Posts Tagged ‘CRM Customer Relationship Management’


What is CRM Customer Relationship Management Database and Why You Need One

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

What is a CRM Customer Relationship Management?

A CRM is a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It involves using technology to organize, automate and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service and technical support.

Wikipedia
 
There are so many names for the same thing! Sometimes it’s confusing!
 
You may also hear a CRM Customer Relationship Management referred to as a database. Lead generation, list building, prospecting and new business development are all different names for the process of looking for new prospects and generating the opportunities that become sales.

CRM Rolodex Lead Generation List building
 
 
Why is a CRM important for the growth of your company?
 
What’s the RISK of NOT having a CRM?


Many of the smaller independent business owners I work with haven’t bought CRM Customer Relationship Management software to organize their interactions with the current and future customers/prospects of their company. Even when their company is larger and they have CRM Customer Relationship Management software loaded onto their company’s computer server and they’ve been entering information into it, many times a large portion of the information hasn’t been kept up to date.

The question that comes up in my mind is – If they’re not using their CRM Customer Relationship Management to collect and store vital information about their relationship with prospects and customers, where are they storing this information?
 
Here are the top two places I discovered.
 
LinkedIn – Today with the growth of the internet and social business networking, many business professionals are using the online social media platform Linkedin to start the conversation with prospects and stay connected with customers.

A recent article in Fast Company magazine noted this statistic – Every second two new members join Linkedin the social network for professionals. This internet platform continues to grow with groups, blogs and job listings.

Linkedin has become a rich source of information and conversation online for business professionals who want to connect with others, stay on top of news in their industry, find new employees, research products and services and/or showcase their company’s products and services to generate sales opportunities.

eMail – I’m sure many business owners and their sales team can relate. We meet someone and the first two things we do is connect with them on Linkedin and send a ‘Nice to meet you’ email either within Linkedin or through Outlook.

With so much interaction happening on Linkedin and within Outlook emails I discovered these two have essentially become the new CRM Customer Relationship Management.

In essence we’ve witnessed the birth of – The ad hoc CRM Customer Relationship Management and by default the ad hoc prospecting and follow up process to generate sales opportunities.

Why do I say – ad hoc?

First both of these systems Linkedin and eMail are either completely outside of the company’s CRM Customer Relationship Management (LinkedIn) or a large portion is outside (email on mobile phones).

This means vital information about how the conversation started and how the relationship with prospects developed through follow up, is not being captured within the CRM Customer Relationship Management. As a result this vital information about new business development is slipping right through the company’s new business development net and is not being captured, researched and documented.

When this happens new business only shows up within the company’s internal systems once the relationship develops into a sale. At that point the only details captured are about the outcome of the prospecting/new business development process – the sale – as it moves into the company accounting and/or production software program as an order. The details about how the sale happened are not captured.
 
Why does this matter?

Why is a CRM Customer Relationship Management important for the growth of your business?

Remember at the beginning when Wikipedia defined a CRM Customer Relationship Management as managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers? A CRM does this by keeping all the information about prospect and customer interactions in one central place where all company departments can access the information and develop best practices from it.

As a result the CRM Customer Relationship Management software tracks all of the conversations and activities prior to the sale and provides the sales team with valuable insight about how the prospect conversation started and the steps that led to a sale or another outcome. This information can also be used to generate sales statistical reporting that helps sales management fine tune the prospecting/new business development process and weed out methods which are missing the mark and not producing sales opportunities.

Move To The Next Level – Automate

Once sales management has identified the optimal prospecting/new business process the next step is to use this information to develop best practices.

Developing best practices sets the stage to move to the next level – automating the prospecting and follow up process. This is where the best practices form the basis to create a series of connected conversations that can be loaded into the CRM Customer Relationship Management and become the foundation for your back office Follow Up Marketing ENGINE.

This supports the sales team efforts to be consistent about using those best practices to engage prospects in conversation and helps senior management to synchronize the efforts of other teams within the company. For example marketing, customer service and technical support to support those best practices and contribute to generating more sales opportunities.

When all the pieces of the CRM Customer Relationship Management are synchronized they accelerate the prospecting/new business development process. At the same time synchronization also positions your company as the expert while also nurturing relationships and building trust. All with less effort and producing measurable results.

THE BONUS – Setting this up also filters out the tire kickers to fill your pipeline with qualified prospects ready for you to turn into new clients.
 

Here’s the RISK of NOT having a CRM Customer Relationship Management.

If you don’t using a CRM Customer Relationship Management but rely on LinkedIn, Outlook, the accounting software or the production program, be aware that these tools do not have the capability to organize all the important details about the prospect relationship leading to the sale into one place. These are simply not a CRM.

Linkedin is an online social business networking platform, Outlook is an email and calendar software program and the accounting software tracks monetary transactions such as supplier invoices and client’s purchases and the production software tracks when the order will be delivered.

As I noted earlier, the online conversation contains the initial steps of the sales process, the prospecting and follow up stages where we started the conversation and developed the relationship.

If you don’t use a CRM Customer Relationship Management you’ll need an alternative methodology to develop best practices, put them in place and monitor their use so the internal teams don’t get off track putting into practice the proven best methods.

Additionally if you’re not using a CRM Customer Relationship Management to capture the details about how the relationship developed you’ll also need an alternative methodology and extra effort to create the sales statistical reporting.

Ultimately the risk is that important details about the development of the relationship during the prospecting process will become lost inside Outlook folders (often under an irrelevant subject line), locked within the confines of someone’s personal Linkedin profile or buried in the detail lines of an order.
 
Keeping Prospect Information Within Your CRM Customer Relationship Management is Still the Best Policy.
 
If you’re thinking of launching a CRM Customer Relationship Management within your company here are a few options

  • BUY your own software and load it onto your company’s computer server.
    This is a basically a one time purchase where you OWN your CRM. I often recommend ACT – Activities, Contacts and Time because it’s low in cost, very powerful, integrates well with Outlook and has a strong certified consultant technical support base.
  •  

  • RENT the software and access it online. This is called SAS (software as a service) and has a monthly fee attached to it. One online service to investigate is Solve360 which works well with Gmail and Constant Contact.

 
As with any product or service for your business, each has it’s benefits and challenges. The best practice is to investigate various options before deciding which is best for your company’s specific needs.
 
A Few Things to Consider

    Maintenance

  • When you BUY the software you have to maintain it with updates and technical support.
  • When you RENT the software the vendor does the maintenance and technical support.
  •  
    Users in single or multi locations?

  • How will you be using the CRM?
    From from a single location or do you need users to be able to access the CRM online?
  • One final note – If you’re considering an online service be aware that you’re entering your data into a CRM solution that doesn’t belong to you. Therefore you’re not in charge of how the service or pricing may change in the future. If you do decide to change vendors you’ll need to get your data off the current online system and into the new format.

 

Are you ready to discuss what would be best for your company’s business development needs and/or how the CRM system can form the foundation for creating best practices and preparing for automating your prospecting and follow up process?

Take your next step Contact Cheryl to start the conversation by booking your FREE Follow Up Audit of your current business development methods.

Have a great week turning leads into sales.
 



The Follow Up Specialist
Prospecting Mastery Mentor
 

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