CRM

While “CRM” is often used as a technical term for a system that manages lead data, at its core, it’s all about business relationships. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM systems act as databases that house all of your customer records so you can manage your relationships with customers and leads and ensure they’re getting the attention they need.

Does My Business Need a CRM?

Before we get into all the goodies CRM systems have, let’s discuss the ways your business currently handles sales leads. We’re guessing it’s a spreadsheet, right? Or perhaps you rely on an email service provider, like Outlook? Please don’t tell us you’re still using a rolodex! If your system just isn’t working for you anymore, a CRM is likely just what you need. Here are a few ways a CRM can help your business:

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Everyone on Your Team Will Have Access to the Same Records

If you’re passing spreadsheets around or relying on everyone to keep their own records, the truth can get lost quickly. A CRM system allows multiple team members to access the same database of customer information at any time, with varying access levels. Plus, having everyone in the same system minimizes the likelihood of a lead connecting with multiple salespeople at your company.

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You'll Know Exactly Where Your Customers Have Been

CRMs have the ability to keep track of far more than contact information. Most CRMs also record the following info:

  • Demographic Information
  • Email, Phone, Online Chat, and In-Store Interactions
  • Purchase History
  • Customer Attributes
  • Website Visits
  • Status History

The more information you have on a customer’s journey, the better you can understand how to market to them.

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You'll Have Room to Grow

You might think your business is doing just fine without a CRM, but what happens when your customer base grows? We wouldn’t want more customers to actually halt your busines. A CRM system will allow you to feel confident that you can handle as many customer records as you can acquire.

What Else Can CRMs Do?

CRMs are much more than contact managers. They can automate your business process, determine lead quality, create segmented lists, generate reports, provide customer support, and integrate with your other favorite business tools.

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Business Process Automation

A good CRM will increase efficiency in your work flow and keep everyone on track. Easily monitor processes like document approval and collaborative projects so you’re always aware of a project’s status.

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Lead Qualification

Using a combination of demographics, behavior tracking, and contact history, CRMs can help you determine which leads are ready to talk to sales and which leads could benefit from nurturing. Understanding the difference between sales qualified and marketing qualified will save you both time and money.

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List Segmentation

Segment leads by location, age, industry, number of website visits—you name it. Generate a list of all the leads in a certain geographic location to assign to the respective salesperson. Send hyper-personalized emails to all of your leads in a certain industry. Segmentation is a powerful tool that allows you to personalize your marketing and sales efforts, even with a large list of leads.

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Reporting & Analysis

Generate customized reports and graphs right in your CRM. Include custom fields so you can see the stats you need to help you make informed decisions on your campaigns.

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Customer Support

Manage multichannel customer support through your CRM. Handle customer requests quickly, no matter where they come from—phone, email, online chat, social network, or customer portal.

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Integrations

CRMs integrate with tools like email clients, marketing automation platforms, chat applications, call centers, web analytics, social media management tools, ERPs, collaboration software, and other 3rd party integrations.

How Do I Find the Right CRM?

There are many different CRMs out there that specialize in different areas. Some have flashy UIs and specific features that set them apart. However, it’s best to figure out what features your business needs before hunting for CRMs and becoming distracted by the details. If you’re ready to purchase a CRM, start the process with these tips:

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Determine What You Want to Accomplish with a CRM

Define your vision, and the strategy and objectives you want to accomplish. A CRM should enhance your strategy. Don’t assume it will solve all your problems and take over your business strategy for you. It’s a tool to help you reach your goals, but you have to provide the brain power.

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Collaborate with Your Entire Team

A CRM is not just for the sales team. The marketing and customer service teams should be involved, too. Make sure everyone who can benefit from the CRM is a part of the strategizing, so they can get their essential criteria on to your list. Of course, you can’t always make everyone happy, but listening to everyone’s concerns will at least make them feel heard.

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Do Your Research

Read reviews from technology industry leaders, like Gartner and Forrester, but also look for experiences from end users. Crowdsourced sites like G2 Crowd let you hear from real people, so you can get a perspective from users like you.

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Get a Customized Demo

If a CRM vendor allows a trial period, take it, but do your research first. Don’t demo any and all CRM vendors you come across; that’s a waste of time. Find a CRM you are genuinely interested in and request a customized demo. Be sure to ask questions regarding specifics of your situation to really get a feel for how their system will handle your workflow. A CRM is a big purchasing decision, and you don’t want to change your mind after completing the integration.

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Find the Right Integrator

Companies sell CRM systems along with their integrator services to ensure you have all the resources you need to understand your new system. Integrators have been certified as experts of the CRM system and are available to train you in the CRM’s features. The advantage of having an integrator is that you have a smaller team of experts to consult, rather than reaching out directly to the CRM vendor’s customer service group. Plus, integrators often offer much more than just the CRM system and can help you in other areas of your business.

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