For a business with just a few employees, a single-user desktop application — such as MS Excel or Outlook – may be all that’s needed to keep track of customers. But there comes a point in an organisation’s development, however, when sharing customer information across teams or departments makes more sense strategically and also offers greater efficiency as the number of customer records increases.
There is a large array of business software available today that collects key customer information — sales history, preferences, contact details and more — and serves it up in a way that is both useful and more easily managed. This type of software is commonly referred to as customer relationship management — or CRM. A properly implemented CRM Solutions can provide a wide range of automated customer service and sales features that not only frees employees from routine tasks, but provides valuable information that helps target the customers who drive the most profits.
CRM systems – Luxury or Necessity?
As any one who works in sales knows, customer relationship management (CRM) systems have come a long way in recent years. Where once they just provided a place for storing clients’ details, recent technological advances and an injection of intelligent software design mean that now they are often integral components within the sales cycle. Yet, in the present economic climate, when cost cutting is the order of the day at most organisations, can investment in a CRM system be justified?
CRM systems in a recession
A CRM system may well provide the sales team with tools that will increase their productivity and add to their sales figures. However, any CRM system is still a significant investment. How can the sales department persuade the Financial Director to loosen the purse strings for this important purchase?
Keeping track of customers, servicing their needs and managing those relationships is critical if service level agreements are to be met, new customers are to won and existing customers are to be retained. This is never more important than in a downturn.
In uncertain times, where people are unsure of future figures and financials, the CRM system gives consistent and accurate information and data. This makes forecasting easier and this is no longer something which is merely desirable; it is now essential.
In today’s economic climate, it is easy for businesses to get distracted with other issues. As customer behaviour changes rapidly, businesses need the insight to be able to react in real time. That requires greater innovation around managing customer relationships, and CRM systems can provide exactly that.
Cost and implementation
There is a widespread belief that CRM systems are very expensive and require a great deal of technological knowledge to implement and operate. Both are incorrect, and suppliers are working hard to address these two misconceptions.
Second CRM is best known for delivering on-demand which is both relatively low cost and very simple to use. On demand gives users the ability to use CRM software without having technical expertise.
A CRM system needn’t be complicated or costly, a On Demand, fully-featured, easy to use and with zero IT overheads is simple not simplistic. CRM systems have to be easy and not take long for salesperson to enter data. Sales people are not stupid – they are busy.”
CRM has nothing to do with technology, IT or integration; it has everything to do with getting people to use it properly. The problem is that sales professionals are used to carry business cards and contact information in a filofax, and many would like to keep it that way.
Improving Sales Management and Process
A CRM system can give good sales managers insight into their team, and help those who want to be a good sales manager to fulfill their ambition.
The CRM system is the technology and the tool to help sales managers manage better, to better understand their team and their capabilities. It can also help to target coaching areas, and give data to help evaluate any problems with the sales process. In short, a CRM system combines the sales processes, the people who work those processes and the CRM software.
Sadly however, no CRM system can do the work of the sales professional. Whether or not a salesperson closes more deals depends on the sales professional and the product; a good CRM system will help get them there though.
Buy or Save?
In the present economic situation there need not be any major concern over the cost of introducing a CRM system. It should be considered as investment but not just in technology. CRM systems are about training, operational agility, networking, performance management and reporting as well as sales conversion. The real question is not whether you can afford it, but how you can best implement it to help your salespeople become better prepared, better equipped to sell, and perhaps even better at selling.
On Demand Customer Relationship Management is enabling Companies to do more for less.
The recent report by Gartner, revels it all:
Based on a survey of 3,254 customers, independent research firm MarketTools Inc. found that companies using Salesforce.com CRM (a market leading On Demand CRM):
Boosted win rates by 27%
Improved sales revenue by 34%
Increased lead volume by 52%
Cut service and support costs by 23%