What exactly is CRM?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the means by which a business monitors and derives data from its interactions with customers. Generally speaking, CRM is an exhaustive tool, meaning it covers multiple avenues of interaction such as customer service and sales. Aside from these primary uses, your CRM application could also be a one-stop shop for periphery tasks like uploading business contacts, tracking sales leads and managing internal contracts.

What can CRM do for my business?

An effective CRM platform enables business owners to learn their customers’ preferences and anticipate needs in a consolidated fashion. This way, you’re not tossing dollars into marketing initiatives that don’t bolster your sales and increase customer retention rates. Businesses of all types and sizes are integrating CRM campaigns as a thorough solution for acquiring lead prospects, as well. By understanding your target market better, you should increase your chances of gaining prospective leads and keeping those persons engaged. If a strong customer-base is the most important pillar to a company’s success, then good CRM is certainly one of the most important plans a company should integrate.

What should I look for in CRM software?

The CRM software you select should effectively parallel the sales process of your business. There’s a litany of providers out there that claim to get the job done, but it’s important to realize that CRM tools are often tailored to specific industries and business models. From lead generation to lead closing, make sure that your CRM software speaks your business’ language and is flexible enough to take minor changes and growth into account. If you’re not sure where to start, be sure to check out Salesforce, one of the most respected and all-encompassing CRM platforms on the market.

Will CRM expand along with my business?

You should make sure that your CRM application is scalable and can account for your growing business. The data should always be reflective of your current business model, no matter how small or large. While some CRM vendors charge extra fees for scale and conversion, try saving money by shopping around for an application that does not increase expenses as your needs mature.

What type of training do I need to effectively operate a CRM application? Website?

Business people tend to have too much on their plate to devote full attention to learning new software and, as a result, don’t take full advantage of what CRM intends to accomplish. This is why the person managing your CRM database should be trained on how to track employees’ usage of the system to ensure that they’re using the application to its fullest capability.

You should make sure that your CRM software comes equipped with a no-frills customer care solution to answer any questions you might have, be it training related or technical. However, the most important training is internal and should begin before consulting a CRM vendor. Be sure to understand your business’s bottom-line and how these points can be best managed within a CRM database.

Is CRM a form of marketing?

Yes, but it should work in conjunction with your current marketing platform and not seek to replace it. While ordinary in-bound marketing campaigns primarily seek to generate leads and attract visitors, CRM applications can help distribute, categorize and assess what’s already there. At the most fundamental level, CRM is a piece of the marketing puzzle, aiming to render useful data for your company’s growth.

What is Hosted CRM and is it better than in-house CRM?

Hosted CRM is defined as a company outsourcing some or all of its CRM functions to an outside vendor, also known as an application service provider (ASP). So, when people talk about “CRM software,” they are most likely referring to those hosted CRM companies that build software to effectively track their clients’ customer relations. The benefits of hosted CRM applications such as include a possible increase return on investment (ROI), which allows companies to pour more funds into bolstering other essential resources. However, in-house CRM has proven to be more customizable and, as a result, more effective for many businesses. Which type of CRM you choose will largely depend on your industry and respective company, with size being an important variable. Bigger companies tend to have more success with in-house CRM, but smaller ones tend to opt for the hosted solution and cut back on the consulting costs and harder maintenance required when keeping things internal.

Do I need CRM for my ecommerce business?

Ecommerce businesses could certainly take advantage of having an integrated CRM workflow. With more and more people making purchases online, ecommerce business owners face very unique and demanding needs. Not only do you need a means of driving more traffic to your store, you need the customer service infrastructure to support your growing clientele, online promotions to keep them interested, etc. CRM software such as features a combination of solutions tailored specifically for e-shop runners, aiding growth by way of user management tools, report metrics and support that addresses your customers’ needs in a timely, organized fashion.

What are the common risks of using CRM Software?

While the benefits of CRM are abundant, many businesses wonder if a software designed to tie together key aspects of workflow could just as seamlessly render disastrous, irreversible effects. One of the most common concerns deals with prior employees being able to access the CRM database and perform corruptive tasks. However, many of the most popular providers have security in place to safeguard clients against criminal actions.

In most cases, the risks associated with CRM are usually inbound – companies that have failed to implement a proper strategy or do not have a firm enough understanding of the company’s bottom-line to successfully take advantage of what CRM offers. Project management and proper planning are the best preventive measures to consider in this regard.
Other issues may arise simply because a company has selected the wrong CRM provider for its needs. Possible challenges include a lack of integrity on the part of the software manufacturer or disruption of a company’s usual workflow by way of neglecting integration with daily tasks. CRM operators should be mindful that these applications should not be thought of as creating customer relationships, but work to make such operations seamless and more impactful on a granular level.

Is CRM a type of sales force automation?

Yes, but CRMs offer a wealth of other possibilities that standard SFAs (Sales Force Automation) cannot. In addition to fostering your business’s sales-oriented objectives – including account management, lead nurturing and opportunity forecasting – CRM software encompasses other facets of customer relations, such as spearheading marketing initiatives and facilitating customer support. Instead of sourcing separate providers for each focal point, businesses could save both time and money by consulting a CRM that keeps all three under one umbrella.

How Do You Decide Which CRM Software to Get?

There are many CRM options out there that could work for your business. It all depends on which features your business needs most. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you figure out which CRM you should get:
Does your sales team have a clear process for whom to call and when? If not, you might want a CRM that gives them insight into which prospects are most engaged.

Does your company work on large B2B deals that require you to interact with many people inside one organization? You might want a CRM that can easily pull and organize someone’s data based on the company they work for.
How do you primarily interact with leads: by phone, email, social media, or a combination? You should find out how different CRMs could make prospect interaction easy for reps.

What is the one feature of the CRM Software that every company will need?

A sound integration between your CRM and marketing software. For you to properly communicate and track your company’s prospects, leads, and customers at every stage of the buying journey, your technology needs to play nice together. (HubSpot customers: The HubSpot Marketing and Sales Platforms are closely integrated, so it’s easy for you to capture, score, and hand off leads to Sales.

The moral of the story here is this: If you’re running a business and intend to keep growing, you should get a CRM. Your success depends on being able to delight your customers. Knowing as much about them as possible, delivering rapid responses to their inquiries, solving problems quickly, and delivering a personalized experience in which a customer feels special will help you delight your customers — and ultimately, help you grow. For a handy visual representation of the power of CRM software, check out the infographic below. And if you’re ready to pull the trigger on a CRM, check out HubSpot’s free CRM software today.