We frequently mention in our articles how important Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions have become for effective marketing and business development.
A CRM solution is the consolidation point where everything you have and know about your business contacts such as leads, prospects, clients, service suppliers, and others come together and provide business intelligence that you can use to your advantage.
Your business contacts are one of your most important assets. Your teams spends a lot of time scouting potential leads and prospects, and making other business acquaintances in various forms (e.g. vendors, suppliers, sub-contractors, potential recruits, etc.) Saving these contacts—and most importantly clients—in personal folders is a good start, but not really a great one. Here are some reasons why all business contacts must go into a database (i.e. a CRM) that is accessible by the entire team:
Business contacts are company property
They simply belong in a place that everybody has access to and can at the very least be viewed for different business purposes. This is not only important for marketing, but equally critical for collecting accounts receivable and other business processes.
The data must be continuously maintained and kept up-to-date at all times
Just imagine how much time is wasted when a client changes an address and phone numbers, and your team of 25 people would have to update 25 individual folders. Now factor in the multiple contacts on record from the same organization, and you will find that could take almost an hour if each person spends only two minutes doing the updates. If the data is centralized, it’ll take only two minutes all together! Additionally, most CRM solutions have mass-update functions, so the job could be done in less than a minute.
Communications with leads, prospects, vendors, and most importantly clients need to be shared with everyone
Multiple persons may perform the same function and therefore need to be up to speed on previous discussions. Let’s take your sales team as an example. Sales Rep A calls a Lead today and tries to schedule an appointment with her. The lead asks Sales Rep A him to call back on Sunday at 10 am. Problem is, Sales Rep A is on vacation next Sunday, so someone else needs to call the Lead. With a CRM solution in place, Sales Rep B can pick up where Sales Rep A left off and schedule that appointment with the Lead as requested, referring to her last conversation with his colleague. He then logs the phone call and meeting minutes in the CRM solution, and Sales Rep A can pick it up from there when he gets back and won’t have to waste the Lead’s or his Colleague’s time asking about what happened while he was gone.
The sales funnel with all current opportunities must be kept up-to-date with notes and changes in status at all times
Whether a new decision maker is added or another competitor has been detected, everybody involved in the business development process must have access to this information. Remember, information is power, and you need all the leverage you can get when working on an opportunity.
Marketing, sales, customer care, and other templates need to be unified and stored in a central location
There’s no better place than the CRM solution for that. Not only do you ensure that everybody uses the same templates, but it is also easy to perform mail merges and similar functions out of the CRM solution.
Most CRM solutions have add-on tools that enable users to view and access the data remotely, which is especially critical when on the road
While some solutions are entirely web-based, others synchronize with popular PIMs (Personal Contacts Managers) such as Outlook, and many are furthermore empowered with an app that works great on your smartphone or tablet for instant access when needed.
Most CRM solutions come with a bunch of important business tool that save your team a lot of time
For example, web forms for joining a mailing list and workflows are a couple of frequently found functions that are great time savers. A good CRM solution would send an automated “thank you” note to a new subscriber, and alert someone in sales about the new contact so he/she can be contacted by phone for more personalized follow-up.
The number and variety of reasons for why a CRM solution is a must in today’s business environment grows endless. The bottom line is, you’ve spent a lot of time and energy building your circle of business contacts. You definitely need to protect this investment by installing and maintaining a professional CRM solution, which doesn’t mean that you need to spend an arm and a leg. Many solutions offer free entry packages that are designed to accommodate the needs of very small teams, and then charge minimal monthly fees per user.
Give it a shot: Google “free CRM solutions” and you’ll be surprised by the number and variety of options you get, or give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to offer a few pointers to get started.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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