At its most basic, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool is any device, application, system, action, or strategy designed to help facilitate positive interaction between a business and its customers. Of course, having such a broad definition means that almost anything used in a business setting can be designated a CRM solution.
A filing cabinet gives representatives a place to store hard copies of personal data. A telephone assists agents in speaking directly with prospects and leads. A handshake helps to show respect between individuals as they meet to discuss contract terms. According to the aforementioned definition, all of these are examples of CRM solutions. If, however, you want your business to really excel in a competitive market, you need a complete CRM solution. Salesforce does more than just help you manage certain aspects of your customer relationships; it provides a unified, standalone platform through which your agents are able to hone the entire sales process and deliver a superior customer experience.
- Cloud-based access. The software that Salesforce resides in is entirely cloud-based. For your organization, that means no new hardware purchases, no software installation, no locally stored files, and almost no setup time. This also means that you’ll be able to quickly and easily make the switch over to Salesforce CRM, and that you’ll be able to access the Salesforce platform from any internet-enabled device, anywhere in the world, at any time.
- Interdepartmental integration. Collaboration means more than simply having multiple departments working toward a common goal; true collaboration is only possible when every department— from sales, to marketing, to customer service, to analytics, and beyond — has access to the same information on the same platform, and can see precisely what every individual in every department is doing. Salesforce makes this dream a reality by providing a single platform that’s accessible by any and all authorized individuals.
- Universal compatibility. With more and more organizations opting for a bring-your-own approach to business devices, the threat of software incompatibility is becoming ever more real. Salesforce takes these hazards into account, and provides a software solution that is accessible across all major platforms and devices. As such, the need for device conformity becomes a non-issue.
- Advanced automation. The process of coaxing a customer through the sales pipeline is filled with hundreds of small but vital steps that are neither difficult, nor overly time-consuming by themselves, but they have a way of adding up over time. Forms that need to be filled out, customers that need to be updated, reports that need to be sent — these are all tasks that can be automated through Salesforce, freeing up your employees to concentrate on the issues that can’t be automated.
- Contact management. To paraphrase the old saying, people prefer to do business with friends. Because of this inclination, businesses are hard pressed to get to know their clients on a personal level. Client preferences, purchase history, pain points, and more, are all valuable bits of data that can be used to help improve the customer relationship. A complete CRM solution is one that organizes this customer data so that it can be retrieved quickly and easily, by any authorized representative, in order to facilitate better service in all departments — which is precisely what Salesforce brings to the table.
- Sales tracking. While there is certainly nothing wrong with focusing the majority of your attention on leads that become customers, those who do not complete their journey should be considered valuable as well. Why did they drop off? What issues did they have that you were unable to resolve? Where in the pipeline were they when they left? Salesforce helps you track all of your potential customers through the pipeline, so when obstacles are encountered, you’ll be able to see where they are, what kind of impact they’re having, and what you can do to help future leads move past them. A better understanding of your whole pipeline can lead to a greater percentage of prospects making it through to the end.
- Real-time updates. The advent of the internet has drastically decreased the timetable in which customer-business relationships develop. As a result, customer information that is out of date — even if only by a matter of hours — can end up hurting those relationships and costing your organization money. Salesforce is designed to update in real time, providing you with the most current data on all aspects of your customer relationships.
- Limitless customization. A complete CRM solution is one that fits your business like a glove, so why would you consider investing in an off-the-shelf solution that hasn’t been tailored to meet your unique needs? Salesforce can be customized to fit your business, which means you won’t get stuck paying for services that you don’t need, and that the services you do use will be perfectly suited to provide you with the best possible ROI.
- Superior analytics. If the digital age has taught us anything, it’s that data is incredibly valuable. Mining the massive amount of data customers generate, on the other hand, can be difficult and time consuming. A complete CRM solution is one that analyzes all the available information, and then boils it down into points and reports that are easily accessible to any and all key decision-makers. Salesforce ensures not only that your clients are getting the support they need, but that your organization is making the most out of the data that they carry with them as well.