In this post, Chris Guido, Senior Marketing Strategist at Miles Technologies, discusses the importance of CRM applications and how they can help businesses run better.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications have grown and evolved significantly over the last few years in terms of what they are able to accomplish and how they can improve your marketing and sales processes. There are many companies I come across that are underutilizing and misusing their CRM application or not using a CRM application at all. Here are my top 10 reasons that a business should have a CRM system in place:
1. Track All of Your Inbound & Outbound Communications
With the ever increasing emphasis on technological communication, one can easily become lost in the flood of emails, phone calls, and text messages we receive. Most customers now expect a response time in under an hour, and expect you to have a purpose for contacting them. A CRM application will allow you to track exactly which communications have been held with a prospect or customer. Some systems even allow you to directly integrate your emails sent and received, phone calls held, and text message sent without requiring any manual entry.
2. Implement Sales Workflow Automation
A lot of time is wasted on repetitive tasks that can be streamlined utilizing workflow automation. These activities can range from prospecting, to qualifying, to closing a deal and everything in between. One of the key benefits of implementing technology is to eliminate those repetitive tasks that follow standardized procedures. A business can utilize automated workflow procedures to drive certain actions and communications based upon certain aspects captured about your prospects and customers. They really start to become powerful when utilizing targeted marketing, and the customer lifecycle progresses can be fed in to the appropriate chain of events.
3. Social Media as a Marketing Tool
BREAKING NEWS ALERT: Social media is becoming popular…Oh wait, that’s old news. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other social media sites continue to be embraced by all generations now, not just the tech savvy ones. Grandparents use it now. And so do business owners. This has become apparent based upon the way these companies are enhancing and leveraging the medium they now have to improve on marketing efforts. CRM applications now have the ability to integrate with these sites and glean important data from your specific business profiles.
Do you miss those days of sending out your sales staff to visit potential customers and bringing in those sales? Or maybe they were just taking a nap in their car? Who knows? Now with the availability of CRM applications, the specific tasks, meetings and communications with a potential customer can all be managed. This helps immensely as we focus more and more on customer retention and the development of the customer relationship.
5. Cross-sell, Upsell and Resell
I work at a company where we offer a multitude of services that can leverage technology to improve the overall productivity of a company. Oftentimes they come to us with a certain need, such as implementing a software application. We do a great job and they go on their merry way, but wait, “Your company builds websites too?… And you can also host our applications?” If your business offers multiple services or products and a customer is happy with their first purchase, it becomes a no brainer for them to purchase related services. The problem that arises is that many customers may not even be aware of everything that your business can offer to them. A CRM system will allow you to identify additional areas of interest and provide greater opportunity for cross selling your products and services.
6. Reduce the Cost of Customer Acquisition
The cost of acquiring new leads and converting them to customers comes with a high price tag. Consider everything that goes in to it: AdWords, marketing labor, website updates, sales staff time and effort. It is a costly endeavor, but if your goal is growth then is it a necessary evil. Using a CRM application will assist in identifying and applying areas of cost savings. It can help you determine which prospects are worth pursuing, save time for your marketing and sales team, and provide utilities for streamlining marketing efforts.
7. Mobile Access on Any Device
Everyone is on the go these days and almost everyone has a phone, tablet or laptop at their disposal. CRM applications offer a variety of mobile applications and add on’s for accessing critical information. Whether you need directions to a customer site or to pull up previous quotes for a prospect, all of the information can be a swipe and a tap away.
So we put all of this effort in to obtaining and nurturing one of our most valuable assets, our customers. How do we know what is working and what isn’t? A CRM application will provide the insight and analysis to dig in to all of this data. Where should we place more emphasis for methods that are working well? What should we scale back that is not working? Having a CRM application in place will provide the data required to execute well informed decisions and strategies for the future.
9. System Integration Across Software Platforms
Most companies have one system for their communications, another for accounting, another for operations, and so on. This is a major challenge for many businesses looking to consolidate information to one system. A CRM application will typically offer the ability to integrate with those existing systems to share critical information across multiple platforms. Certain systems even offer open source code or an API (application programming interface) for truly maximizing the effectiveness of all of your software applications.
10. Forecasting for the Future
As you research different CRM solutions, you will find that they will often come in a variety of flavors, most commonly Standard, Professional and Enterprise or some variation of the like. So no matter the current size of your company and specific needs that you have, there will be the ability to scale the application accordingly. Whether you are a small startup looking to begin getting a handle on your customers or a large scale enterprise, you can have confidence that most CRM applications will have the capability to grow as your business grows.
There a variety of CRM solutions available on the marketplace and deciding on which one is the right one for you can be overwhelming. My key piece of advice is to do your homework up front. You should have a comprehensive understanding of how your business functions, how it can improve by using technology and where you see your business going in the next 3-5 years. Write it down, think it out and revise it as needed.
This task can even prove to be a challenge for many business owners since there are so many potentially moving parts. If you are having a hard time getting it all tied together and need some guidance there are many solution providers available to get you started on the right foot.
How does your company use CRM software? Do you have any questions about anything you’ve read here? Let us know in the comments section below.
If your company is interested in exploring the possibilities of CRM software, contact Miles Technologies and speak to an custom software expert.