The transformation to digital is happening quickly and it is clear that ‘one size fits all’ no longer works as a sales management technique. But without truly knowing your customer, it’s impossible for sales managers and sales directors and their teams to fully understand their clients’ needs and ensure interactions are individually tailored to the customer journey.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is the art of creating seamless and personalised customer experiences at every step of the sales process. Here we explore the basics of CRM and look at how cloud-based CRM technology has become a crucial tool for sales performance.
What is a CRM?
CRM technology allows businesses to collect and store customer information, activity, phone numbers and addresses all in one place. But it is much more than just a glorified phone book! A technological suite of CRM tools analyses and unlocks sales pipeline data to create a complete 360-degree view of your customer.
The advantage is simple. By having all of this information in one place, you can better manage your company’s relationships and interactions with customers, leads, prospects and stakeholders.
For example, core technologies like mobile, AI, workflow, app builder, communities, voice and the highest levels of security are built into every app on Salesforce’s completely digital-first Customer 360 CRM platform. With every email, every phone call and every meeting in one place, teams can work collaboratively to ensure tailored and informed interactions with customers every single time.
How do sales teams use a CRM?
Successful sales teams use CRM technology to create exceptional customer experiences, identify leads and increase cross-selling and upselling opportunities. They do this by controlling and utilising the flood of data that is generated during the sales process.
Sales reps gather valuable sales and pipeline information when they are out on the road meeting with prospective clients, but this is often recorded in handwritten notes, personal devices or in their heads. Without a central source of truth, valuable data can be lost along with customer trust and any sales opportunities.
By using a simple, customisable dashboard enriched with analytics, sales reps can capture customer information and get a complete view of their clients at a glance.
The new generation of CRM even goes one step further with built-in intelligence generating customer insights and automating administrative tasks such as data entry and lead routing. It even predicts how customers will feel and act so sales reps can prepare the right outreach.
So, why is a CRM important for sales teams?
Customers expect more than ever from the buying experience and their customer journey. They want the process to be easy, accessible and personalised. They want to feel understood and they expect consultative interactions across different digital channels with sales representatives who have their best interests at heart.
But many sales teams struggle to meet these expectations, with scattered customer data and siloed departments creating friction. Without truly knowing your customer, it is hard to understand and tailor sales interactions.
For premium appliance brand Fisher & Paykel, CRM technology has played a key role in helping the global company understand its customer and deepen its customer relationships by providing seamless and tailored experiences.
“Our partnership with Salesforce means the technology is less of the focus and we can concentrate more on the customer, more on our people, more on our product. That’s really where the advantage is for us,” said Rudi Khoury, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Customer Experience at Fisher & Paykel.
CRM technology allows sales managers to rise to the occasion by putting the customer at the centre of every interaction. It allows sales reps to focus more on their clients’ needs and less on back-end administration – resulting in business growth.
Take for example, leading online legal platform Lawpath who experienced rapid growth after demand for affordable and convenient online legal solutions skyrocketed in 2020. But in its first few years, the company’s interactions with customers were transactional and largely based on specific single tasks, like company set-up.
The customer relationship would lay dormant unless clients came back to Lawpath for something new. But Lawpath had no history or context about their clients’ businesses because sales reps were working from spreadsheets and lacked a single source of truth for customer data.
Tom Willis, Chief Marketing Officer at Lawpath, said the company looked at several solutions, but only Salesforce offered the capabilities that Lawpath needed to scale.
“We were growing at such a rapid rate that we knew if we put in a solution that was just a quick fix that we would soon outgrow it. With Salesforce, we saw a foundation we could build on,” said Willis.
Top 5 CRM advantages for sales managers
1. Increased sales performance and efficiency
CRM platforms have a proven track record. In fact, statistics from Forrester have shown that 50% of sales teams equipped with complete, accurate and centrally-held information about clients and prospects have increased productivity, and increased sales.
2. Helps identify and categorise leads
In 2018, duties like data entry and paperwork filled so many hours that sales reps only spent one-third of their time actually selling! With CRM systems, sales leaders can spend more time learning about and connecting with customers and identify the most worthwhile leads to prioritise in the pipeline.
3. Increases cross-selling and upselling opportunities
With a 360-degree view of your customer, cross-selling and upselling opportunities become more obvious. This potential is maximised when sales has the right tools to cross-collaborate with other teams.
CRMs like Customer 360 create a single source of truth with a unified customer profile across all touchpoints, to ensure sales reps can easily meet customers anywhere they are.
4. Improves customers experiences
With increasingly digital needs, customers need relevant and personalised experiences across multiple devices and channels. Customer 360 allows sales reps to quickly access complete customer records and exceed customer expectations, even when teams are working remotely.
5. Customer insights from digital transformation
According to the most recent State of Sales report 88% of sales reps say current economic conditions make it important to anticipate customers’ needs. A good CRM system gathers information broadly to allow sales teams to better understand their customers. Technologies like AI, workflow and app builder analyse and unlock this data to provide unprecedented insights into how your customers feel so you can know exactly what they want and when your lead is hot.
To find out how other companies and sales reps are using technology to improve their sales performance, check out the Boost Sales Productivity Handbook.