You just got back from a sales call. People and processes at the account are changing. While the details are still top-of-mind, how do you capture them for future use and update other members of your team? Write notes on index cards? Enter data into an Excel spreadsheet? Summarize the activity in an email to your boss? You could, but there’s a better way. These days a large number of businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) software to monitor sales activity and create closer connections with customers.
What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?
CRM applications are all the rage. They are software packages designed to optimize account retention and revenue generation through improved communications, better customer service, more accurate sales forecasting and scheduled follow-up activities.
In today’s digital economy, most companies have access to global markets and can get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of customers. They need better tools to track them all. By the same token, the digital economy offers more choices to purchase products and services, so there is less customer loyalty. As a result, companies are upping their game to attract and retain customers. Effective CRM improves visibility and insight into the sales pipeline. It helps account managers stay on top of details, and enables new team members to pick up seamlessly where predecessors left off. Ultimately, when done correctly, CRM drives revenue growth.
Types of CRM
Selecting the right CRM flavor is a matter of matching your team’s sales behaviors to improve their ability to manage their own time, and the company’s goals of maximizing every account. Operational CRM programs provide lead generation and scoring, contact management and marketing automation tools. Analytical CRM is about data mining and analysis of key performance indicators to help top-level executives make better strategic decisions. Collaborative CRM allows an organization to share customer feedback across multiple business units to ensure an end-to-end positive experience. It all depends on how comprehensive the organization needs its CRM to be, and there are literally hundreds of solutions to choose from.
A New Choice: Cloud-Based CRM Versus On-Premises CRM
Traditionally, most CRM packages have been software suites installed and hosted on-premises by the customer. Depending on the solution, they can require a significant investment, be a burden to secure and maintain, difficult to upgrade, and not always available. Some may not keep all the data in one place, or seamlessly integrate with other software apps.
Cloud-based CRM tools, on the other hand, provide all the benefits of locally hosted CRM without the downsides. Your team will have reliable 24×7 access to backed-up CRM data from anywhere using any device. And, rather than own the responsibility for maintaining/updating servers and software, companies can lease CRM services from a cloud-based provider. This makes CRM more affordable, as companies pay a monthly per-subscriber fee and select just the components needed for their workflows.
For companies new to CRM, setup is easy. For those transitioning from on-premises CRM, many offer migration tools to transfer data to the cloud. Once there, most CRMs are easy to scale as new customers, sales reps and offices come on line – hardware limitations are eliminated and future-proofing is built-in. In addition, the CRM provider is responsible for all software updates and data security, relieving IT personnel of those duties as well. And, you won’t have to worry about hardware compatibility, integration with email applications or data loss.
With fast internet connection offerings, your business can get into the cloud so you can continue to build closer relationships with your customers. Ask us how.