Question: Who is the most valuable asset in your business?
Did your mind go to your top sales executive, or, perhaps the CFO who does your books? Maybe you thought about yourself. If you thought of any member of your company as the answer, we have an important bit of news to share:
The truth is that the most valuable human asset in your business is still the customer.
If you answered this right off the bat, congratulations! You’ve jumped straight to the heart of the client/company relationship that forms the core of commerce in the United States. You know instinctively, that, while the customer may not always be right, they are certainly always important.
The intensely competitive nature of most industries requires you to consider long-term customer engagement as a crucial part of the sustainability and growth of your company. If you have a mid-sized business, you may have started out with paper invoices or a simple Excel spreadsheet with your customer contacts. Today, that’s no longer enough—no matter how large or small your business.
With the onset of digital technologies, customer relationships are now managed by CRM software. Customer relationship management software allows you to track the characteristics of your customers over a long period of time. It helps your business use your sales database as a marketing tool.
Why Do I Need a CRM?
In marketing, it’s widely acknowledged that the way we interact with customers has changed. That’s because our 24/7 digital connectivity has allowed customers more information than they’ve ever had before. The result is that clients are now much fickler when buying services. They may ask more questions, and they are usually acutely aware of you and your competitors' offerings before they even sit down with you.
Social media allows these customers to talk about your business, to share anecdotal information, or make recommendations about your services or products. Remember the adage, "Bad news travels quickly"? Add the Internet into the mix, and you’ve got an increasingly challenging environment both in terms of consumer behavior and competitor influence.
That’s why most businesses have now turned to digital technology in the form of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to help improve their efforts to influence the increasingly short attention spans of past, current, and potential clients.
If set up and used correctly, a CRM like Microsoft Dynamics can help you track sales and prospects, while automating many of your marketing functions so that, when they're ready to buy, your company is top of mind.
What are the Benefits of a CRM? Seven Top Tips
Now that you understand what trends have led companies to purchase CRM software, let’s look at the benefits of engaging with these platforms. Here are our top seven:
1. CRMs Increase Sales
We placed this reason at the top of our list because, frankly, no other benefit is as important. CRMs give companies an excellent rate of return on their software investment. According to Small Business Software Reviews, implementing a CRM can give your business a 20 percent boost in sales. According to destinationCRM.com, 82.9 percent of organizations are now leveraging a CRM software. That statistic alone should tell you that companies find real value in CRM software.
2. CRMs Yield Information
In any business, the more information you have, the better your decision-making will be. The beauty of a CRM is that you'll begin to collate real data on the customer buying patterns that are affecting your business. A CRM will help you begin to understand what motivates your customers to buy or to walk away. You’ll be able to spot certain demographics and trends, such as the location from which most of your clients come. Once you understand the needs, wants, and priorities of your target audience, you can begin to design more sophisticated marketing materials to reach them.
3. CRMs Keep Your Team Honest
How many times have you found yourself wondering what your sales reps are doing, what led to a particular sale, or why a certain prospect never closed? A CRM is an excellent way to track the sales process by showing activity levels. These platforms are often web-based, so your sales reps can make notes on any digital device. If your CRM is online, this data is updated in real-time, which means sales teams will be able to see if customer service spoke with the client and vice-versa. This makes for an incredibly intelligent way of interacting with the customer.
4. A CRM Creates Organizational History
This is one area where small to mid-sized businesses always struggle. Finding the time to systemize organizational workflows will allow you to replicate what’s working with new employees. It speeds up your processes by eliminating the need to make things up as you go along. A CRM is particularly useful in this area. It can conclusively allow you to document all customer contacts throughout the sales lifecycle, from prospecting to customer service after the close. Having this history will allow you to analyze what works and what doesn’t and then replicate the most effective parts of any process.
5. A CRM Improves Customer Service
People become impatient when they have to explain themselves repeatedly. When a customer calls your business, they will grow disenchanted with long hold times or with customer service reps that don’t seem to understand the situation. A CRM provides one place from which customer service teams can gather all sorts of data including sales history, service or product preferences, payment data, and more. A CRM like Microsoft Dynamics even allows for data to flow between the Microsoft suite of products, so your customers will truly feel like you understand their pain points and needs. This is crucial for them to believe that you’re paying attention to the important details.
6. A CRM Allows Automation
From marketing to sending contracts, a good CRM will enable you to automate many of your daily functions. For example, potential customers could be nurtured with marketing campaigns over an extended period. Statistics tell us these campaigns are highly effective in enticing even the most reluctant customer to have more trust in your company and the services you provide. Marketing automation is also beneficial to customer service. After a customer calls in, the CRM could automatically send a follow-up email to be sure the issue was resolved. Another option is that once a new client has been added to the database and a contract uploaded, the document could automatically route to a supervisor for signature approval. Once you begin to integrate automation into all these bits and pieces of tasks that make up your day, you’ll understand how a CRM can save your organization time. We think you’ll agree that’s something we could all use a little more of.
7. CRMs Improve Analytical Decision Making
The data doesn't lie, and that's why a CRM can have a real impact on the decision making process in your business. CRMs like Microsoft Dynamics store all the data that drives sales in one place. You can use standardized business reporting or carve out data to create a customized report. This data can be integrated with other tools to give you a big picture analysis of market trends, supply chain, or other data that could affect your profitability. From the CRM you'll be able to track sales; including sales forecasts and funnels, profitability, close ratios, average sale amount by rep, how long it took to close a prospect, or other key performance indicators (KPIs).
On the customer reporting side, you can track buying patterns, demographics, the longevity of the client relationship, if they've ever given you a referral, or if they’ve asked customer service for help, and more. A CRM can also track marketing campaigns, including that critical understanding of where the customer came from to begin with. You'll be able to link a particular marketing effort to the close ratio and understand what marketing venues (social media, TV advertising) or what messaging works best. All of these reports can be accessed from a CRM dashboard, where you can see these analytics in real-time. CRM dashboards can be customized to your specifications, just like the reporting feature itself. If your business doesn't have this kind of information now, a CRM will give it to you.
CRMs are about giving your business the tools you need to make better decisions, streamline your workflows, and improve sales and customer service. If you’d like to take a test drive of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the IES team is standing by to discuss the features, benefits, and costs of this robust, flexible software.