What are the summands of success in the sales business? Every entrepreneur knows that you must attend to dozens of things to eventually see the gravy train arrive at your station. You should hire professional personnel and maintain a team spirit within it, take care you deal only in high-quality goods and services, constantly expand your product line, regularly hold promotion campaigns thus enhancing brand awareness, provide the prompt shipment, and whatnot. However, all of these are just necessary prerequisites to attain your ultimate goal: satisfaction of the customers.
In the days of yore, vendors maintained direct rapport with clients through personal contacts and utilization of large collections of data that could help them to trim their sails to the volatile winds of customers’ tastes and whims and guide the company ship to the bonanza shore.
The advent of digitalization has drastically changed the way sales are conducted, taking customer support and service to the new level along the way. We have gotten so used to the software tools utilized with that objective in view that the question “What is CRM management?” can now be heard only from most backward vendors. However, being familiar with the name, many entrepreneurs don’t realize the necessity of introducing this system.
Getting to grips with merchant-customer interaction: Challenges to overcome
Once you learn how to retain your current customers and engage new ones, your financial triumph will not be late in coming. Thus, interaction with the customer base (both present and prospective) helps your company to not just precariously survive on the oversaturated and highly competitive market of today, but turn into a big-time venture reaping revenues aplenty. The overarching purpose of this interaction is to get an insight into the purchasing behavior of clients and fine-tune (or even overhaul) your business strategy and tactics to pander to all possible needs of your customers. And what is CRM in sales but an effective tool to excel in understanding the deepest motifs of your clientele?
Yet, discovering your clients’ purchasing habits and preferences is only the first stage of capitalizing improved customer relations. This information should be further employed for profiling and grouping them according to various criteria in order to adopt an effective marketing policy and consequently boost sales. So the more data you collect, the better you can plot your course of actions. However, amassing the information in great amounts may cause some problems.
Meeting customers in person and talking to them yields tons of handwritten stickers, memos, or mental notes inside the reps’ heads. This flood of unstructured information creates chaos: valuable details get lost, forgotten, or misplaced, so prioritizing customers and their interests proceeds in a random fashion with a heavy reliance on guesswork.
No matter how abundant the information obtained by your reps during face-to-face interaction with clients might seem, the communication channels ushered by the pervasive digitalization turn that inflow of data into a deluge. Customers ask questions, follow up on orders, inquire about discounts, give specifying details as to their prospective purchases, contacting you via various platforms (phone, e-mail, social media, website, app). Given the profusion of ways through which data arrive, it is easy to imagine how challenging it is to keep it all from getting lost, mishandled, or confused, but instead have it classified, stored, and retrieved on short notice when the need arises.
Even if you manage to save the data coming in overwhelming quantities from different quarters, it is still a job of work to make sense of it, and if it is attainable then the time spent (or wasted?) on it renders all efforts not worth it. Thus, with the amount of information this huge, it is next to impossible to extract relevant intelligence promptly, so your customers are doomed to slow and dissatisfactory response, if at all.
These challenges may seem daunting, yet the technological progress that may be held responsible for the rapidly increasing information tide has brought along the remedy – software systems honed to provide effective solutions to such issues. And CRM is one of such tools.
What should a good CRM do?
What is CRM in business of the early second millennium? It is a sine qua non for any sales venture aspiring to enter the major league of blue-chip enterprises in the field. Without such platforms, companies would be unable to adapt their business to efficiently cater to the needs and demands of their clients. Thus, there is a strong correspondence between CRM functions and processes pertaining to interaction with customers that companies need to streamline.
The current software market has dozens of platforms to offer to merchants, so choosing which tool to opt for you should clearly envisage their potential and realize whether it matches with your CRM requirements list.
There are some fundamental functions that can be found in any CRM. The basic purpose of this system is to skim through multiple sources and communication media in order to collect a customer’s profile, including their telephone number, e-mail, website, address, social network accounts, and any other available personal data. The best CRMs don’t limit their search to such essentials, but pull in some information on the client’s preferences and their recent business activity and purchasing behavior. The next step CRM makes is processing and structuring the obtained data so that you have a comprehensive record of individuals and companies to be used in your interaction with them.
More advanced CRMs are open to integration with other business apps and tools, supplementing customer personal information with surveys on accounting, billing, document signing, which ultimately gives you a full-size 3-D portrait of your client. CRMs of the new generation are still more sophisticated, with their built-in intelligence able to automate a plethora of administrative functions like data entry or lead and service case routing. Taking organizational jobs on its shoulders, CRM frees your staff to attend to more urgent or creative tasks that are so far above the machines’ head.
Thus, introducing CRM into your business practices spells a targeted approach and personal touch in dealing with clients, deeper understanding of their unique requirements, boosted customer satisfaction and consequently their retention, improved reputation of your company, adjusting and upgrading your products or services in accordance with the customers’ expectations. As a result, you identify which customers bring more profit, intensify your marketing efforts directed at this specific group, and have an additional opportunity for cross-selling related products. All of this boils down to increasing your revenues by quarter.
The value that this tool can bring to your business depends on the CRM service module set, so before opting for a platform by a certain supplier make sure it contains modules from the following list.
What are the most important modules in CRM?
What is CRM module? It is an element of the suite that is responsible for some aspect of your workflow pertinent to the interaction with customers. What modules does good CRM possess?
The marketing module in CRM is called to streamline all marketing-related activities of your enterprise.
CRM excels at keeping the client data organized to promptly forward leads to requisite reps. For you to know where to direct them, CRM captures leads from different marketing campaigns and stores their data. Once you have it collected in one place, you can use it in your marketing efforts. Knowing the present status of your leads and tracking their activity will help you fathom buyers’ motifs as well as identify the most valuable customers. Some CRMs (especially customized ones) can augment this functionality by various options like lead scoring and automatic lead generation that are instrumental in managing activities, tasks, and lists.
Each module typically integrates an analytics tool of its own, but for many companies, it is essential to have a centralized engine responsible for data analysis since it will ensure a smooth exchange of information between departments, individuals, and procedures. Unless there is such a function, you are likely to face duplication of effort and inaccurate results, which is sure to incur the waste of time that your employees could have spent on errands of the moment.
Once your data analysis is streamlined, you can segment customers, gauge escalation, take stock of profitability, and do many other things that will help to knowledgeably plan your sales campaigns taking into account the data provided by the previous ones. Having a bespoke CRM enables you to make use of advanced analytics tools.
It is not only about sending personalized e-mails to certain individuals or even segments of clients. This function allows you to improve your e-mail campaigns with a view to the previous campaigns’ experience. Having the results of the earlier efforts at your disposal accompanied by symptomatic figures (for instance, click-through and conversion rates), you can gauge how rewarding your work was and shape the new campaign scenario correspondingly.
In addition to its strategic value, this tool displays details of your landing pages and website widgets (including their types and status), providing an opportunity to generate separate reports for each of them to fathom their conversion rate. In case it is integrated with third-party e-mail services, this functionality will turn into an efficient means of rapport with the audience.
Today, most people lead their second, virtual, life on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. They exchange information on products and services, share their experience of buying something from various outlets, disseminate news on key events, and much more. Neglecting this communication venue with the marketing opportunities it has in store will hamstring your effort and put you at disadvantage with more agile and far-sighted rivals. So social media integration option is what you should definitely look for, selecting a CRM for your company.
Another hit with the people of the 21st century is a smartphone. Their portability and round-the-clock availability allow companies to stay constantly in touch with customers, getting their notifications and responding to their inquiries. Mobile CRMs in the guise of apps enable your staff to manage projects and customer relationships promptly, which is what your clients expect in the fast-tempo world of today.
This module is responsible for facilitating your sales.
The function helps to arrange raw sales information into manageable data chunks in order to tap pain points and come up with data-driven solutions. Typically, the tool supplements the stratified data with visualizations that can facilitate lead identification, sales forecasting, KPI quantifying and performing other operations aimed at streamlining the sales process.
Employees complete a whole bunch of reports related to various stages and aspects of the sales process. Pipelines reports inform on sales opportunities (and if they were missed the lost sales report is sure to mention it), activity reports track the reps activity, open issues report contain customer complaints. One can get easily snowed under such a plethora of administrative and field sales reports.
It is here that CRM steps in, gathering them in one place accessed with a universal dashboard and categorizing them according to different criteria. Frequently used reports are especially prioritized so that users could create customized reports on short notice. Real-time updates of the reports and multiple-portal access to them make their usage extremely user-friendly.
If you have a call center it is sensible to control it through CRM, integrating all your third-party systems into a single platform. In such a way not a bit of information will be lost in transfer between systems. Moreover, you will be able to make and record calls, track their history, and get smart notifications via your CRM’s user interface.
A good CRM isn’t only about pleasing customers and boosting sales. Streamlining and consolidating your employees’ efforts spells greater work satisfaction, which is sure to have a positive effect on their commitment and efficiency.
Paperwork (even if documents are in e-format) is the most tedious part of the sales process. But it becomes really gruesome when you have to search for a necessary form or transfer documents from one format to another. CRM will eliminate such problems by keeping all documents and images in one repository enabling all file types where your employees can access them anytime they need.
Automating data collection and analysis, marketing campaigns, and other tasks will speed up all procedures within the organization and provide reporting and analytics to boot, so utilizing CRM for workflow optimization is a win-win approach.
With the help of this CRM function, managers will find it a breeze to monitor the team performance, identify problem zones, and address issues whenever they crop up.
Keeping your staff on the same page is essential for the overall efficiency of their performance. Integrating the chat functionality into your CRM will provide your personnel (as well as your partners and clients) with an online communication channel without leaving your user interface.
This tool is called to enhance data security by restricting access to certain files for the employees whose responsibilities aren’t related to the information in question.
These are standard modules available in most canned solutions, but if you would like to have some unique features and functions, custom CRM is what the doctor ordered.
What other CRM modules can you get with a custom solution?
There is a whole gamut of extra modules custom developers can augment your CRM with.
- Apps marketplace. With m-commerce rapidly gathering momentum, astute managers keep abreast of the latest trends and provide their CRM with apps integration facility. Once there is such an option, you can leverage connectors to ensure free data transfer between apps and CRM, collecting all your leads in one platform.
- Testing environment. This functionality enables both employees and customers to test novel capabilities and get feedback on their performance.
- Inside sales console. A bespoke CRM can furnish a more advanced and efficient UI which will eventually increase the sales performance of your team.
- Sales forecasting. Being able to predict the reaction of customers and your company’s progress will help you to modify your current sales strategy to reach the desired effect.
- Custom field builder. This tool will stand you in good stead while adding fields to employee, contact, or company profile. The list of these fields includes texts, passwords, calendar, number, checkbox, dropdown, and the number of each type you would like to add isn’t limited.
- Quotes and proposal management. Being able to have immediate access to the quotes and proposals you dispatched to prospects and clients will allow you to promptly turn them into sales orders once the purchase happens.
- Third-party integrations. If your company makes use of other software (say, BI or HR) it is natural that you would like it to see eye to eye with your CRM. Custom development will enable such integrations, aligning all your platforms for more effective employment.
The latter module comes in handy if you decide to supplement your CRM with the functionalities that ERP grants.
What is the difference between CRM and ERP software?
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is another tool whose ultimate purpose is to enhance the profitability of a business. Similar to CRM, ERP enables prompt sharing of processed and standardized data across departments. It works in the following way.
Employees enter information into the system, which results in the appearance of a real-time snapshot that can be accessed by any member of the staff. Consequently, if problems arise, personnel across all departments (especially those whose fields of activity are immediately related) are aware of them and are alerted to take steps to address them at their level and within their competence. Such a strategy shifts the focus of attention from operations to the data, allowing to prepare for nipping the problem in the bud before it spreads across the board and afflicts whole departments.
Evidently, aiming to boost the efficiency of the enterprise and utilizing centralized repositories of data, ERP and CRM adopt different approaches of reaching the common overarching goal. CRM looks outside the organization, being called to increase sales volumes and thus revenues by streamlining the company’s relationships with clients and keeping them satisfied (and consequently, loyal to your brand). ERP bends its gaze inwards and focuses on enhancing cooperation between departments making their workflow more efficient. Greater efficiency is attained by reducing overhead expenditure, namely, the one that is spent (in this case, wasted) on inadequate business processes handling.
Since both platforms attempt to solve the common ultimate problem approaching the task from different vantage points, it makes sense to make use of both, integrating CRM into ERP.
What is CRM module in ERP?
CRM and ERP can be used as standalone platforms, each acting towards the ends it is honed to achieve. Yet, the necessity to constantly switch from one to the other and possible issues with the data loss or misplacement is a good enough reason to think integration.
Typically, getting the best of the two worlds is effected via a CRM module that is incorporated into the ERP already operating in the organization. Such incorporation results in enhancement of the standard ERP functions, which will positively affect the supply chain, finance, project management, human resource administration, etc.
Once a CRM module is added to ERP, employees obtain one-screen visibility and real-time control over all leads and clients without having to spread themselves too thin over a number of menus and dashboards. The module receives data from other modules responsible for customer relations (finance, sales, service) enabling to link potential deals to multiple activities (phone calls, quotations, sent orders) and assign each activity to the rep who will implement it. Tracking is also drastically improved so that you will be able to follow up with orders, customer complaints, administering campaigns, and other elements of the sales cycle.
While most CEOs agree on the undeniable merits of introducing ERP and CRM (either separately or in combination), they differ as to the choice between build and buy solutions.
Custom or off-the-shelf: A choice that matters
Conventionally, the choice you will have to make is described as a control vs cost alternative, since the main advantage of ready-made solutions is their lower price and the chief asset that bespoke software brings is the ability to commission whatever you need in CRM. However, such a summary view isn’t totally accurate because the comparatively small money you fork out for an off-the-shelf platform subscription is to be paid monthly, and if this solution is a cloud-based one, it will cost you a pretty penny once you calculate the string of annual payments you make.
Another ostensible advantage a canned CRM is considered to have is a free testing period. Yet, developers typically supply an MVP to test the final bespoke product and get your feedback on it. Another boon that both systems enjoy is 24/7 support supplemented with maintenance for custom CRMs, which spells the ability to scale or fine-tune your tool whenever you have a mind to. However, off-the-shelf software has one undeniable asset – the speed of implementation. When your company is a startup on short commons in need of software that will allow you to begin operating as soon as possible, a boxed solution is your only choice.
Yet, if you stand firmly on your feet and dream of conquering the sales world, a ready-made CRM loses its appeal. All expansion plans may be hampered by the software that has a steep learning curve and no competitive edge. Moreover, boxed solutions may contain lots of functionalities that you rarely use or may not need at all. Plus, off-the-shelf products tend to get updates and new versions that are to be paid for. And what is most galling is the inability to customize such a CRM and add features you could do with.
With all these considerations accumulating, bespoke solutions seem extremely beckoning. Here you can see your idea implemented to the minute detail to give you unique features and capabilities that will suit your organization to a tee. The ability to scale and customize it provides flexibility and broad adaptability to the shifting conditions of the market.
Once you settle for a custom CRM, finding an adequate developer is crucial. DICEUS is a reliable company with the requisite experience and a seasoned team of specialists that can provide you with the whole gamut of software development and consulting services and deliver you the product that will let your company shine standing out among competitors.
CRM is an indispensable sales tool that excels at streamlining your workflow and providing effective interaction with customers, which will keep them satisfied and foster brand loyalty. Whether you opt for an off-the-shelf or custom solution, make sure that all modules necessary for the adequate performance of your company are available in the CRM you plan to obtain.