Your business continues to grow and your client base expands. That’s what you want from your business, right? Yet sometimes it’s a mad scramble to keep pace with the growth.
There may be those of you who blankly stare when asked to identify where your growth will come from, what activities were successful in the past, or where you should focus your future efforts. Perhaps your customers aren’t feeling “the love” they once did and maybe, just maybe, your client record keeping is just a teensy bit behind.
Is any of this sounding even the least bit familiar?
If it is, you may well be in need of some help in the form of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
What exactly is CRM software?
Besides being a client relationship, record keeping and business lifesaver at times, it’s more commonly defined as,
“A system for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It often involves using technology to organise, automate and synchronise sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support.” [Wikipedia]
CRM software is part client database, part contact management system and part customer and marketing information system. CRM Software can be the one system or tool that actually brings management, sales and marketing together on the same page, even if that’s all YOU!
How will I know whether or not my business needs CRM software?
That’s a great question. To answer it, here are a few questions for you to consider:
- Do you currently maintain a convenient and easily accessible master file that contains details all of your customer interactions – letters, emails, phone calls, sales data, returns, information requests, complaints, referrals, etc.?
- Do you have an accurate and up to date at a glance view of your sales pipeline? Can you predict with any accuracy the anticipated sales for the next month, the next quarter or the next year? By sales person? By region?
- Do you know how many sales you’ve lost recently? To which competitor you lost them? Can you identify at what stage of the selling process, where in the funnel the sales get lost and why?
- Do your sales people have access to current and accurate product, pricing, campaign, customer sales and communication history while in the field? And is there just one source of this information or are there iterations in circulation?
- Can you identify your best customers and how long they’ve been with you, what they’ve purchased, when, who they have referred, what customer service issues they have experienced, how well they have been serviced and what testimonials they have provided along the way?
- Can you identify and replicate your most successful marketing initiatives? Campaigns? Launches? Events? Programs?
If you answered “no” to any (or all) of these questions, then it’s time to put “Further investigate CRM software” on your priority to do list. The benefits that properly usedCRM software may deliver to even the smallest of businesses might just surprise you.
Not quite convinced It’s right for your small business?
CRM software may be right for your organisation if:
- You have a dedicated sales team that is responsible for servicing existing business and/or acquiring new business
- Keeping a recorded history of conversations, communications documents, and other customer information in an easily accessible single repository important (Or at least, useful)
- There are multiple independent databases (even if that’s your mobile phone’s contact list) of customer information currently operating that you want to condense or integrate into a single source
- There are any benefits for sales staff (or other employees) in being able to remotely access customer information from a mobile device
CRM software can offer small business a full rage of benefits!
CRM software has evolved over the past few years. It’s no longer simply a database, but has grown into a commanding sales and marketing device that carries many benefits.
- Visible Information – Information is searchable and easily found and organise in a consistent format.
- File and Data Storage – it provides you with a central place to store customer, sales, marketing and communication files making it easier to access and link to reporting, proposals, invoices, projects and more. You can store customer, prospect and contact data securely specific fields and in its raw form that can later be accessed for customised reporting and analysis if required.
- Trackable Information – You can track information whether it’s a marketing campaign, membership in an association, sponsorship or advertising, you can track and link sales activity to determine which efforts are generating which results – an invaluable tool for maximizing your ROI on marketing expenditures.
- Dashboards – CRM software provides a comprehensive dashboard of sales, marketing, communication and customer service activity that can be used to manage, resource, plan and assess sales and marketing activities.
- Task Management – Increased productivity from your sales team can be realised with CRM software through the use of proactive sales funnel activity planning and scheduling of reminders, campaigns, alerts customer calls, visits, events, and invoicing,
- Lifetime Customer View – when every interaction, from prospecting to sale to service and beyond are documented, you have a much clearer and more complete view of the customer journey, their needs and your relationship, giving you a more strategic rather than transactional perspective. And all the information required for dealing with service and billing enquiries is easily accessible, assisting in your service responsiveness.
- Revenue Forecasting – With a fully documented sales activity funnel you have increased visibility to the number, size and resource requirements of what’s in your prospect pipeline so you can forecast, plan and deliver with greater accuracy.
- Mobility – With cloud based CRM software, your sales team has access to its troves of information wherever they are.
These benefits, working together, are a potent fuel. So if powering business growth is on your agenda, CRM software should be too.
Watch for Part II to this discussion of CRM software, “Trends in CRM Software and What They Mean for Your Business”.