Whether you’re a B2B or B2C, one of the most valuable and potentially lucrative tools that you can buy in for your business is a customer relationship management system (CRM). Find the right one and the best fit for your business and it could help transform your bottom line.
A great system should do exactly what it says on the tin – help your business to effectively manage and nurture relationships with existing customers, new leads and even the wish list, at every stage of the sales process. These relationships take time to build and develop and are one of your greatest assets, so looking after them properly is essential. And that holds true whether you’re an SME, global corporation, or anything in between.
A CRM system should help you delve deeper and pull together information that will improve service levels, customer satisfaction and encourage customer loyalty. It can also help make teams more efficient, so they spend their time and efforts in the most productive way – for example, ensuring leads are never missed and that they are recorded, followed up on and returned to. Existing customers should feel valued and be spoken to regularly, encouraging their accounts to grow.
Advances in the digital world mean CRM systems are now far more intelligent and sophisticated than they used to be. They can be fully integrated within all your channels of communication, they can be automated, they can record and analyse an amazing level of detail and even make a great cup of tea....well, almost (they would know how you like it at least!).
But with literally hundreds of different solutions to choose from, finding the right one for your business is a process that takes time and thought. So where do you start?
Google is not the answer
The worst thing you could do is just search the internet for the top rated CRM without first giving some thought to what your individual business needs. Instead, start by taking a look at your business and teams as they currently stand. What do you need a CRM to be able to do? Where could it assist you? If you have one currently in place, be honest about any problems and areas it is lacking.
Know where you’re headed
It’s not all about the here and now - where do you expect the business to be in a year? Two years? Three years? You will need a system that can scale up with you and adapt to changing company goals. It will always be wiser to invest in something designed for where you are headed, rather than where you are now.
Plan your process
What processes do you currently have in place for managing customer relationships and handling new leads? What's working and what’s not when it comes to collecting, sharing, managing and maintaining data? What information are you getting and what are you missing? And how is the data then used?
Many businesses actually miss this vital point – the need to outline a clear process before searching through the software options. It may take some time to do but will be crucial when it comes to finding the right one for you. You need to set out what your requirements are as this will help you pinpoint the features you need to be able to meet them.
People vs products
An important point to add is that when looking at your current processes, make sure you give some thought to whether it’s the people or the products that may be lacking. While there may be team members who are always reluctant to spend time on what they see as ‘admin’ there are also all sorts of barriers that put people off using a system and that could be an underlying cause. For example, if they don’t understand it, can’t see the benefit, don’t see it as a set process to follow, find it too difficult, too slow or it’s always crashing, or if they haven’t been properly trained. Think how you will manage these issues before you introduce a new system.
Consider any new CRM system from the point of view of the people who will be using it the most. It may be a very different experience for someone using it 8 hours a day to what you see on a test site. Can you do a trial? If so, how long for and with what functionality included? Who could take part in the trial and give you the most useful feedback? This will help with team buy-in, which will be a huge advantage later on.
Finally when it comes to implementation, what ongoing technical support is offered? How easy will it be to adapt the system to do exactly what you need? And on the training front, what introductory and ongoing training is going to be needed?