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Customer relationship management — or, CRM as we call it — increases sales revenues, customer satisfaction, and growth.
 
 

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Common Questions

CRM stands for customer relationship management, which is a solution for storing and managing prospect and customer information, like contact info, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities — all in one central location. But, it’s not just a fancy contact list. A CRM solution is one of the most valuable, game-changing pieces of business technology available because of how it uses that customer info. Keep reading to learn more.

Your Complete CRM Handbook

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At the heart of a CRM solution is something called “sales force automation” (SFA). SFA combined with CRM automates some sales functions, so you can accelerate and streamline the sales process. For instance, instead of being mired down in yellow sticky note reminders or buried in spreadsheets and Google Docs, you can move leads through your sales team quickly and easily, as a team.

5 Quick Ways to Clean Up Your Sales and Marketing Pipeline

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A CRM system gives you a quick way to score and route leads, track opportunities and activities, and gain visibility into deal stages and business health for both prospects and customers. And, it holds a record of your business’ ongoing relationship with those contacts. Details can contain everything from call logs, call notes, deal conversations, and quotes, to shared files that are relevant to the customer’s needs, and so much more. So now anyone with access to the record can speak to the customer with confidence. Additionally, you can create daily to-do lists, schedule call alerts, trigger emails, and more. Most companies using a CRM solution find their deal cycles shortened considerably.

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The right CRM solution can give you access to contact databases that can be filtered to find your ideal prospects and decision makers within a company, provide social data on those contacts, and deliver insights into what customers are talking about. This makes territory planning and white space analysis easier as well.

How a CRM Helps Your Business Grow

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A complete CRM solution also helps companies run and track marketing campaigns, including marketing communications and delivery automation. It can even help create forms for lead capture and track performance. And for those leads that are not sales ready, you can even automatically put them in a nurture track so that when you do call, they are more likely to buy.

With solutions that range form self-help pages (that allow agents to focus on the tough cases), to full call centers, CRM brings immense value to customer service teams. Your service reps can also use it to generate service tickets and keep track of all your customers’ contact with your service department. And, because the entire system is connected, account reps and every other relevant department will be fully aware of customers’ issues, so everyone can be a service agent when you need them to be.

Insights about customer service issues can be shared and added to a knowledge base so that agents can help customers even faster. In addition to shortening case resolution time, this kind of connected service also makes agents happier. It all comes down to giving them the tools to do more for customers — which in turn drives customer loyalty and referrals.

Overview: What Is Customer Service?

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Yes. If you have customers, you can benefit from CRM. Even if your customer base is small, no one can keep every interaction — ones that have already happened, or need to happen — memorized and organized. It’s a powerful business tool that streamlines processes, gives valuable business insights, and virtually connects employees at your company so they can collaborate as a team, in real time. That’s something businesses of any size can use.

A huge benefit of CRM is automating routine — yet time-sapping — tasks, which saves countless hours. This allows more time for selling.

For example, say you want to send an email follow-up as part of a marketing effort. With a good CRM solution, you don’t have to remember which leads you want to target. You can simply create some rules around your leads and automate the marketing effort, like email campaigns and lead capture, so leads are quickly routed to reps to be either followed up with or nurtured. Creating email templates in the CRM solution ensures you don’t have to repeat the work or even cut and paste.

The result? You can jump on opportunities more quickly and close more deals, faster. CRM also enables you to take data like pipeline size or deal size and create dashboards to help you make informed decisions at a glance. You can quickly check in on the health of deals, revenues, and more.

The Salesforce Advantage

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A CRM solution makes the same information accessible companywide. This means almost any customer-focused activity can be better and more easily coordinated — within and across departments, from sales to customer service. Also, because account data and activity is updated in real time, every team member is always working with up-to-the-minute information on customers and your company’s interactions with them, like stages in the sales cycle, service issues, or order status.

Salesforce makes collaboration between teams even easier with Chatter, a social network designed for business productivity. Chatter allows team members to share files, find experts, and work on projects to help every employee do more with less.

App Guide: Recommended Apps for Small and Medium Business Success

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Every business runs differently, with different processes and ideas of success. This means a good CRM solution should be easily customizable and have an information hierarchy that puts what’s important to you, front and center. The best CRMs feature drag-and-drop customization capabilities, and then deliver regular upgrades automatically that won’t break those customizations — with little or no need for IT involvement.

The Salesforce Advantage

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It would be hard to find a company that doesn’t use email or other basic business applications on a daily basis. Top-notch CRM offerings help you extend the power of those systems by plugging into them, integrating in a snap with programs like Outlook or QuickBooks. You can even quickly download and integrate business apps, giving you the features and capabilities your business needs, when you need them.

App Guide: Recommended Apps for Small and Medium Business Success

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Though there are many CRM providers, there are two main types of CRM solutions that companies can choose, depending on their needs and budget.

On-Premises CRM

Housed at the location of the business that uses it, on-premises solutions require the up-front purchase of servers or datacenter equipment and the installation of CRM software and middleware by IT staff. It also requires IT for ongoing maintenance and updates. In some cases, you may even need to build the software yourself.

CRM in the Cloud

Cloud-based CRM solutions provide world-class solutions through any browser or mobile device and are instantly scalable, requiring no on-site IT staff. Essentially, CRM in the cloud allows you to pull up a login page through a browser like Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox. You simply log in with a username and password, and your CRM is right there. Even better, the mobile functionality of cloud CRM solutions has cut the tethers for reps and managers on the go.

Deciding Which CRM Solution is Right For You

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If you’re still not sure if your small business would benefit from CRM, below are some clues that can help you in your decision.

Signs You Need CRM

If anything on this short checklist sounds familiar, CRM might be worth exploring to help your business find, win, and keep customers more efficiently.

  • You have teams that work closely together, even when not actually together
  • Your sales teams are often on the road
  • You are unable to quickly find customer data to make decisions fast
  • You feel deals are falling through the cracks because you’re managing things in spreadsheets and notebooks
  • You have a patchwork of apps that you call CRM but they are not really connected on top of a single database or “system of record”
  • Your business is growing more quickly than you feel ready for
  • You know that your business’ customer service experience is lacking or you are losing more customers because of service issues than you’d like
  • You or your IT department is buried with maintenance requests

Deciding Which CRM Solution is Right For You

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There is no shortage of CRM options. But only one continues to help more businesses succeed than any other. On average, Salesforce customers report a growth of 27% and a 42% boost to customer satisfaction.

The Salesforce Advantage

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If you're still not sure if your small business would benefit from CRM, below are some clues that can help you in your decision.

The World's #1 Choice

With hundreds of thousands of customers and millions of users, Salesforce is a proven choice and the #1 CRM in the world.

The CRM Cloud Pioneer

We actually pioneered cloud computing in 1999. No hardware. No software. Just sign on and get going

Solutions Specifically for Small Business

Salesforce offers many packages, including sales, customer service, and marketing software solutions. Even better, they're integrated to work as one complete CRM solution for your business.

Automatic Upgrades

Because Salesforce is 100% cloud-based, we can deliver three automatic upgrades every year based on customer input. Even better, the upgrades won't break your business’ customizations.

Recognized Innovation

Every year Salesforce puts out innovative tools for success that the industry can't ignore.

  • #1 Largest SF Tech Employer
  • Forbes The World's Most Innovative Companies
  • Fortune World's Most Admired Companies 2014
  • MIT Tech Review: 50 Smartest Companies

Built on Trust

At Salesforce, trust is our most important value. No matter how big or small a business may be, our technology gives you the same security standards demanded by our most stringent customers.

A Solution that Will Grow with You

Salesforce offers an extendable set of tools — from pre-integrated business apps on the AppExchange to point-and-click tools to build and customize your own apps — that give you just what you need, when you need it. So when you’re ready for growth, we can help.

 

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