If you aren’t clear on what a CRM is, here’s a definition:
Customer relationship management (CRM) is the combination of practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle.
Yep, that’s a mouthful. But here’s what you really need to know: A good CRM tool will compile customer data across different channels, or points of contact between the customer and the company, which typically includes the company's website, telephone, live chat, key employees and their contact information, and social media.
Companies that use a CRM rely on it to improve customer relationships, which helps with customer retention and driving sales growth. CRM systems, when used properly, provide customer-facing staff (sales, service and support) detailed information on customers' personal information, purchase history, buying preferences, and concerns.
Still, many B2B companies are hesitant to use a CRM tool, instead depending on an Excel spreadsheet or their email client (e.g., Outlook) to “manage” their contact records. It’s time to ditch those spreadsheets! A good CRM tool will always beat Excel. Here’s why.
Why You Should Choose a CRM Tool over Excel
One of the primary aims of a CRM tool is to incorporate external stakeholders such as suppliers, vendors, and distributors, and share customer information across groups/departments and organizations. For example, feedback can be collected from technical support calls, which could help provide direction for marketing products and services to that particular customer in the future.
Technology innovations have completely changed how companies are able to run their day-to-day operations. Today, it’s easier than ever to gain control over every part of the business, and customer care is no different. CRM tools have the ability to control marketing campaigns, customer care, data analysis, and much more with a single software solution, streamlining the entire process and making life easier for everyone at the company. It allows companies to focus on building long-lasting relationships with each customer. And while a CRM tool can have a huge impact on improving sales, there’s far more that it can do to help a small business. (Keep reading!)
Tracking is the process of collecting information about a lead’s actions when they land on your website. The information includes page visits, links clicked, resources downloaded, and reveals how your contacts are engaging with your products and services. By tracking your website visitors, you can determine where they are in the buying journey and how likely they are to purchase your services. Identifying leads’ buying intentions helps businesses communicate in a more meaningful way. With the information collected, sales reps are able to reach out to prospects based on context. They can have a dialogue based on prospects' needs... not what your company wants to sell.
Tracking software integrates with your website to capture visitor activity and customer engagement. CRM tools have the capability to intelligently track activity by user, and chronologically arrange their activities in a timeline in their record in the CRM. That puts all information relevant to the contact in one place.
With advanced reporting, you can schedule reports to automatically arrive in your email inbox in the format requested. You can schedule this activity to occur daily, weekly, or monthly, selecting the time, day, and date of the month. You can perform cross-functional analysis to learn more about your business, too, comparing statistics from marketing campaigns with sales reports to find out which customers are the most valuable, and which leads need more nurturing.
CRM integration means taking steps so your website and CRM tool function together seamlessly. Instead of using your CRM strictly as a system that retains customer information based on manual entries, integrating your website/marketing automation software means valuable customer information will be added directly into your CRM without effort on your part.
A CRM system is one of the most useful assets of an organization, enabling businesses to build meaningful customer relationships, find new prospective customers, and drive revenue. It's true you have to be concerned about hackers, but CRMs are still far safer than spreadsheets. Just make certain you properly train CRM users on creating strong passwords and how to monitor the system.
A good CRM tool offers more than its off-the-shelf features. Typical customization options include adding contact fields, setting up filters, and setting permissions for users – all of which will make the CRM a better fit for your business.
Over the years we’ve used several CRMs – from A to Z (literally... from Act! to Zoho). Today, HubSpot’s CRM keeps our customer relationships and communication activities on track. It’s free to use, and offers great features. If you’re interested in learning more about it, please contact us.