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Customer relationship management (CRM) software allows you to maximize the potential of hard-won customer relationships. CRM software presents an integrated view of your customers and prospects so you can get the most out of your marketing, sales, and customer service efforts. This guide provides a practical how-to for selecting the right CRM program to better manage your customer database and improve sales effectiveness.
CRM software is a broad application category providing functionality to manage business-customer relationships. CRM program provide features designed for supporting sales, marketing, and service activities.
Benefits of using effective sales CRM software include:
|Contact management||Contact management features provide the ability to capture, record, and classify event data related to customer interaction (such as calls, emails, website visits, social interaction, purchases, visits, etc)|
|Email integration||Email integration features enable the automated capture of emails to sales contacts with corresponding customer records enabling better visibility to customer activity and communication|
|Opportunity/lead tracking||Lead management capabilities support registering and detailing sales prospecting information, such as lead source and sales assignment|
|Follow-up scheduling||Manual and automated options for scheduling follow up help improve the reliability of ensuring proper customer follow-up occurs|
|Customer order history||Automatically capturing customer purchases (often via integration with applications such as invoicing and AR) helps complete the information about customer interaction|
|Cross-selling||Cross-selling and upselling suggestions utilize pre-defined associations between products to alert sales staff to additional items or services customers may be interested in|
|Call center integration||Phone-system integration allows for the CRM application to automatically identify when customers have been called and associate call data with customer records|
|Issue ticketing||Issue ticketing systems provide work order management tools that coordinate the registration and resolution of customer service issues|
|Quote creation||Quote creation capabilities allow for the origination of documents describing offered costs and terms for product and service purchases|
|Invoice creation||Invoices provide customer-facing documentation describing order details and payment responsibilities to clients|
|Marketing campaign management||Marketing campaign management tools organize and track marketing efforts allowing for demographic and promotional sales targeting|
|Marketing email/template management||The ability to create, store, and edit marketing templates provides increased efficiency and more consistent use of best practice communications techniques for maximizing marketing effectiveness|
|Call scripts||Call scripts can help less ensure adherence to communication best practices and help salespeople overcome objections and improve customer engagement|
|Customer milestone notifications and triggers||Tracking milestones in customer engagement (such as initial engagement, meetings, or quote provisioning) yields improved sales forecasting and can be used to suggest appropriate follow-up actions|
Using integrated CRM software allows your business to promote the visibility of key customer information and increase collaboration. By doing so you're better able to prospect new customers, market to existing accounts, resolve service issues, and improve customer satisfaction.
When it comes to customer relationship management, it's not a question of "if" it will be done. All businesses store contact information and manage customer relationships in one manner or another. The question is really whether or not your business will use an integrated CRM software tool to promote consistency and help improve customer satisfaction.
Many times, businesses have a tremendous amount of customer data, but it is locked away in different areas and not easy to access. For instance, individual employees may keep customer contact lists in Outlook files, accounts receivable will hold information in a master customer list, marketing will generate their own records, and sales staff will work off of self-produced call lists. The end-result is inefficient contact efforts and an inability to ensure consistency in customer interaction.
CRM gives you the ability to track buying patterns, which can help you spot any potential problems with your customer relationships before it's too late. It's so much more cost effective to retain your current customers, especially when you take into account all the additional marketing costs it takes to establish new relationships. CRM applications also allow your sales staff to easily up-sell or cross-sell your products, which can increase your revenue totals and help your business to succeed.
You can also improve your business performance by pulling information from finance, sales, marketing, and customer service into a central database. Having all your customer data in one place allows you to enhance your sales forecasting, maintain long-term customers, and strengthen your financial control.