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What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM): The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide!

Mathew Maniyamkott

Mathew Maniyamkott

10 min read

Imagine sifting through tonnes of emails, excel sheets, and your email messages to see the last conversation you had with a client.
Should you follow-up? Or have they given you a specific date to send some details?

Where is the last conversation with that client?
You are losing your mind! You end up realizing that it was on one of the email threads which you forgot to update on your excel sheet where you keep ‘score’ of your conversations with clients. So you end up sending something else that was written on the excel sheet only for your client to reply with a “What?”

Our question is- “Why do you do that to your business?” Get the help of CRMs to mitigate the confusion, lessen the time spent on mundane tasks, and work more efficiently.

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

CRM  is a tool that is used to help businesses keep track of the interactions it has with its customers. It is for the sales and marketing teams to streamline its activities effectively with potential and existing customers.

Marketers pass their leads to the Sales team on the CRM. The Sales team uses it to reach out to prospective customers, interact with them, and keep a record of it for future references.

Why CRM matters?

If you have a business, it is imperative that you must have a strategy with which you make decisions. There are targets to achieve, clients to call, decisions to be made, and objectives to be met. As an entrepreneur, there are a lot of things that are constantly going on your mind. Many stakeholders, including marketing, sales, designing, and development teams, must work in tandem to build your business.

With the help of a CRM, you can get all your conversations in a single place.

When it comes to the Sales and Marketing side, there is a lot of ‘noise’ that happens in the form of finding leads, getting on a call with them, following up and finally closing it. A sale is never closed on the first call. It usually takes up a lot of follow-up calls unless you are the only business in the world, providing that service.

With the help of a CRM, you can get all your conversations in a single place. This not only solves a lot of confusion; it becomes super easy to check and compare different customer accounts.

The CRM dashboard can display the entire stream of conversations that happened, customer’s order status, service issues, complaints, if any, and more. It can show you how deep into the funnel a customer is. This provides a better understanding of where they stand, and it will also give you ideas on how you can leverage the existing relationship to seal the deal.

What type of companies use CRMs?

Any business that wants to create a relationship with its customers can be benefited by CRM. If your answer to at least one of the below questions is a “Yes,” then it is advisable to use CRMs.
Do you need a central list of all your customers at a single place?
Do you have customers contacting you from different channels making it difficult to keep a check on the conversations?
Is your Sales and Marketing team’s productivity suffering because of sifting through excel sheets to find a customer?
Want to make it easy to track all conversations with your customers?

Types of CRM software:

If you classify the CRM systems broadly based on its utility, there are three types of it:

  • Operational CRM
  • Analytical CRM
  • Collaborative CRM

Operational CRM

The primary utility of an Operational CRM is to generate leads and then converting them into contacts. Capturing required details during customer conversations and providing adequate customer support through their entire life cycle, CRM helps you deliver quality customer experience.

Sales automation

It sets structures to acquire new customers and deal with existing customers. It organizes the information surrounding a customer in an easy-to-understand format that makes it simple to make decisions. Most CRM has modules that include lead management, contact management, sales forecasting, and so on.

Marketing automation

It helps the team to understand the best ways to reach customers. Some of the modules in Marketing automation include campaign management and gives you the best channels using which you can reach out to prospective clients.

Service automation

It gives you the necessary fillip to provide the best possible service to customers by helping you create a better relationship. Modules like customer call management, issue management, and service label management, make it easy to give impeccable service.

It gives you the necessary fillip to provide the best possible service to customers by helping you create a better relationship.

Analytical CRM

This type helps the management, sales, and marketing team to find out the best ways to serve customers. How does it do this? By analyzing the data that comes from various customer touchpoints. The data sets allow the business to understand where exactly each of the different departments can make changes that improve the quality of support as well as build a strong relationship with the customer.

Collaborative CRM:

If teams work in silos, there is so much information that is lost. The kind of data that would have helped the teams to work together in tandem to produce stellar results. Collaborative CRM takes care of this problem by sharing data to different departments. It is with the belief that you get different perspectives as well as support from another team, which can be useful for anyone on the receiving end. At the end of the day, this information is used only to affect the customer positively.
These different types of CRMs have features, and businesses can utilize the software’s underlying benefits based on their objectives. It is pivotal for a company to know what it wants so that it can choose the most appropriate CRM tool.

Life without CRM for a business

You might think,-“How bad can it be?” We don’t like to scare our readers but using a CRM can completely shift the way you do business. If you don’t use a CRM, you are metaphorically putting your clients into a box that has a gaping hole in its bottom! That’s how bad it is.

Risk losing business opportunities

Business without CRM is pure chaos where no one knows where anything is. You never know the value that a new business account can bring in. It could be a $100,000 account that your employee missed because it was not noted down on the post-it note that is usually kept for noting down incoming leads.

How careless can an employee be, you think!

No. The employee just made a small mistake, but the business was careless by not investing in a CRM. It is the onus of the business to provide tools to its employees to make work easy for them.

Wasting time

Why would you want your employees to wade through tones of files and folders to find the details of a company’s interaction with you? With the CRM system, employees can be extremely productive by using the search button to fetch details and use the rest of the time to work on a strategy to acquire the client.

Customer info could be accidentally deleted

Reading the above heading alone might have sent a shiver down an entrepreneur’s spine. There are few things as embarrassing as losing the contact details of a prospective client. Also, there are chances that information would be only available on a specific employee’s computer. There is no way to retrieve it if the employee is inaccessible. Having all the details on a CRM is an absolute life changer, especially because of the way all the data is available at a single place.

Having all the details on a CRM is an absolute life changer, especially because of the way all the data is available at a single place.

You won’t be able to track results

Do you realize how cumbersome it is to track results on an excel sheet? If you don’t use a CRM, you can never answer the following questions:

  • How many sales did you get in the month of July 2019?
  • What was the average value of your account in 2018?
  • From which channel do most of your leads come from?
  • What are the significant reasons why clients are not closed?
  • How many inbound leads did you get on LinkedIn this year?

If you are a businessman, all the details should be on top of your mind. Why? Because you use this data to make business decisions. For example, if you get almost all your clients from LinkedIn, then you need to identify the reasons for it. And find ways to invite more traffic. It will also motivate you to think about how you can get more inbound leads from other channels, say like Twitter or Facebook.

Benefits of Customer Relationship Management

Employing the services of a CRM tool in your business significantly affects your business. Here are some of the benefits of using a Customer Relationship Management tool-

Identify and segment leads

With the help of a CRM, you can quickly identify and add new leads into the system.

With the help of a CRM, you can quickly identify and add new leads into the system. You can also segment them based on who they are or how they can be benefited from your business. Using this information, you can create pitches that are in tune with their expectations. This pitches will significantly increase response rates, and it can help move them closer into your sales funnel.

When you have the right kind of information about each client, it can help you strategize and create plans to focus on the most valuable prospect instead of spending time on everyone. It gives you the power to be highly selective of who you prospect. All this can happen when you have the right information in front of you, organized in a manner that is easy to access, understand, and take decisions.

Improve your product and service offerings

One of the most significant advantages of using a CRM is that you get loads of information based on conversations with your clients and prospects. These conversations are a gold mine if it is appropriately used as it can help you with two things:
Identify gaps in your service based on customer complaints.
Find out ways in which you can improve your product based on what your prospective customers say as reasons for choosing a competitor.

You can also spot problems, trends and find out the most highly performing salesperson in your company, all of this with the help of your CRM.

Reduce costs significantly

Since CRM is cloud-based, there is no reason for you to spend costs on installation or pay hefty fees for getting the license of the software. No time is required to be spent on scheduling updates. You just need to pay for the number of users who have access to the CRM system and the kind of premium features that you want for your business.

This means that CRMs are incredibly flexible, and you can scale up the features and plan based on how your business is progressing. It’s a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.

More referrals from existing customers

When you give the best possible service to your customers, they are more than happy to refer you to their peer groups who are also business owners. Customers who are delighted not only purchase more from you; they bring in newer clients to you.

It is easier to close clients who come from referrals because the trust factor is already there. The prospective client will want to know if your solution will be available within their budget.

Better Sales and Marketing alignment

While we did mention earlier about how silos are not so effective, especially when it comes to Sales and Marketing team because their activities are almost interdependent. The Marketing team generates leads while the sales team makes it a point to get on a call with the prospect, meet them, discuss their requirements, prepare a strategic plan and then close the deal after finalizing the pricing.

If either of them is not cooperative with each, it will be a disaster for the entire company. With CRM, there is real-time reporting and complete transparency, which makes it easy to keep each of them accountable. Marketing teams can follow up with the sales team and vice-versa when there is information sharing.

Helps prioritize clients

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? Also called The Pareto Principle, for business, it says that 20% of your customers will bring in 80% of the revenue and vice versa. You need to know who your most valuable clients are. Noting the names of companies on a piece of paper or an Excel sheet will not help you identify your big accounts.

Noting the names of companies on a piece of paper or an Excel sheet will not help you identify your big accounts.

CRMs can even create a lead scoring system which will help salespeople identify which clients to call first and spend more time learning about to be better prepared for the ‘initial call.’ It enables you to save effort as well as allows salespeople to spend their time effectively on creating strategies to close the lead.

Improved campaigns with closed-loop reporting

The marketing team can quickly analyze the effectiveness of their campaigns with the help of closed-loop reporting. You can do this by integrating your marketing software with your CRM.

Let us give you an example to help you understand this when a prospect becomes a customer; you can remove the lead from the sales emails and start them on a different email sequence which is specially reserved for customers. This drastically improves the marketing efforts as it establishes the efficacy of the marketing team.

Understand what your customers want

Thanks to the data that is available with the business, it helps salespeople to analyze the needs of the customers. Salespeople or the Marketing team can find patterns in terms of buying or moving to a competitor. Using such designs, you can create strategic decisions that can either increase the sales for other customers or stop users from leaving to a competitor.

If you observe carefully, you might even be able to anticipate the problems that might arise for a customer. You can remedy it by creating steps that a customer can follow so that the bottleneck is solved. Customers will notice when you are proactive, and it will ensure that they stay loyal as well as increase your profit margins.

Cut down repetitive tasks

Using CRM, you can significantly cut down repetitive tasks such as searching for leads. You can create triggers to do activities. For example, every time you get a customer who buys a particular product, you can set triggers in such a way that you get email notifications about that.

Saves money

CRMs might not be cheap, maybe it is because nothing good comes cheaply, but the kind of money that you will be able to save using them is incredible. You can reduce human errors like the input of wrong data, botched up quotes without validating all the information and other trivial things. While it might look like small stuff, it adds up to a considerable number. It saves you from a lot of embarrassment by providing you with valid data and ease of usage.

Conclusion

There is so much that a CRM can do to your business, that we are not even sure if we have discussed everything. Using a CRM tool can significantly improve the business prospects of a Sales team. You should take efforts to understand how the CRM you use works so that you can get the maximum out of it.
A Sales team can achieve more with a CRM than with other tools that stores data of its customers on a plain sheet. With an easy to access format, salespeople are immensely benefited as they can update the latest information and share it to all stakeholders involved.
How has it been working with a CRM tool for your business?

Mathew Maniyamkott
Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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