Picture the scene.
Your client has just doubled their annual spend with you. You’ve been working with them for some time now; your services suit their needs perfectly – in fact, your business has saved their operation several working hours and has shaved off some overheads, too.
How has this happy scenario come about?
Well, if you have a CRM and you’ve used it effectively, it’s highly possible that you’ve managed that particular relationship extremely well. Imagine having every single piece of information about your client all in one easily accessible place, enabling you to anticipate their needs and, in effect, sell them more of your brilliant products just at the perfect time.
With a CRM, this could be a reality.
As you may have noticed, there’s quite a lot of jargon and a fair number of acronyms in digital marketing, but this is one that could make all the difference to your business.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Simply defined, it’s online technology with which you can manage interactions with customers, prospects, suppliers, colleagues and partners.
What we mean is, every “touchpoint”, be it an email, a phone call, a contact form, or a social media post, enables you to gain a full picture of your engagement with the businesses on your radar or clients in your roster.
No more manual notes in a diary, card systems or unwieldy spreadsheets. Create landing pages and campaign forms, manage projects.
We’re really talking about CRM software here, and there are several providers in the marketplace with web-based systems that range from completely free-of-charge to, shall we say, a considered purchase. There’s not quite enough room to offer a detailed critique of each one here, but at the end of this piece we’ve mentioned a few CRM providers that you may like to use as a starting point for your research.
What are the Benefits of a Customer Relationship Management System?
There are so many, it’s hard to know where to start, but the main clue is in the title: it’s about building and maintaining great relationships with your contacts. It’s very empowering, actually. Knowing that you’re on top of the key stages of a customer lifecycle is a win-win scenario for you both. They’re happy to buy; you’re willing and able to deliver.
A CRM can create trust and loyalty – the ultimate in positive client relationships.
Keen to stay competitive? Here are some powerful pluses of a CRM:
- One Place for Everything
All your contacts are stored in a single, centralised source. There’s no need to trawl separate documentation or emails to find that crucial piece of information. A time saver? Certainly. A quicker, easier overview? Of course.
- Schedule Essential Tasks
You had a good call with a prospect 3 months ago. They’re interested, but budgets are being put together now. As in right now. A CRM will prompt you to call them – well, now. Email marketing? No need to remember to create and send them manually, set them up in a CRM and voila – out they go on the right day at the right time.
Imagine all those important people and tasks that no longer slip through the net.
- Get Better at Communicating
All your communications – whether they’re phone calls, emails or messages can be managed and logged through a CRM. And as we mentioned, you can automate everything.
What Do I Need to Think About When Considering a CRM?
What’s Your Budget?
We’ve done some digging around and the conclusion is fairly obvious: you get what you pay for. The bigger the spend, the more functionality and capacity you will receive. But not everyone needs the all-singing, dancing-on-a-table options. Overkill, maybe. Or maybe not, if you’re planning to grow your business and need something fully scalable.
Consider how many people will be using it, what they will be using it for, what you need it to do, and how much support you could require, which, along with training, could cost extra.
Do You Want it To Integrate with Other Systems?
Some CRMs are super-sophisticated and could save you a lot of time and effort.
Why? Because they can link to other software platforms, such as Office 365, for example, but there could be other considerations, too. Your CRM could integrate with HR or finance software, as well as with web forms and eCommerce platforms, amongst others.
Importantly, you may be upgrading or moving over to a new shiny CRM. Can you migrate the existing contact data without having a major meltdown? Is there an API or help available?
Training and Support
Yes, most CRMs appear easy to use – and many of them are. Log in, and start filling out the sections. But making the most of its functionality, especially if it can be tailored to the needs of your business, will support your marketing strategy extremely well.
Training and support are vital, not least because software updates are constantly added to CRMs, and you’ll want to make the most of them.
How Well Established and Reliable is your CRM Provider?
Your CRM is likely to sit at the core of your operation, so it needs to deliver exactly what you need, when you need it – each and every day.
Use third party review sites such as MarTech Advisor, TrustRadius and Capterra for real-world reviews about the company and the software you’re considering investing in.
Check These Out
We’re not recommending the following solutions (obviously) but they’re all well known, and worth having a look at:
SalesForce – particularly good for detailed sales and service insights
Zendesk – a useful budget choice
Microsoft Dynamics 365 – some handy, customisable features
SugarCRM (Sugar Discover) – best for data visualisation and intelligent reporting
Hubspot – free forever CRM and a large range of additional features on the plans
Zoho – simple to set up with a fairly easy interface
So, there you go. A whistle-stop guide to CRMs, but one that we hope you’ll find useful. Consistency is key here. Data input on a regular basis is going to reap you the most rewards in terms of improved processes and productivity. Information in = value out.
A Customer Relationship Management system could save you time and money – and make you money.
Rachael Dines, Director of Shake It Up Creative