A basic CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system enables a business to keep a record of their prospect and customer information, keep track of communications with these individuals and keep a calendar and record of past and future interactions with them. Although CRM systems are usually associated with sales teams, there capabilities can be used by anyone needing a way to maintain a searchable database of contacts, organize contacts, track communications and interactions with contacts and schedule their communications.
First, it gives you a central place where anyone on your team can access contact information for your customers, prospects, vendors, partners and others you interact with. This includes name, company, phone, email, physical address, and so forth.
Second, it enables you to keep track of your communications with them. It can capture emails you’ve sent and received, and you can add notes about meetings and phone conversations. Needless to say this information is invaluable, particularly when you have a change in staff and someone new has to take over an account.
The calendar feature helps you avoid letting too much time pass between contacts and you can schedule follow-ups and other tasks a day, week, month or year out and not have to worry about remembering them. The CRM system will alert you when these activities are due.
All of us have had instances where we lost opportunities with prospects simply because we forgot to stay in touch with them. When they were ready to purchase we were out of sight and out of mind and they bought from someone else. While an email marketing system can help automate the process of staying top of mind with your community, a CRM system is even more fundamental.
The best CRM systems also include a social component such that they import information and updates from the social media profiles of your contacts. This helps you gain more insights into what issues they may be dealing with, whether they are attending events that may be of interest to you and a variety of other valuable information.
Social CRM tools such as Nimble go beyond this to not only pull in data from social signals but also automatically build individual and company profiles based on information publicly available. One goal of a system like this is to remove as much of the manual work as possible from thee process of creating and updating records. This is brilliant since sales professionals are notorious for avoiding administrative tasks at all costs. The lack of regular use by the sales staff, particularly outside reps, is one of the main reasons why CRM implementations are not successful.
You have to get into the habit of using and updating your CRM system on a daily basis for it to be most effective for you. This is a habit that will pay you tremendous dividends in terms of increased sales, repeat business and improved customer satisfaction.
If you are using a CRM system, how are you making it work for you? Please let us know about your experience in the Comments.