What is CRM and what can I do with it?
Today, let’s talk about the best tool a sales manager or a small business owner can have! Let’s digest the abbreviation CRM – Customer Relationship Management.
What is it? Why should you use it? And what are the benefits?
Continuing our exploration into the #DigitalTransformation we’ve come to our next step. We’re talking about one of the most obvious improvements to business that took a surprisingly long time to become a mainstay practice.
Previously we’ve explored the history of DX, and took a look how various companies started automating and/or digitizing their approach to business.
And even though those companies were on the frontier of technological advancement it is never too late! Still not sure where exactly you should start? Well lucky you, we’ve just got a piece of article-genius just for that!
Follow these 7 steps and you’re going to be the next Jeff Bezos.
“Why” CRM or Sales 101
Breaking apart the word CRM we get the customer relationship, or more specifically the people’s approach to business.
There are two core principles that business experts know by heart. One is that it takes a lot of money to attract new customers. And two, you spend ten times less getting an existing customer to return to you.
Knowing that, is only half the battle, regardless of your marketing campaign efforts, nothing comes close to the “referral approach”. A large majority of B2B and retail customers are still in the “I was referred by a friend” category. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and it has its own rules.
Main of which is – very few people will recommend a company to their friend, but they WILL spread bad word about an unpleasant experience.
Nurturing good customer experiences (CX) helps not only in lead generation and brand building but also client loyalty and crisis management, i.e the long term.
Speaking of people, the three main departments which deal with them are:
Customer Support – one of the most crucial divisions, with the rise of AdBlock like systems in the past few years and the pandemic still raging on, their worth is arguably more so than it was before. They are a foci point when it comes to proper customer loyalty.
Sales Department – a massive pillar of business, you might have an awesome product but without a dedicated team who can explain to the customer why your product is crucial, you will not make a dime.
Marketing Department – the first face of your business; with a properly set up CRM system it can make correct predictions and build engaging campaigns based on the data provided.
These are not the only ones, but they benefit the most out of the system.
Recipe for disaster
Imagine a small department working primarily on B2B interactions built out of three people with a sales manager. They have no clue what CRM is.
So, we have Bradley working with google sheets and keeping all his information there. Who are the Decision Makers in the client’s enterprise, when were they last touched, what offers were sent? etc. He keeps all this crucial information in his google drive.
Then we have Stan, who dislikes google because of a childhood trauma (Stan would prefer we not disclose) and he makes use of Outlook and Evernote for most if not all of his notes.
And finally, Karen uses a wide variety of applications on her phone, her laptop and work computer. There are things on the cloud, some is on her Rolodex on her desk, she’s old school like that.
Bradley, Stan and Karen all report to Andrew.
Sales department in ruin
Andrew has one hell of a job, forecasting sales, building a reliable pipeline of reports and telling how the Marketing department’s new campaign is doing.
Because all the data of his colleagues is in a dissimilar format, he must perform a juggling act with various software. There is also a huge risk of his team forgetting about inputting some sort of information without a proper Framework in place.
Now if the team are updating an excel spreadsheet with their reports on a by weekly basis, it will lack detail. Or, in case Andrew forces his colleagues to supply higher degree of accuracy to their reports, he effectively cuts down a few hours from their work shift. The team must worry about writing down data in their own respective way and THEN spending extra time to input said data into their common excel form.
But somehow, he makes it work. Until one of his teammates leaves for another firm.
Andrews job just got a whole lot harder with a ton of information missing from his sight.
What is CRM
All those problems and many more are solved by properly implementing a CRM system.
CRM stands for Client Relationship Management – a system that allows controlling and streamlining your sales process, developing strong relationships with your customers for proper sales/after-sales periods, and supplying digital structures for data management.
The CRM allows Andrew (read “managers”) to hold all the insights and prospects on their customers at his fingertips. And implementing a tool like Salesforce or Zoho for instance, help keep it all in one suite, safe on the cloud or on-premises.
A CRM tool gives proper lines of communication between teams and their respective clients, avoiding conflicts of interest. As well as automating the tedium of reporting, not to mention time and sanity of your workforce.
CRM projects a 360-degree overview of our client – every product they bought, every offer they received, every Customer Service they called, every note anyone made on this client and much more. With all that we can outline purchase patterns and even make informed decisions regarding the change of trends.
We can now build proper forecasts and measure our productivity or approach to sales. Allowing us to find problems and resolve them.
Just look at the amount of useable information you have on hand!
Our CRM builds, supports and updates our contact repository (CR) in the cloud, it then integrates and links the repository with modules as required.
And your CR has all the information on your client, on the server – their name, contact number, email, history of contact, notes, offers, birthdays, wife’s name, referrals and anything and everything in between you might have on the client.
A good CRM provides you the ability to handcraft custom fields according to your brand specifics and any supplement requirements your business might have!
Modular in Nature
Big part of using a CRM is that it is modular by nature.
In essence, it means you can cherry pick parts of your CRM and what kind of activities it performs, automates or enhances for your staff. Customize to your hearts content.
There are three main (not to say the only ones) types of modules: Marketing, Sales and Personal. Let’s explore these through a closer examination.
Sales Department Module:
The main go-to CRM basic features and why the system was created in the first place.
Everything related to the process of selling your product to your customer, and ensuring he comes back! The main priorities of this module are as follow:
Sales Data Structures – Gather raw information into management chunks of data to pin pain points and deliver data-driven solutions. Graphic visualization of data helps in lead identification, forecasting, KPI analysis and many other sale processes.
Report Handling – Your sale representatives will gather massive loads of information about sale opportunities, pipeline reports, activity reports, issues, customer complaints and many more.
With a proper CRM Dashboard, it becomes a breeze to control this flux of data in a user-friendly way and prioritize it accordingly to deliver solutions on the go.
Support Centre Integration – It’s paramount to control and watch all the information coming from your support division, and its easier to do it with one major suite while not being afraid of losing it in transfer from third party systems.
Notifications, history, records of calls, all at your disposal, one screen away.
Marketing Department Module:
The second working horse of a successful CRM system. It is the integration of your Marketing Division and provisioning them with all the possible information they need to handcraft superb campaigns and improve the brand.
Primary focus of this module is:
Leads – By having the client information organized and gathered in one place, with help of CRM we can streamline lead generation, to help our marketing efforts.
Having the information about the present situation of our leads and their potential activity helps us decipher buyers’ intentions and prioritize clients on their relative engagement and value at the time.
E-mail Campaigns – Send personalized messages/emails to individual or groups of your prospecting clients. You can improve your campaigns during development by a simple glance at statics of previous campaigns, everything from click-throughs, conversion rates, engagement and much more in your dashboard.
Analytics – Having a central data analysis tool can ensure smooth transfer of data between departments, and safeguard from inaccurate or duplicate reports. Simply cutting the time your own employees would have to gather, analyse, and verify data.
Segment clients, gauge profits and escalations and much more for making data-drive sale campaigns.
Social Media – We live in the age of social media where everyone has an account on one or multiple platforms. CRMs can integrate these data-streams into usable data and even interact with these platforms from their dashboard.
Mobile Platforms: Proper client relationship development doesn’t stop when the work shift end. Now more than ever, everyone is online at all times so getting notifications and inquiries about your clients when out of office has become a staple of the world today. Smartphone integrated CRMs allow that flexibility.
Personal Information Module:
These include everything from specified workflows of each sub-department, to chat and meeting planning integrations, and everything related to making your workforce a happy workforce!
Again, when deciding on picking your CRM make sure to look out for these things!
Workflow: By automating many of the processes relating to CX, your colleagues have more time for other pressing matters and tasks, that ultimately streamlines your business. Personal notes and benchmarks can be set for each and every employee.
Chat: Rather than relying on third party software and having multiple chat tools, it is better to congregate it all into one software. Integrated both for within company as well as for the clients. And further enhancing data gathering.
KPI: By always having so much information, it has become easier than ever to gauge team performance and find possible issues and promptly address them.
Documents: Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. The bane of any office employee and considered the most tedious part of a sale. Having it all on hand one screen away, tagged to the proper client and/or product in the CRM databanks solves these problems. A win-win for everyone.
Role Privileges: And let’s not forget security. Configure access for every point, data, or client and who’s accountable improves the overall security of information.
Most CRMs offer this by default, but no one says you cannot improve on them by contacting a bespoke software developer for consultation or even improvements and hand tailored systems for specific brands.
But these are not the only modules, just some of the most prominent!
Whether you like it or not but sticking to old habits is downright dangerous in our days, with the pandemic still raging on, this is probably the last chance to adopt “The digital” or be left behind and forgotten.
Not only that, consider a successful CRM integration as the first step to true BigData analytics.
That closes this chapter in our road to #DigitalTransformation. And yet again, we’ve only brushed the surface of the topic. A topic, mind you, they spend semesters teaching and learning in business schools nowadays.
And there’s only so much one can put into a blog post. Later I will discuss how CRM differs from ERPs (and what those are). As well as which tools, I think are the best for the task.
But I’d love to hear your opinion on CRMs in the comments!
What do you think is the best approach to managing your digital efforts?
This was, is and always will be Alex! Stay classy business nerds!