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What is a CRM(Customer Relationship Management Tool)?

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool is software that helps you keep track of all the interactions that you have with your clients and prospective clients. Every meeting, call, email or SMS sent to a prospect can be recorded so that you have a full history of the interactions with the client.

The tools can also include client reactions – like whether or not they opened an email, clicked on a link, or made a purchase. Most software also allows users to add pertinent notes.

You can then analyze this information to understand buying patterns, trends, the success of marketing campaigns, etc. It can be used to track and manage all forms of client or prospect outreach and interaction.

Where the system comes in handy is that you have a snapshot of your history with the client. You will be able to see what their preferences are, their value to the company, etc. from one central record.

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1. Improves Customer Relationships

The primary reason to consider using a CRM tool is that it can help to improve the customer relationship significantly. It is a lot like that old networking trick – when you meet someone, and exchange business cards, write a few details about them on the back.

This helps you to remember things life whether or not they are married, what you talked about, etc. This helps you to develop a real relationship with them as they think that you have remembered all the details about your interaction with them.

Now take that trick, and multiply it to incorporate every single interaction with your client. You can check back on their order history and see that they preferred the red shoes to the black ones. You can see what size they ordered, whether they opened your email, what discount vouchers, they used, etc.

You are collecting information about them all the time that allows you to improve your service to them. It allows you to give them that more personal touch. And, by that, we don’t just mean sending out birthday or holiday greetings. Everyone does that now.

But imagine if you sent them a message congratulating them on their anniversary or the birth of a child? What if you gave them a special “New Grandparent’s discount.”

You could also use the CRM as a tool for following up with them on business matters. Maybe they asked you to call back in a week’s time – the system could diarize that for you. The possibilities of the customer relationship management tool are endless.

2. Makes Your Organization More Efficient

Now let’s move away from the actual customer service aspect. The tool can help to make your organization more efficient in several different ways.

For starters, it prevents a lot of duplication. Say, for example, that you are running a general marketing campaign and your outreach team contacts your clients with a sales offer. But what if your sales staff want to try and rustle up a few extra sales themselves?

In a medium to large organization, it would be easy for the two different departments to run concurrent campaigns. This would be an inefficient duplication of effort, and also a real annoyance for your client.

The tool can also be used to more effectively define prospects that are more likely to be interested in outreach programs. Say, for example, you launch an email campaign with the view to follow up with those interested clients a few days later.

A CRM system could let you know which clients opened the email and even drill down further to which clicked on the link. That enables your campaign to be more efficient as you contact the candidates most likely to be interested first and as early as possible.

But the CRM system does a lot more than just monitor marketing campaigns. Most can be tied into accounting systems as well. This could help your other processes, like accounts receivable, become more efficient as well.

Sales staff could be alerted when a client is late paying their account, for example. The sales staff could then help with debt recovery or at least not allow more sales to go through.

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3. Data Collected Provides Clear Insight

So, you think you know your clients and how they will act. This can lead to assumptions being made and assumptions in business can be a dangerous thing. With a CRM system, you have actual data to draw on. This gives you real insights and enables you to make data-driven decisions.

The regular analysis of the data provided by the system also performs another extremely important function. It allows you to identify trends and act on them timeously. Is there a spike in the sales of a particular product that you could capitalize on?

Is there a downward trend that indicates that there is an issue that needs to be addressed? The sooner you can identify this kind of trend, the easier it will be to take corrective action.

With the insights provided by real data, you can more quickly identify best practices and find ways to replicate the results. By the same token, you will be able to quickly figure out when something is not working well and so not waste time repeating the same mistakes.

Data-driven insights are extremely important in businesses. For example, they can help you to identify the real value of a client to your business and focus on clients with higher value. Is the client that spends the most always the most valuable?

In theory, they should be but what if they always pay their account late? What if you have to hound them for payment every month? While they are spending more, they are also a lot more work. The client who always pays on time, or early, may be of better value in the long run.

The Many CRM's To Choose From

Now you know the benefits of a customer relationship management tool the next step is finding the CRM that fits your company's needs. Here are some of the most popular CRM's, starting with the one we use here at Visibly Connected.

Hubspot

Hubspot is ideal for companies with anywhere from 10-1000 employees. The Hubspot CRM keeps you up to date and in touch with your customers in a way that eliminates the heavy lifting and allows your team to spend their time selling. The best part is that it's free but still quite effective, offering the following features: social media, customized views, company database, drag-and-drop communicator, and website, phone, and email integration.

Salesforce

Salesforce enables you to consolidate and keep track of all client and customer information. Then utilize its main modules such as sales data, marketing automation, lead management, partner management, and contact manager to track these leads and convert them into profitable deals. We found it to be a bit to cumbersome and unlike HubSpot starts at $25 per month.

Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a sales focused customer relationship management tool for teams of all sizes. Pipedrive enables you to organize your leads in a way that gives a clear overview of your sales process so that you can focus on the most important deals. Key features include: sales reporting, timeline view, simple data import and export, contact history, and email integration. Pricing starts at $10 per month.

Zoho

Great for small to large sized business' Zoho provides a complete customer lifecycle management solution for managing organization-wide Sales, Marketing, Customer Support & Service and Inventory Management in a single business system. The basic edition includes sales forecasting, customized dashboards, a document library, marketing campaigns, and the ability to send a mass email. Pricing starts at $12 per month.

Conclusion

A good CRM system can make a real difference to your business. It allows you to improve your customer service – to move from just making the grade to building a real relationship with them. Your company will benefit from increased efficiency and better data insights.

In short, a CRM tool could be your company’s cheat sheet to success. It could be the best investment in your company’s future that you could make. In today’s world, data is the key to survival for businesses. CRM tools make data collection and analysis much simpler and more effective.

They are the ultimate hack when it comes to boosting your business results.

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David Cherry
David Cherry is Co-Owner of Visibly Connected which he started in 2010 because of his passion for small businesses. He loves learning the stories behind each business he works with and helping them reach their full growth potential. His passions are fitness, family, and reading, and during the weekends you usually find him out on the golf course!

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