Crash Course on CRM

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What is CRM Software?

               Successful businesses know their customers. Customers’ tastes and preferences dictate the direction of the business in more ways than one. However, many businesses may unintentionally stray away from the requests of their customers simply because they have difficulty in organizing, analyzing and acting on the data customers provide. It seems like an unthinkable task to get to know each and every potential customer, but software exists to make this momentous task possible.

                Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a type of business software designed for companies to better manage their interactions with customers. Sales, marketing, and customer service teams work together to understand the interests of potential customers based on their habits. CRM software primarily acts as an organization tool for companies to manage their customers’ information, so details do not slip through the cracks. It ensures that everyone in the company has access to pertinent information about customers, so that everyone is consistently up-to-date.

Capabilities of CRM Software: below is an abbreviated list of the top CRM functions.

  • Consolidates customer information in one database
  • Segments customers into groups to serve them properly
  • Quantifies opportunities with customers – lead scoring
  • Reports sales analytics
  •  Automates aspects of sales and marketing processes
  • Forecasts future sales

Information Consolidation

CRM software offers an easy way to manage your customers’ personal information. This creates an avenue of communication between the customers and the company, an essential aspect of a company’s success. It’s ability to consolidate customer data in a unified manner allows any company member to view the data, increasing the company’s efficiency.                   

Customer Segmentation

Segmenting customers based on their shared characteristics is a way to devise effective marketing strategies. Furthermore, you will be able to provide each group specialized attention based on their needs.

Lead Scoring

A lead is a potential customer, who has shown some kind of interest in the company by providing their personal information. Leads are pivotal when marketing a product because you want to make sure you are targeting people who are interested in the product or service you are offering. CRM software collects and organizes these leads, so sales and marketing teams can optimize the sales process by investing their time in presenting relevant product information to leads. Lead scoring is an automated process for your CRM to help you prioritize your sales activity based on the lead’s activities by their interest level.

Sales Analytics

CRM software compiles sales analytics, so companies can see which of their previous sales strategies have worked and which ones have not worked as well as expected. Some sales analytics that CRM software is capable of collecting are data from email campaigns and from website traffic. This past data will give your company valuable insight for future sales and effective tactics to pursue.

Automation

Automation of sales and marketing processes – that CRM software supplies – provides companies with efficient ways to tackle basic sales and marketing tasks. Automating these repetitive tasks gives employees the opportunity to focus their energy on other jobs, such as product generation.

Future Sales Forecasts

With all the data collected from CRM software, your company can make educated sales forecasts about future sales. The past data gives you a standard to judge your current and future progress. The CRM software will recognize trends and patterns from the data, so a team can properly assess the advantages and disadvantages of current sales and marketing procedures. Additional trends, such as market fluctuations and spending patterns, should also be considered when making predictions for the most accurate results.

Setting Up CRM Software

             You’re probably asking yourself, “How do I get my hands on CRM software?” There are a couple of choices you can make regarding the software. The top options are to either build your own CRM application or to purchase an existing CRM software that is right for your company. There are pros and cons for both of these options, which we will discuss below. Before choosing either of these options, you should thoroughly educate yourself about the features of the software, so you can set specific goals that your company can accomplish with the technology. Be deliberate in these goals to utilize the software to the best of its abilities, achieving optimized results.

Building Your Own CRM Software

Pros:      

              Building your own CRM software allows your company to create a program that will fit the exact needs of the company, depending on the industry. Pre-made CRM software may have many additional features that your particular company doesn’t need, but these tools may prove very valuable to another company in another sector. Companies, that build their own CRM software, claim that their day-to-day business operations run more smoothly because the software is uniformly integrated throughout the different departments.

Cons:

               It can be a daunting task to effectively build an entire software system from scratch. You need to make sure you hire an efficient, well-trained team to build the software; otherwise, your project will likely fail. It will take much more time and effort to fashion a CRM system from the ground up, and many people who choose this route find themselves completely abandoning the task. You must be prepared to encounter many bumps in the road if you choose to build your own CRM system.

Purchasing Pre-Existing CRM Software

Pros:

                Every existing CRM software has gone through multiple testing phases, ensuring many kinks in the product have already been worked out. These kinks would undoubtedly present themselves in most new software systems, so your company saves time and effort by purchasing a system that has already had many of these kinks fixed. Additionally, purchased systems offer more features than you could possibly imagine, and by purchasing an existing system, you will be entitled to all of those unique features. You can explore tools that you never knew you wanted or tools that you never knew existed, benefiting the company’s initial business objectives.

Cons:    

               CRM software can be quite an investment, and many companies fear that they are not ready to take this step in the right direction. However, don’t let the fear of undertaking this large project discourage you from transitioning to the software. The benefits of the software will provide residual returns to your company and will provide new avenues for strengthening relationships with customers. Do not be intimidated by the large sums that mainstream CRM software companies request. Remember in these instances, you are mainly paying for the name brand of the software company. There are plenty of affordable options for picking the most appropriate software company for your business’s needs – without exceeding your budget. Specialized publisher specific CRMs like The Magazine Manager and The Newspaper Manager are ideal fits for publishers that have evolved to meet the market's needs over the years. 

The Future of Marketing

                Hopefully, this crash course on CRM software has opened your eyes to the capabilities of CRM software as well as some of the pros and cons of building your own CRM software versus purchasing existing software. However, this is only the beginning. CRM software is the future of marketing, and advances in the capabilities of the system will present new opportunities with deeper integrations and automation. Therefore, it is important to deeply evaluate the specific status of your company and its potential for growth. CRM technology is right for almost every company; and, every company can undoubtedly gain some coveted insights about their customers’ habits from proper use of this software.

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