What Is CRM?

CRM (Customer Relationship Management), in its simplest form, is a strategy that helps companies build and improve lead and customer relationships and improve the efficiency of customer-facing processes.

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Three most commonly used references of the acronym CRM are

CRM as a Software System
A software with CRM functionality either installed on your computer or accessible via the Internet.
On-boarding fees
CRM Strategy
It’s the general, high-level rules about optimal customer service and the best possible way of managing customer relationships.
On-boarding fees
CRM Process
It’s a system of rules, regulations, policies, and guidelines used by a company to service their leads and customers. The objective of a CRM process is to grow the list of existing customers and retain the most number of high-valued customers.
  • Gartner predictions for CRM technology are very powerful. According to Gartner, by 2021, enterprises will spend the most on CRM software, making it the largest revenue area of spending.
  • For small businesses, they have been shown the way by their industry leaders. By implementing CRM in their organizations, they can also reap the benefits of superior customer service and accelerated business growth.
  • A good CRM strategy can also help increase sales and profitability by streamlining your processes to make them more efficient. At the lowest level, the CRM database records all the interactions with leads and customers made over the phone, through manual/automated/support emails, website data tracking, social activity tracking, and a few other sources.
  • Your CRM system is the powerhouse for customer data and operational efficiency!

What does CRM offer to Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service teams?

  • Businesses have become almost entirely focused on customers with the advent of online marketing, The way brands interact with their potential and actual customers has changed drastically. Leads can come from multiple sources and you can’t bet on any of them to stay with you for long. You can’t take leads or customers for granted.
  • Selling a product isn't about Sales alone; All your departments need to focus on customers equally. It's an evolution of business processes; all three departments ( Marketing, Sales, Customer Service) are responsible for customer delight and brand success.
  • Marketing will produce content by keeping customer's pain points in mind and Sales will talk to the customer in their own language. Finally, after Sales closes the lead, the customer service team shoulders the responsibility of continued customer delight and customer retention .
  • Thus, by building and nurturing customer relationships over the long term, you can earn brand loyalty and get more customers through brand advocacy.
Marketing Team
  • Gather data about customers’ pain points and their buying stages.
  • Create and/or improve their customer persona.
  • Produce more relevant content
  • Engage more leads faster
  • Track marketing campaigns and attribute leads to the right source.
Sales Team
  • Understand their customers better and organize their sales pipelines.
  • Improve Sales productivity with daily tasks list
  • Automated logging of all customer interaction on a single page.
  • Inform your Sales strategy with industry insights and patterns from customer interaction data
Customer Services Team
  • Quickly understand the customer’s problem in depth.
  • Glance through the history of customer interactions and purchase details.
  • Improve overall customer experience.
  • Help achieve higher retention targets.

Dispelling the Myth About CRM

  • Have you wondered what really are the benefits of using a CRM? If it is really useful to your company?
  • Many small business owners use reasons like CRM systems are expensive or they are hard to get used to. But that’s not true!
  • The CRM industry has matured in terms of pricing, features, and user experience. CRM systems 10 years ago were large, clunky pieces of software with features that simply computerized whatever Excel did for you.
  • Modern CRMs are no more “good to have”. They are essential to the point that without a CRM, you would be missing some crucial capabilities which Excel can’t offer.
  • To put it simply, whatever Excel can do for you, a CRM system does way better in a way that it renders Excel primitive.
  • As we already told you, CRM will be the biggest expenditure among enterprises by 2021. There are several reasons for it, which we will try to briefly explain in this section.

CRM Benefit #1

CRM minimizes data entry efforts for your sales team

If the sales reps make any errors during data entry in a hurry, it leads to incomplete records.

With a CRM system, you can set up lead capture forms, feedback forms, and set up mandatory fields to ensure complete data capture. This takes the data entry effort away from Sales reps and saves them a lot of time.

If they have to do manual data entry (for leads captured through networking events, for example), the system can ensure details are not missed out.

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CRM Benefit #2

CRM makes forecasting more accurate

You can really capture the customer’s journey from start (lead gen) to end (first sale) and beyond. Even the social media sentiment of the customer about your brand or other brands can be captured, giving you a highly magnified look into your customers’ lives.

You can get a clear window into how the customer interacted with your brand and confidently conclude what works for your customers and what pushes them away. Over time, you begin to find patterns and insights into the purchase process, thereby strengthening your Sales strategy.

Because we have a simplified and more accurate view of the leads pipeline and an enhanced sales strategy using a CRM, the forecasting becomes less guesswork and more reliable with data-based predictions.

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CRM Benefit #3

Customer Service teams can track conversations across multiple channels

The CRM aggregates conversations from multiple social channels. So when the customer changes from Twitter DMs to Email conversations, your sales agents get everything on a single screen.

Imagine all the time that the sales agent saves here by NOT doing all the overhead work.

No more tracking of the conversation across multiple channels. No more time wasted in copying and pasting the text to collate the data.

And all this for multiple conversations at once!

More than anything, using a CRM ensures that your sales or customer service agents don’t miss any important message in the flood of every day conversations.

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CRM Benefit #4

Uncover Personalization Opportunities Through Your CRM

To cut through all the marketing and advertising noise a modern customer goes through every day, you need more than just a great product. Personalization is a technique that lets you make necessary changes to your content to make it more appealing to your leads and customers.

Genome Research by Infosys showed how over 80% of customers notice personalization, appreciate it, and use it actively to make buying decisions.

Customers also prefer brands that provide personalized suggestions based on their likes, dislikes, and purchase history. Grace Nasri discussed these trends on her blog on on Digital Trends.

CRM plays an important role in implementing personalization. It stores detailed information in an organized manner and extracts deeper insights through business analytics.

Your content will finally be more relevant to your potential customers. Your brand could fight all the competition and get noticed from among the noise.

crm personalization

CRM Benefit #5

Find Your Best Customers By Using a CRM

What happens when a client with a high acquisition cost leaves within the first year?

It’s heart-breaking. You didn’t spend all those days chasing around the client only to lose them in less than 12 months!

Getting repeat business helps you in so many ways. Your can position yourself so much better when you have a high number of customers coming back to do business with you.

Your marketing becomes easier too. Customers find it easier to trust and follow in the footsteps of others who have trusted you with their business before. If you have multiple repeat customers, it only serves to make you more trustworthy.

Using your CRM, you can discover customers at all levels from super low to high and very high lifetime values.

By focusing your marketing upsells and customer service on the highest-spending customers, you give them reasons to rely on you for future projects and to refer you as a partner to others in that niche. This personalized attention makes your most profitable customers spend even more and you are able to retain them for longer.

Thus, you gradually increase your repeat business.

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CRM Benefit #6

Make More Money With Upsells and Cross-sells

With the help of Sales analytics function in your CRM, you can find products relevant to each other if they’re bought together often. For example, if I buy a shirt, I am also likely to buy a pair of pants with it. If someone is buying your email marketing services, they would likely buy email analytics package as well.

When combined with your own marketing common sense, you can discover so many cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

You can simply program your CRM to send reminder emails for related products and let the system take care of these cross-sells and upsells.

crm personalization

CRM Benefit #7

Understand Customers Deeply and Retain More Customers

Recording all conversations across all channels is a single feature of the CRM that’s useful so many times. It’s basically your chicken that lays the golden egg.

CRM tells you how individual products and campaigns are performing. By having all the customer interactions at one place, you instinctively know what works best for customers and what doesn’t.

Armed with this information, you can make changes as and when required to take the performance of your team and your products to the next level.

If a certain message sent by a specific salesperson made the customer very happy, you can replicate that across the team.

By replicating successful sales and customer service strategies, you can reduce negative experiences and increase positive experiences for your leads and customers.

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CRM Benefit #8

Streamline your internal communication

The reason lead acquisition efforts suffer, more than anything, is miscommunication between teams. Teams working in a silo (i.e. not sharing information with each other) causes communication gaps. You could lose crucial leads if they are being managed in a spreadsheet-based system or specific independent systems being used by each team.

In a CRM, the access and transparency of multi-faceted customer data ensure everyone in the team sees the freshest copy of user interactions at all times, thereby avoiding any communication gaps.

Ever had disputes in the team about a lead being assigned to a specific salesperson? CRM can also be programmed to assign leads to team members for smoother team functioning.

crm personalization

CRM Benefit #9

Stronger Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service due to shared information

Marketing helps share the benefits of the product/service to potential customers. During this process, they use various ways to interact with the customer except talking directly to the leads.

The sales team can get on demo calls or other important meetings with the decision making stakeholders of the clients’ teams. These one-on-one and group calls give far more personal and in-depth insights into the emotion behind their purchase decision.

This information can empower your Marketing team to create more relevant marketing material that easily catches the attention of visitors and helps pre-qualify them to some extent.

The customer Service team can also access this shared knowledge base created by the Sales team and anticipate the customer’s problem to give them quick solutions.

The customer service team can help the sales team overcome objections with their in-depth knowledge of what customers go through every day.

CRM can make this information visible to everyone. The teams can conduct a quarterly-exercise to condense Customer Delight insights in one document which is useful for all three teams.

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CRM Benefit #10

Manage Your Deal Pipelines Better

Once small businesses see a growth spurt, they also notice an increase in the number of incoming leads. It starts small and the initial few leads are easier to manage. But once the number of leads outgrows your ability to organize and manage them, you run the risk of losing some important leads among the resulting chaos.

An inefficiently organized Spreadsheet system for tracking leads adds even more pressure on your Sales team. Three potentially dangerous situations can happen for your business:

  • You can lose the leads you fail to nurture
  • You can lose leads who were very close to conversion due to missed follow-ups
  • Leads may leak out due to incomplete or inattentive nurturing.

CRM allows you to avoid all these situations. It lets you:

  • Gather leads from all sources
  • Organize them according to attributes relevant to your team
  • Nurture them individually based on their unique attributes
  • Track the factors that affect their progress
  • Get them to convert with customized pricing and offers.

This makes CRM extremely powerful in lead analytics where all the data about sales effectiveness of your company can be gathered and analyzed critically to make it better.

If you never had that situation, you could have it if you make the mistake of sticking to a spreadsheet-based system.

CRM can help you organize your deals based on the stage of the Sales process they are in. This empowers you in several ways:

  • You can have a quick glance of how many deals are about to close and what are the factors moving them toward the close.
  • Your sales team can prevent loss of revenue by capitalizing on the hottest opportunities.
  • Visualization of deal pipelines also enables identification of the weak spots so you can take necessary steps to turn them into your strengths.
  • You can also predict how much you will sell in the current quarter and how fast can you convert and close each deal.

Many CRM systems also have multiple Sales pipeline tracks for all the categories of products/services you are selling.

All these features make CRM very powerful for managing your entire Sales cycle without the overwhelm of handling many deals at once or missed opportunities (or both).

crm personalization

How to Create a Successful CRM Strategy?

Modern CRM strategy is centered on the customers, and their relationship with companies. A good CRM system system can help you accelerate your business growth by building and enhancing customer relationships. But even the world’s best CRM would be inadequate without a comprehensive CRM strategy.

The goals of CRM now incorporate customer retention, positive brand experience, and reduction in customer acquisition costs too. This brings us to the core steps required for creating a successful CRM strategy.

CRM Strategy Tip 1

Find the USP of your product or service and create your business goals

A good value proposition statement will help you define the kind of customers you will serve, which needs or problems you will solve, and what will be the advantage that you provide.

It must involve people outside the marketing team and incorporate what every customer-facing stakeholder thinks about your producer.

Follow these three key tactics to create your USP statement:

  • Find high-value customers and talk to them about the benefits your product/service provides. This unlocks unique value propositions that your sales team has helped create.
  • Analyze your customers’ financial capability and market rates. This allows you to position your product/service in comparison to other similar offerings in the market.

Value propositions must be specific, realistically attainable, and well-reasoned. For example, if you say you are going to reduce marketing costs, talk about why do you think marketing costs are high and how much money can actually be saved.

It should be a 2-3 sentences long paragraph that is to be placed on the ‘About’ page of your company’s website.

Once you get an idea about exactly what it is that you offer, break down those goals into quarterly, monthly, and weekly. Create a plan that is flexible enough to allow revisions.

Get Feedback from Current and Past Clients

These would be one-on-one phone calls or face-to-face interviews in which you would ask them open-ended questions. In feedback forms, customers type something and the information is digitally recorded; you cannot ask for clarification or ask deeper questions to know the exact problem.

These direct feedback calls usually take it a level further than a normal feedback form.

You can ask descriptive questions and have detailed conversations when directly interviewing your clients.

Conduct Surveys If You Have Large Clientele

For large client lists, one-on-one interviews are not a practical solution. Surveys with precise strategic questions that help you gain maximum actionable insights are the most suitable customer feedback tool in this scenario. If you have segmented email lists, you can also customize these surveys before sending it to them.

If you can’t cover the entire list with one-on-one interviews, you can interview only the highest-value clients and send surveys to the rest of them.

Create Buyer Personas to Know Your Customer

Buyer Personas (or Customer Personas) are fictional representations which collect the most common traits among your potential and actual customers.

Before your marketing team starts making content for your potential customer, they must know who the customer really is and how he/she buys.

A buyer persona helps them understand the character behind your customer and what his/her motivations are to buy a product/service you sell.

Following attributes about your fictional customer help determine the reasons they will buy from you:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Education
  • Job title
  • Income
  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Interests
  • Values
  • Personality

Some of them will have singular values like age or gender. Some of them may not be whole on their own, such as interests and personality; there could granular factors which help determine them.

There are many templates available online which can help simplify your buyer persona creation process.

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CRM Strategy Tip 2

Create a Journey Path for Your Customer

Creating a CRM strategy involves knowing what your customer is and what his/her problems are. The first step is understanding the customer’s identity is creating a Customer Persona.

A customer journey or a purchasing path is the way you deliver the solutions. So visualizing this journey allows you to get a big picture view and that’s how you start unpacking all the little problems or inconveniences you can solve for your customer.

There are several “touch-points” a potential customer would use to interact with your brand. These include:

  • Social media ad
  • Social media business page
  • Your website
  • Forwarded email from a friend/colleague
  • Offer page or a landing page
  • Pricing page
  • Call with the Sales team

This is just an example list, you could have a different set of assets with which your potential customer would interact.

Here’s another example of what your customer journey could look like:

The goal is to understand what questions they have about their needs/problems and what buying stage they are in at each of these touchpoints.

This information helps inform the kind of content you can serve to help the lead move along the journey toward becoming your customer.

Devise a Content Strategy and Condense it Into a Plan

At every stage in the customer journey, create 1-3 content artefacts that can solve the customer’s problem at that stage. Usually, the standard is to have one piece of content designed to move leads from one buying stage to the next. Create a list of content pieces (blog posts, podcasts, video, ebooks, etc). This is what you will, at the minimum, have to create in order to have a sustainable inflow of leads.

For example, a lead in the awareness stage would not typically know much about the problem. You could create a detailed long-form blog post to educate them of the problem. To promote this post, you can create a short video telling people about the article in short and share that video on Instagram stories and on Facebook/Twitter.

Likewise, if you want to appeal to a warm lead in the consideration stage, you have to create a sense of mastery to persuade them to convert. So share industry best practices or perhaps a case study that shows how your solution helped a client make a difference in their life/business.

It’s a lot of work so you have to plan out your resources, get them approved from the management, and invite all leave applications from your team for the next whole quarter. You could do this for one content resource per stage or more, if you have the budget and the resources.

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CRM Strategy Tip 3

Define Where You Will Sell and How You Will Sell

A profitable sales channel and a defined sales process linked to those channels are a must-have for any CRM strategy.

An established business might not need this process. But a startup or a new brand has to take into account all the available online and offline sales channels.

  • You can sell directly to the customers:This process enables complete control over how you sell. You can acquire leads and customers, both online or offline.
  • Use Affiliate or Reseller Marketing: Selling through someone else allows you to take advantage of their well-established network. You also get access to their selling experience and often these affiliates can bring in more sales through their own channels than you ever had with other channels. Although there is a lower barrier to entry in new markets, you give up a small share of revenue as commission to the affiliate/reseller. You also won’t be able to retain all the control over the sales process.

What stages will you go through when making a sale?

A concrete sales process is important as it will be used as a pipeline you will track all your deals on inside your CRM system.

A sales process will be the list of stages of consideration your proposal goes through. This is more important for B2B businesses rather than B2C businesses.

An example sales process could be like this:

  • When you first introduce yourself to the client, you are under “first consideration”.
  • Then you may be called in for the “Demo” stage.
  • Then comes the “Meeting the Directors” stage.
  • Finally, your customer journey forks into two, with “Won” being on one end and “Lost” on the other end.

One of the things that CRM does for you here is that it tracks all your upcoming deals in a simplified pipeline as shown below. CRM can do a lot more with the analysis of deals that go through and deals that fall through.

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CRM Strategy Tip 4

Define CRM Roles

A new CRM adoption in the team requires some preparation to make your team ready for incoming software. This transition becomes easier if you know what is the level of experience your team already have with a CRM.

A knowledge transfer session (or a series of sessions) must be planned to help acclimatize them with the change. Such a session must be kept short so as to not exceed the time resources a company can spare on training.

Factors like their previous exposure to CRM and any particular problems they faced with their last CRM can help enrich your sessions and prepare your team better.

In this stage, you should also look to define who will be using your CRM in what capacity. Decide which role in your team corresponds to the what role definition in the CRM and assign permissions accordingly.

Make sure your CRM admin is someone who understands the business and the technological side of things. The admin can also be a CRM Strategist or someone who can advise you to tweak your CRM strategy every once in a while.

Let your Marketing, Sales, Customer Service team converge in one meeting

Installation of a new CRM (or replacement of the existing CRM) is a great opportunity for you to bring Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service together.

With information from all these teams, you must create a list of tasks to do to help each team prepare for the new CRM.

These are small things that, without precise coordination, could create a problem later on.

For example, if the Marketing team possesses 10GB of content and Sales team uses another 17GB. Then if your new CRM doesn’t give more than 10GB, you know beforehand that you need to buy extra storage to satisfy your team’s needs.

Tasks that can help prepare you better are:

  • Consolidation of documents from each team
  • Consolidation of data on different customers stored by team members on electronic notes, physical notes, email, and other media
  • Consolidation of strategies to help sell your products/services better.

You can add more tasks if you think they help better prepare your team for the incoming CRM system.

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CRM Strategy Tip 5

Define Goals for Your Team

Goal setting for individual team members not only helps team leaders track the team’s performance, but it also helps HR track their performance over time.

These goals must be based on your own business objectives and must be congruent with your overall business strategy. Setting ad-hoc goals for teammates only makes your path to achieving them even more difficult.

Walking on a path with organized and manageable goals is much easier than trying to calm the chaos experienced in trying to achieve ad-hoc goals.

At each level, goals will look different. For example, a CEO wants to increase revenue by 15% in the new quarter. A CMO knows the deal pipeline in depth, will decide that the team needs to close 15 new clients to get that 15% growth that the CEO has asked for.

The Online Marketing Manager will need a target of 50 leads per month and the Sales team with three members gets a target of 5 closed deals per quarter.

Each of three Sales team members uses the 15 new client metric to further decide how many demos/meetings he needs (based on his previous performance) to book to close 5 sales in the coming quarter.

Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is the next step that helps map your goals to your CRM so that you can track them with the help of analytics. Sometimes the goals will be KPIs directly.

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CRM Strategy Tip 6

Define Clear Goals for Your CRM

Before you decide which CRM to invest your money in, you must translate all your requirements and goals into a language your CRM can understand.

This means defining fields for your contacts, deals and stages, and additionally required software.

Clearly Differentiate Among a Lead, a Prospect, and an Opportunity

A Lead means contact with a full name, number, and a contact email. A Marketing-qualified lead would be a lead whose exact problem has detail provided so you have some data to work on and their budget matches with your pricing plans. A qualified lead could also be called a Prospect.

An Opportunity is a ‘good to have’ client where you want to work with them but no initial contact has been made or you do not have enough information about them to proceed.

Based on what info your salespeople bring forth on each potential client in the pipeline, you will designate them accordingly and use appropriate labels or field markers in the CRM system.

Do note that some CRM may have a different definition of what a Lead, a Prospect, and an Opportunity mean. Check with the CRM’s Sales team if they define these terms differently.

Define your pipelines and stages

Note down all the incoming deal on their respective pipelines in their own respective Excel sheets. This will help you keep your deals organized in one place, until the CRM is fully functional. This is not a system to help manage your deals, it’s just a storage/recording sheet. You will feed this data into the CRM once it’s successfully installed.

If you have multiple products/services you are selling, you may need a separate pipeline for each of them. Stages in each pipeline will also be different. All of it needs to be planned and ironed out during this stage.

It may seem like an overkill for your CRM strategy planning process. However, you need the data ready before the CRM arrives or you may be wasting crucial time sorting and organizing everything out.

Plan out your hardware requirements

List all the software you will need in addition to your CRM. Find the highest hardware requirement and create a master list of software requirements. This master list captures all the features you will need in your office computers for all software to work smoothly.

Pass it along to your hardware team of the company and tell them to make necessary changes to ensure this as a standard.

Plan for necessary approvals they may need to ensure the hardware changes don’t take too long.

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CRM Usecases

CRM is one of the strategic investments in your business. It’s useful to every company of any size in every industry.But what specific benefits does it bring to your business and to your industry? We will have a look at them in this section

How is CRM useful for startups?

Ms. Melanie Brown owns a company called Brown Marketing that helps mechanical parts manufacturers sell their products using her website. In the first few months, the business is quite slow.

During a feedback round with her vendors, one of her clients writes a glowing review which appears on her Facebook page. He also recommends her marketing services to his peers in the industry.

Ms. Brown now starts getting 3 to 5 leads per day.

Within just two weeks of the review being posted on her Facebook page, Ms Brown is now routinely approving overtime requests and she also notices that her sales agents are losing motivation. They go out on the field to convince the clients and then come back to the office to input all the details into her manual system that’s based on Word docs and Excel sheets.

The problem here is the lack of enough time for the sales agents.

Her solution here is CRM. She decides to do away with her manual system and opts for a cloud CRM with a mobile app. It solves this problem by allowing her sales agents to update all of their collected data into the system on the move.

This immediately improves their productivity as they’re not overwhelmed by the volume of work. A wise investment in CRM at the right time saved her the repetitive expenses of hiring a new sales agent.

How is CRM useful for small businesses?

According to a recent report, more than 60% of companies cite organic presence through SEO as one of their top inbound marketing priorities.

According to another stats report, appearing on the first page of Google drives 92% of consumer traffic.

While digital marketing presents wonderful new ways of getting more customers, it has to be done right.

No matter how much helpful content is displayed on your website, only a small minority will contact you via your “Contact Us” page.

Most of your visitors will browse around on your website for a bit, make a mental note of contacting you, and close the website. By the end of the day, that mental note is erased because the visitors are busy with their daily business activities.

They forget about your company and move on to your competitor’s website and you lose a lead to them.

How a CRM can help lack of leads?

What we described above is a losing strategy, a boring approach to marketing.

Using a CRM, you can

  • Attract new leads with a targeted copy in your lead magnets and on your opt-in boxes
  • Nurture a relationship over time by delivering high-quality, targeted content through email marketing
  • Use all the customer activity data you collected with your CRM to shorten the sales cycle and close the deal faster.

How can CRM help enterprises?

Whether you are a small team or a startup, you don’t become an “enterprise” without deploying software that does marketing automation or customer relationship management (CRM), or both.

That being a said, a change of CRM is always a possibility and can be triggered by a number of reasons, not limited to:

  • Dissatisfaction with the current CRM’s performance
  • Realignment of the marketing goals with the business goals
  • Change in the business environment within the industry due to a major event or
  • A difficult political climate that forbids business with companies in a certain country

One of the most common reasons for enterprises to change their CRM systems also happens to be its biggest advantage - strategic insights from customer data.

Come the third decade of the 21st century, CRM will become the biggest business expense and the CRM market will explode to $30 Billion before 2030 hits.

The competition rise in the CRM market will birth tremendous CRM innovation. As AI evolves in this decade, it will change the way companies interface with their data.

Deep insights from customer data will become the norm. Major CRM vendors will look to upend one another as large enterprises become coveted jewels and ‘must acquire’ clients.

Features of a CRM

CRM has a lot of features. But you will find a set of common features in every CRM system on the market. Let’s explore these features.

  • Contact Management: You can store unlimited custom fields in your desired format (besides the name, phone number and email address) in most modern CRM systems. Some of these fields can also be populated by extracting data from integrated systems. Premium CRM companies go beyond this - by enabling your salespeople to track all the customer activity on a single screen. This feature is a lifesaver for a salesperson, who wants to juggle a number of leads with ease and finesse and without error. Some high-end CRM systems are so sophisticated that they integrate your email inside the contacts module to allow you to monitor customer emails without leaving the CRM app. Explore Contact Management with EngageBay
  • Project Management: By helping you track and monitor the execution of your sales process, the CRM lets you get rid of yet another external software. In some systems, you can also easily filter sales tasks based on their date and completion status and generate reports of these tasks on the sales dashboard. These detailed features are a solid indication that the CRM company really cares about helping its customers. Explore Project Management with EngageBay
  • Telephony: Robust call monitoring and tracking features are at the heart of the CRM. Beyond this, they also help you provide more personal, highly context-rich customer service on every call by having all the details of the customer available on a single click. In some CRM systems, you can also set call reminders so you remember to call the lead only in the timeslot they are comfortable in, and not outside of that. Automated call tracking is also provided in certain CRM systems with sales notes and task assignments linked directly with the call. Explore Telephony with EngageBay
  • 360-degree Customer View: Having a holistic view of your customer is important. Mature CRM systems know that for this screen to be truly useful, it must supply data from the same data source to every team. With the brand interaction and social feed also recorded, CRM reveals strategic insights for customer engagement. Explore 360-degree Customer View with EngageBay
  • Appointment Scheduling: Yet another problem that many salespeople face is the back and forth of emails to schedule/reschedule the appointments. Smart CRM systems solve this problem by making your calendar public to let the leads schedule the appointment in your calendar. Premium CRM systems allow you to sync your personal calendar with your online calendar to avoid any blind spots. Some CRM systems even enable you to automate lead collection - all the while your lead is scheduling the appointment. Explore Appointment Scheduling with EngageBay
  • Lead Scoring: A mature CRM system can use the lead’s interaction across all channels to ensure the lead’s score is more in tune with his/her interest in doing business with you. Based on these scores, your sales team can allocate their time appropriately to focus on the warmest leads before they turn cold. Smart CRM systems can also assign a separate score to deals connected to each lead. This deal score is based on how close the deal is to closing. Thus, separate lead and deal scoring helps your sales team avoid lead leakage and avoid low priority leads. Explore Lead Scoring with EngageBay
  • Deal Management: CRM can make it easy to manage multiple ongoing deals by helping organize deal as per the sales stage they are in. A mature CRM understands that your business may sell more than one product/service and hence offers multiple deal tracks and multiple stages in each track. Having your deal pipeline visualized across all revenue streams removes the scope of anxiety from your sales process. Explore Deal Management with EngageBay
  • Sales Gamification: Your Sales team needs to stay motivated in the face of regular rejection. The key to great sales performance is sustained motivation. A CRM system can help manage the motivation levels of your sales team through badges, contests, and leader-boards. Explore Sales Gamification with EngageBay

How to Select a CRM?

All roads to profitable revenue and sales pass through a robust, future-ready CRM. After seeing all the benefits and applications, it’s time to select a CRM that’s going to be a major part of the success of your business.
Every CRM claims to be the best. But to develop and nurture powerful customer relations, you have to be sure of all the ins and outs of the software and make sure all the finer details are agreed upon by all stakeholders.
So in this section, we will highlight a process of CRM selection that covers all bases and ensures you don’t get lost in the sea of marketing terms.

Step #1

Take a stock of your current process to fill out the bigger picture

It’s important to have all the data transferred and backed up safely before you install a whole new company-wide system such as a CRM. This is as an opportunity to clean up you existing processes and make them more efficient.

So, get your sales team and ask them to list down details of each client and of every lead in the pipeline.

Bringing all the data together helps you define a starting point by getting a complete picture of how your sales team functions.

also lets you find out your own strengths (that help them close deals faster) and weaknesses (that create a bottleneck in the process).

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Step #2

Create a list of features you are looking for in a CRM

Identifying your strengths and weakness is a good start. To decisively select one CRM out of a plethora of options available, you will need a list of features you want in your CRM.

Do you want to shorten the sales cycle?

Do you want to know what really helps close deals?

Do you want to have comprehensive reporting?

First start from the sales functionalities you want to improve. Compare your current state to your ideal state. This shows your efficiency gap and from this gap, you would know the feature you should look for in your CRM.

Make sure you list down functional as well as business requirements.

After creating a wishlist of features this way, you can divide them into highly important to essential features based on their priority in your business.

Some features may look as if you can’t do without them. Let’s say, Twitter timeline of a client. But after talking to your sales team, you may decide that it’s not all that important. If that feature is costly and your team can do without it, it saves you money that you can spend on other more important features.

This method is applicable even if you are currently using a CRM and looking for a change.

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Step #3

Define your KPI goals

The next step in your process is going to give a numeric endpoint to the wish list you just expressed in step 2. It gives you a benchmark to look forward to achieving.

Start by defining business goals that you want to achieve in the next quarter, the next 6 months, and over the course of the current fiscal year.

KPIs stands for Key Performance Indicators. They are values that you will measure with your CRM.

You can use customer journey stages as the guide toward defining your own KPIs for the CRM to measure.

For example, for your TOFU (top of the funnel) content, increase in website visits and an increase in number of leads collected is a good KPI.

For MOFU (middle of the funnel) content, an appropriate KPI would be a higher number of ebook downloads or webinar attendees.

For BOFU (bottom of the funnel) content, conversions is a very obvious KPI to be measured. Besides conversions, you can also measure increase in customer lifetime value (CLV). This value can increase by higher number of up-sells and cross-sells.

you measured any particular KPI before, use that as a barometer of your team’s capability and set your goals accordingly.

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Step #4

List your options

With goals and feature list out of the way, it’s time to go software shopping.

It’s easy to lose sight of your goal and wander aimlessly among your options. To make it simple, this guide lists the “must-check” factors in CRM selection:

Cloud is non-negotiable

Most modern CRM systems have this feature. If some software company does claim to provide on-premise CRM solution, they’re living in the past and they will make your company live in the past. You shouldn’t have to manage a huge data center and pay all the costs associated with it, when you can simply outsource it to your cloud CRM provider.

Very few of the software you use will require individual installations because SaaS removes the process bottlenecks and costs caused by on-premise software.

Cloud computing is a boon not only for CRM but for all software.

Mobile-friendliness is also non-negotiable

It’s easy to create mobile apps or mobile-optimized websites. But sometimes the CRM has so many features that the mobile app can become quite heavy.

If your preferred provider does not have all the features on mobile app, they should have a “lite” version of the app for some smaller functions that can be offered on mobile.

Your need for accessibility would also be satisfied if all the major features (pipeline history, purchase orders, or customer history, etc) can be viewed via a mobile-optimized website.

If you have to pinch-zoom to see your data because their website renders as a desktop version on a mobile browser, that CRM should be immediately booted off your list.

Check for integrations with other important software

Your CRM will be used by your marketing, sales, and your customer service team. Often HR would also need a tap into your sales agent performance data (for obvious reasons).

So you need a CRM that integrates into other existing software that will need its data.

The integrations can be of two types: native and channelled.

With native integrations, you provide your login info and the data is automatically extracted by the CRM.

Modern integrations can also be channelled through a third-party like Zapier.

If the CRM doesn’t play nice with its sibling software in your company, it should not be on your list.

How easy will it be to get started?

You want to break in your new CRM quickly after the demo and final selection, but you also want it to be smooth and error-free. Some CRM companies provide free migration, but some charge for it.

First time usage assistance would be required and you should opt it to ensure a problem-free transition.

If you are buying a long-term package, check for discounts on training costs.

Operational specifics about the company

This may seem like a lightweight option but it should be high on your priority. You don’t want to hand over your data to a company on the decline. Following are some of the factors that can help study the CRM company as a part of CRM selection due diligence:

  • Strengths, market positioning, market share and latest media reports under the Google News tab.
  • Domain expertise and full-range of services. (You don’t want to deal with a first-time CRM provider or someone with no performance records to showcase!)
  • Funding rounds and high-profile exits in the past quarter.
  • High-profile partnerships with industry-leading companies like Microsoft or Google; these indicate a successful track-record.

Social capabilities of the CRM

Traditionally, social network monitoring was offered separately. Modern CRMs come with a certain degree of social capabilities built into them.

These can range from basic monitoring of hashtags and social feeds of industry influencers to interactions by your support team with your followers.

A Social CRM will expand your capabilities by allowing you to integrate your community with your business; there’s a definite value add.

However, it may come at a cost and may not be fully mature to replace your current social media management software. Decide wisely because this is a “nice to have” capability, not a “must have”.

Ultimately, you should not trust a CRM just because it is a popular industry name or if they are offering a huge discount. Don’t delay your due diligence until after the purchase or you could be in for a rude shock.

If you are concerned about time and resources, this process of due diligence can be sped up by using CRM selection checklists and templates as well.

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Step #5

Get everyone on board

After the research and due diligence, it’s time to let your team evaluate the options you have chosen. Your team may be small but they also need to have a say in the process as they wil be the end users of the software. You don’t want your software giving them problems in the future.

Here are some factors you need to consider while consulting with your team and making a decision for them:

  • Involve your bosses and subordinates in the process: Let your high-level stakeholders know about your options. Answer their queries and concerns. You may also get a list of questions for further clarification about each software’s offerings. Also, involve your sales and marketing teams as they are going to be end users of the chosen software. Help them be proactive in their analyses.
  • Don’t forget the UX of the software: Ask your team what they think of the overall UX of each software they try. Ask them specific open-ended questions. Your team may end up reporting small UX issues that would seem insignificant. If the issues are of a more permanent nature (like a complicated procedure to generate a routine report), it could cost them crucial runtime in the future. Understand what those issues are, what can you do to solve them and which issues cannot be solved. Talk to the sales team if you notice some bugs and ask them how long it would take for their team to fix it.
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Step #6

Schedule demos of three top CRM software choices

Don’t ask for a standard demo, ask for a demo that’s customized to your feature wish-list you created in the early stages of the due diligence process.

You can check for rest of the CRM features (aside from your list) in the same demo but at the end of your wishlist demos.

Repeat this list for three of your topmost choices so you can easily compare. This makes sure you get to see all the important parts of the software while utilizing your demo time efficiently.

An easier way to compare would be creating a Google sheet with your feature wish list and asking your end users to rate the demoed CRM system on each feature.

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Step #7

Ask the details of onboarding and training

You want to know what kind of training they provide, how much they charge for it, and what is included in their training. You also want to know how long will the training take before your team can start using the CRM.

Finally, you also want to be sure of what’s not included in the training so that you can schedule those walkthroughs explicitly and avoid any mis-communication later on.

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Step #8

Ask for possible customizations to features and pricing

After finalizing your preferred CRM software, you must negotiate. Chances are that you are already getting a substantial discount with the yearly pricing. However, it’s not uncommon for a customer to ask for a discount.

Hopefully, you would have the feedback from your sales and marketing team which would give you reasons to ask for a discount.

The CRM company may not budge on the actual membership pricing of their product. However, they may provide concessions in either the breadth of training, training costs, or additional features that may be outside of the plan you bought.

It never hurts to ask. These requests have a higher rate of success during month-end or quarter-end days to fulfill their own targets.

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Cloud CRM vs In-house CRM

CRM software is projected to become the biggest investment companies will make in the five-year period between 2025 and 2030.

In the near future, the CRM software market is expected to rise to about $35 Billion by the year 2023.

With so much money coming in, there are a lot of options available. One of the many choices that small business owners will have to make is choosing between a Cloud CRM and In-house (on-premise) CRM.

What is Cloud CRM?

Cloud CRM is a web-based software where all the code resides on the “cloud”. Here, ‘cloud’ is simply an umbrella term. It means the software doesn’t need to be installed on your company’s network computers. You buy a membership, obtain an account, log into your account, and all the software is available on the website.

How to decide between In-house and Cloud CRM?

Choosing a CRM software is a complicated decision because it could cost a significant part of your budget. So you want to ensure that the CRM that you choose is capable enough to bring about all the positive changes it claims to bring.

The decision is about long-term revenue growth, and not just breaking even with your CRM investment.

Is Cloud computing suitable for your CRM?

As sales agents go about their day, they may be stationed within the office at their desk. B2B Sales often involves talking to the client in their office; traveling is a part of a sales agent’s job description. All business development managers need to account for the traveling expenses for the team.

And sales being a job with a lot of rejection, BDMs also have to ensure a higher level of sustained motivation within the team.

With an in-house CRM, any operational tasks that would require same day completion would require your sales agents to travel back to the office and log in an extra hour or two of overtime.

With cloud CRM, they could access the CRM system from their office laptops or even their mobile devices and finish a good percentage of their tasks while sitting in a cafe or traveling in a taxi.

This translates into some very important benefits for your business:

Will my data be secure enough in a Cloud CRM?

Data security is obviously a major concern and a valid one for those looking to purchase a cloud CRM.

In a 2018 report by Cybersecurity Insiders, over 60% of respondents said that cloud apps have security that is better than or at the same level of as that of on-premise apps.

More often than not, the challenges in cloud security have less to do with the software itself and more to do with the people who are using it.

In a stunning report, Gartner predicted that at least 95% of security breaches by the year 2022 will be attributed to policies for security and control at the client site - not at the cloud provider site.

So, how can you ensure proper security and control at your end after you deploy a cloud CRM.

First of all, cloud CRM security is different from security measures you would need to deploy for an in-house CRM. You must examine what the differences between two security implementations are and what measures can be useful in securing your cloud deployments. The articles linked in the above sentence should give you a head start to help establish a common ground over security with your cloud CRM provider.

With a greater technical focus on cybersecurity and physical separation coupled with higher resilience, you can get better security in a cloud CRM solution than in an in-house CRM deployment.

How secure is EngageBay’s Cloud Deployment?

All of EngageBay’s data resides on Google Cloud. When you choose EngageBay as your Cloud CRM partner, you are assured of Google-grade security of all your data in the cloud.

There are a few features that make an offering based on Google Cloud Security unique:

For more details on Google Cloud Security, click here.

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