If your business is growing (or if you want it to grow), you’ll realize Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is essential. On average, CRM users experience an $8.71 return on every dollar of their CRM investment, according to Nucleus Research.
Most businesses that use CRM software, leverage it for sales because it helps keep customer and potential customer contact information in one place. CRM also keeps records of sales, potential sales, tasks and actions that require follow-up. Most sales reps live by their contact data---it can be motivating with target goals and daily tasks, and keeps indispensable information handy to make sales.
Sales is the lifeblood of a company, so it’s understandable why there are hundreds of CRM programs at our fingertips, from programs that contain barely more than notes and spreadsheets to far more complex systems. As you research your CRM options (and you do have many options available), keep in mind these two important concepts:
Sales is, arguably, the driving force behind all aspects of a business. This means CRM can also be used to help businesses make informed, data-driven decisions in all departments: human resources, IT, supply chain, manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and accounting. When all aspects of the business are operating under one source of accurate information, operating costs can be properly accounted for and controlled, and productivity, customer satisfaction, and revenue increased.
Though choosing the right technology is important, building a successful CRM system is also about having a plan in place. From a business perspective, a software product should help actualize your vision. With that framework in mind, it’s important to craft a vision statement. Maybe you want to revolutionize customer service in your industry, or maybe you simply want to be the market leader in your region. Whatever your vision is, define it, share it with the entire organization, and let it guide your strategy.
Having a clear, actionable strategy is what will make your vision a reality. If your vision is to become the market leader in your region, you must decide if your strategy is to offer more products, compete on price or offer the best customer service in the industry. Customer relationship management software can help keep measure those metrics. Daily tasks should then align with the corporate vision, and--you guessed it--CRM software can help create and track tasks.
Everyone, especially executives, should be on board with integrating a CRM solution into the business. That’s because many CRM programs allow metrics to be tracked and displayed, which is especially helpful for executives and sales reps alike as they measure progress toward goals.
Most businesses start with an out-of-the-box CRM system, designed around a common principle: Keep track of contacts, customers, opportunities, and orders, and you’ll see sales increase. If you’re considering CRM for a small business, take into account your plans for growth. As your business grows, you need a CRM system to grow with you. That’s one advantage of Salesforce CRM: Salesforce CRM provides top-notch CRM options from basic to customized, allowing you to keep the information entered in the basic program as you upgrade and add features. To say it’s a time-saver and avoids costly software conversion problems is an understatement.
Some out there will tell you to just go with a pre-packaged solution. That might include what you need at an expected price. But many more-robust solutions come with features you may never need and lack just one or two features that might prove really useful. Think of it this way: It’s like settling for a size 12 mesh-top trainer, when really you need a size 9 snow boot. Your feet are covered, but they’ll eventually get wet and cold.
Others will say the best bet is to get a completely customized CRM program by hiring a software developer. A software developer, either on staff or contracted, can build a solution-to-custom CRM, but can become costly and take time from your IT department's other assignments.
There is a middle ground: Build the CRM system that fits you using both pre-programmed and custom apps. With AppExchange, there are hundreds of pre-built apps to integrate into your system. If you need more customized apps, Salesforce partners or your own programmers can build them for you. The sky’s pretty much the limit when it comes to customizing Salesforce.
Apps are self-contained computer program applications designed to do specific tasks. Like all computer software, apps are written on development platforms, larger software where smaller programs can be designed. In order to create apps, you’ll need a mobile application development platform.
In the case of Salesforce, Salesforce itself is that platform for creating apps.The development platform is where the instructions for the app’s computing takes place. Information is collected and the app’s program gives the instructions about what to do with the information.
Until recently, you also needed extensive development knowledge to create apps. However, platforms such as Salesforce App Cloud require no coding knowledge, and allows users to quickly create custom CRM apps. With Salesforce App Cloud, you can create custom apps to help run every part of your business. Because the platform is already in place, time and resources don’t need to be spent developing and maintaining the platform to support your custom CRM apps.
Many companies provide app design platforms for a monthly subscription. Called Platform as a Service, or PaaS, these providers offer a platform that supports custom app development. Salesforce App Cloud provides the platform to create and support custom CRM apps. Because it is cloud-based, you can create apps quickly without worrying about maintaining the development platform or infrastructure.
Cloud-based software platforms are also more reliable than internal systems. Creating custom CRM apps allows you to focus on what’s most important: making your business run as smoothly as possible. According to IDC, businesses that used Salesforce’s App Cloud had a 75-85% reduction in infrastructure costs while launching 80% more applications. Additionally, their apps were completed 70% faster than when not using the Salesforce App platform.)
Streamlining more processes ultimately allows for better customer service and satisfaction, and increases your revenue. Businesses realize the need for CRM because they see the importance of focusing on the customer--the “C” in CRM. But CRM extends across every department, not just sales. When customizing your CRM program, it’s important to realize that CRM is a strategy to use across your entire organization. Salesforce offers ideas for custom business apps across your company. These are just a few ideas to start, but the possibilities are unlimited:
IT Apps. While your IT department are the tech gurus, they would also appreciate apps to automate IT tasks. Software development apps help by tracking every story, so apps can be built faster for every department. Other ideas for IT apps include quality control, project management, software licensing tracking, patent submission tracking and help desk.
Marketing Apps. Apps can help the marketing department with efficiency. Creating project apps, channel management apps, and production scheduling apps help keep tabs on projects, deadlines, and contacts in the ad production process. Other helpful apps are the Marketing Collateral app, which can put all marketing content in one place, and the Ad Inventory app that provides reps with easy, up-to-date access to marketing content.
Human Resources Apps. Many human resource responsibilities can be automated, allowing HR specialist to focus on the employees rather than tasks. The Employee Onboarding and Learning App automates training and frequently asked questions. A Time Off app helps employees track their time off and get fast supervisor approvals. The Recruiting apps keeps track of interactions through the hiring process.
Finance Department Apps. Financial processes that require several steps and tedious tracking can be automated through apps. The Account Onboarding app helps create new accounts from any device, streamlining the process for sales and finance departments. The PO Tracker app allows purchase orders to be followed from start to finish. Multi-project setup and fulfillment can be automated through the Commercial Onboarding App.
Operations Apps. Apps can be linked to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) program, allowing for information to be easily accessed by anyone in the company. The Supply Chain app allows streamlining of supplier relations.
As you roll out your CRM tool, make sure to get your entire team on board. Executive sponsorship is vital for your CRM vision, strategy and business objectives, and a successful rollout. A lack of executive sponsorship is one of the top five contributing factors to CRM failure.
A final word about custom CRM: You shouldn’t look at custom CRM implementation as a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process of continuous improvement. While app creation using Salesforce’s App Cloud made app creation on average 70% faster, creating apps will still take time.
Chart a timetable or roadmap of custom apps and implementations based on your priorities. Because you won’t get everything done at once, decide what is most important to deliver. As you integrate custom CRM solutions into your business, you’ll be pleased to discover just what you can do with CRM as a tool to complement the vision and strategy of your business.
The best way to get to know Sales Cloud is to get your hands on the actual product. The free trial also comes with unlimited access to our Sales Community, a group of sales thought leaders sharing ideas about sales for salespeople.
Questions? Our reps have answers. 1-800-667-6389