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CRM stands for customer relationship management or the process of managing interactions with existing and prospective customers during the sales process.
While the term describes a larger strategy for working with customers, the acronym CRM is most often used to describe the category of products that enable effective customer relationship management.
Any strategy or approach that uses data to build, improve and manage customer relationships can fall under ‘CRM.’
Still, the term is most commonly used for CRM software or technology.
Building and maintaining excellent customer relationships are at the core of any good business model.
But staying on top of who your customers are and what their relationship with your business is at any given moment is difficult.
And that’s true across the board—whether you’re a small business with a hundred customers or a large one with hundreds of thousands.
The best way to address the challenge is with the right tool, a good CRM.
Good CRM software gives a better way to manage external relationships.
Any good customer relationship management CRM is built on the principle of better business through overlapping communication and the centralization of tasks and data.
Storing all customer information in one place, contact management, recording service issues, identifying sales opportunities, and managing marketing campaigns — are just a few capabilities that CRM features.
Once a business begins acquiring customers, the need for customer relationship management grows exponentially.
But a CRM system is not limited to only customer relationship management. These tools help companies with sales, marketing campaigns, and service management.
IT also relies on CRM data to develop new, value-added apps.
It’s important to look for a tool that will help you easily see how your channels perform, gain insights into how your audience interacts with your marketing, and use this information to adjust your campaigns.
If your business will last, you need a strategy for the future that’s centered around your customers, and enabled by the right technology.
You have targets for sales, business objectives, and profitability.
Email, spreadsheets, and social media give way as one centralized platform becomes a necessity.
The question most business owners first need to ask is, “Am I ready to invest in a CRM platform?”
If a business has at least 20-50 solid leads and/or customers, it’s time to invest.
But there’s a lot to learn for anyone as yet unfamiliar with the CRM market.
What Does A CRM Do?
Contact management is the core function of any customer information system, including CRM software.
CRM systems start by collecting a customer’s website, email, telephone, and social media data — and more — across multiple sources and channels.
It may also automatically pull in other information, such as recent news about the company’s activity, and it can store personal details, such as a client’s personal preferences, on communications.
So there’s a sense of visibility shared with sales management through the CRM.
As your business grows, a sales CRM can also quickly expand to include more sophisticated features, including:
Team collaboration with colleagues and customers
Customized emails and communications to multiple targeted demographics
Customer insights from social media conversations
Holistic pictures of your business health in real-time
A CRM should help you understand your customers better, and use that information to deliver the best possible customer experience (CX). That’s a goal that’s gotten harder in recent years.
Inside your organization, you need to share information about your customers with multiple teams – like sales, marketing, service, business operations, finance, distribution, and production.
A CRM system can serve as a vital nerve center to track, manage, and analyze the many connections you have with your customer.
Consumers now move between different channels (messaging, email, social media, and phone) to communicate with brands.
From a marketing perspective, this means engaging your prospects with the right message, at the right time, through targeted digital marketing campaigns and journeys.
The buyer’s journey has grown in complexity with more ways to research products and make purchases.
And for businesses selling lots of products to multiple audiences, the difficulties of managing it all are even more notable.
And, of course, CRM tools can’t manage what they can’t see. So if people work leads or deals outside the system, that lowers its effectiveness for the whole team.
Some CRM software is used for data management only.
However, an all-in-one CRM system like HubSpot also offers important features like sales and marketing automation, landing pages, quotes, and invoicing to help entrepreneurs manage their entire businesses more efficiently.
According to a study by McKinsey, personalization offers a huge advantage in winning more business: 76% of consumers say that personalization prompted consideration of a brand, and 78% say that personalized content made them more likely to repurchase.
All of that data in your CRM database can be used to build deeper customer relationships through personalized communications.
A marketing automation tool can make tailored content recommendations on your company’s website based on where your prospective customer is in their journey.
That means a more personalized, relevant experience for the customer while creating less work for your marketing team.
With marketing automation, you can personalize your messages at scale with emails that dynamically pull in info stored in your CRM and emails that are automatically triggered by specific actions.
The goal is to extend relationships with customers and potential customers.
Making phone calls within your CRM platform automatically generates data in real-time, including the date, who made the call, and so much more.
You’ll be able to automatically track old and new customers and schedule follow-ups, with a centralized base for contact information.
Cross-platform functionality makes it a breeze to call from anywhere, makes your business more agile, and saves money on phone bills.
Helping Small Businesses
Finding a CRM tool that meets the needs of your business (even if it’s just the basic criteria outlined above) can start to yield immediate benefits for small business marketers.
Easy-to-use CRM allows SMB organizations to efficiently manage the whole buyer cycle, not overloading employees with unnecessarily complicated functionality.
Moreover, by implementing a highly scalable solution, small businesses will be able to expand CRM capabilities in conjunction with company growth.
Everyone in your company can see how customers have communicated, what they’ve bought, when they last purchased, what they paid, etc.
CRM can help companies of all sizes drive business growth, and it can be especially beneficial to a small business, where teams often need to find ways to do more with less.
SMB businesses that made it to medium-sized organizations need to effectively cope with the increased volume of tasks.
With the emergence of new, complicated corporate processes, medium-sized companies can use CRM solutions to understand all the information and analyze business efficiency.
Collaborative CRMs tend to be geared more toward customer retention and satisfaction than making sales.
Nonetheless, for sales, marketing, and customer support teams, collaborative CRMs answer the old challenge of data silos.
Often the marketing team, sales reps, and customer support agents are all in different departments that feel disconnected.
And for bigger organizations, each of those departments is further separated based on geographic locations, channels they serve, products they focus on, or skill specialties.
With a shared CRM, employees are empowered with the right tools and data to manage customer relationships more effectively across lines of business, and they have visibility into customer interactions from other departments.
Your sales teams out on the road can check data, update it instantly after a meeting, or work from anywhere.
The same information is available to anyone who needs it, from the sales team to the customer service representatives.
The knowledge sales and marketing gains about prospective customers will only have value to the customer experience team if the company finds a way to facilitate the spread of that information.
And the same goes for getting customer support insights back to sales and marketing.
When more departments are connected to a shared system with a single view of customer information, it’s easier to create better customer experiences.
Increase Customer Lifetime Value
CRM software can accelerate crucial business operations, such as marketing, service, and sales activities, to boost customer experience and customer loyalty from initial contact to repeat purchases.
By understanding your customers better, cross-selling and upselling opportunities become clear — giving you the chance to win new business from existing customers.
This helps you to grow lasting, more profitable relationships with your customers. With better visibility, you’ll also be able to keep your customers happy with better service.
Happy customers are likely to become repeat customers, and repeat customers spend more — up to 300% more, according to RJMetrics.
Customers won’t have to repeat their stories over and over to you, and you’ll be able to address issues with best practices and less effort for improved customer loyalty.
Operational CRM systems typically provide automation features.
Marketing automation, sales automation, and service automation offload some of the work your employees would otherwise have to handle.
Sales CRM software streamlines the entire sales process with improved visibility, prioritization, and follow-up. Greater Visibility
Sales automation features can simplify the lead management process by automating the lead scoring process, so it’s easier to identify which potential customers to prioritize.
That opens up their schedule for the more creative and personal aspects of their jobs—the stuff that needs a human touch.
Companies ensure CRMs are more integrated with additional technology we use today like Gmail, marketing software, sales management tools, sales pipeline management services, relationship management, sales force automation, and sales CRM.
Listening to customers and users is also essential in this relationship: it is necessary to react quickly to the demands of all types of users.
Moreover, acquiring a new customer requires more effort than building the loyalty of an existing customer. It is also more expensive.
Ideally, a mobile CRM platform will allow you to access most of the information that the web app provides. It will also allow you to input new data on-the-fly.
For sales reps, having the ability to quickly take calls from customers and leads out-of-office— aided by in-app contact history and product information—is huge.
A CRM tool connected to all channels meets this objective.
The best CRM software shows – at a glance – how hot or cold a lead is with lead scoring.
Based on the rules you set, points are added to a lead record for important actions your lead takes (like submitting a form or clicking a link), so your sales team can identify the hottest leads to focus on.
Lead scoring is next to impossible without a CRM.
Who Uses A CRM System?
CRM systems got their start as tools for sales and marketing, but customer service teams see big benefits from a CRM platform. Customers may start by sending your brand a Tweet.
Later, they may switch to email or phone to resolve an issue in private. They have multiple channels to choose from when looking to interact with your brand.
A CRM platform helps service teams manage customer requests from all channels without missing a beat.
A CRM tool lets you store customer and prospect contact information, identify sales opportunities, record service issues, and manage marketing campaigns, all in one central location — and make information about every customer interaction available to anyone at your company who might need it.
CRM solutions include functionalities that allow users to track customer and company interactions through various available channels.
These channels include contact forms, emails, phone calls, and more.
There are many types of good CRM out there, and no one-size-fits-all/right CRM option.
However, there is a CRM technology tailored for every company’s unique business strategy.
The Downfalls of CRMs
CRMs aren’t designed to help with backend operations like production, warehousing, shipping, engineering, or finance. And, of course, CRM tools can’t manage what they can’t see.
So if people work leads or deals outside the system, that lowers its effectiveness for the whole team. Some CRM software is used for data management only.
How Do CRMs Impact Customer Relationships?
For growing businesses of all sizes, a CRM system can securely put your data in the cloud, making it up-to-date and accessible in real-time to every team across any device.
A cloud-based CRM solution offers the possibility of centralizing all documents and making them available to employees 24/7.
Cloud-based CRM systems mean every user is working from the same automatically-synced information – no more data gaps, and everyone is up to speed.
It can free your time to focus on developing products and delighting customers.
With a professional CRM in place, finding new customers, winning their trust, providing qualified support, and providing additional services throughout the relationship becomes much easier.
Creating campaigns based on your existing audience knowledge makes it easy to find the people most likely to love what you have to offer.
You can be smarter about targeting your campaigns, getting the most out of your budget, and increasing your sales productivity.
Read here on why Kennected switched its CRM systems to HubSpot.
Does A CRM Evolve With Changing Times?
In 2008, cloud-based CRM software was used by 12% of businesses. Now, 87% of companies use a cloud-based CRM.
CRM tools can now be used to manage customer relationships across the entire customer lifecycle, spanning marketing, sales, digital commerce, and customer service interactions.
Over time, you will find new ways to use your audience reports and automate CRM processes, so it’s crucial to find a tool that allows you to add this functionality as you’re ready for it.
But keep in mind that if there are CRM processes you’ll never need, you don’t want to be paying for (and working around) unnecessary complexity.
Though CRM systems have traditionally been used as sales and marketing tools, customer service and support are a rising CRM segment and a critical piece in managing a holistic customer relationship.
Marketing CRM in marketing is often game-changing, as it offers powerful insights, personalization, and testing opportunities that ultimately lead to increased sales.
Today’s customer might raise an issue in one channel — say, Twitter — and then switch to email or telephone to resolve it privately.
HubSpot is a big-name app with a free option with basic features suitable for small businesses looking for limited CRM functionality.
The free version of HubSpot has some pretty robust inbound marketing tools. Features for managing workflows beef up your project management.
It’s also easy to assign and track leads, monitor the sales process, and record customer interactions.
The paid versions of HubSpot are not exactly cheap, but they do add key features like reporting, AI assistance, and advanced automation.
Depending on what you want your CRM suite to focus on, there are separate packages for Marketing, Sales, and Service at $50 a month each.
The all-inclusive Growth Suite starts at $113 a month.
CRM software is compatible with professional emailing (and SMS) software such as Mailchimp, and marketing automation software such as Sharpspring.
An e-commerce marketer might connect their site using an e-commerce integration to sync existing customer, purchase, and store data into Mailchimp.
They could set up a pop-up form to collect information from prospects who visit their site, build a landing page to advertise a sale or promotion, and create a process to import data they collect offline.
Mailchimp offers many tools and strategies that fall into building and managing customer relationships as a marketer.
Zendesk has long been known for its sales, service, and support, but its new Zendesk Sunshine CRM platform takes customer engagement into a more front-line holistic approach.
Launched in 2007, the open and flexible platform operates on the principle that customer data can power all aspects of a business operation, including marketing.
Real-Time Customer Data
Real-time sentiment analysis generates a customer satisfaction score while in conversation.
Real-time coaching floats in the background with automated feedback for the sales agent, including pricing, features, and competitor offering information.
What Is Business Process Management?
BPM, an acronym for business process management, is an approach that focuses on optimizing business operations to boost organizational efficiency and achieve business goals.
At its core, BPM involves a combination of modeling, automation, execution, control, measurement, and optimization of business activity.
What You Need To Know About Customer Relationship Management
A CRM replaces many spreadsheets, databases, and apps that many businesses patch together to track client data.
The result: organization, efficiency, better time management, and impressed clients.
Remember that you likely won’t build a complex CRM strategy overnight.
Find a tool that will allow for a simplified approach to adjust your strategy and add complexity gradually as you learn.
Client management platforms like CRMs connect all the data from your sales leads and customers, all in one place.
The net benefit is customer acquisition, customer retention, and better data management.
A CRM consolidates all communications (form fills, calls, emails, text messages, and meetings), documents, quotes, purchases, and tasks associated with each lead and client.
The best part about a CRM system is that almost any organizational unit can benefit from it — from sales and customer service to recruiting, marketing, and business development.
To help sales teams make personalized lead outreach more efficient, we launched a revolutionary sales engagement automation tool from Kennected.
Reach new customers, send behavior‑based campaigns, and increase engagement with Cloud Kennect.
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