, service, and marketing.
Some of the easily available analytics are:
- Customer segmentation.
- Profit and loss data to help the firm determine its ROI.
- Informative web analytics to identify website visits and online behavior.
10. Reporting and email
Reporting and documentation of data, tasks, achievements and more make it easy for the team to plan further implementation strategies. CRM automatically reports the tasks and also schedules emails for follow-up, thus allowing the sales team to focus on their other core activities.
The email feature in a CRM makes the team more productive and organized while reducing communication bottlenecks. Some of the critical information that gets automatically reported in the CRM software are:
- Leads generated
- Sales generated
- Point when the lead conversion happened.
- The effectiveness of emails.
- The number of leads closed and their respective sales representatives’ names
11. Sales forecasting
A CRM system does the future forecast of sales. With this feature of CRM, the team can plan their marketing strategies and also align the other integrated business activities. In this way, the level of risk and loss minimizes to a large extent. Some of the other ways in which CRM forecasting can help us are:
- It gives the idea about future quarterly sales.
- The idea about the future performance of the new sales territory.
- Provides the platform to make decisions and objectives based on the available analytical analysis.
12. Document Management
Document management software feature in the CRM allows you to create, access, edit, and share documents from within the platform. Advanced CRM functions even let you set document access and edit rights to ensure security. It also acts as a centralized hub for storing important documents and ensures all your employees have the necessary files required for doing their work.
13. Proposal Management
Quotes and proposal management are vital CRM functions that allow you to create and send quotes to clients directly from your CRM software. You can even edit, revise, and customize quotes to meet your client’s currency and tax requirements. It also lets you share proposals with colleagues or supervisors for approval.
How CRMs help businesses grow & sustain themselves
CRM solutions help your business constantly grow and stay afloat in a volatile market by allowing you to:
1. Track customer interactions: Staying in touch with a client is perhaps one of the easiest ways to ensure that you retain them. With a CRM account, your sales force can connect with customers through emails, phone calls, chat, and even social media. You can even follow customer conversations on social media and engage with them from the CRM software. It is these personalized interactions that bring in more leads for the business!
A CRM system can help you track your client’s activities and preferences. Every interaction with your client in the form of emails, calls, meetings can be recorded in the system. Thus, sales executives have access to all client interaction details and can use this to track activities related to any particular client.
2. Respond faster to clients’ requests: Customers connect with the company to either place a new purchase order or to request help for an existing purchase. Prompt communication with a client is crucial as delays can make any customer frustrated. With this CRM function, quick response with accurate data is feasible. Whenever a customer needs an update on their purchase order, a CRM system allows sales executives to check inventory systems and track the order in real-time. The image below shows the key attributes that shape customer experiences.
Thus, customer service is transparent and truthful! Another amazing CRM function is that it allows scheduling of meetings, follow-ups, emails, etc. This allows sales teams to keep a record of every phone call they need to make and every meeting they have to attend. This feature is most useful when a sales executive is on leave, and their meetings are scheduled.
3. Prioritize your customers: Not all customers bring in an equal amount of business. Clients that bring in repeat business should be given valued services in return to retain them. CRM software allows you to create a list of all your clients that are most valuable to your company. By doing so, you can target them better and follow up with them regularly.
You can compare their purchase records over months and see if any client has reduced the number of orders. This CRM function will instantly indicate if any client is giving business to your customers. You can monitor their purchase patterns and chalk out solutions that can help serve them better. This solution can be a helpful tool in identifying valued customers and providing them with better service, value for money deals, sales incentives, etc.
4. Launch customized offerings: Your business may have certain old loyal customers, but they may not be the ones ordering your product or service each month. CRM software can give you purchase patterns, records of historical purchases, preferences, interactions, personal data, etc. of the client, which can be used to create tailored solutions for each client.
You can design special sales strategies to focus on them to encourage them to buy more. Similarly, follow up with clients can also be personalized. The sales team does not need to spend precious time asking clients the standard questions every time. CRM software will have the data and your sales pitch can be customized accordingly.
5. Benefit from proactive interaction: Looking at the customer profile data generated by CRM functions, the future demand of individual customers can be anticipated. Instead of waiting for your customers to call you with a query, customer requirements can be forecasted based on their lead scores.
This CRM function can be used to fulfill purchase orders faster and have a higher inventory turnover. However, this requires a sophisticated understanding of customer profiles and forecasting demands.
6. Provide efficient customer service: When a customer is happy with after-sales services, he or she is bound to continue with the business relationship. Thus, using CRM to improve customer support is essential . This can be done in a number of ways through CRM software.
Firstly, trouble tickets can be generated from recorded support calls by integrating phone calls with CRM. Furthermore, customer emails that request support can be automatically turned into trouble tickets. One can also track and resolve customer trouble tickets. With this advanced CRM function, the customer too can be kept updated about the status of their trouble ticket through automated notifications.
How to Sustain CRM Initiatives?
The path to every technology-related initiative is filled with roadblocks. You might have procured the best technology from the market and worked day and night to devise excellent CRM functions, yet you are sure to stumble on the road to implementation.
A few setbacks are bound to occur in complicated projects. Yet, some setbacks might prove quite dreadful for your business if not taken care of. Therefore, we have explained some of the most useful tips to make sure your CRM initiatives survive in a rapidly growing market,
7 Important Tips to Sustain CRM Initiatives
1. Say Yes to Trials
Most software providers provide organizations with a free trial test before the final implementation. However, very small segments of companies avail this offer. Surely they have a justified reason to do so.
But trying out a small-scale version of the actual software provides the management with an extensive idea about the features of the products and the likely obstacles in its implementation.
Significant alterations can be carried out before commencing the implementation. These details form an important part of the pre-implementation stage and act as a roadmap for strategic planning.
2. Insights from Employees
Technology-related decisions are often finalized by the top management in consultation with the IT team. But a CRM initiative is not a technology-only solution.
The main drawback of CRM is the fact that it is data-driven. Technology and software are just a means to achieve the desired end. However, incorrect or insufficient data added to a CRM software can land you into big trouble. Each CRM process brings about a culture change in the organization, which directly and indirectly affects every employee, especially the ones engaged in sales and marketing. They are the ones who will be the ultimate users of the software.
Hence, it is important to take into consideration the right inputs in the planning stage itself. Your employees may not have the technical expertise but they sure do know what works best in their day-to-day jobs and if their capabilities would justify the changes that are planned to be introduced. Having their say in decision-making would also make them welcoming towards the new changes.
3. Roll-out in Phases
Most CRM functions focus on working on each component of CRM software at one go. CRM management brings about a change in almost every function of a company, be it sales, finance, marketing, and so on.
The focus should be on phasing out one feature/functionality at a time rather than throwing it all at once on the staff. This gives users the required time to adopt a feature, become comfortable with it, and prepare themselves for the next move.
4. Rational Technology Decisions
One of the biggest mistakes companies make in planning for a CRM process is to look at the technology first. Flashy things definitely seem appealing, as is the case with technologies possessing new-age features and functionalities. But, all that glitters is not gold.
Don’t let your CRM functions be driven by technology only. Instead, it should be driven by the business problems you aim to address. Identifying the issues is a part of defining the objectives of CRM. Select the technology, which can best provide a solution to your problem.
The next thing to be considered while choosing a technology is if the employees will be comfortable using it. No wonder some features might be completely new, but an overall basic understanding is a prerequisite.
5. Think Long Term
Thinking long-term is critical because CRM is not just about what you need today. All components of CRM add to its efficacy and come together to offer businesses a personalized experience. However, if your current provider does not fulfill your needs, you must consider investing in a customized solution, which can meet your needs today and help in growing your business in the future.
Your CRM process might demand certain crucial changes in the future, which could be related to the business processes, software interface, etc.
Your software system should allow you to make the required changes on its own without having to hire a professional to do the same.
6. A Customized Approach to Training and Support
CRM initiatives focus on applying strategies to different CRM functions in an organization. Hence, a customized and unique training approach has to be undertaken to train employees engaged in different departments.
The sales team will need to be trained on the CRM process to improve their closing rates, while the data team needs support on how to conduct proper research and dig out relevant data to learn customers’ interests and preferences.
Similarly, the marketing team needs to be trained in different aspects of marketing. Training and support are crucial for employees to adapt to the new CRM process and should be continued even after successful implementation to cope up with the changing technological trends.
7. Automate Processes
Focus on automating every CRM process right from the beginning to the end. The workflow should be seamless to help users understand the next course of action without consulting anyone.
Ensure that multiple components of CRM can be automated and simplified through the solution you choose. Employees are more inclined to work towards a system that is easy to use because they love doing things on it.
CRM planning and implementation is an ongoing process. It needs to be under the constant scrutiny of the management to ensure desired outcomes. In addition, there has to be some auditing system in place to measure the progress against set metrics to determine how effectively it is contributing to value additions.
Joydeep Das has extensive experience with both technical and non-technical content. He has articles published in both local and international portals and has also worked as an Overseas Admissions Editor, assisting many meritorious students to get into Ivy League Universities. However, branding and promotional topics have remained his true love for over a decade.