In this article, we will briefly talk about what is a CRM, how to identify a GOOD CRM, CRM benefits to the marketing side of your business, and how to decide whether to buy a CRM or get one built from scratch by hiring a team of developers or a software house. First of all, let’s begin with what is CRM. The acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management. As for what it actually is, it is simply a software, computerized system, a computer program, all of those are technically correct, but, for the purposes of this article, we are going to call it a system, Customer Relationship Management system. CRM is a software system that is used to handle everything that has to do with customers, from their contacts, if existing, to potential customers in order to convert them into actual paying customers of any given business. Another side to CRM is that, since it is for “relationship management” within the business, it is used to maintain relationships with people or entities who deal with the business from outside like suppliers, service users, colleagues, and any other party that has external interaction with the business. Any business organization, small or big, has certain operations that are vital to the business survival. Every company, for example, has sales, marketing, customer service, and recruiting. Each and every one of those business aspects can benefit a great deal from having a CRM to manage customer contacts, marketing campaigns, different sales opportunities, and have a record of customer service cases all in one single system that connects all those different lines at one point. This way, a CRM is giving any company that uses it an amazing chance to view the true performance of its business through a stream of integrated reports that take only a few second to be generated by the CRM.
CRM and marketing
Although a CRM system does has the capabilities to manage all different aspects of dealing with any party outside of the company or organization, it is mainly concerned with handling customers, existing and potential, as we said earlier. This is why it is crucial to point out the “marketing” side of CRM. How the marketing efforts are affected with the use of a CRM. And to elaborate this further, we will be focusing on three main points: project management, segmentation, and automation.
This is a very straight forward part of the CRM duties where it handles all of the overwhelming tasks of email management, document keeping, and other day-to-day marketing activities. The hazard that stems from having to manually deal with all the emails from and to customers, planning campaigns and other marketing events, and following up with the documentation of everything is no secret to any marketer, not to mention the huge waste of time that happens in the process. Having a one-point-access system that holds and manages all of this and more is an essential need for any business with no exceptions. How it works in the CRM is super easy as you, the marketer or business owner would simply create a new project on the CRM which will basically be a main page for this project in the CRM system. In this page, you will be able to add all the activities, documents, and emails that are related to this project. In some CRMs, you will even find a feature that enables you to sync or pull emails to go directly to this project in the CRM.
Of course the previous point on project management was part of the automization in a way. However, in this section, we are strictly talking about the reporting system of the CRM that facilitates every single step of the marketing activities from planning to following up.
Saving the best for last, this is, in my opinion, the most important thing a marketer can benefit from using a CRM. When you save your customers’ info, including contacts and areas, you become able to divide your customer base into segments which results in an amazing improvement in the marketing process. Mistakes like sending the same text message or promotion code to the same customers will never occur again, choosing a specific segment to target with a specific promotion will save money and reputation of the business as you will be sending an implicit message of professionalism to your customers along with that promotion or text message, and the quality of your data will be improved immensely.
Mobile CRM app
Since the entire idea of deploying a CRM system to your business’s marketing processes, there would be no meaning in having to be on the go and make the data pile up until you and other marketers get to your computers and laptops. In fact it is very well known in the world of sales that the key to close any deal is to be in the right place at the right time. So, it would be a complete waste of effort and money to have a contact of a certain customer that you need right away but you can’t get because you are in your car and the data you need is in your computer back in the office. This is why it is crucial to ensure that your CRM has a mobile app that can access and deal with the database of your original CRM business. If you don’t have the suitable budget, at least make sure that your CRM has the interface that enables users to access it on their smartphones. Believe me, in the right moment, this will be a lifesaver.
How to know when a CRM is a good software and suitable for your business needs (Finding the right CRM)
Based on all of the previous points, there are a few specific criteria that you should keep in mind while choosing the CRM for your business. First, you must identify your need; the reason why you are getting this CRM. When you know that you know what you are going to use it for, you will be able to identify which features of the CRM are more important to your business, and based on that, you’ll be able to choose wisely. So, to be more organized and make things easier for you, here are the most common features that are found in most CRM's: Keeping customers’ contacts and other data, tracking leads and their activities, recording opportunities and the rates of closing deals, connecting marketing team members, report generation, automize different business operations.
Now that you have identified your business need for a CRM, there are a few more things about the CRM itself to measure whether or it is the right software for your business.
1 - When first integrating any new software into your business, there will be an implementation phase when the new system is being installed to your computers, if it isn’t web-based, and tested. There will be staff training on this new system during the implementation phase as well. As you can tell, this can be a long exhausting time and money consuming process where you may need to hire one or more specialists to handle it. So with each CRM option, you must consider the implementation period and difficulty.
2 - If there is one common trait in all people that would be resisting the change, especially if it is related to the work process they are familiar and comfortable with. No matter how much this change will make their jobs easier, a few will still resist. So, when choosing the right CRM for your business you must bear in mind that the software would be easy to use to ease in its user adaption.
3 - As mentioned in the mobile CRM section of this article, sales and marketing people would be thrilled to have their system accessible through a tab on their smartphones. So, look for the Mobility of the CRM.
4 - It is super important to choose a CRM that is customizable to your business needs. The flexibility of the CRM to better mirror the features you need in your operations with the ability to hide feature that you won’t be using will certainly give the users the feeling that this software was specially tailored for their needs which will increase the user acceptance of the CRM.
5 - As a business, you probably already have the hardware with its operating systems installed before even thinking about getting a CRM, and even if you would purchase computers especially for the use of CRM, you would probably need to upgrade or change the hardware or the operating systems. This is why you should look for CRM software with wide compatibility range so that you won’t be faced with a disaster if you change computers or operating systems. In this case, a web-based CRM would serve best.
6 - Last but not least, do not purchase any software that you haven’t seen in action and tested its features. A demo for the CRM is crucial for you to make sure that there is minimum to no surprises in the system. You are making a very big investment in that CRM software you wouldn’t want to waste all that money to find a bug in a key service or have the system crash after some time. The one last thing left here is to figure out what you need regarding the making of the CRM you’re getting. By that we mean, would your business needs require a tailored CRM that has to be developed from scratch or just a few tweaks and customizations on an already made CRM. To take this decision you’ll need to know the pros and cons of each option, right? Well, here we go! For a pre-built CRM, it would obviously save you a ton of time since it is pre-built! The only time needed would be to customize the features according to your business needs. Surely to build a CRM from scratch would take so much more time. Also, a pre-built CRM would be very well tested so you’ll have to deal with much fewer flaws in the system rather dealing with a CRM in the making that would require testing and retesting every new feature. Customizing a pre-built CRM to fit your needs will probably be a great money saving option if you have more than one business; meaning that this CRM can in a way be reusable unlike a CRM that was strictly tailored CRM for a certain business, it would be very difficult if not impossible to use in any other purpose than the one it was created for. Having a custom made CRM made from scratch to fit your specific business needs is another option, of course, that you can go within special cases. If your business, for example, is not that common that a pre-built CRM would not have the features your business will use, custom made CRM will be the option to go with. Money-wise, a custom made CRM would be better if you need so few features that you feel there is no need to pay for a whole pre-built CRM. Or if, on the contrary, you have a huge business that requires various divisions or departments that need a variety of features but must be connected at the same time. No matter what the case of your business is our expert team would be always happy to help you decide what would be the best option for your business case to have the best performance out of your CRM and not spending unnecessary money at the same time. Now that you have sufficient knowledge to go on, the very last thing you should do is to pick a CRM vendor that is trustworthy and have good customer care and technical support services. It will also be a nice bonus if you have some special operations that you need tailored features for, to get them developed in your CRM system. The important thing to keep in mind that this is a system that should gather every aspect of the outside relations for your business.