Today, almost everything we do is in the cloud. From the data on our computers to that on our smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and other daily devices, the cloud stores anything and everything so our devices don’t have to.
One workhorse of your sales and marketing strategy is likely a customer relationship management or CRM software, right? You rely on your CRM daily to boost revenue, increase the satisfaction of your customers, maintain your customer base, and grow that base while you’re at it.
Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps the cloud and your CRM software can intersect and interact in a major way? It turns out, they can, and it’s an area known as cloud-based CRM.
In this article, we will delve into marketing cloud CRM in-depth. First, we’ll begin with a definition, then we’ll explain how cloud-based CRM differs from on-premise CRM. Finally, we’ll share what we believe are eight of the biggest benefits of using a cloud solution for your business.
What Is Cloud-Based CRM?
As mentioned, let’s get underway with a clear-cut definition of cloud-based CRM. As the name implies, this involves hosting your CRM tools and software on the cloud. Now, instead of your team members having to sit in front of their computers to use the CRM, all that’s required is an Internet connection.
This cloud solution can prove advantageous in many ways. We’ll talk about these more in a few sections, so keep reading!
The first company to introduce a CRM in the cloud was Salesforce. This happened way back in 2007. At the time, they called their cloud solution Force.com. In the 12 years since this major marketing and sales advancement, cloud-based CRM has become much more commonplace. Today, you have many cloud CRM tools at your disposal.
What’s the Difference Between On-Premise and Cloud CRM?
Okay, so now that you’re more familiar with cloud CRM software, how does it differ from on-premise CRM?
With on-premise software, you still use the cloud, but it’s not as expansive. You may have guessed from the name, but on-premise CRM only lets you access data and information on the cloud via a server your company owns. For instance, perhaps you host this server at your workplace. That’s what most companies do.
That means all employees are tethered to the office if they want to use on-premise CRM. If they work from home, they travel, or they’re sick but want to do some light work, they can’t get to the cloud. Only those at the office can.
On-premise CRM has other downsides still. Maintenance can take a long time. You’ll also spend quite a bit of money to use on-premise CRM, which can disqualify some small businesses and startups just getting their financial footing. Besides that, you’ll need to have access to several IT professionals who can update the system and take care of security upkeep. That too is pricy.
That’s not to say on-premise CRM isn’t ever a viable solution for some companies. We prefer cloud CRM software, though, and once you see the following eight benefits, you may feel the same way.
The Eight Biggest Benefits of Cloud-Based CRM
1. The Freedom to Work from Anywhere
One of the most appealing aspects of cloud CRM software is something we touched on earlier. That’s the freedom it gives your employees to do their jobs from anywhere. Unlike on-premise CRM, in which cloud accessibility is limited to an onsite server, by using cloud CRM, this software is never out of reach.
Companies big and small are full of moving parts. For instance, your employees spend time in and out of the office. Perhaps some of your top sales members or marketers travel to conventions, expos, and networking events to expand your company’s reach. You could have a few employees who do their jobs from home.
When you rely on an on-premise CRM, then you’re preventing a good portion of your staff from using the software right off the bat. The rule goes that if you’re not in the office, you can’t access the CRM, end of story. There’s no exception to that if you only provide on-premise CRM.
That can hinder your company in a myriad of ways. What if you get an amazing sales opportunity but your key salesperson left the office two days ago on a trip? It’ll be days before they come back, leaving you in a major lurch. Perhaps you want to deploy a major marketing campaign, but several marketers work from home and only come in once a week. Do you wait? Why should you have to?
You shouldn’t, and with cloud-based CRM, you don’t have to. All your team members can sync up the CRM on their tablets, smartphones, laptops, or whatever device they have handy. They can go out-of-state or out of the country (in most instances) and still have accessibility to your CRM. That’s pretty incredible, right?
2. The Room for Scalability
As a small business, you hope you’re afforded the opportunity to grow. That almost goes without saying. What becomes problematic is when your software or tools don’t grow with you. As you add on new employees or provide new services to your customers, you want your CRM to accommodate you.
If it’s an on-premise CRM we’re talking about, then maybe it can support your growing business needs, but then again, maybe it can’t. It all depends on how much growth you experience and how quickly it all happens.
What you need is CRM with scalability. This means your software can handle all the growth spurts your company will inevitably experience over the coming years. Not only does cloud-based CRM offer a major advantage to you in that you can scale it up easily, but you can also scale it down if necessary. Sometimes staff changes or you decide to cut down on your employees to save money. In those instances, you would want to scale back operations.
CRM software that can’t grow with you acts as a roadblock to success in a few ways. If you want to scale up but, to do so, would have to pay for new user accounts for each new employee, that becomes too expensive. Even if your company is doing moderately well, you could have a difficult time covering such extra charges without hitting the red.
If for any reason, you decided to scale back down, a CRM that doesn’t do so with you can again hurt you. Now, you can’t easily get rid of all those user accounts you opened, which means you’re paying money for a feature people aren’t even using. That’s like flushing your money down the toilet.
With a CRM solution in the cloud, not only do you get accessibility but scalability, too. Whether you add or lose staff, your software will accommodate you without becoming an expensive albatross.
3. Great Reliability
Before you sink any money into a new product or service, you want to ensure it’s a reliable one. How dependably will it work? Will there be times in which you can’t access the software? We’re not necessarily talking about on-premise software, either, where you’re limited to staying in the office if you want to use the CRM.
Instead, we’re referring to those inevitable incidents and problems that will crop up. What happens if the power gets knocked out? What do you do if something related to the software fails?
Even if you can still work, doing so without your CRM system can really hold you back. Not only would you deal with a significant halt in productivity, but some of your data could disappear for good. That’s not to scare you, but with an on-premise CRM, it can happen.
With cloud-based CRM, everything gets saved consistently via backing up data. These data backups can occur daily, weekly, or however often you want them to. Should some outage or other incident take place, you know your data isn’t gone forever. You can get it through the cloud, restore it to your computer or smartphone, and then get back to what you were doing.
That kind of reliability isn’t just convenient, but a necessity to make your office work.
4. Countless Integrations
You buy a shiny new piece of software and excitedly install it. Then, to your shock, you discover in the coming days that said a shiny piece of software doesn’t really play nice with all the other software, tools, and programs you use daily.
Well, that’s unfortunate, but it’s more than that. Each time you have to log into your programs each morning, you waste valuable time. Maybe it’s just a few minutes each day, but those minutes do add up.
Not only do you say goodbye to your time every day then, but your money, too. The more software accounts you have to keep open per employee, the more cash that’s sucked out of your bank account. For startups, a business owner may soon discover that he/she can’t afford to use more than two programs because it’s just too costly.
Luckily, cloud CRM integrates well with most programs, tools, and software you already use. Not only do you save time and money as mentioned above, but you reap yet more perks. For instance, you can have all your pertinent information in one place right in front of you. That ensures no customer accounts get left over on old software or lost in the cracks as you frantically log into and log out of several programs a day.
You can also introduce social CRM, which brings your social media into the CRM software fold. Yes, you can use the cloud with your social media accounts as well. How handy!
We’ve talked a lot thus far about money and what you’ll spend and save as you make the move to cloud CRM software. If you recall from earlier in this article, we already mentioned how on-premise CRM doesn’t come so cheaply. From the installation to maintenance to hiring an IT team to keep the system running its best, on-premise software has a hefty price tag.
That’s not so with CRM on a cloud-based system. You don’t have to worry about buying both software and hardware, only the software. You can do so on a subscription basis, typically paying by the month or even annually. If you add new user accounts, you would then pay for these as you use them. If you drop said accounts, your payment would then decrease to match.
Sometimes, to get on-premise CRM up and running, you need to pay a licensing charge. Other hidden fees can bleed a small business all but dry. CRM software in the cloud has no such fees and charges, so even startups on a tight budget should be able to use it.
6. Great Security
Before you make the jump to using a CRM cloud system for your small business, you might have questions about security. After all, if anyone can jump on your CRM and access your data on a cloud-based system, then doesn’t that leave you wide open to threats? An on-premise CRM, for all its costs and disadvantages, at least prevents anyone outside of the physical office from getting into the cloud.
With any CRM software you use, security is usually a top concern and priority. Before choosing a CRM company in which to give your money to, ensure that the right security measures exist to protect your private data from getting into the wrong hands.
You might also want to consider training your team on how to use the cloud itself. Yes, that’s even if they say they’re well-versed in modern tech. According to Florida-based cloud service DSM, most cyber-attacks and data breaches can be attributed to human mistakes. Just how many? Roughly 90 percent. Yes, 90 percent! Instead of worrying about an unnamed, faceless threat then, perhaps stress about those in your office or within your company who could make a costly mistake.
7. Easy Installation
Anytime you begin using new software or hardware in your office, you have to deploy and install it. Before that happens, the decision on which software to choose has to be made. You’ll probably meet with key stakeholders in your company, discuss what’s good and bad about the software/hardware, research your options, and then, finally, finally, make the move to sign up for a service and begin paying.
This can take a long time, sometimes too long. If you don’t want such a decision to drag on for months, then use a CRM software in the cloud. You’ll essentially be left behind if you don’t. By next year, 2020, DSM says most workloads on an enterprise level will have moved to the cloud, up to 83 percent.
Once you do make the decision to get on a cloud system, you’ll find installation doesn’t put a damper on productivity. This job also doesn’t require legions of technical expertise to figure out. Since it’s hardware-free, you can install a cloud system with an app (not in every case), some login information, and the Internet, of course. It’s fast, easy, and you can get your cloud system up and running in at least a day.
8. Upgrades Don’t Cost an Arm and a Leg
To reiterate, cloud-based systems should grow and evolve as your company does. Sometimes, in addition to scaling up your CRM with staff changes and hirings, you might decide you need different CRM services as well. This would involve you upgrading your CRM system.
If you had an on-premise system, then you’d have to call your IT team each and every time you wanted an upgrade. The team would have to come out and work on the physical system. Whether you requested bug fixes, additional security, or extra features, the IT team would work over a day or several to get it all installed.
During this time, your on-premise CRM would be pretty much nonfunctional. If it did work, it certainly wouldn’t be at full capacity. That means lots of downtime at work. You can’t shut down your office during this upgrade because that would lose you too much money, but staying open seems pointless when you can’t do much of anything.
You won’t go through nearly as much of a hassle if you use a cloud CRM system. For one, it’s not a physical system, so your IT team doesn’t have to come out and work on it. In fact, you typically don’t even need an IT team for upgrades unless you’re making large, wholesale changes. In most instances, when your CRM needs an upgrade, you only have to download it.
Wait, really? That’s it? Just a download? Yes, just a download. You can download the update yourself at the beginning or end of your day. You could even start the download during your lunch break, eat, and then come back, hit a few buttons, and boom, you’re all set. That’s all it takes.
Yes, you might have to send out a company-wide email to remind everyone to upgrade their CRM systems. This way, you avoid any discrepancies caused between some people running an older version of the software and others newer. On your end, though, upgrading generally requires very little effort.
Since you don’t need to call on your IT team, you save money and your time. Also, there’s the little perk that you don’t lose hours, sometimes days of spotty productivity while the upgrade occurs. That too keeps you from suffering more lost revenue.
Cloud-based customer relationship management or CRM software keeps all your most important data in the cloud. It’s updated often, and, even better, your employees and staff can access it anywhere, anytime. The server isn’t hosted in your office, so if your employees travel or work from home, they can still hop on the CRM system. They can also do so from their smartphones, tablets, laptops, home computers, just about anywhere.
This means of using CRM provides a mountain of advantages. There are opportunities for more revenue, less wasted time, and scalability. Installing and upgrading the system takes practically no time at all.
If you’re not already using a cloud-based CRM, what are you waiting for? Whether a small business or a mid-sized company, it’s time to make the switch.
Here are the best blog posts of CRM you should read right now:
- 8 Elements of Successful CRM Implementation 2019
- Is An Easy-to-Use CRM the Best Sales Software for Your Business?
- Understanding How CRM Can Boost Your B2B Marketing Efforts
- 10 Ways CRM Can Help Create Better Email Campaigns
- The Undeniable Benefits of CRM Integration and a Unified Platform
- 8 CRM Techniques That Improve Your Marketing Strategy