What is CRM all about? What does it give you that other sales tools don’t? If you’re a business looking to implement a CRM, these are some of the questions you’re probably asking. In this page, you’ll find answers to these questions and more:
When you type “what is CRM” on Google, you get over 50 million results. Many of them are quite exhaustive too. In essence, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to two things:
While point 1 is a matter of theory, point 2 is where things become tangible for businesses. Think of CRM software as an evolved digital version of your diary, packing in 10x more features and enabling 10x more collaboration for your team. We’re talking about software that lets a business hold every lead, every customer, every interaction and every deal under one roof, while also letting you generate reports, automate a bunch of activities and be available across devices.
Introduction of contact management software, a digital version of the traditional rolodex
Introduction of sales force automation, viz. the automation of routine sales tasks
The term “CRM” is coined, giving customer relationship software an identity
Groundbreaking advancements: cloud-based CRM is launched, first app for mobile CRM developed
The birth of “social CRM”: usage of CRM by businesses to interact with customers on social media
Artificial intelligence and machine learning set to change the face of CRM
If you’re using spreadsheets and email for sales, you’re not alone. These tools are easy to access, easier to understand, and—when you’re a small business—seem self-sufficient. But when you’re keen to grow your business, these tools fall short.
Spreadsheets and email are designed for specific functions, and they perform those functions really well. Customer relationship management is not one of them. Managing relationships with customers means being able to look beyond data and understand the context that drives interactions. This context is obtained through different channels—phone, email, face-to-face meetings. Being able to access all this context instantly and with minimal effort—that’s where a single tool (read CRM software) can be the pivotal difference.
In the table below, you’ll find a list of common sales needs. A few can be solved by spreadsheets and/or email, but not all. Take a look:
|Storing contacts’ details|
|Managing high volumes of data|
|Managing a large, growing sales team|
|Establishing sales processes|
|Tracking contacts’ activity on website, in product|
|Visualizing your sales pipeline|
|Customizing the tool according to your sales process/activities|
|Automating repetitive activities|
|Retaining all functionalities across device types|
|Cross-selling and up-selling using contextual customer information|
|Engaging in after-sales activities|
|Performing smart actions based on customer behavior|
|Managing sales activities|
|Controlling data access through scopes and permissions (within team/organization)|
Anyone who’s been in sales knows getting a qualified lead is hard work. Nurturing them is harder. Making them your customer is the ultimate challenge.
Customer relationship management is not just about managing people after they become your customers. It’s about how you manage people before and after they become your customers.
When you send a welcome email to a person who’s just signed up for your product, you take the first step towards building a relationship with them. When you avoid spamming your leads and stay around discreetly enough to respond to their queries, that’s another sign of good customer relationship management. And when they finally sign on the dotted line, leaving them with no second thoughts on post-sales support is part of the CRM package.
If you want to do all this without missing out on a single move, you need help. An email client can help you send emails, telephony software can let you jump on a quick call, but when these diverse tools are spread around your desk, it can become very difficult.
CRM software brings multiple functionalities—phone, email, report creation, activity tracking, automations—into one system. So instead of switching tools every few minutes, you’ll stay on one tool, get all the functionalities you need, and have a 360° view of every customer—always. This gives you more time to focus on the human aspect of sales: reaching out and solving people’s needs.
Here are a few stats that speak for CRM’s impact:
When you have a 360° view of your prospects you understand them better, and you make the kind of decisions that create lasting relationships with them.
You can tap into the rich context in CRM to cross-sell and up-sell smarter. Your deals are always alive; they’re just waiting to become bigger.
Spot and eliminate stale deals faster, zero in on the hottest deals, and transform your pipeline into a dynamic, updated sales engine.
Spreadsheets and emails expect you to enter data by default. CRMs are built to free up your time for real sales activities.
Customers don’t have to repeat information, and reps can use historical context to quickly take conversations forward.
Marketing and customer support teams can also use CRM software to optimize email campaigns and improve ticket conversations.
CRM software typically involves elements like contact database, phone, email, reporting, event tracking and integrations with other software. Different vendors offer variations of this feature set—some CRMs may not come with built-in phone, while others pitch themselves purely as a contact management system. Irrespective of these variations, CRM software is essentially a tool for sales productivity. CRMs exist to make salespeople’s lives easier and more organized; eliminating data entry is a vital aspect of that goal.
Here are some of the possibilities with CRM software:
Make quick notes about your leads, contacts, deals and accounts, in their respective profiles.
Schedule tasks like follow-up actions and call reminders for every prospect and/or account.
Manage your calendar from the CRM, by setting up meetings across time zones.
Upload files or add URLs from sources like Google Drive, before sharing these resources with your team.
CRM software can sync with many tools, including marketing automation and live chat software.
Automatically create leads from emails and form submissions; let the CRM change deal stages for you.
CRM software is only as good as the humans using it. And the humans using it need a strong strategy to connect the dots behind the data. Different businesses run on different models, of course, but if you’re wondering how to implement your CRM effectively, you can start with these four points:
Does your business involve extensive cold calling? Or do most of your leads come inbound? How many emails do you send on average every day? Does your business depend on field sales or inside sales or both? These are not the exact questions you should be asking yourself, but asking such questions is the first step towards consolidating your use cases.
If your business thrives on email outreach, your CRM should let you track email opens and link clicks in real time, while also helping you send bulk emails. If your business depends on international calling, your CRM should have an in-built phone with the the ability to buy numbers from across the globe.
Remember to have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) expectations from the CRM. It’s the difference between increasing your deals and increasing the number of closed deals by 100% in 30 days.
CRM software can’t be imposed on your reps; they need to use it to feel happy about it. If the CRM has a free trial, get your reps to sign up right away. It’s a great way to find out everything about the CRM, including the kind of support on offer. This also ensures your team is more invested in the software if/when you make a purchasing decision.
Try Freshsales CRM. It comes with a free 30-day trial, and includes built-in phone, email integration, reports and automations, among other features. Plus you get free, 24x5 support over phone and email—irrespective of whether you’re a free user or a paying customer.
Both. Some CRMs like Freshsales have a free version plus a variety of paid plans. Other CRMs are either free-only or paid-only. Free versions usually have a cap on the number of reps who can login. In some cases, an unlimited number of reps can use the free CRM. Some CRMs also encourage prospects to sign up for a free trial, typically ranging between 15 and 30 days.
Practically everyone in the organization. Sales reps, sales managers, the VP of Sales—there’s something in the CRM for everyone. Other teams in your business can also use it. Marketing can run email campaigns to targeted prospects; customer support can use sales context to resolve tickets better. Even your accounting department can use CRM software to manage their invoices.
No. CRMs are optimized for multiple devices. In fact one of the things you should consider in a CRM is whether it has apps for Android and iOS. Some features are even built exclusively for the mobile version, like the ability to book an Uber right from the CRM when reps want to ride to their meetings.
Some websites classify CRMs as operational, analytical and collaborative. These divisions are for convenience more than anything else; they’re not part of any standard theory. However, CRM software is often identified depending on the industry it serves. So you’ll find real estate CRMs, e-commerce CRMs, CRMs for hospitality, SaaS CRMs and even healthcare CRMs.
CRMs used to be on physical servers, but they’ve moved to the cloud. Some CRM vendors still offer on-premise solutions; some even offer both options. But with an increasing need to access data on the go, cloud-based CRMs are gaining precedence. Plus cloud-based CRM enables fast data transmission and ensures data is accessible across devices.
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