Do you have a CRM? Do you use it? Do you wonder what a CRM even is? If you are engaging in B2B marketing and sales, these are important questions to answer.
From our perspective the best CRM is like the best sunscreen – it’s one that you use consistently. But many businesses are missing out on the benefits of CRM platforms by not understanding their purpose, or by not using them at all.
So what are CRM platforms and why does your business need to use one?
What is a CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management or customer relationship management software. This is a centralized system that houses contact information and can be used to track the interactions that contacts have with your business. This includes what communication touch points your contact has received, what stage they are at in the sales process, what they have purchased from you and even what service requests they have submitted. Common examples of CRMs include Hubspot, Salesforce, Zoho, Pipedrive, and Capsule. There are even CRM platforms developed to meet the needs of specific industries like Ajera and Cosential for architecture, engineering, and construction.
Why You Need a CRM
Increase the Effectiveness of Your Sellers
The most important reason to implement a CRM is to increase sales. Salesforce found that businesses that leverage CRM software see sales increase by 29%, sales productivity increase by 34%, and sales forecast accuracy increase by 42%.
There are many reasons for this. First, when your sellers aren’t spending time hunting for up-to-date information, they can spend more of their time selling.
Second, your CRM helps you prioritize opportunities based on how the contact has engaged. This allows your sales team to be much more efficient and close more deals by contacting prospects when they are ready to buy.
One Source of Truth Centered on Your Customers
Where does your customer information live now? In spreadsheets or email address lists scattered across different departments? In the heads of your sales team? In a cumbersome and out-dated database?
Using a CRM puts all of your customer information in one place that is accessible to everyone who works with your customers. Your CRM should be your source of up-to-date contact information for your prospects and customers. Records should include how the contact was acquired, what communications they have received, and what, when, and how they have bought from you.
This makes interactions with you easier for your customer. If they reach out with a question about one of your services, your representative can pull up their record and tailor their answer to the customer.
Align Your Marketing, Sales, and Service Teams
When all of your teams are working from one set of customer information, it’s much easier to align your understanding of your customer and make sure that their experience with your company is consistent, no matter who they are interacting with.
Oracle says, “When your data is organized and managed by a CRM platform, you have a more comprehensive understanding of your customers, which, in turn, leads to more aligned messaging.”
Your CRM also gives you a unified set of metrics to use to assess progress toward your goals. This allows marketing and sales to unite around shared goals and shared definitions of progress.
Track Customer Touch Points
Some CRM platforms can be used to automate messages to your contacts based on actions that they take and their stage in the sales cycle. Whether you are using your CRM to send marketing messages or you’re doing that through another platform, you should be able to use integrations to track what messages your contact has received and how they have responded.
Your CRM is also where sales team members should note conversations that they have had with the contact and what next steps are planned.
Preserve Business Value
Your customers are your business and the information and experiences you have with them are part of how your business builds value. If all of these details only live in someone’s head, or in dispersed files that may not be easily accessible, then that business value can easily be lost. But if the details of your customer relationships are documented in one centralized location, then that value remains even if a team member leaves or the company gets acquired.
In fact, maintaining a CRM clearly demonstrates your business to potential acquirers. It gives them tangible assets that they can factor into the valuation of your company.
What Do You Need in a CRM?
You don’t necessarily need a complex CRM with thousands of dollars worth of features, especially if you are just starting out. But it is important to think about your marketing and sales activities and what tools you need to support them.
Are you planning to run automated email outreach to your customers? Do you want to use your CRM to track service requests? Then you need to make sure that you invest in a platform and plan that includes these features.
If you already have a CRM but it is not being used consistently, start by establishing processes with your team to centralize your customer information in your CRM.
A lot of companies make the mistake of thinking that if they just find the right CRM that it will fix their business development and sales process breakdowns. And while CRMs have features that certainly make business development and sales easier, they are only as good as what you make of them.
So before you go out and invest in a new system, invest in building the habits of your team to use your current CRM to its full effectiveness. In the process of doing this, you may discover that your current platform lacks capabilities that you need, but then you will have a clear idea of what features to invest in and your team will be well positioned to make a CRM transition worthwhile.
Do you need help aligning your sales and marketing teams?
Watch our recent webinar for actionable steps to align your sales and marketing to grow your business.