customer relationship management

CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM)

Sales and marketing were changed forever when salesforce hit the market. Since the advent of office computerization, marketing has been wanting to mine the information in the company database to learn how to do a better job of marketing, sales used the data to set goals and quotas, and customer service appreciated the ease of entering orders and following them through to an invoice.

Salesforce, the first mass-market Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, brought everything together in an easy-to-use management system.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Apps Offer Huge ROI Assuming Serious Hard Work to
Set Up and Implement

Introduction to CRM

Sales and marketing were changed forever when Salesforce hit the market.

Since the advent of office computerization, marketing has been wanting to mine the information in the company database to learn how to do a better job of marketing. Sales needed the data to set goals and quotas, and customer service wanted the ease of entering orders and following them through to an invoice.


Salesforce, the first mass-market Customer Relationship Management tool, brought everything together in an easy-to-use management system. 

What can CRM do for your company?

Now marketing could use the data to send out personalized emails, snail mail, or texts to selected prospects or clients. Information about sales patterns could be deconstructed into tiny segments in the search for ways to improve products, services, packaging by region or industry. 

Sales could follow a lead through a sales funnel. Certain decisions would create automatic responses or tasks for sales to perform. The lead might become a prospect, or it might be determined to send them to the bone pile. 

Once the lead became a prospect, new automated tasks or responses reduce the boring aspects of following up. The CRM can even tell the sales department that they should call on the prospect on a certain day.

Finally, of course, the prospect might become a customer, and this resulted in new automated responses and tasks to be performed. When to send emails or make phone calls to follow up the initial sale, a total history of the relationship at your fingertips, additional prompts to send upgrade offers. All customizable to your industry, company, strategic interests, and changing product and service offerings.
 

What are the hurdles to CRM?

The promise of CRM had two primary difficulties. Salesforce was seen as expensive, especially for smaller companies. Almost all CRM platforms required a lot of training, and sales types are not the easiest group of humans to train. So many CRM systems were installed and fell into disuse. 

Happily, clever companies are creating CRM systems that even salespeople are willing to learn how to use, and the cost of many systems starts out as free and are rarely “expensive.” 

A well-managed CRM is now a competitive advantage for companies with 100 or more customers. A CRM can certainly be useful even if you have only 10 customers, but the larger the customer, prospect, and lead database, the more important a CRM becomes.
 

Should my company invest in CRM software, setup, training, and implementation?

CRM is an advanced computer system that will only give you a good ROI if you are willing and able to provide the time, energy, and emotional capital necessary to get it up and running. Time honored admonitions about computer software apply to CRM:

  • Garbage in; garbage out. In order to get good results, your company needs to be sophisticated and disciplined enough to create the right customization, then provide all the relevant data every single day.

  • Having a solid hand system is a prerequisite to executing new automation. If your current approach to customer and prospect relations is seat-of-the-pants, you are not ready for CRM. If you have some level of planning, reporting, and analysis going on using your billing system or spreadsheets, you have a better chance of success.

  • Start small. Don’t try to do 100% automation all at once. Possibly you will want to start with managing prospects from lead to conversion. Or you might want to start with better systematic upgrade selling of your current customers. CRM has many options with powerful results. Take it slow. Concentrate on what will give you the best results with the least complications. Get some wins. 
     

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What advantages are there to CRM for
small businesses?

The more automated any system becomes, the more precise the execution. According to Hubspot.com these are the 12 big benefits of CRM:

  • Maintain a centralized database across your sales org

  • Manage all communication and interactions with prospects

  • Automate data entry

  • Be reminded to follow up with prospects

  • Organize contact data

  • Segment customers

  • Create sales reports

  • Automate forecasting for your sales performance

  • Scale your sales processes over time

  • Ensure team communication is facilitated

  • Keep the same software as your company grows

  • Make administrative tasks efficient

I would add that it helps organize the job of sales professionals and customer service reps. Salespeople are notoriously disorganized (generalization), and often don’t have clarity as to what to do next. CRM helps them to organize their day and gives them a systematic process to bring in new business and increase business with existing clients. 

Customer service reps commonly feel that the communication between salespeople and CS is poor to non-existent. CRM goes a long way to coordinating these two departments. 
 

How can CRM help you get new customers? 

Where do you get your leads today: Advertising, social media, YouTube, website forms, lead generation offers, networking, industry partners, trade shows, cold calls, email blasts, customer referrals?

What happens to a lead after you acquire that lead? What if I told you that I’ve seen companies spend $10,000 or much more on a trade show, collect 100’s leads, then do almost no follow-up at all? Would you believe it if I told you that many companies have no tracking of their advertising results and don’t mine their social media responses? 

When properly implemented, everyone adds leads from any source into the CRM. The automation takes over and each lead receives an email/text/sample and/or a prompt to a salesperson or customer service rep to call on a specific day. 

Can you see how such a system would be worth the cost if it only got one more good customer out of a trade show or ad campaign because there was a follow-up? 

But the CRM doesn’t stop there. A second email, then a third, maybe a fourth. More text messages. More prompts to sales to follow up. Once sales follow up, they can then start the prospect down a more specific sales path, which is also automated, to provide a more customized approach to that client. Depending on how you set up the outgoing effort, the prospect might be receiving material from you for years, even if they never respond. As you can imagine, sometimes it is only that repeated knocking at their door that eventually results in a sale. 
 

How can CRM help to retain the existing customers? 

I have spent countless hours looking at sales reports by customers trying to find the potential nuggets and developing different pricing strategies that might turn into more business, and checking out which customer is dropping in sales so that we might resurrect them. Does this resonate with you?

Here’s a shock. Many companies don’t even do that exercise!

With CRM, this work becomes automated, too. Your existing customers can get regular emails, texts, sample mailings, special offers, and more. Your existing customers can be set up to get weekly, monthly, or quarterly calls from customer service. Your salespeople can get regular prompts to call or see their customers. And all of this keeps track of responses. 

For years, I have encouraged my readers and clients that they have a hidden gold mine of past prospects and lost customers that can be mined less expensively than finding new prospects. With CRM, the odds of clients or prospects being lost in due to a failure to contact them becomes almost impossible. Once again, assuming the system is properly designed. The system will not design itself, create its own email, texts, or offers. It will not make human phone calls. Execution matters!
 

CRM companies compared for small businesses just getting started with CRM

Please excuse my bias, but I have only truly used HubSpot.com. If you click on the link, I may get a small commission for referring you. There are other excellent CRM providers, but I honestly don’t know anything about any of them, other than sending you to comparison pages. 

HubSpot offers a free entry point for small companies just getting started with CRM. However, I’m going to recommend that you start out with a HubSpot consultant that will help you actually execute each step of the way. You will save money, headaches, and lots of time by employing a consultant like KultureKonnect who is specifically trained and experienced at setting up a CRM, and specifically HubSpot. When you meet with KultureKonnect, they will give you a free 45-minute consultation and help you set up your free HubSpot membership. Once again, if you call Niki at 951-479-5411 or click  KultureKonnect, I may get a small benefit. This will help offset the costs of bringing you all this information. I know these folks well and can recommend them without reservation. 

Here are some video interviews I’ve done with Niki. 

In reading the introduction section for CRMLand, you might be inclined to think that some of these systems will be easy. This is not the case. Creating and implementing a CRM system is hard work. But for most companies who have the discipline to use the system once in place, the reward will be worth the work. 

If you’d like a website that does a good job at looking at multiple CRM systems with some short reviews and recommendations, try 17 Best Free CRM Software (2022 Update) | CRM.org. If you click on the links on the CRMLand page, they will be compensated. 

I would be very interested in hearing from a CRM expert who would like to add content to this section. This could be written content or video.

Send email to RandyKirk77@gmail.com

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