What does CRM stand for?
CRM stands for customer relationship management and is a software that enables you to nurture relationships with customers and prospects to drive sales or sustain long-term profitability. It also combines streams of customer data to provide you with valuable insights that will help you craft better strategies as well as business decisions.
How does a CRM system do this?
A CRM system stores information which creates a record for each customer’s interaction with your company. This can include personal data, past purchases, email exchanges, the status of a deal and social media engagement just to name a few. Having all of this data and information to hand in one system allows your company to create a much more personalised experience for customers, no matter what stage of the buyer’s journey they are at.
What CRM systems are out there?
As with anything, there’s quite a few CRM systems out there and different types depending on what you’re wanting to achieve. They are generally classified into three categories based on functionality: operational, analytical and collaborative. Most CRM systems feature all three, but usually specialise in one or two of the above categories, so it just depends on what your company’s priorities are.
The main purpose for an operational CRM system is to automate and streamline the workflows in customer service, sales and marketing. The CRM systems that are strong from an operational point of view have excellent lead management, contact management, help desk solutions and a sales pipeline. This type of system is usually used by marketers, managers, sales development reps and managers, as well as technical support as it offloads repetitive tasks to enable you to work smarter, not harder.
A couple of examples for this category are Pipedrive and HubSpot CRM. Personally, we use HubSpot as our CRM system as it’s highly flexible and a very intuitive product that can be used straight away after setup completion. Another reason why so many other companies use HubSpot for its CRM is that it is among the best free CRM solutions around so even if you’re unsure or don’t have the budget allocated towards this software, you are able to use the free version.
Having an analytical CRM system means that you can source so much data from multiple sources and consolidate them into insights that are useful to strategic planning. With robust reporting and dashboards, analytical software can also generate real-time data for your company to use as well. This type of CRM is useful for CEOs, department heads and team leaders.
A collaborative CRM system promotes teamwork and transparency throughout both sales and marketing departments as it supports the sharing of customer information and syncing each department’s activities. This type of CRM features excellent communication tools, including social chat and integrated email. It also has strong file-sharing capabilities and editing controls.
What features should I look for in a good CRM?
- Contact management – Without contact management capabilities, there wouldn’t really be much point in a CRM system. No matter which CRM system you choose, they should always allow sales reps to create contact records and store any customer or prospect information.
- Ease of use – No one wants to purchase a new piece of software and have to spend all of their time training themselves and their employees on it. The CRM system you choose needs to be quick and easy to deploy and one that employees can understand and navigate with ease.
- Mobile – A lot of CRM systems that are up to date allow anyone to log on to the platform from mobile devices, making it easy for any salespeople that are on the road to log on and use. Just make sure the systems that you’re considering also have a mobile application enabled and that it is in a good state to use.
- Email integration – Connecting your email inbox to your CRM is crucial to streamline your outreach process and get the most from your system. It should log email addresses, names, and email messages to your contacts, making it easy to keep track of who, when, and what you’ve emailed without ever leaving your inbox.
- Meeting scheduling – Managers and salespeople alike set up a lot of meetings, so why shouldn’t your CRM system accommodate this functionality too? Certain CRM systems have an app or integration for this as well that includes a meetings tool which syncs to your Google or Office 365 calendar. This then shares your availability with any prospects wanting to book a meeting and updates itself in real-time. If this tool can be embedded into your site like the HubSpot tool can, then even better.
Hopefully this checklist has helped you understand more about what a CRM system is and can achieve for your business, as well as which features to look out for. Remember to take all of these factors into consideration but most importantly, choose the one that is right for you. If you’re still unsure, you can always trial HubSpot’s free CRM software and see how effective that can be. Alternatively, you can contact us for a free discovery session where we can guide you through the process.