Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the process of managing interactions between customers, partners, clients, consumers, or prospects, while CRM software is the application tool used to manage these interactions.
Marketing, sales, and customer service teams all make use of CRM solutions by collecting customer and prospect information and analyzing it to derive insights about their purchasing and engagement behaviors. Additionally, teams can manage relationships with other groups like partners, vendors, or members by using these solutions to track interactions and generate valuable data.
CRM tools provide companies with an organized way to view all of these types of people, their organizations, and their engagement with your company. However, as powerful as the tools are, sometimes your organization will need additional applications to augment the CRM and formulate a robust CRM ecosystem.
CRM software has evolved significantly in the span of a decade, from single software tools to solutions that integrate well with other applications inside a single ecosystem or platform. Today, CRM software is much easier to afford, implement, and adopt as technology becomes ubiquitous (or widespread). With the right mix of applications and effective implementation, CRM technology can help your organization improve customer experiences and sales engagements, driving growth and profitability.
Full Customer Lifecycle Managed within the CRM
Several business processes are managed within a CRM solution to build and track a customer lifecycle: Lead Management, Marketing Management, Opportunity Management, Customer Management and Support Service Management. These individual processes have unique goals, yet they work together to help create a cohesive and well-orchestrated customer journey.
- Lead Management is the process of acquiring and managing leads until a purchase is made.
- Marketing Management are the processes of creating and implementing the strategies and tactics designed to create demand for a company’s products or services and customer retention and loyalty.
- Opportunity Management is the process of executing specific steps to ensure a sale is made.
- Account Management is the process of managing accounts, and the contacts within those accounts, to achieve specific goals around attraction, retention, and customer support.
- Service Management is the process of managing all service-related incidents. These can be related to outbound telesales to drive brand awareness to customer service supporting inquiries after a product has been purchased.
Identifying leads and opportunities within specific stages helps companies understand the strategies they should enact to drive sales. Additionally, these stages provide visibility into a company’s sales health, since all sales activities are captured to formulate a sales pipeline:
- Prospects begin as a Lead for your company when they either subscribe to your mailing list or have opted into receiving other forms of communication from you.
- Qualified Leads are prospects that have demonstrated their sales-readiness and willingness to learn more about your company.
- Sales Qualified Leads are those qualified leads that sales departments have accepted as “qualified” because they meet a certain threshold to be engaged by the sales team and are closer to purchase/conversion.
Used in conjunction with each Lead Management is Marketing Management, Campaign Management and Customer Management:
- Marketing Management is used to identify new leads, nurture them to become prospects and qualified leads, and support them once they become customers.
- Campaign Management is a subset of Marketing Management, or a strategic process of planning, executing, tracking, and then analyzing a specific marketing initiative. Campaign Management supports a company’s desire to segment their leads, prospects, and customers so they can tailor communications to them to motivate them differently. This is an invaluable process where different communications can be sent to leads, prospects, and customers across multiple channels and at various times. The ability for a company to identify who received which communications and how they are engaging is the key to understanding where they are in the customer lifecycle to determine the next step with them.
- Customer Management begins once a sale has been made and a prospect becomes a customer. Different industries and the types of products or services purchased define the cadence of re-engagement with a customer for renewal orders. But the goal is to continue to foster the relationship so that they become lifelong customers.
It is easy to see how these different processes work together to elevate customer satisfaction through the experiences they have with your company. Therefore, it is imperative for your organization to have a well-designed CRM to ensure success.
Benefits of CRM Software Systems
360-Degree View of Your Customer
There are many reasons why your organization may be considering a CRM solution. but the primary reason most companies choose a CRM is so they can obtain a 360-degree view of their customer, that is having the ability to understand all of a prospect, lead or customers interactions and experiences with your organization
A CRM solution will enable organizations to organize all contact, partner, customer, member, prospect, or other defined group’s data in a centralized database.
This data goes beyond the traditional “Rolodex-type” information. It includes information related to your company’s marketing efforts to them, the customer’s behaviors through website visits or clicking through an email, to understanding the make and model of a purchased item.
Ultimately, the information gathered can provide enhanced customer intelligence and predictive analysis to drive increased sales, increased customer satisfaction, and create seamless engagement with your company.
Scalable Sales and Marketing Processes
Robust sales and marketing processes are essential to help your organization achieve sales and revenue targets. Scalable processes are those that have been clearly defined, can tolerate increases in use, and can efficiently and effectively support key business priorities.
A well-designed CRM solution increases a sales team’s productivity by automating repetitive tasks, reducing duplicative work and data entry, and providing more accurate forecasting on sales revenues. It provides a way for sales representatives to manage their prospects and customers so that they can engage with these groups differently.
And, because the CRM is designed to analyze data efficiently, it can orchestrate all communication and interactions with prospects and customers and provide improved messaging when utilizing marketing automation.
Analysis, Insights, Trends
A well-designed CRM solution will provide your company with actionable insights related to your prospects and customers. These insights can help your company nurture brand advocates and identify trends related to their engagement with your communications, your product, on your website or social channels.
Additionally, analytics derived from your CRM’s data can help improve services to target, engage and retain customers.
Many companies are taking advantage of next-generation CRM features like predictive analytics. This entails the use of data mining, machine learning, and predictive modeling to identify trends and make future predictions based on historical and current data. One use of this is to assist your organization in identifying whom to engage, when, and how to best convert or retain them as customers.