In modern business, what can be automated is automated. You will hardly find an inventory/accounting system without the use of specialized software. Trade representatives use special applications for order processing on their mobile phones and tablets. While most processes are automated, insufficient attention is given to customer relationships, especially in small and mid-size businesses.
Let’s imagine that the sales department work is performed without the accounting system. Each manager of the sales team works as they like it. The calls are recorded on paper or Excel sheets. Incoming calls or new orders are not recorded at all. As a result, only paid orders are recorded. In this case, it’s difficult to define how effectively the sales department works, how leads are generated, and what activities are performed with existing contacts.
A great solution to the problem is the implementation of a CRM system which stands for customer relationships management. The system can bring a lot of benefits to S&M businesses and large corporations. Below are the key advantages of CRM implementation:
A CRM-system is considered to be any option of control and accounting which helps enhance the relationships with customers. Even paper types of accounting can be considered as a CRM-system if these allow to effectively control all relationships with customers. It’s obvious that paper belongs in the past that’s why we mean specialized software by the term CRM.
Not to alienate customers should be the main objective of any CRM-system developed for small or midsize business. It’s very important to monitor incoming calls, inquiries from website and in-mails.
Before choosing a CRM-system, you should understand if your business actually needs it. Oftentimes, CEOs hear about best CRM software and think that they need to implement some at all costs. Who does really need a CRM?
CRM-systems are well-suited to any type of business that works directly with customers and is focused on increasing the number of buyers. You need a CRM software if your business puts efforts in customers acquisition and retention. If you develop your business, invest in marketing, a CRM software will become a great helper for you.
Often, business owners wonder why they might need a CRM-system since they don’t have many customers and a sales department consists of several people only. They think that it’s a piece of cake to control the work of sales departments. Here are some reasons why you might need CRM apps:
Reason 1 – Not to alienate a potential customer and not to miss any incoming call or inquiry. Small and midsize businesses are rather competitive. To attract new customers companies put great effort. Compared to other expenses, investments in attracting new customers may be quite expensive. Automated systems allow recording every single call your sales department receives, every single inquiry and order.
Reason 2 – Monitor the work progress of your employees. If you don’t have a common standardized system for customer relationships, every team member will work as they like it. Some will do accounting in Excel sheets, the other – on paper, and what is the worst thing – not to record the work progress at all. In this chaos, business owners will not be able to track the performance and effectiveness of their employees. CRM-systems solve this problem as you will be able to track every single call or contact in one place and at any time. Besides, this information can be exported as well.
Reason 3 – Every business is in need of a static database. With a good CRM-system, you will able to capture the required information and contacts in a single database. CEOs are able to analyze the performance and plan further work with regard to the analysis done.
Reason 4 – Out-of-the-box solutions that can be used for developing your own custom software. Every CRM-system is an embodiment of the developers’ vision. Any CRM software has a lot of in-built features which can bring the workflow to a new level. The implementation of customer relationships systems allows getting not only software but also the help of developers and their vision on how a sales department must work. Developers rely on best practices and experts opinion while developing a new enterprise solution.
Besides, users of CRM tools will get a lot of other useful things which depend on the system you choose.
Read more about CRM integration in our latest article: “How to provide CRM integration”
The main rule is to pay attention to the availability of all the features you would like to use within your work process. For example, if you consider incoming calls to be the most important part of your customer relationships process, you should pay attention to the capability of the system to be integrated with telephony. If you generate leads through your website, you should pay attention to the possibility to integrate your system with your CMS.
The next step is to consult an expert in CRM implementation. If the system that is recommended by the expert has all the functionalities and features you need and it costs reasonable, feel free to make up your mind on it.
Today, there are two types of CRM solutions that are based on two different technologies.
If you choose a SaaS solution, you will meet some challenges. You won’t be able to make changes in code. Usually, such types of systems allow setting up the access rights for your employees, integrate some external systems (get data from the website, record incoming calls, etc.), choose the interface, set up reporting, etc.
You should also bear in mind that while using a SaaS product you must always have access to the Internet. It’s very likely that you will pay for creating any backup. However, SaaS solutions have two key pros.
Stand-alone software are out-of-the-box solutions which can be installed on your server. You will be able to make changes in code. More often, small and midsize businesses don’t require stand-alone solutions.
Any CRM-system must be integrated with telephony. Your employees must be able to record incoming calls and initiate outcoming calls. There are two options of telephony realization:
Any business uses different services to get inquiries, to do accounting and paperwork. When choosing a CRM software, pay attention to whether there are API solutions to be integrated into your website. The availability of out-of-the-box APIs is a great advantage.
The relationships with customers include the following activities:
Everything except meeting should be automated.
When you choose a CRM-system, you should pay attention to whether it is possible to plan, assign, and track tasks. Employees must be able to assign tasks to themselves and their co-workers as well as to set up notifications. Besides, a system must monitor the cooperation and interaction of staff.
Look carefully at what features for data import are provided by a CRM-system. In what format are you able to download the required information? Is there any migration module? It’s important the data import is done easily, transparently, and quickly. The launch of the system will likely fail if there will be no convenient data import as it is quite difficult to add all the contacts manually.
Today, localization is not mandatory as most popular CRM tools already have it. However, you should take the language question into account as your employees may face language difficulties when using the software.
The difference between an open-source and proprietary architecture is that in the first case you get a system with open-source code and in the second case – you can’t see the code and make any changes in it. Proprietary architecture is usually sold by a large CRM development company. In this case, you get a powerful system which you will be able to modify according to the conditions defined by the developers of the system. Open source code systems are usually based on some CMS systems which allow integrating of other systems with your website.
When it comes to the integration of any system into a company, any businessman thinks how much will it cost. When you look at the CRM product cost indicated on the official site of the product, you see just a part of total expenses. The total cost consists of the following things:
By the way, many business owners forget about the essential point of financial loss during a transition period. You should bear in mind that during this period you may lose some leads or process them with delay. There are also hidden costs arising when your employees, instead of doing their tasks, will learn how to use the system. Any CRM integration requires great efforts so business owners must prepare and be ready to meet the challenges.
Depending on what type of CRM-system you choose, there are various options for license purchase. You can buy the following types of license:
When you subscribe, you purchase access to the system for a certain period of time. The subscription cost is reasonable in most cases but you will have to pay regularly to prolong your access to the system.
Setting up, finalizing, and launch of the system should be also taken into account when considering the total cost of the system. You will need:
Data import could be one of the most expensive things within the system’s launch. The data are to be imported from the other systems, processed, standardized, and only them imported to the new system.
You should understand that there are failures in the system from time to time, especially if you choose a standalone solution. Maintenance will also cost you money. With SaaS solutions, you will pay probably less for technical support. More often a solution that is already customized works well.
You might be interested in reading our article “10 ERP lifecycle models”.
In this article, you learn what a CRM solution is, who and why needs it, and how to choose a system that fits your business goals and needs. Here you were able to learn the essentials of any CRM software and make your own choice. Follow us to know more about enterprise-grade solutions for your organizations. Should you need a custom CRM development, feel free to contact us.