CRM software will track the customer and his relationship by means of customer clicks and sales. There are several places where you will find CRM, including in direct mail, social media, call centers, banks, data storage files, and customer data queries. In the modern day business environment, every B2B transaction will involve CRM, the software being used to support, improve, and manage the business transactions as well as supporting and interacting with the customers.
CRM systems encompass a very wide range of company activities, from the basic website and emails, to mass mailings (physical and email) and even telephone calls. One of the newest adoptions in CRM is social media, which can help companies improve their reputations and bottom line. CRM was designed to improve customer experience when interacting with a company, and keep them coming back to build a large base of repeat customers.
In the 21st century CRM has been increasingly used to describe the technology and systems used to manage interactions with customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle. This includes the early discovery phase through the purchase process, and even up to the post-purchase phase. CRM technology itself is big business, with estimates in 2018 of a $40 billion global market value.
CRM software is widely considered the fastest growing enterprise software category, and the Gartner Group has predicted that CRM will be the largest driver of enterprise software spending within the next three years. While there are many smaller and mid-sized players in the CRM marketplace, the largest CRM providers are Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and Adobe Systems.
The CRM Software – What does CRM Stand For?
Specialized CRM software can aggregate customer information from a wide variety of sources, storing it and making it accessible from a single application. Data stored includes purchase history, contact data, ongoing communications, and any previous communications recorded. Employees use this data to improve their interactions and relations with customers, and it can help anticipate needs, recognize updates, and track the performance goals of various company departments.
One valuable feature of CRM software is the automation of certain tasks, such as sending additional marketing or sales material to a customer based on their purchase of a product or service.
CRM in the Cloud
CRM software has been increasingly moving to cloud based solutions as businesses appreciate the increased availability of the cloud based software. With a cloud based CRM solution, sales staff can access customer data from any laptop, tablet or smartphone with an internet connection. The cloud based solutions also rid businesses of the often complicated setup required for desktop based CRM products. It’s estimated that by the end of 2019 roughly 85% of new CRM installations will be delivered on a cloud based model, up from just 10% in 2008.
Of course there are some trade-offs involved with cloud based CRM systems. When a company faces an acquisition or goes out of business some customer data could be compromised. There are also compatibility issues when attempting to migrate to a different CRM product. And finally, cloud based CRM systems typically cost more than in-house products.
How Does CRM Technology Work?
CRM tools are a crucial part of any sales team toolkit. These platforms help large and small businesses alike to track the meaningful interactions that take place with customers. Many CRM solutions integrate with a wide range of tools, including email marketing services, sales tools, and more, to help companies gather data from various channels.
CRM software offers your company a set of critical tools for managing the entire sales and contact management process. The best CRM solutions cover the entire funnel, from lead qualification to deal closure. With the in-depth information available from your CRM software, you can automate customer service operations and improve customer experience.
CRM systems come packed full of solutions to help you delight potential clients and earn more business. Some software can deliver real-time recommendations to agents when integrated with a contact center. This helps companies to provide more relevant experiences to customers. Other CRM tools can help with scheduling activities, like initiating phone calls or following up on a sale.
The idea is that every aspect of your CRM, from lead analysis to conversion optimization will improve customer satisfaction and help your sales team to accomplish more. Even marketing teams can benefit from CRM technology, as it offers an insight into what customers are looking for from a brand.
Are There Different Types of CRM Systems?
CRM systems are a lot like sales tools or contact center platforms. There are a lot of different options out there to choose from, each with their own focus on services and features. Companies need to choose their CRM solutions carefully to ensure that it meets with their business objectives.
The right CRM will improve customer interactions and sales opportunities. It can also help with marketing automation and streamline your go-to-market strategy.
CRM tools are available as either on-premise solutions or SaaS (cloud) systems. With an on-premise CRM, you’ll need to purchase the licenses for all of your sales team in advance. Your software will be located on your own business servers. This is a good choice for companies that need to be extra careful with customer contact information.
However, the implementation of an on-premise CRM can take more time and require further customer support. Your team will also be responsible for ensuring that the CRM continues to operate smoothly, which means performing regular maintenance.
Cloud-based CRM technology takes the software-as-a-service model to store data on another company’s servers. You’ll still have full access to the database of information that you’ve collected, but you won’t be hosting it. Your vendor will take full responsibility for ensuring that the system continues to perform at its best.
CRM software on the cloud benefits from being highly scalable. As your business grows, you can easily add more features and bandwidth to accommodate an increase in data. You also only need a strong internet connection and a subscription to get started.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence in CRM
One of the downsides to CRM solutions is that all of that data needs to be properly analyzed and distributed if it is going to provide any value to companies. This has required trained humans whose job is to analyze data, weed out any inaccurate, outdated, incomplete or duplicate records, and create useful record sets and automated routines.
While this human need continues in 2018, analysts have been quick to point out the increasing impact of artificial intelligence in CRM systems. The near future could see this impact growing dramatically, and a Salesforce sponsored white paper from 2017 estimates a boost to global revenue in CRM of $1.1 trillion by 2021, all from artificial intelligence. The paper indicates that AI could be responsible for faster sales cycles, optimized pricing and logistics, lowered support costs, increased problem resolution, and less loss due to fraud.
While there are very few real-world AI applications at this time, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP and other large CRM providers have already reported that AI features are being integrated with their products.
Who Needs CRM Software?
Any company that manages customer interactions should have a CRM system. Your CRM software helps you to understand your new customers and dedicated clients alike. It can give you a behind-the-scenes view of the sales process, from the phone calls you make to clients, to the methods that work in your customer retention strategy.
The benefits of CRM technology are particularly significant for B2B companies. That’s because these businesses often need CRM tools to track relationships with clients and leads over a longer period. B2B sales have a longer lifecycle than most B2C purchases. However, if you’re a B2C company selling more expensive or important products (like landscaping or homes), then CRM technology might be helpful for you too.
CRM, either as an on-premise or SaaS solution, is perfect for companies that need to maintain a central list of information about leads and customers. With the right technology, you can get deeper insights into your consumer base. You’ll also be able to see exactly how productive your sales team is, and which of their strategies drive the best results.
CRM technology can also help with sales force automation. For instance, if you need help letting your employees know the best time to follow-up with email marketing efforts or sales calls, your CRM can show you when your clients prefer to hear from you.
When Should You Adopt CRM Software?
If you’ve decided that CRM solutions would be beneficial to your sales and marketing teams, then the next thing you’ll need to decide is when you’re going to take the plunge. The important thing to remember here is that you don’t need to buy a comprehensive CRM system straight away.
Some companies start with a basic spreadsheet that they use to collect information about leads. Of course, this form of lead management quickly loses it’s viability as your business grows. You could also think about using a CRM platform that comes tied in with your email marketing platform.
If you’re not sure when you should start using CRM services, look for these red flags:
- Your team members are constantly jumping between different resources to access business data and customer information. This slows down the sales cycle.
- You’re struggling to manage your data reliably as your sales reps gather more data. This means that you have an inaccurate single point of truth.
- You want to increase the functionality of your team, but you can’t implement the right tools for sales force automation with your current system.
The answer of when to use a CRM platform is an easy one to answer for most companies. When you see yourself struggling to deliver the best customer experiences and unlock the right customer data, you need a CRM.
How Much Does a CRM Cost?
Every business has a budget to think about, even when investing in tools as important as CRM platforms. The first thing to note is that CRM solutions can vary in price. Some are more expensive than others. The more advanced features you want, the more you might need to spend.
Think about how you want to manage your CRM data, and how much data you might have from your customers. Some platforms charge for additional bandwidth. It’s also worth considering how many people in your team will need to use your CRM. Some providers prefer to charge on a “per license” or “per user” basis.
Enterprise-grade tools might give you access to more functionality that improves your sales pipeline. For instance, you could get tools for building your customer loyalty program, or support for extra lead scoring and reporting from your cloud CRM.
The good news is that the barrier for entry to CRM technology is lower today than it once was. There are various tools out there that teams can even begin using for free. A free trial or demo is an excellent way to test the waters before you pay for a premium plan.
The Top Benefits of CRM Platforms
A CRM system can deliver endless benefits when used correctly to enhance your business processes. Having an in-depth view of your target audience and what they need from your company is the only way to increase engagement and customer loyalty.
The most obvious benefits of CRM platforms are:
- A single location for all your data: This makes it easier to get enhanced insights into what your customers actually want and need from your brand.
- Cost savings: Understanding your audience means that you can spend more of your money on strategies that generate a positive ROI, and less on wasteful campaigns.
- Enhanced sales revenue: A high-level CRM system increases sales revenue with integrated technology for forecasting, cross-selling, and lead management.
- Improved visibility: Better visibility into your pipeline means that you can see which roadblocks are getting in the way of your sales.
- Targeted marketing: Your CRM features can come with marketing solutions that help you to speak your customer’s language. When you know what your customer needs, you can adjust your advertising campaigns to suit them.
- More satisfied customers: Understanding your audience also means that you can deliver the kind of valuable experiences that clients are looking for. This leads to a better brand reputation, and happier customers.
- Better customer experience management: You’ll be able to maintain the same consistent experience for clients on every channel with access to CRM data. Plus, when you notice new opportunities arising, you can seize them immediately.
- Smoother collaboration: A CRM software solution that keeps your entire team informed means that everyone stays on the same page when it comes to delighting customers. Teams work better when everyone’s on the same page.
Why CRM Technology is Crucial to Business Growth
Customer relationship management tools are a vital solution for any customer-facing business. Ultimately, in today’s competitive economy, businesses aren’t interested in choosing the company with the best prices or features. Instead, you need to deliver amazing experiences if you want to remain competitive.
The more your business grows, thanks to new marketing efforts and sales productivity, the more essential your customer relationship management software becomes. Without this technology, it would be impossible to keep track of all your e-commerce clients, and what you need to do to earn their trust.
Without CRM technology, marketing and sales staff spend endless hours trying to connect the dots in a customer’s profile by checking emails and looking into phone reports. At the same time you may find that each rep on your team begins to implement their own sales process. In this scenario, communication with leads starts to lack consistency.
A lack of customer relationship management systems leads to a messy service experience for customers. No matter how much your business stands out on Google, or how excellent your products are, it’s hard to earn sales without first building a relationship with your clients. CRM technology addresses the common challenges of business growth and strengthens your connection with your audience.
At the same time, as the workplace evolves and more sales teams begin to work remotely, CRM solutions make it easier for everyone in your team to access the same data. These tools are the perfect way to streamline and improve your business functions, without endless complex data entry tasks.
4 of the Best CRM Solutions
If you’ve decided that CRM solutions might be a good investment for your company, the next step is picking the right tools to support your potential customers.
The good news for today’s business leaders is that there are plenty of different options out there to support your business strategy. Here, we’re going to list just a few of the top rated solutions to accelerate your conversion rates and empower your customer service teams.
HubSpot is one of the market leaders in marketing, sales, and other essential business tools. Known for both it’s high-performance software, and it’s dedication to amazing content production, HubSpot is a leader in the current market.
If you’re interested in making your first steps into the world of CRM technology but you don’t have much of a budget to get started, HubSpot CRM is the tool for you. HubSpot offers a free initial version of its CRM for smaller support teams. The tool comes with a variety of training resources to get you started, including learning guides, email signature generators, and more.
- Free introductory version
- Intuitive interface for beginners
- Brilliant for email marketing integrations
- Good functionality for today’s teams
- Works with a lot of other tools
- May be expensive with additional features
- Only one email address available for each contact record
SendinBlue is a company best-known for it’s email marketing solutions. However, the company also provides a powerful range of CRM tools too. This unique solution is quite easy to use, with no need for any specialist installation or extra tools. Just implement your contact info and you’re ready to go.
The SendinBlue CRM environment makes centralizing your information a quick and easy experience, with the option to export a range of documents into the CRM system. You can use a variety of different lists to organize contacts according to their characteristics and behavior.
There’s also the option to create tasks in your CRM and send them to individual people. SendinBlue does work best when you’re using the SendinBlue email marketing technology too, however.
- Easy to use functionality
- Great use of segmentation
- Handy integration with email marketing
- Helpful integrations
- Good entry-level price
- Works best when using SendinBlue for emails
- Lacking some extensive features
Zoho is another well-known name in the digital marketing landscape. This leading company has a powerful reputation as a provider of state-of-the-art productivity and workplace tools. Zoho CRM, is the solution available from Zoho for people who need to improve their relationships with clients.
Zoho CRM currently powers around 150,000 businesses in more than 180 countries to convert more leads, engage with clients, and grow additional revenue. The service is free for up to 10 users, and it comes with a bunch of fantastic features, including reporting and analytics.
Zoho CRM also comes with a lot of tools to help teams engage with clients and grow more revenue. However, the best features are reserved for paying customers.
- Free for up to 10 users
- Lots of great features to choose from
- Gamification included
- Integrations with Google
- Powerful reports and analytics
- Best features reserved for paid users
Salesforce is a compelling cloud-based, all-in-one solution that delivers everything today’s customers need for their online sales. This fantastic solution is one of the best-known CRM systems on the planet, offering everything you can think of to connect with your clients and increase your sales. One of the best things about Salesforce is how easy it is to use too.
There’s a robust set of tools and resources to choose from, and prices to suit virtually every company. Lower priced tiers are wonderfully suited for companies that don’t have a lot of customers yet. On the other hand, higher-priced solutions make it easier to tap into market-leading technology.
Salesforce is easily the world’s gold standard for CRM solutions, and one of the best-known pioneers of the industry so far.
- Excellent functionality
- Lots of customization options
- Social collaboration features
- Strong range of integrations and apps
- Easy to access for beginners
- Bit of a steep learning curve
- Pricey at higher levels.
What’s Next for CRM Applications?
The importance of CRM tools isn’t just a current fad.
As consumers continue to crave more personalized and relevant experiences from companies, immersive tools for customer relationship management will continue to gain traction. As we move into the future, we’ll likely see an increase in the number of tools that can integrate with CRM systems. This will make it easier to collect a larger amount of crucial data.
CRM technology will also take on more elements of artificial intelligence. AI will be able to sort through large volumes of data more effectively and deliver in-depth insights to business leaders. Many companies are already using AI technology to reduce the complexity of the CRM system for sales and marketing teams.
What’s more, the leading CRM technology will also continue to concentrate on things like security, compliance, and privacy for the modern audience. Reassuring your customers that their data is safe is crucial to the current era. CRM tech can help with this.