What is CRM? 3 Benefits of Using a CRM Solution
Simply defined, CRM, or customer relationship management, is the means by which interaction and communication with customers and potential customers is organized, administered, accomplished and tracked; with the intended result of acquiring more customers and increasing customer retention.
CRM is an age-old concept; give customers and prospects what they want, pay attention to them and they will give you their loyal patronage. Simple and obvious. However, the tools by which this is now accomplished have advanced well beyond simple and obvious. Advanced analytics, complex integration pathways and sophisticated automation processes - now standard features in even the most rudimentary CRM - can provide users with enormous benefit. But complexity is a double-edged sword and responsible for the death of countless CRM initiatives with many citing adoption failure as their epitaph.
Arming yourself with a bit of knowledge can go a long way in preparing for the task of making sound choices in your quest for the ideal CRM solution for your organization. Familiarizing yourself with some of the standard CRM features and basic benefits a CRM solution provides will give you a solid foundation and help you make well thought out decisions. Let's explore 3 general benefits of using a CRM solution.
A gum wrapper on an empty soda can. That was where the prospect's phone number was written, and that's where it stayed until the cleaning crew threw it away.
Countless and varied methods for keeping tabs on customers and prospects are still used by account reps everywhere. And although Excel sheets, Word docs and a host of other basal tools may be significantly more sophisticated (and fastidious) than a gum wrapper, fundamental shortcomings remain. One of the most significant being the sequestered nature of that information. Information, account details and customer knowledge often live in the heads/brains of account managers and sales reps and that knowledge leaves with them when they move on from your company, leaving you to rebuild at best and scramble to keep up at worst. A CRM solution provides the means of centralizing all the information gathered and ensures the data is being consistently stored in a uniformed and accessible manner. Data remains intact and secure regardless of what happens with the account rep that put it there.
Having all your s#*t in one spot makes it easier to see.
An additional benefit to centralizing information is the ease and immediacy with which it can be accessed. Administrators and managers have complete visibility into all the information in the system. Activity performed on, and relevant to, a record can be thoroughly tracked and readily accessed. Was that email sent? Did that meeting take place? Did the rep make that follow-up phone call? Administrators will always know what's going on. Transparency of the information being gathered by account reps and other users of the system can also have the unintended benefit of discouraging questionable tactics and promoting data handling best practices. Consistency and forthright information gathering practices are organizational benefits with significant reward.
Taking the idea of visibility a step further, system administrators also have the ability to control what is visible to others using the system. This provides an added layer of data security and ensures the integrity of the data being stored remains intact.
CRM is the magic wand that turns the frog of data into the prince of valuable action and insight.
The capacity to transform data into an actionable and beneficial asset is perhaps the strongest argument for using a CRM solution. The malleability that CRM imparts to simple data opens infinite possibilities of application. Target, organize and present information to address a specific need or perform a specific function. For instance, use advanced search functionality to turn mere contact email addresses into a highly focused and specific demographic target that you can mass email with just a couple of clicks. Or automate a sequence of activities to be performed based on the occurrence of an event (in Claritysoft we call these Action Plans). Like setting in motion a series of follow-up activities when a prospect's status changes from Lead to Opportunity. Can't do that with a Word doc.
How data is manipulated and utilized to accomplish a task is where CRM demonstrates its true value. Whether you’re automating and sending advanced reports to your boss, gathering unique data through custom modules and custom fields or mapping your daily sales route on your mobile CRM app, the manner and extent to which a given CRM solution can manipulate and utilize data is the essential factor that determines the value you derive from it. Does it do what you need it to do? That is why it is so critical that you identify the pain points your organization is struggling with, clearly define the anticipated benefits any given solution should deliver and be sure the product provides the right user interface to ensure your team actually uses the system. After all, the best CRM with the most functionality brings no value if your users won’t use it.
The right CRM system used correctly can deliver significant benefit to your organization and having an accurate picture of the benefits you can anticipate will help you to use your CRM system to its fullest extent.