Customer Relationship Management 101
Written by: Ryan Flannagan

Chapter 26: CRM: One Software to Rule Them All (Kinda)

 

At this point things are working pretty well. You have your marketing automation software in place, turning the casually curious into either qualified leads or excited advocates. You have strong online content to hook interest from search engines and actual, live human beings. Your landing pages are in place. Your value-added content wins prizes. A flood of interested customers are beating a path to your sales department.

Now what?

How do you shepherd this cascade of potential customers through the remainder of the buyer’s journey? How do you manage all the moving parts of your sales engine? How do you track the performance of different sales techniques, package offers, and members of your sales force? Do you need to hire more people? Do you need to let people go? How do you predict sales for future quarters?

The digital solution for this: Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM).

CRM is not a new concept. Since long before software was a thing, smart sales teams had pen-and-paper organization and systems that tracked the progress of various leads, and the performance of various initiatives and team members. CRM software takes that concept and leverages the power of the digital age to make it a far more powerful beast.

Let’s look at the who, what, when, why and how of CRM software.

What is CRM?

In some crowds, “CRM” is as much a meaningless buzzword as “SEO” — and has about the same number of unscrupulous businesspeople offering useless “solutions” surrounding those three letters.

At its best, Customer Management Software is a suite of digital trackers tied to tasks for automated systems and human sales team members. The good ones accomplish a set of specific tasks core to successful sales and customer satisfaction.

Who Uses CRM?

This question requires two different answers, depending on what you mean by “who.”

If “who” refers to people, your sales and management teams will both use CRM. For the sales team, the info from your CRM software is their lifeblood from which all of their leads, customer details and data flow. Management uses it to better direct the sales team, and to better manage the company’s financials.

If “who” refers to companies, simple CRM software is available even for micropreneurial and home-based ventures. Comples, top-shelf, 6-figure-a-year packages are available for multinational corporations, and something appropriate exists for every size business in between.

When does CRM apply?

CRM comes into play during the second half of the Buyer’s Journey, after an interested consumer becomes a qualified lead. It picks up the baton from Marketing Automation, and provides tools that lets your sales team give each lead laser-focused attention.

It’s also a constant presence in the sales department’s “back room.” There, it compiles metrics to both help you fine-tune your sales approach and make more accurate sales and revenue predictions for coming quarters.

Why Use CRM?

Customer relationship management has always been about tracking a client’s progress through a buyer’s journey and giving your sales team quick access to vital details ranging from a lead’s potential budget to the birthday of that lead’s daughter.

Digital age CRM software takes that basic functionality and turns it up to eleven. A few of the most important benefits of this include:

  • Automated reminders and alerts when leads are ready for contact
  • Integrated data dashboard that collate different aspects of the lead and campaign
  • Easy performance metrics, analyzed from multiple angles and available in real time
  • Customer data available instantly, from anywhere, even offline
  • Using sales data to combine the tasks of creating a sales pipeline with accurate sales forecasting
  • Establishing institutional memory in your sales force, so lost team members don’t mean lost leads
  • Improved customer service via seamless tracking of details

How to Best Leverage CRM?

Like so many of even the best tools, CRM is only as good as the skill of the person using it. You’re not an expert on CRM (otherwise, you wouldn’t need to be reading this), but you can act like one by following just a few of these best practices:

 

Track Engagement Carefully – Your CRM software will keep track of what messages get opened, who does the opening, and what actions the readers take. It will tell you which of your value added content gets downloaded most often, by whom and at what times. Track all of these numbers, looking for the patterns that will help you discover your most effective marketing possibilities.

 

Personalize All Engagement – Don’t take the lazy road and spray out marketing messages without a first name or other personal detail. Leave space in everything you send out to include a name and/or title, geographic information, or references to previous material you know the reader has interacted with. This is the age of connected and engaged marketing. Live in it.

 

Make Lead Scoring Part of Your Culture – Lead scoring tells you within a fair degree of accuracy how ready somebody is to make a buy. Include these scores in all your communications, decision-making, and prioritization of new leads. Train your sales team on what numbers have to exist for an efficient and effective close to happen. Make watching lead scores as valued as watching sales statistics.

 

Go Deep, Not Wide – The epic super power of CRM is it gives you lots of specific information about individual leads. You can use this to craft the ultimate version of target-specific marketing. Don’t broadcast a tangential message to 100,000. Don’t even broadcast a reasonably specific message to 50,000. Instead, you’ll drop a bomb on 1,000 leads at the exact time they’re perfectly ready to receive it.

Applied correctly, CRM is the answer to the old question of how to stop wasting half your sales and marketing money. But you can’t apply it correctly in a vacuum. Next week, we’ll talk about some of the ways to incorporate it into your general sales system.

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