CRM = Customer Relationship Management
Put simply, a customer relationship management (CRM) system organises your audience’s data. It allows you to collect, monitor and gain valuable insights from your customers, stakeholders and sales prospects in one place.
As a business grows, departments across the organisation will likely be using different tools, and with various channels for customers to interact, it can be difficult to get a full picture of your customers. A CRM system will allow you to build stronger relationships with your audience as you grow, and will help you to be more efficient through automation, increase engagement through effective segmentation and increase your success rate with winning new business by enabling you to nurture leads through your sales funnel.
So, how can a CRM system support growth?
Using insights and data to grow your business cuts across many departments; be it a marketing function capturing your customers’ preferences to segment and tailor key messages, your sales team laying the foundation for building and tracking relationships, or your finance team for forecasting new business.
As you grow, it’s likely that you are spending more of your time behind that desk and don’t have as much time as before to be in direct touch with your customers. An effective CRM system will enable your team to maintain and build new relationships, while allowing you to make knowledge-based decisions about where to focus.
You don’t need to be a large organisation to justify the need for a CRM system. Small and new enterprises equally find value. If you are just starting out, implementing contact management at the early stage lays excellent foundations for the future, and enables you to collect those valuable insights from the get-go. What you will want to consider at this stage is the type and complexity of the system you require – but more on that later.
5 ways a CRM system can help you grow
1. Be more efficient
Organising your data will enable you to access key information and insight reports at the drop of a button. There’s no longer a need to sift through documents or search various databases to find and analyse your data. Your sales teams can avoid wasting time and start concentrating on prioritising the most profitable accounts. Your marketing teams will be able to save time and implement more efficient campaigns through effective segmentation and automation. Enabling you to avoid wasted effort, minimising overheads and increase sales through improving your sales and marketing efforts. Although a CRM system will take some man-hours to input good data, by automating regular tasks you will be able to minimise other manual procedures.
2. Manage risk
There are a couple of risks to organisations that don’t currently have a CRM system or a simple contact management procedure in place. Firstly, the biggie, Data Protection.
The Data Protection Act 2018 controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government. The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Everyone responsible for using personal data has to follow strict rules called ‘data protection principles. They must make sure the information is:
- used fairly, lawfully and transparently
- used for specified, explicit purposes
- used in a way that is adequate, relevant and limited to only what is necessary
- accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
- kept for no longer than is necessary
- handled in a way that ensures appropriate security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing, access, loss, destruction or damage
A CRM system can reduce your risks of breaching Data Protection regulations by enabling you to have sight over all of the data you are storing. It also enables you to capture ‘opt-in/opt-out’ preferences from your customers.
Then there comes the risk of missed opportunities through lack of communication or siloed departments. CRMs can increase coordination between departments by providing access to shared knowledge and insights, making your teams more efficient and collaborative.
And finally, the risk of lost contacts. If you don’t currently have a way of storing key customer information, where are your key customers’ data? If you have a sales team are contact details sitting in their inbox or their personal mobile phones? If so, what would be the risk if that person left the business or become ill? A CRM system reduces this risk by storing those key contact details in a shared, central system.
3. Improve relationships
A CRM system can improve customer satisfaction and help to build loyal customers. By sharing information across departments such as Sales, Marketing and Customer Services, you will be better placed to build meaningful relationships. With access to this shared information on specific accounts, you can tailor your messages and have a better understanding of your customers.
4. Enhanced Marketing
When you integrate data with your marketing efforts you will get a clearer understanding of who you are marketing to. This is invaluable insight that helps you to build a picture of who you are talking to, allowing you to tailor your messages and channels according to their interests. A CRM system is also a vital ingredient if you are utilising email marketing techniques. The CRM gives you the basis of your subscriber lists, allows you to further segment, and to build automated workflows, so that you send the right messages, to the right people.
5. Build insights and data
Knowledge is power. By being able to see all of your customer data in one place, you will be able to identify key trends. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to talk to them. CRMs provide insightful reports, provides insights into sales trends, and gives information about how you are performing. You can create reports to support your teams with day-to-day tasks, for example, setting up reminders to contact leads after x amount of time; or for monitoring performance. Reports can also be used to support forecasting for budget allocation and forecasting sales pipelines.
- Do your research. There are a wide variety of CRM systems available, and finding one specific to your needs will vary depending on how you operate. Take your time to figure out exactly what you want from your system, and what your goals are.
- Who will be using the CRM? Will it be your whole team or just specific departments? Consider everyone who could benefit from access to a CRM, and then talk to your team to establish what their goals would be.
- How complex will it need to be? If you are a smaller organisation, a fairly simple system will probably work best, the more complexity you add, the more time will be absorbed into maintaining the system. Start by establishing what you would like out of the system, then work backwards.
- Think about integration. What other tools or software are you using? For example, will it need to integrate with your management account system, or your marketing and communication channels?
- How will it scale? It’s important to make sure that your chosen solution is able to grow with you as you need. There is little point in investing in a system that you will outgrow as quickly as it is implemented. Equally, you need to balance this with the risk of paying for functionality that you are unlikely to use.
- “Rubbish in – Rubbish out”. When you’ve decided what good information you want, you need to establish that:
- Accurate, relevant, timely data is being inputted
- You have reports established that convert good data into useful information
- Someone is responsible for periodic data quality reviews, ensuring any missing information is completed, duplicates are merged and mistakes are corrected
- You have a set of principles when inputting data – i.e if you are a bilingual company do you enter data in English or Welsh?
- Think about your KPI’s. When setting up your CRM system you will likely be able to customise fields and make some fields mandatory. If you are planning to report on certain KPIs, start by thinking about what information you will need for such a report. Any data that is needed for the report should be a mandatory field. But you will need to balance this to ensure that it is not too much of a barrier to inputting information if mandatory field information is not easy to find.
- Get your team on board. For a CRM implementation to work, you need buy-in from your teams. In the beginning, it is likely that a CRM could add to workload by the need to input data, so it’s imperative that your team quickly see the benefits it brings in terms of improved efficiencies elsewhere. If your team aren’t on board, your data quality will suffer, meaning you will see less return on your investment.
We will leave you with same advice as we give when implementing management information systems. Don’t of necessity think you need to invest £000s. We’ve seen more businesses struggle with over specified systems than we have businesses struggling with underspecified systems. If you’re in the early stages of growth it may well be that all you need is a basic CRM system or Excel skills.
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