From a business perspective, each industry comes with its own set of challenges, frustrations and pains, but day-to-day task management is something that every business person understands and has to juggle regularly. For business owners, directors, salespeople, marketers, account managers, and all the hardworking professionals behind the scenes of a brand that keep the organization alive and running smoothly, coming up with an effective data-flow and communication strategy is crucial, on several levels.
That’s why a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is the “go-to” tool that “organizes the chaos” for so many companies today. In fact, over 90% of companies with over 11 employees are now using one! Before you let the term “customer relationship” sway your definition of the what the system offers, you should know that a CRM does so much more than just manage your customers. It’s like an automated assistant that instantaneously gives you the right piece of information, exactly when you need it. It streamlines contact management, customer service, lead prospecting and nurturing, email marketing, sales forecasting, information / data management, sales funnel tracking, and more – all in one place! What other way would you be able to access all that information at the touch of a button?
No matter if you’re a small, medium, or large company, having CRM software at your disposal is going to speed up your sales and marketing processes – without compromising the diligence you put into those efforts. In fact, it minimizes the time you spend on tedious (but necessary) admin tasks, and lets you give more attention to tasks that carry more weight, in terms of revenue growth.
To get a closer look at the robust benefits a CRM can offer a company, 360Connect had a conversation with CloudHaven Solutions’s COO, Jessica Wallen-Koch, in order to share ideas and experiences using a CRM and gain a more in-depth insider perspective. We’ve come up with a list of the top 4 advantages your business can leverage with a CRM system, in terms of driving sales and growing revenue:
1. Automated Data Management
According to many CRM experts, including Jessica with CloudHaven, the number one benefit to using a CRM is its automated handling of operations and data. Considering the technological and data-driven business world we’re now in, you should never have to worry about miscalculated data. When speaking about this topic, Jessica responded,
“These days, keeping data about sales and customer activities and getting real-time numbers is not only helpful, but also essential for your business to operate properly. A CRM just makes it easier on you by streamlining tons of crucial information in one place, making it easily accessible when you need to go back and reference it at any time.”Jessica Wallen-Koch, CloudHaven Solutions
The amount of data the CRM can hold is extensive. With your customers and prospects, it tracks every step of that person’s interaction with the company – from the moment of first contact to their continued customer transactions – so you know not only their exact status and rapport with your company, but if they left, why they did so. A CRM then categorizes this type of information and finds patterns, so that you can come up with a forward-looking strategy and boost the overall health of your customer service, customer retention, sales cycles, and the like.
Even better, an integrated CRM gives holistic visibility and accessibility over all sales and marketing operations to the entirety of the company, no matter what department. On the internal side, It keeps everyone in-the-know at all times and keeps communication flowing efficiently. In terms of customer-facing interactions, a CRM ensures employees are using the same templates, forms, and procedures to perform their tasks. Talk about consistency!
If this isn’t convincing enough, consider this: business is rapidly becoming entirely digital. If you haven’t yet adapted a customer relations software that allows you to operate automatically and quickly, you’re behind the times, and your customers will notice. To this point, Jessica said,
“ CRM capabilities are adjusting accordingly, and becoming even more advanced. The customer’s expectations are changing. They want an immediate response from a company they’re doing business with, and you need to adapt a level of communication that makes sense with the times.”
The bottom line: if you’re still sifting through Excel sheets, files and notes, or outdated forms of software, you’re risking losing valuable customers that can find more efficient communication with your competitors.
2. Time Management
If you’re like almost every business professional in the workforce, you’ve probably got quite a few things on your to-do list, and it seems like you’re never able to check off that last item. There’s just not enough time in the day. Sound about right?
Streamlining your everyday tasks in one easy-to-use, automated interface is seriously underestimated. When was the last time you considered how much time you waste searching for things? Emailing or walking over to different departments to ask questions or access information?
When you’re using a CRM efficiently, you don’t have to. Anytime you need to pull information for a report, access data from other departments, speak with a prospect, work on a campaign, or close a sale, you can do so in a matter of seconds. The result: a CRM can access and streamline hundreds of everyday tasks and take that burden off your shoulders. You can repurpose your time and effort to revenue-generating activities – like focusing on higher quality leads (avoid draining your time by pursuing no-intent leads!), closing sales, and resolving customer pain points – and leave the nitty-gritty details to the CRM. As Jessica put it, “without a CRM you’re wasting time, and time is money.”
Keep in mind that online users are making purchase decisions faster than ever before. The key is maximizing your time in whatever ways you can to win the sale. For example, when you personalize your CRM dashboard, you’re able to quick-access any information you might need and make tactical decisions right in the moment – say, when you’re on the phone with a prospect and about to close the sale. Additionally, CRM’s now provide mobile options, so if you’re a sales rep that’s always on the go or you’re having conversations away from your desk, you can still reap the benefits of the data in real time. A recent study by Innoppl Technologies claims that that 65% of sales reps who have used Mobile CRM achieved their sales quotas, and a staggering 78% of those who didn’t use CRM at all did not achieve their targets. Consider it a whole other level of profitability you haven’t tapped into yet.
3. Improved Conversion Rates
Considering the extensive automated data and time management benefits, it makes sense that your company should see higher conversion rates (CVR) with a CRM. The system will foster sales productivity and open up new time you didn’t realize you had to perform high-priority tasks, which as a result, shortens the sales cycle length and makes closed sales more likely to happen.
When speaking about CVR’s with Jessica, she brought up a relevant point:
“When a prospect comes across your company through your landing page, research shows they’re not ready to buy. You need to leverage the automated data you have to convince them to do business with you.”
During your first point of contact with a prospect, a CRM is able to instantaneously give you the informational points you need to show that prospect that doing business with you is the best choice.
Also keep in mind that part of the information a CRM can leverage is data about the prospect. Understanding the person on the other side of the business transaction is the key step you need to sell them on your product or service. 360Connect learned this firsthand from Sandler Sales Training, Inc., who in a training session emphasized building rapport with prospects in a very simple way:
“People buy from people they like. People like people who are like themselves. Hence, people buy from people who are like themselves.”Sandler Sales Training, Inc.
You can’t direct a conversation when all you have is the basic contact info of the prospect; but with comprehensive information like the prospect’s company, job description, similar products/services they use, and previous buying and web behavior, you can get on the same page as your prospect easily and adjust the conversation accordingly.
Additionally, with CRM technology that uses a scoring technique to qualify leads, you can make sure you’re focusing your effort on warm rather than cold leads. You’re able to set the parameters your company finds relevant to consider a lead “qualified” and well-fit for your business model – some of which include “pricing” page visits, click through rate, downloaded content, and so on. In turn, you’re setting up conversations with leads that are more likely to buy and you’ll see your CVR’s increase.
4. Customer Retention
Simply put, when you understand your customers better, you can keep them around longer. Many experts, like Salesforce, argue that customers are single-handedly the most important part of your business – no matter your industry, products and services, or business model. Finding and retaining dedicated customers is crucial to your brand, revenue, and overall health of your company.
So how exactly does a CRM help you retain your customers? Other than giving you instantaneous access to customer data so your team can proactively address at-risk accounts, it also encourgaes you to reach out to happy customers and foster cross-sells or repeat purchases. Jessica calls this advantage “predicting customer behavior rather than fighting fires,” which we agree, is an underrated skill. Consider that unlike most personal relationships, business relationships are often lopsided. While our clients don’t need to work very hard to learn about our company and what we do, we have to put in effort to receive information about our customers. The great part of a CRM is that you can log this customer information once, and have access to their transactions, behaviors, preferences and concerns whenever you need it. Then, you can provide A+ customer service moving forward.
The most recent CRM studies show that CRM’s reduce churn and boost customer retention by 27%, which we agree with Jessica, seems a bit low considering the extensive benefits it offers. But nonetheless, a 27% increase to customer retention and lifetime value (LTV) can boost a company’s annual revenue by a significant amount.
In terms of revenue generation, also consider that finding new customers can be 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping the customers you already have. So while prospecting and monitoring conversion rates is important to keep your business functions running smoothly, you should always be aiming to keep your current clients active and engaged, and be careful not to let this fall by the wayside!
Implementing a CRM can be a scary idea for some companies – especially if you have an “old school” system for handling customer data in place that you believe is working just fine – so hesitations to jumping on board are to be expected. Here are some of the most common concerns we hear from businesses reluctant to switching to a CRM, and reasons to reconsider in order to help your company improve business:
One common reason many businesses do not want to switch over to CRM management is the cost. Of course, as with any effective software, there’s going to be an upfront cost. If you’re running a tight annual budget, you’re thinking: why should I tack on an additional cost when my system is working? But what you want to be careful of is shooting down the idea before you consider the cost-benefit analysis and ROI. You can expect to pay between $20-$100 per month per user (depending on your business size), and that cost more than pays for itself over time (for instance, if each sales rep using the CRM closed just one more sale per month, the cost will most likely be paid for).
- Time Spent Switching Over & Learning Curve
Another common concern is the time it will take to move from your current management system to the CRM software. Mainly, companies are concerned with how long the “system” will be down while they transition (ie. “will we be able to operate smoothly while we make the switch?”) and whether or not they’re going to need to hire trainers to teach employees how to operate it efficiently.
While Jessica from CloudHaven acknowledged that there is indeed an “transition period,” it doesn’t need to be scary. Her advice is to treat it like any other project you work on as a company. Implement a timeline and break up the work up into manageable parts. Think about the end goal – to promote more sales, develop stronger customer relationships, and boost revenue. If you do this, you’ll be surprised about the excitement your company will share!
Many CRM plans also include free training – and if not, there are companies you can work with – like CloudHaven – to help manage and oversee the process. Even so, most CRM’s are incredibly user-friendly, as is. And additionally, there are very simplistic CRM’s out there that are extremely easy to adapt and use. Salesforce is one of the most commonly used CRM’s, but if it seems too complicated for you, remember that you have options.
- Tediousness of Data Entry
This is a big one for salespeople. Some think adapting a CRM will create even MORE work – especially upfront – since CRM’s inevitably require data entry. For instance, you might be wondering: “are metrics generated by a CRM really better than what we already have?”
The truth is, you’re already performing data entry if you work in sales and/or marketing. But how often are you doing data entry on a day-to-day basis? When implementing a CRM, yes, you will be entering information into the system upfront. But from that point forward, you’re working with an automated system – no need to filter through large files or go digging for the info you need. In the long run, you’re saving some serious time and effort.
CRM’s have built-in KPI’s, CVR’s, and other performance metrics, as well – so even if you’re hesitant down the road about your decision to switch to a CRM (we doubt you will be), your improvement results will be at your fingertips!
If you’ve adopted a CRM (or you haven’t yet) and you’re looking for pre-verified, true intent leads imported right into your system – let us know! You can save even more time by minimizing your marketing outreach and lead acquisition costs, and letting us do the work. Visit us here to connect with us and let us know what we can do to help!