CRM software is an essential platform for any organisation that seeks to maximise sales volume and provide excellent customer service while saving time and money.
In today’s competitive marketplace, Customer Relationship Management software is no longer an option. Instead, it has become an essential part of growing a business and maximising revenue. By using the right CRM tools that are appropriately integrated within CRM software, any organisation can create and maintain a highly professional image.
What is CRM software?
CRM software is a productivity platform that helps organisations of all sizes maximise the return on marketing and promotion, capitalise on prospects and sales leads, and improve customer retention and satisfaction by effectively cultivating ongoing relationships. CRM software provides a way to fully integrate customer records, sales leads, marketing tasks, inventory, customer service, order and procurement, and other essentials associated with daily business operations into one platform.
Once a CRM solution is implemented, it acts as a centralised location where all employees across an organisation can communicate and access the same information and data. There are many different types of CRM software that enable your organisation to accomplish many different tasks.
This means that anything that falls under the category of Customer Relationship Management can be accomplished with CRM software. Additionally, most of the CRM software platforms can be customised to meet individual business requirements with many tasks that can be automated to help streamline processes and help employees focus on critical business initiatives.
Who would use CRM software?
Organisations of all sizes use Customer Relationship Management software to streamline a variety of CRM processes and coordinate employees across multiple departments. In the past, CRM software platforms were basically out of reach for smaller organisations due to the excessive cost of implementation and maintenance of the infrastructure. Only large corporations with sizable technology budgets could afford to implement the infrastructure and then train employees to use the software.
In recent years and with the increased use of cloud computing, CRM software has become rather inexpensive to access. This has significantly leveled the playing field for organisations of all sizes, including small businesses. In addition to being cost effective, modern CRM software is offered in a broad range of platforms with cutting edge CRM tools which streamline CRM processes that can otherwise tedious and time consuming. CRM software can also be customised to meet the needs of each individual business and at a fraction of the cost of deploying an in-house infrastructure.
CRM software is also relatively easy to configure with very little training required for the end users. This is one of the reasons why CRM software has become widely used by businesses of all sizes. So, in terms of who would use CRM software, any business of any size can use CRM software as well as salesforce teams, industry-specific organisations, and more.
Why would you use it?
Many organisations overlook two key elements that are primary contributors to business growth which is customer acquisition and retention and the long term value of ongoing relationships with existing customers. For many small businesses, the cost of locating sales leads and acquiring new customers can be quite excessive since it requires you to convince potential clients that you can offer them what they need and do it better than your competitors.
- Customer Acquisition: To recruit and retain new customers typically requires increased spending on marketing and promotion, branding, advertising, and employing a staff of seasoned sales professionals. Additionally, the time investment can be overwhelming since it usually takes multiple contacts before the customer eventually makes a purchase from you.
- Existing Customers: In terms of your existing customers, they have already made a purchase from you and are far more likely to make a future purchase than a potential customer that is unfamiliar with your products or services. For this reason, customer satisfaction is of utmost importance, regardless if it is an existing customer or new sales lead that just converted to a customer.
The key to improving customer satisfaction is by having a solid plan and sales funnel system that gets results. CRM software helps organisations to reach these goals by providing tools that help to successfully manage customer relationships. The tools provide an easier way to make each customer feel valued by providing them with a personalised experience. This encourages customer loyalty and value to your business over the long term.
- Automation: Another reason many businesses have opted to use CRM software is the automated processes make it a lot easier to manage customer inquiries, contacts, orders, customer service requests, and other tasks associated with providing great customer service. The increased efficiency that CRM software provides reduces the costs related to effectively handling customer service functions.
- Improving Efficiency in the Sales Pipeline: In addition to facilitating improved customer service, CRM software is an effective tool for handling new sales leads from the initial point of contact right through to the very first sales order. By automating the funneling process of new leads through the sales pipeline, Customer Relationship Management software streamlines the acquisition of new accounts and ensures that more sales leads make their way through to the first purchase. Automation allows tasks such as email, callbacks, follow ups, and new mailings to be scheduled with a lower risk of human error.
- Highly Targeted Marketing: Customer data such as order history, purchase preferences, inquiries, and other data that has been collected is automatically captured and entered into the CRM system. This improves the process of planning future marketing campaigns and providing personalised customer support and service.
Who is it suitable for?
CRM software is suitable for sales teams and just about any industry sector that offers products or services and manages a customer base. This includes retail, food service, marketing, publishing, advertising, and many other industry sectors. CRM software is for any organisation that wants to improve efficiency and customer retention while streamlining back office tasks such as billing, invoices, project management tasks, and other responsibilities associated with handling customer service.
CRM combines the top features of Sales Force Automation and Customer Relationship Management into one platform that offers an easy-to-use system. Whenever a sales lead is identified, the CRM system will automatically track all events associated with the lead. The software keeps sales teams up to date with tasks that must be accomplished in order to follow up with the new lead.
CRM software also offers an intuitive reporting system which generates customised reports that are immediately available to sales team members for accurate sales and marketing intelligence. This information ensures informed decision making and helps sales professionals to create highly targeted marketing campaigns.
With high quality CRM software, the company employees can accomplish much more than simply accessing customer contact information. CRM software is capable of showing highly detailed sales trends using the data that is entered into the CRM system. This provides a way for companies in many industry sectors to become more competitive by making sure they are targeting the appropriate market for their product or service.
When it comes to using CRM software for sales teams, every team member is typically assigned a specified number of sales leads. Depending upon the system, this can become quite overwhelming making it difficult to remember tasks associated with follow up, leading the prospect through the sales funnel process, and keeping up with the daily process of managing sales leads.
When a sales team uses CRM software, these tasks become easier and more efficient since each module of the software integrates with one another. For example, follow ups and appointments are organised into a calendar with assigned tasks for each sales team member clearly visible across departments. Other information that is entered into the system is automatically updated in the appropriate modules and areas that keep a sales team on task.
How can CRM be implemented?
The method you use for CRM implementation may vary depending on your industry and specific business requirements. The first step is to assess your needs and then decide what type of CRM software would best serve your business. It is wise to invest time in research and comparison of different CRM platforms since you will be using the software over the long term and depending on it to improve sales and customer service.
You should also consider whether or not you can implement CRM software on your own or if you should enlist the help of a knowledgeable consultant or CRM software company. Many of the CRM software providers have staff on board that will help you choose a customised solution and ensure seamless implementation.
There are several different ways to implement CRM software.
If you are fortunate enough to have the infrastructure and the support staff to configure an in-house CRM platform, this can be done with the assistance of IT professionals with knowledge of CRM applications. In this case, CRM software can be integrated with an existing infrastructure including the necessary customisations that meet the individual requirements for your business. It also means you must have the IT staff necessary to maintain and update the software including security patches, hardware maintenance and repair, and ongoing tech support.
With cloud security getting better each year, more small businesses are embracing the use of cloud solutions to reduce costs while increasing efficiency. There are CRM software platforms that can be accessed via a cloud solutions provider. The software is subscription based and generally priced per user.
A Cloud-based CRM platform can be customised to meet industry-specific requirements, as well as specific goals and objectives for working with new sales leads and customer retention. The cloud services provider updates and maintains the software while you focus on building sales. The software is accessed by logging into your account using any web browser and an Internet connection.
Many CRM software providers offer mobile editions to accommodate a workforce that is constantly on the move. Mobile editions of CRM software can be accessed from any type of mobile device including smartphones, tablet PCs, laptops, and hybrid devices. The main purpose of mobile CRM is the capability to access Customer Relationship Management tools from anywhere and at any time. It also encourages worker productivity by providing employees with flexibility and the opportunity to work from anywhere.
Virtualised CRM allows an organisation to maintain a portion of the infrastructure on the premises with integrated solutions provided by a cloud services provider. With a virtualised configuration, CRM becomes scalable and enables your business to scale up or down as your business needs change. Additionally, it provides an easy way to maintain a CRM platform and infrastructure from one console that is managed from a centralised location.
All of the above methods of implementation are scalable and flexible when it comes to changing business requirements. However, the in-house setup is the most complex and costly when it comes to scaling up or down as business needs change.
What are some of the main features of CRM software?
When it comes to CRM software customisation, the sky is the limit when choosing tools to automate tasks, capture sales leads, and improve CRM workflow. Here are a few of the most common features of CRM software:
- Sales Team Automation: Instead of generating more work for your sales team, you can streamline processes with automated tools capable of capturing leads from your company website and improving workflow processes such as assigning leads and streamlining sales processes. CRM software offers intuitive tools such as flow charts and reporting systems that allow you to accurately forecast sales numbers, identify and follow up with inactive leads, link data from sales tracking tools to set sales targets, and access an accurate read on all sales lead processes.
- Organise Customer Data: All customer data is automatically organised which allows employees to easily view detailed information, previous customer conversations, email messages, customer inquiries, billing and invoices, and email marketing promotions that are part of the sales pipeline.
- Marketing Campaigns: CRM software provides advanced tools that help you set up personalized marketing campaigns with offers that are tailored to specific customer preferences and interests. Tools such as mail merge, document libraries, templates, and other applications can be used to create highly targeted and professional marketing campaigns.
- Social Media: The most recent CRM software platforms allow you to easily integrate Social CRM into the mix by linking customer social media profiles with your CRM platform. The social tools allow you to connect with potential sales leads and existing customers without having to leave the CRM software platform. Access to customer profiles allow you to provide personalised service and support, stay up to date on customer feedback, discover new leads, monitor competitor activity, and more.
- Analytics: The reporting tools can be customised to provide an accurate snapshot of key performance metrics, sales pipeline strategies, patterns and trends in marketing and sales, and just about any other type of data you would like to use for accurate analysis. Many of the reports can be generated in 2D and 3D and can be configured to allow you to view the exact information you want to see.
- Workflow: Workflow processes are easier with CRM software because the workflow tools provide a way for you to set rules for getting things done, accelerating follow ups, personalising alerts, setting time-based actions, and customizing specific functions to streamline workflow processes.
- Inventory Management: Some types of CRM software provide a way to accurately manage inventory which helps to streamline procurement and fulfillment. Inventory management tools can help you effectively manage your current stock by easily integrating with order fulfillment and the stock you have available in the warehouse. Depending upon the manner in which the platform is set up, you can oversee all order processes including sales, purchasing, invoicing, billing, shipping, and other processes which help to ensure stock is always available for customer fulfillment.
- Website Integration: With most CRM platforms (our SharePoint-based CRM being a prime example) you can integrate website functions into the software such as creating website forms, surveys, opt-ins, and other applications that help you capture new sales leads and customer data. In most cases, you never have to learn HTML code and the form data from your website is automatically entered into the CRM software.
Depending upon the CRM software you choose, many of the platforms also offer a selection of add-ons that integrate with the software. Some examples of add-ons might include plugins for applications you currently use such as Microsoft Outlook and Office, Google Apps, PhoneBridge, QuickBooks, Evernote, ClickDesk, and many more.
The bottom line is if you are not currently using CRM software for your small business, now is the time to think about implementing a system to reduce costs and increase productivity. With the right CRM system, you can significantly reduce workload and costs while gaining more time to focus on growing your business.
Article produced by Our CRM. Empowering UK business with the original CRM application for Microsoft SharePoint. Request a callback to find out more about how CRM can improve your business.