CRM: A $36 Billion Industry
To succeed in today’s economy, businesses are faced with organizing a huge amount of information about customers and potential customers. Unless that information is easy to locate, it can be difficult to make sense of it all.
When you’re first starting out in business, it’s easy to keep track in your head all of the details of everyone you meet. But somewhere between running a business, hiring staff and accumulating customers, some of the details begin to slip through the cracks.
Wouldn’t it be nice to keep track of all customers and prospects, along with all their details, in one place? Imagine having that information accessible anywhere, on any device. Think about how much time you’d save. When your company grows to the point where you have about 100 customers, that’s when you should seriously begin to consider a CRM. The CRM business is expected to become a $36 billion industry by 2017.
Reasons for using a CRM
Customer Relationship Management software is a solution to information overload. A centralized customer database presents all the information you have on a customer so that you can find it in one place. It allows you to track customer interactions, sales revenue and in some cases, to measure the results of your marketing efforts.
A CRM will track when someone else in the office communicates with your customer or prospect and let you know when their account is up for a renewal, due for an upgrade, and can automatically remind you to send a birthday card. Integration with marketing’s lead scoring system can notify sales people or management when a prospect is “sales ready.”
Companies that use CRM software have:
- Increased sales revenue.
- Higher customer satisfaction ratings.
- Improved customer retention.
- Increased up-selling and cross-selling opportunities to existing clients.
With these benefits, it’s no surprise that over half of all companies less than five years old adopt the use of CRM systems. However, did you know that 38 percent of all companies with under $5 million in revenue use a CRM?
Combined with lead generation tools, a CRM can manage and prioritize responses to your messaging and find people who might be browsing your site but not leaving contact information.
A CRM’s most used features:
- Calendar function to conveniently schedule tasks, phone calls, meetings.
- Email to a subset of the database
- Integration with marketing
CRM for prospecting
The point of a CRM is not, of course, just to keep track of customers. A CRM allows you to improve your pre-sales communications, customize email and deliver the right message when a potential customer is most ready to hear it.
For anyone in sales, keeping track of phone calls, emails, anonymous reviews, chatter on social networks, and competitors’ web pages is a challenge. A CRM organizes and make sense of it all, allowing you to keep your eye on your prospects and their needs.
Salespeople can easily sort by dozens of different characteristics like company size, location, industry and revenue to filter through a database of companies to find new prospects. They can automate functions that are necessary but slow down their sales process, such as logging emails and phone calls, monitoring social media, generating proposals and order processing.
One of the advantages of having all of a prospect’s information in one place is the ability to forecast sales. By entering proposals or price quotes into a prospect record, the CRM can generate a forecast of sales based on a company’s progression through the sales process. Sales managers appreciate the ease with which they can keep track of and visually see the likelihood of closing a deal. A good system gives sales managers information that they might have received from the sales staff, but haphazardly.
The benefits of a CRM include a relatively short payback (ROI) time horizon.
The ability to segment your database is critical to effective email marketing and communication. Being able to identify prospects in your database that are “sales qualified” allows you to contact prospects that are ready to buy. Let’s look at a series of emails and how using a CRM helps automate the workflow process.
First we target a subsection of the database by industry. Then we draft an email specific to issues facing that industry.
I enter the results of what happened in my follow up phone call to the above email in my CRM depending on whether or not I spoke with the contact. If our conversation went well and we set up an appointment, the system automatically generates the following email.
If we talk but do not schedule a meeting or the call dead-ends, I put this prospect into different workflows.
If the prospect is not available to take my call, I note that in the CRM and the system generates this email. Notice I include the original email at the bottom of this correspondence.
I’ll try one more time before having the system send this email.
So, no matter what happens, I note that on the individual’s record in the CRM and the system automatically follows up with them (or me) appropriately.
When considering a CRM system
A CRM system can move your business forward when you are clear about your goals and you know what kind of experience you want to give your customers. If you are a small business, you might argue that you already know your customers and the places you are likely to find more. On the other hand, a CRM system can help you know them better and find them faster.
Adoption and implementation of a new system can be relatively fast – or painfully slow. The biggest challenge for a company implementing a CRM is the adoption or compliance from sales. Therefore, it is essential to include the sales team in the process of selection, implementation and training in order to ease the inevitable change. When sales people understand that a CRM allows them to sell more, more efficiently and faster, adoption is no longer a roadblock.
Once in place a CRM saves time (and brain cells) by segmenting lists and automating routine work that needs to get done. Similarly, a CRM can help management make sense of disparate bits of data that were difficult in the past to bring together.
Clearly, CRM helps you understand, and serve, your customers better. Once you have a set of robust information on individuals you can tailor your message to each of them based on demographics, social media preferences, and who else in your database is like them.
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