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The Basics of CRM

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you should be somewhat familiar with CRM, and you may already be using tools related to it. This term stands for customer relationship management but is generally used to refer to software and other technology that helps you manage relationships with your company’s leads and customers.

If you’re not familiar with this term and what it can mean for your business, then it’s important that you read on. Staying organized is fundamental for any businesses’ long-term survival, and good customer relationship management is an essential part of this. Let’s start with the first step by defining the term. We’ve already done so in a general sense, but it can be helpful to drill down into the details of what is meant by it.

What Is CRM?

Just as it’s critical to keep track of finances when running a business, it’s also important to be organized with regard to all contacts between your business and the leads it generates and the customers it gets. Whenever someone calls into your company or fills out a form on your website or replies to an email, you want to know where they are in the sales process. Have they already bought some other product from your company? Are they a prospect who’s seeking information about a product or service for the first time?

At their core, any good software in this genre will have a contact management database. It will include how often a lead has contacted the company and how they’ve contacted as far as calling in or emailing or filling out a form for more information. It will also tell any employee who is currently interacting with this person directly on the phone or replying to a message they’ve sent what products or services they’ve been told about by other employees in their previous contacts with the company. If they’re an existing customer, it will also show them at a glance what other products or services they’ve already purchased.

Many such tools also take your productivity a step beyond simply showing interactions between your company and customers or potential customers. Comprehensive customer relationship management tools will enable you to set up emails that automatically get sent to prospects who reply to a certain ad or fill out a form. There’s also software and services that can be set up to periodically send out emails in order to keep your business on peoples’ minds. Depending on what you sell, it can often take several interactions between a company and a prospect to convert them into a customer.

More comprehensive software will also include project management and task scheduling tools to help you organize your workers in getting work done and seeing where any holdups are when it isn’t getting done on time. This gives you and your project managers better control over task completion.

The Importance of CRM

From the description of the basic workings of customer relationship management tools and software, it’s not hard to see its importance to any business that wants to flourish. Without such tools, you’ll be dealing with every prospect in a generic fashion without having any idea what they may have already been told in previous interactions or what they’ve already bought. This will lead to plenty of wasted time with salespeople trying to sell them things they don’t need. It is said that “knowledge is power,” and this type of software gives you a bird’s-eye view of every contact’s interactions with your business, so customer-facing employees will know the next step to take to move them along the sales funnel.

You’ll often hear “sales automation” mentioned in the same breath with CRM tools. Its main purpose is in boosting sales. This type of software actually gives you the needed level of information organization to make sales automation possible. When you know a given prospect’s level of familiarity with your company and products, you know the next ideal piece of marketing email to send them to close them on the exact thing they need.

Unleashing Your Growth Potential With CRM

If you are not currently using customer relationship management tools to build your business, it’s important for you to realize that you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in your particular field or industry. Most of your competitors will be using such tools to help them attract new prospects and convert them into new customers, and this means you won’t get those same customers.

There are many popular customer relationship management programs and services available on the market. Many will have integrated tools that include contact management but go so much farther. Beyond boosting initial sales, customer service is enhanced with good use of CRM tools. Better customer service is, of course, critical in converting customers into repeat customers.

By telling you where each prospect came from in terms of what ad they clicked on or what email they responded to, you also start to develop a picture of which marketing efforts are performing better for you. This means you will be able to shut down costly ad campaigns that aren’t producing results, and focus your limited ad dollars where they’ll do the most good. Finally, good software of this type will enable you to manage your team far better than any previous method available.

Whether you are a startup or a small business that’s only had your doors open for a couple of years, you will experience an improvement in your operations, sales and overall success when correctly utilizing these types of tools. There are customer relationship management programs and services that enable you to start small and then will scale with you in terms of pricing and features as your business becomes more successful. Many will also come with the capability for third-party service and software integrations that cover things such as financial management and other aspects of your business, so you can truly have a tool that enables you to manage all your critical data in one place. If you continue on without such vital tools, you’ll be fighting your competitors with one arm tied behind your back.

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