Attracting customers has become very difficult these days, as people are generally harder to please given the multitude of options available at their disposal. They are smarter, price-conscious, more demanding, and less forgiving since they know products with equally good or better offers are just a Google search away. A quick browse on Amazon suggests other products similar to that which you are currently viewing.
Without customers, products do not sell and revenues do not materialize. That is why companies have now focused on sales analysis, customer segmentation, advertising, merchandising and campaign management. They have gone beyond marketing and have now employed customer relationship management (CRM) systems in the hope of increasing the value of existing customers and the overall efficiency of the company.
In simple terms, what is CRM?
Jill Dyche, a former business unit president of a premier internet software company, defined CRM as a set of technology-enabled business processes that enable you to create more consistent and profitable interactions with your customers. It is a strategy used to learn more about customers' needs and behaviors to develop stronger relationships with them. Good customer relationships are at the heart of business success.
Every time a company and their customer interact, the company learns something about the customer. By capturing, sharing, analyzing, and acting upon this information, companies can better manage individual customer profitability.
CRM uses profiling, micro-segmentation, and predictive analyses to identify each customer’s figurative genetic structure. This uncovers the preferences and propensities of customers, so that they can be nudged towards optimal profitability.
According to a Gartner report last year, worldwide sales for CRM software will reach $36.5 billion by 2017. In fact, CRM software (on-premise and cloud-hosted or online) is already the second largest enterprise software market today after Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Businesses will continue to increase investments in CRM solutions, fueled not only by the need to improve results but also by the need to keep up with their competitors and create a great customer experience.
How can CRM benefit your business?
- Increase sales.
The best CRM software allows you to follow quality leads and reduce time wastage following prospects. Sales cycles are reduced and win rates are improved. Moreover, you can check customer buying history to identify potential leads, upsell opportunities, or encourage repeat customers. Top CRM applications also help identify your most valuable customers, allowing you to create personalized communication or even a customer reward system to increase engagement and conversion. Furthermore, you can easily pinpoint weak links in the sales process and address the issue at once.
- Increase profitability and efficiency.
Profitability is more than just increasing sales—it is creating efficient processes across your business operations to make sure sales opportunities are not lost and costs are minimized. A CRM system can act as a gatekeeper of your company's business processes, ensuring employees are using the same templates, formats, and efficient systematic procedures to perform their tasks.
- Reinforce data security.
With CRM, confidential customer data and trade insights are kept in a centralized system instead of separate, disconnected desktops. You can set parameters so only authorized employees can access the data while keeping a close tab on a single channel for possible breach. In military parlance, by positioning your defensive line in a narrow channel, you reduce the superiority in numbers of the enemy—the hackers around the world.
- Attract and maintain powerful customer relationships.
CRMs will help drive sales and marketing efficiency that lead to more revenues faster. Not only will we see higher conversions and acceleration of sales velocity, these data-driven insights will fundamentally flip the funnel. For example, instead of talking to the majority and only succeeding 20% of the time, we will see organizations focusing 80% of their time connecting with the optimal prospects. This will result not only in more powerful marketing and sales towards the right prospects but in a future where businesses are working with the right customers, making them successful, and building partnerships instead of simply accumulating profit.
The best CRM
There are plenty of CRM solutions on the market. Deciding which option to purchase largely depends on the size and vision of your business. There is not one best CRM system—the best CRM is the one that fits the needs of your organization. The most sophisticated CRM with all the bells and whistles might not answer your business needs. In CRM, more does not always mean better.
So first and foremost, ask yourself: Why do I need CRM? What are my goals? What are my KPIs and how much ROI do I anticipate?
From there, evaluate the different CRM systems available out in the market, and then figure out which ones fit your organization.