Don’t underestimate the importance of CRM for Business Online Presence. There’s a lot of confusion about what may or may not constitute as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system out there in the marketplace. Effective use of a CRM can dramatically improve lead nurturing and marketing automation as well as customer retention.
Typically, a lot of companies follow the shiny object syndrome. They read about some great, new tool that’s out there, that’s going to help them close and convert sales. They go out and buy it without any thought. They go to implement it and of course, they have a very high degree of failure. What has to happen first is, you need to kind of understand why do you need CRM? Why and how are you going to be using it… because CRM has so many different pieces to it.
It’s all about how do you plan on using CRM, and for what reason do you need to have it? Some people will use it as a way of just maintaining contacts. Other people look at it for the tools that are contained within it, like workflow, so that they can move people along within their sales cycle, or their marketing cycle. Most of the CRMs systems that’re out now also have a service component or a project management component to it.
CRM gives you the ability to look at the full lifecycle of a relationship. That’s what the potential of CRM is, full lifecycle customer relationship management. It really depends on what are the areas that you’re trying to kind of gain under control. Where are the areas for improvement in your business? More importantly, how can the CRM be implemented in a way that people will use it, and embrace it?
Some CRMs are better suited to small, medium, or large businesses, so it’s important to consider the features and price points for a CRM that is right-sized for your business.
There are really three levels of CRM. There are the basic contact management solutions like the Insightly, Nimble, Act, and Zoho, which have basic contact management and may have additional pieces with it, like the ability to manage tasks and activities, the ability to escalate things, and do stuff like that. They are considered to be in the family of contact management.
Next are the CRMs that include strong marketing automation engines and include email and or text message marketing and lead capture. This level includes solutions like Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, Signpost, and Hatchbuck.
The third level is where you start to move into some of these larger scale systems like Microsoft CRM and Salesforce, which really are applications suites. They’re designed to be front ends that kind of sit on top of your accounting data, as a way of kind of aggregating all that data up so that you have a single, 360 degree view of the customer.
Some of the CRM platforms have lead-generation, inbound marketing, social media, the ability to incorporate landing pages and websites – platforms like HubSpot and Marketo.
Most of the CRMs now have moved into what’s called social listening space where if you have a contact, an account, or a contact and you want to follow that person, it allows you to insert their social media profiles so that as they’re starting to talk about certain things, it lets you see what they’re talking about, which helps you better target your presentation, your strategy towards them, understanding what some of their pain points are… some of the things that are currently on their mind.
Let’s face it. Today it’s really about developing a deep relationship that’s conversational, right? You have to be able to connect to someone on a personal level, and they have to know, like, and trust you, in order for them to further the relationship. One of the best ways to do that is to find out where your contacts interests are and where your interests are, and be able to kind of draw that commonality between the two of you, which really gives you an advantage over your competitors who don’t have that intelligent information in front of them.
What have your experiences been selecting, implementing, or using a CRM?