Small Business Services

Why Every Business Needs a CRM Solution

Customer relationship management software has been around since the 1980s. Probably the best-known of these applications is Salesforce, which was clearly designed to track the sales pipeline and help sales teams, well, manage their customer relationships.

When social media came along, website developers realized that they could build CRM solutions that would integrate with at least the most popular social networks. A whole new crop of “social CRM” applications emerged that merged the old CRM tools – contact management, scheduling, communications logs, etc. – with social information.

Salespeople can now create deep, detailed customer profiles by pulling in actual social media streams and other descriptive data. These cloud-based tools support the relatively new “social selling” model. Professionals who subscribe to this approach understand that today’s consumers know much more than they used to about your products and services because of websites and social networks.

Social CRM solutions, then, can help salespeople do the same kind of sleuthing, so that their interaction with customers and prospects is based on a richer, more studied understand of their problems, needs, and interests.

That’s the main reason why every business needs a CRM solution: to support the sales staff’s efforts, even if you’re a sole proprietor and the only sales efforts are your own.

In a larger organization, many employees could benefit from a CRM system – especially one integrated with other departments or individuals who handle tasks like accounting and customer service (assuming security measures are implemented so staff would see only the information that they’re allowed).

This kind of integration can save time and deepen your company’s understanding of its customers. How? Once a customer or prospect’s core contact information has been entered, it can be shared with other staff, who can help flesh out the profile.

Multiple Wins

CRM solutions are still primarily sales tools at heart. Using an integrated application, salespeople could, for example:

  • Check a customer’s credit limit and/or outstanding balance before attempting a sale.
  • Enter their own sales transactions, which are shared with accounting.
  • Look at customer service records to see if specific customers have complained before trying to upsell them.

It’s not difficult to come up with ways that this shared data could be helpful for many departments. Your marketing people could look at sales and customer service reports to see where their efforts are needed – or not. Your publications and/or social media staff could find sources for case studies, testimonials, etc.

Upper management could do spot-checks to take the customers’ pulse anecdotally, and see reports and other progress barometers as they prepare to make business decisions. And when complaints make it to the CEO’s desk, he or she look at sales histories, credit problems – any customer-generated red flags that would provide insight.

Can this information be shared manually, without an integrated CRM application? Yes. Is it? Probably sometimes. A dedicated solution, though, offers more speed, convenience, depth, and breadth.

A fully-implemented and utilized CRM application ultimately benefits your customers. When they call or write or tweet or communicate with you in any way, you already know who they are. That’s the whole point of customer relationship management: to know your customers as well as they know you.

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