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.
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. But the CRM told the sales department that they should call on the prospect on a certain day.
Finally, the prospect might become a customer, and this resulted in new automated responses and tasks to be performed.
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.
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