Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is vital to the success of every small and medium sized business. According to data from leading industry sources, 2018 is (again) the Year of the Customer and smart customer relationship management. Consider that . . .
- 91 percent of businesses with more than 11 employees now use CRM. (CRM Magazine)
- 64 percent of companies rate CRM tools as impactful or very impactful. (LinkedIn)
- Effective sales organizations are 81% more likely to be practicing consistent usage of a CRM or other system of record. (Aberdeen Group)
- CRM is expected to become a $40 billion+ industry by the end of 2018. (Gartner)
If your business isn’t utilizing or maximizing the benefits of CRM software, it may be for lack of understanding of its best applications. It’s important to close that knowledge gap, because as you ponder the decision to adopt CRM, your customer data is spreading further across multiple systems and people, making it unmanageable to leverage this information. This is unsustainable, especially when your competition is likely using CRM to great advantage.
Let’s take a look at the most critical CRM functions every SMB should be implementing:
1. Centralized customer data. Your sales and marketing teams, as well as your frontline customer service personnel all require access to up-to-the minute customer data. A CRM system consolidates contact information, customer history, communication history, and purchasing history into one centralized database.
2. Sales and marketing enablement. CRM empowers your sales team to perform at peak efficiency in four ways:
- Provide stronger sales leadership: Intelligent reporting and dashboards enable sales leaders to closely monitor high-level customer trends and opportunities, and make adjustments accordingly. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) provide instant visibility into daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly performance to guide your sales strategies.
- Standardize the sales cycle: Each salesperson follows the same step-by-step process for developing relationships and closing deals. By standardizing the process, best practices can be uniformly implemented and continuously improved. A standardized process takes the guesswork out of identifying opportunities and scheduling calls and visits. It also makes it much easier to train new reps to hit the ground running.
- Accurately predict sales and set revenue goals: CRM provides the tools and methods to reliably forecast sales based on analysis of key metrics. With every member of your sales team using the same methods, your forecasts become more dependable.
- Automate sales and marketing activities: CRM issues timely follow-up alerts, depending on where your customers and prospects are in the sales cycle. The system alerts sales representatives to fresh leads and reminds them when to touch base, and whether to do so with a sales call or personalized email or mailer. The right CRM solution will also enable sales to collaborate with marketing so that marketing campaigns set up sales to advance and close deals. Today’s best-of-breed solutions have mobile access, with smartphone notifications that keep representatives engaged at every critical moment, even from the road.
3. Stronger customer support. Frontline customer support personnel can provide informed, personalize service to your customers with information right at their fingertips. Phone support representatives at their desktops or customer support personnel working in the yard can review purchasing histories and make the right product recommendations. This new level of customer support enhances the customer experience and drives loyalty. It should be noted that this degree of customer support has become the new norm, and businesses that don’t adopt CRM often fail to meet customer expectations.
4. ERP integration. When your CRM solution is a component of your complete ERP solution, you have an end-to-end view of the customer sales cycle and how it relates to every function of your business, including ecommerce. Owners and executives use the consolidated information to understand business strengths and areas for improvement, and to maximize ROI for every investment—from marketing campaigns to product R&D.
Given all that CRM does to benefit businesses and customers, it should come as no surprise to read that “In 2018, CRM software revenue will continue to take the lead of all software markets and be the fastest growing software market,” according to Gartner research. Are you interested in adding CRM to your office products or field service business? If so, check out the benefits you can realize with Acsellerate® software.