Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is nothing new.
Your great-grandmother’s milkman certainly used it—the piece of paper in his wagon that listed who bought what each day was an early predecessor to the cloud-based CRM applications of today. While the technology surrounding customer relationship management may have changed, the goal of making a sale and keeping a customer has not. At its core, CRM is all about merging marketing efforts with business processes to be able to identify, pursue and manage valuable customer relationships. It’s about knowing and understanding your customers’ buying habits and preferences so that you can place yourself squarely at the point of sale—and about supporting those same customers after the sales transaction is complete.
But what if you don’t have a formal customer relationship management system in place? How can you build a case for one at your place of business? While there are a wide range of reasons to implement a CRM system, we’ll share our top five to get you started.
Improved Customer Experience
[pquote_right]Today’s customers expect a customized, streamlined experience from beginning to end.[/pquote_right] They want you to know who they are and to have what they need— without transferring the call and without keeping them waiting. A customer relationship management system will enable you to quickly identify your customers, address their initial needs and subsequently recommend additional products or services that match their profile. It gives your staff the ability to recognize who they’re dealing with from the very beginning, making them more efficient and more productive. Customers, in turn, enjoy better customer service—with fewer hassles.
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Focused Marketing Efforts
CRM solutions provide you with a complete picture of your sales pipeline, as well as your existing customers. With that in hand, you can identify and target individuals with the greatest potential for future sales. Rather than taking the mass marketing approach, CRM allows you to focus and fine-tune your marketing efforts to make those efforts more productive. That saves you money, because you aren’t expending resources on individuals who ultimately won’t become customers.
Automated Analytics and Reporting
Whether your business is large or small, chances are you don’t have time to track and analyze the buying habits of every last customer. The beauty of customer relationship management applications are that they handle that piece of the marketing puzzle for you. Because your customer and sales information is housed in one place, you have automatic access to a full range of reports on which products or services are selling and who’s buying them. You also gain a clearer picture of the sales pipeline itself: How is it working? Where are the snags? Which staff-member is the most productive? A CRM’s centralized information warehouse gives you powerful analytic and reporting tools that would be hard to replicate in stand-alone systems.
Better Coordination and Cooperation
When sales, marketing and customer service share a common CRM platform, they are able to speak the same language with one another. Rather than being separated by systems functionality or access to key information, departments across the organization are able to function more cohesively. Suddenly, they have what they need to work as a single unit. They know what the goals are and how to attain them.[pquote_right]A customer relationship management system can manage to day-to-day administrative tasks for you, giving your sales team the chance to get back to, well, selling.[/pquote_right]
More Administrative Support
Even in sales, there are mundane tasks that simply have to get done. Scheduling appointments, keeping records up-to-date, tracking follow-ups—all critical functions in any sales team, but ones that require careful (and tedious) attention to detail.