CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM system allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data associated with them.

CRM enables you to focus on your organisation’s relationships with individual people, you can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads and sales opportunities in one central location, ideally in the cloud so the information is accessible by many, in real time.

While a CRM system may not elicit as much enthusiasm these days as social networking platforms like Facebook or Twitter, they are similarly built around people and relationships. Which is why it can be so valuable for a fast-growing business.

Any business starts out with a foundation of great customer relationships. You, the seller, connect with people who need your product. Yet, as your company grows, these business connections grow more sophisticated. It’s not just a transaction between the buyer and seller. You start to manage a myriad of connections, across time, within each company you do business with. You need to share information across various teams within your own organisation who are making contact with the same customers. A CRM system can serve as a vital nerve center to manage the many connections that happen in a growing business.

To run smoothly, your business needs customer relationship data that’s automatically updated with instant access for employees and provides a full history of all communications, meetings, and documents shared.

With a CRM system, your business has one place to store every customer, every lead, every service request, contact information, preferences, and history. That way your conversations are always personal, relevant and up-to-date. All of this information is accessible on mobile and desktop through powerful reports and dashboards.

Marketers can also use CRM to better understand the pipeline of prospective sales making forecasting simpler and more accurate. You'll have clear visibility of the path from enquiry to sale, available wherever and whenever you need it.

Today growing businesses manage customer connections and information in a variety of ways. Whilst some use old fashioned note cards and Rolodex, others store information on their mobile phone as well as on Excel spreadsheets or Google documents. This may help in the short term when you have a small team and don’t plan on scaling your business. However, if you want to scale for fast growth, it may be time to consider a CRM system to help you collect your business data in one place. Having this data accessible via the cloud will also free up your time to focus on delighting customers rather than letting valuable insights and information fall through the cracks.

 

Customer relationship management (CRM) software consolidates customer information and documents into a single database so business users can more easily access and manage it. The other main functions of this software include recording various customer interactions (over email, phone calls, social media or other channels), automating various workflow processes such as tasks, calendars and alerts, and giving managers the ability to track performance and productivity based on information logged within the system.

 

Common features of CRM software include:

Contact Management

Have a complete view of your customers, including activity history, key contacts, customer communications, and internal account discussions. Gain insights from popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube — right within Salesforce.

Opportunity Management

Get all the details on your team’s deals — stage, products, competition, quotes, and more. Stay connected to the people and information you need to close every sale.

Sales Collaboration

Tap into the wisdom of your company’s social network with Chatter. Get the resources you need to close more deals, faster. Find experts, access competitive information, and track deals wherever you are.

Sales Performance Management

Drive team performance to a whole new level with Work.com. Set metrics-based goals, give coaching notes, provide continuous feedback, and amplify winning behaviours with real-time recognition and rewards.

Lead Management

Make smarter decisions about where to invest your marketing dollars. Track your leads from click to close, while continually optimising your campaigns across every channel.

Marketing Automation

Create, deploy, and manage effective online campaigns with Pardot Marketing Automation. Now your sales and marketing teams can work hand-in-hand to generate and qualify leads, shorten sales cycles, and demonstrate marketing accountability.

Sales Data

Get the right sales data at the right time with Data.com. Connect with key decision makers faster. Easily plan territories. And increase sales and marketing productivity with the latest, most accurate data.
 

Partner Management

Build and empower your partner network with Partner Community. Connect directly with channel partners to share goals, objectives, and activities in a secure, branded location.

Mobile

The Salesforce1 Mobile App turns your mobile device into a portable sales office. You can log calls, respond to hot leads, work opportunities, or check dashboards no matter where you are.

Workflow and Approvals

Use Visual Workflow to rapidly design and automate any business process with drag and drop simplicity. And drive success with flexible approvals processes for deal discounts, expenses, and more.

Email Integration

Use the email applications you already know. No one needs to change the way they work, so everyone stays productive.

Files Sync and Share

Now it's easier to share files, discuss them, publish the best, and track your content in real time. Quickly find what you're looking for, share it securely, and even subscribe to receive alerts when something changes.

Reports and Dashboards

Dashboards offer a real-time picture of your business at a glance. Dig deeper with detailed reports that anyone can create. And access your reports and dashboards from anywhere.

Sales Forecasting

Fast, easy, accurate. Get a real-time view into your team’s forecasts. Use in-line editing, override visibility, multi-currency support, and more to stay on top of your business.
 
 
 

Cloud computing is quickly replacing the traditional model of having software applications installed on on-premise hardware, from desktop computers to rooms full of servers, depending on the size of the business. With cloud computing, businesses access applications via the internet. It’s called Software As A Service (or SaaS). Businesses are freed up from having to maintain or upgrade software and hardware. Just log on and get to work, from anywhere and, in many cases, any device.

Salesforce is the leader in cloud computing, offering applications for all aspects of your business, including CRM, sales, ERP, customer service, marketing automation, business analytics, mobile application building, and much more. It all works on the same, connected platform, drawing from the same customer data - so as opposed to working in silos, your entire company can work as one a team. As it’s all in cloud as opposed to being installed on-premise, even the largest, enterprise-wide deployments can happen in a fraction of the time of traditional deployments, which can take over a year.

 
 
 
They can be out on the road talking to customers, meeting prospects and finding out valuable information – but all of this information gets stored in handwritten notes, laptops, or inside the heads of your salespeople.
Meetings are not followed up promptly and prioritising customers can be a matter of guesswork rather than a rigorous exercise based on fact. This can also be compounded if a key salesperson moves on.
Asking questions, following up on orders or complaining. Without a common platform for customer interactions, communications can be missed or lost in the flood of information – leading to an unsatisfactory response to your customer.
It can be difficult to extract intelligence. Reports can be hard to create and waste valuable selling time. Managers can lose sight of what their team are up to in reality, which means that they can't offer the right support at the right time – while a lack of oversight can also result in a lack of accountability from the team.

Marketing and sales costs average 15% to 35% of total corporate costs... In cases we have reviewed, sales increases arising from advanced marketing and sales information technology have ranged from 10% to more than 30%, and investment returns have often exceeded 100%.”

Harvard Business Review
 
 
A CRM system can help you to identify and add new leads easily and quickly and categorise them accurately. You can create customised pitch documents in less time, cutting down on response time and enabling sales teams to move on to the next opportunity. With complete, accurate, centrally held information about clients and prospects, sales staff can focus their attention and energy on the right clients.
By understanding your customers better, cross-selling and up-selling opportunities become clear – giving you the chance to win new business from existing customers.

With better information you'll also be able to keep your customers happy with better service. Happy customers are likely to become repeat customers, and repeat customers spend more – up to 33% more according to some studies.
A good CRM system will gather information from a huge variety of sources across your business and beyond. This gives you unprecedented insights into how your customers feel and what they are saying about your organisation – so you can improve what you offer, spot problems early and identify gaps.
 
 
To find out more about how cloud-based CRM could help you and your business — saving you money, solving administration headaches and giving you in-depth, actionable customer information