What is CRM?
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategy for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. It helps you stay connected to them, streamline processes and improve your profitability.
More commonly, when people talk about CRM they are usually referring to a CRM system, a tool which helps with contact management, sales management, productivity and more.
CRM enables you to focus on your organization’s relationships with individual people – whether those are customers, service users, colleagues or suppliers. Customer Relationship Management is not just for sales. Some of the biggest gains in productivity can come from moving beyond CRM as a sales and marketing tool and embedding it in your business – from HR to customer services and supply-chain management.
See the world’s #1 CRM, Salesforce, in action:
WATCH DEMOS NOW
Why CRM Matters
If your business is going to last, you know that you need a strategy for the future. You’ll already have targets relating to sales, business objectives and profitability. But getting up-to-date, reliable information on your progress towards your goals can be tricky. How do you translate the many streams of data coming in from sales teams, customer service staff, marketers and social media monitoring into useful business information?
Using a CRM system can give you a clear overview of your customers. You can see everything in one place — a simple, customizable dashboard that can tell you a customer’s previous history with you, the status of their orders, any outstanding customer service issues, and more.
You can even choose to include information from their public social media activity — their likes and dislikes, what they are saying and sharing about you. Marketers can use CRM to better understand the pipeline of sales or prospective work coming in, making forecasting simpler and more accurate. You’ll have clear visibility of every opportunity or lead, showing you the clear path from inquiries to sales.
And though it’s traditionally been used as a sales and marketing tool, customer service teams are seeing great benefits from CRM systems. Today’s customer might raise an issue in one channel — say, Twitter — and then switch to email or telephone to resolve it in private. A CRM platform enables you to manage the inquiry across channels without losing track.
Life Without CRM
More Administration, Less Selling
An active sales team generates a flood of data. They can be out on the road talking to customers, meeting prospects and finding out valuable information – but all this information gets stored in handwritten notes, laptops, or inside the heads of your salespeople.
On top of this your customers may be contacting you on a range of different platforms — phone, email and social media. 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.
Details can get lost, meetings are not followed up promptly and prioritizing customers can be a matter of guesswork rather than a rigorous exercise based on fact. And it can all be compounded if a key salesperson moves on.
Even if you do successfully collect all this data, you’re faced with the challenge of making sense of it. 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.
Luckily, there’s an answer.
How CRM Helps You
“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
Introducing a CRM platform has been shown to produce real results – including direct improvements to the bottom line. CRM applications have a proven track record of increasing:
- Sales by up to 37%
- Sales Productivity by up to 44%
- Forecast accuracy by 48%
Identify and categorize leads
A CRM system can help you to identify and add new leads easily and quickly and categorize them accurately. You can create customized 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.
Increase referrals from existing customers
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.
Improve products and services
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 organization — so you can improve what you offer, spot problems early and identify gaps
CRM and the Cloud Computing Revolution
Perhaps the most significant recent development in CRM systems has been the move into the cloud. Freed from the need to install software on hundreds or thousands of desktop PCs and mobile devices, organizations worldwide are discovering the benefits of moving data, software and services into a secure online environment.
Work from anywhere
Cloud-based CRM systems such as Salesforce (Learn more: What is Salesforce?) mean every user has the same information, all the time. Your sales force out on the road can check data, update it instantly after a meeting or work from anywhere. The same information is available to anyone who needs it, from the sales team to the customer service representatives.
CRM can be quick and easy to implement. A cloud-based system doesn’t need special installation and there’s no hardware to set up, keeping IT costs low and removing the headache of version control and update schedules.
Generally, cloud-based CRM systems are priced on the number of users who access the system and the kinds of features you need. This can be very cost-effective in terms of capital outlay, and is also extremely flexible — enabling you to scale up and add more people as your business grows. Salesforce is flexible in terms of functionality, too — you’re not paying for any features that are not useful to you.
Cloud-based CRM offers
- Faster deployment
- Automatic software updates
- Cost-effectiveness and scalability
- The ability to work from anywhere, on any device
- Increased collaboration