How CRM systems can win customers
By Anthony Caruana
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can be the difference between capitalising on a contact and missing out on a lucrative opportunity. So just how can you use CRM to win over potential clients?
CRM systems are designed to pull together all the various pieces of information that you gather about prospective and current clients and organise it so that it can be easily analysed, shared and used within your business.
In the modern business environment, communication channels are widely varied. Customers, both old and new, can connect with you over the phone, email, social media and word of mouth. At its simplest, a CRM system lets you capture information, like a regular contact manager.
But CRM programs go further. They can link with other systems so that you can see a complete view of your customer. For example, when a salesperson visits a customer, a CRM system lets them view the customer's sales history, recent contacts and other important information. In turn, this can be used by the salesperson to anticipate the customer's needs, making the customer happier and driving up sales.
It's often said that retaining a customer is far easier than gaining a new customer, and an effectively used CRM application lets you do both.
A great benefit of centralising customer data is that it's easily shared. Whenever a call or email contact is made, it can be recorded in the CRM system. So, regardless of who contacts the customer, everyone in the business can see all of the recent interactions. It also means that if a salesperson uses the CRM application and sets a reminder to follow up with a prospect, someone else can still contact the potential customer if the salesperson leaves the business.
When new contacts are made, the information can be stored in the CRM. When you want to launch a sales campaign, you can use that data to target your efforts at potential customers that you’ve already had some contact with. Many CRM systems support the creation and measurement of campaigns like this.
One thing to watch out for is that your CRM system is only as good as the data within it. Modern CRM programs have the ability to integrate with social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which means you can potentially gather a lot of information about current and prospective customers. However, that can lead to data overload. Remember that the system is only as useful as the data within it.
The money shot
Who needs a CRM system? Anyone who has to manage data about their current and future customers so they can anticipate their needs and proactively serve them.
What do they cost? Costs vary considerably. Cloud-based systems such as SalesForce, SugarCRM and ZoHo can be free to use in businesses with a small number of employees or up to $50 per user per month depending the level of functionality you need.
Can I try before I buy? Many CRM systems offer a free trial so you can play around with a few before committing the time, effort and money on a particular program.
Would a CRM system help you better manage your current and potential customers?