CRM Basics

What is CRM?

The meaning of the CRM acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRM is a software solution that manages customer and prospect information. All data is maintained in a central location by sales teams, marketing, and customer support.

Data in a central repository allows your teams to access real-time information. CRM tools can increase productivity, improve customer relationships, and drive more business. This business strategy includes small businesses up to enterprise companies.

What does CRM mean?

The term “CRM” dates back over twenty-five years ago to a system called “Contact Management.” Contact management was a simple tool that allowed users to track basic information. This information included addresses, phone calls, and appointments. Salespeople referred to contact management as an “automated Rolodex.”

Years later, software vendors took contact management and added sales features. Businesses could automate their sales processes for the first time. As well sales teams tracked their opportunities, forecasts, and quotes. After that, the software industry started referring to these solutions as Sales Force Automation (SFA).

The software term, Sales Force Automation, didn’t stay around for long. Vendors realized they needed more than just sales features. So, SFA companies added more tools like marketing campaigns and customer support. These enhancements encompassed the entire relationship of the customer.

So the name changed to Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

What does a CRM system do?

A CRM system is a ‘front office’ application. Front office applications are ‘customer-facing’ solutions. Simply put, it’s an application used by employees dealing directly (face-to-face) with their customers. These team members have ongoing customer interaction. They include sales reps, marketing, and customer service teams.

CRM software covers the entire life cycle of a customer. It starts with marketing to prospects and generating opportunities. Details are captured and shared throughout the complete sales cycle.

After closing the deal, your customer support team helps with questions and issues. And then you start all over again with cross-selling and up-selling. If your company does a great job during this process, the cycle will continue to go on and on.

CRM solutions (installed correctly), increase productivity, and improve customer satisfaction. For example, they bring more revenue to your business’ bottom line. But, before installing a CRM system, companies must look at their business processes. Automating these processes leads to higher user adoption of the system.

Your CRM needs to fit your business model instead of forcing your business into a CRM solution. The system needs to be flexible enough to meet your needs.

Key Features of CRM

The four key features of any Enterprise CRM:

  1. Relationship Management
  2. Sales Force Automation
  3. Marketing Automation
  4. Customer Service & Ticketing System

Relationship Management Database

The relationship database is a central repository that manages prospect and customer data. The software data is on a server at your site, “on-prem.” or hosted by a vendor “cloud-based CRM” (see more details here).

All conversations, tasks, and activities are stored with the contact details. The data is securely shared across your organization. This communication fosters collaboration between departments providing consistent messaging to your customers.

Sales Force Automation

Sales reps create and share opportunities in the sales force automation database. Sales management can view real-time sales forecasts and pipelines on dashboards and reports. Also, quotes are created using a product and services catalog and add contracts. This functionality provides a 360-degree view of sales processes, activities, and contact information.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is for prospecting potential customers and servicing existing customers. For instance, you can create marketing campaigns with personalized emails with templates. Then, track to see who has opened the emails and clicked the links. This process helps the marketing teams know when a lead is qualified to pass to the sales team.

Marketing teams can track the success of a campaign through the sales cycle. ROI is quickly determined after each marketing campaign using the same metrics.

Customer Service/Ticketing System

Customer service features ensure customer satisfaction and retention. Basically, you respond to customers with more accurate information quickly. U.S. companies lose half their customers every five years. It is much more difficult to capture new customers than it is to keep existing clients.

Key Benefits of CRM

The main benefits of a CRM system are improved productivity, better customer experience, and increased sales. Manual processes are automated, and issues are solved more efficiently. Each aspect is accomplished through the four key areas of CRM.

Relationship Management Database Benefits

  • 360-degree view of your customers
  • Customer data shared throughout your organization
  • Task and activity notifications
  • Real-time access with mobile CRM

Sales Force Automation Benefits

  • Automated sales processes
  • Opportunity management
  • Up-selling opportunities
  • Sales Pipeline creation and real-time reports

Marketing Automation Benefits

  • Customized communications with prospects and customers
  • React when contacts engage with marketing data
  • Focus on quality leads
  • Constant communication and tracking engagement

Custom Service Benefits

  • Happier customers
  • Keep customers longer
  • Fast resolution to issues
  • Real-time escalation & notifications

Conclusion

Are you new to CRM? Or, are you investigating an automated tool to manage your customer information? Maybe you’re using your email or Excel spreadsheets to track customer information. Exactly what you need is a CRM platform.

In conclusion, successful companies understand the needs and demands of their customers. Your competitors are more than likely using a CRM for their customers…do not get left behind! If your business needs a CRM system, we’d love to help with your selection. Give us a call at 972.304.7100.

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