Why would you implement a CRM system?
There are many different views and opinions out there on what CRM is and what it is intended for. Firstly, its acronym, what does it actually stand for? Customer Relationship Management. It’s all about managing, and keeping control, of a business’ relationships with its customers. In the good old days this was easy – every business generally had personal contact with its customers. In some sectors this remains true however even in traditional businesses the business dynamic has changed. Sales reps no longer stay in the job for a lifetime, and they are now normally a member of a sales team, with a manager above. Andre in the newer style businesses, such as distributors, internet shops, green businesses, etc. where personal contact is non-existant, good information on profiling customer activities and trends is critical to sales growth. So how can CRM be used to help business?
What does a CRM system provide?
A good CRM system will provide various modules which can be enabled/disabled for certain users. You would expect to have modules for managing contacts, a separate area for leads (firms with whom we hope to do business at some point), facilities for generating marketing material (e-mail and letters), support for raising quotations, orders and invoices, and a shared calendar as a minimum. It’s important to be able to track the sales pipeline and allocate everything to an individual user. Some of the newer systems are beginning to include customer service automation as well – trouble ticketing/fault logging, follow ups and basic stock control are important for keeping customers up to date on where things are at.
What about the customer?
As with all facets of business, the customer is always of most importance. Bear in mind that a computer system is just that – it can’t forge a relationship with clients all of its own accord. It is a very useful tool for helping in the process but users must use it and remember that it is not there to do the job for them, but to help. So prior to implementing, it is a good idea to conduct a review of all customer-facing processes in the business. It should then be possible to identify areas for improvement, and how the system features can be used to this end.
So what about Marketing Automation?
This is one of the quickest immediate gains achievable from implementation of a CRM system. As soon as the data is cleansed and loaded, marketing can begin. But to do it right, it’s important that you target market is analysed and segmented. You can then tune the message depending on sector, region, industry, number of employees, emerging trends or a combination of these factors. This gives a subset of the market to target at a micro level.
And the Pipeline?
By defining a number of sales stages it is possible to review on screen or paper the current status of the sales pipeline. This is a huge benefit of CRM – if the data is input correctly then it is easy to identify what’s coming down the line in terms of sales. Each potential sale should be logged as it arises and allocated to a sales stage. As negotiations evolve, the stage is updated, such that the potential value at each stage can be analysed.
What about reports?
Once the system has been running for a short while, reporting can be used to develop trend analysis and get information back from the system. Sales in a particular sector drop on Fridays. Why is that? What can we do – maybe ensure that customers/prospects in that sector are contacted every Thursday. We can also begin to focus on performance of sales reps, teams and customer service.