CRM: What is CRM? - Customer Relationship Management


What is CRM? - Customer Relationship Management

By Luke Marthinusen November 4, 2018 • 12 minutes to read

CRM or Customer Relationship Management is more than software, CRM is a strategy for managing the interactions your organisation has with customers and potential customers. A CRM's core purpose is to improve & maintain these relationships and ultimately increase company profitability.

When most people talk about CRM, they are referring to CRM software system that is used to manage contacts, the sales process, and productivity and a company. So when considering CRM, it is important to think about both CRM as a strategy and as a system.

What are the benefits of CRM?

CRM enables a businesses to strengthen relationships with its customers, potential customers, partners and suppliers. In a world that's increasingly more competitive, how you manage and use your information will be the difference between success and failure, and CRM is core to that concept.

1) Increased sales metrics and productivity:

Using a  reputable CRM improve sales productivity. If you measure and track your performance - you know how to improve and hit targets more efficiently.

Excel is far from the best way to track sales performance...

2) Improved contact management:

Every call, email, meeting, and touchpoint with your contacts can be tracked - automatically.

3) Increased customer satisfaction and retention:

Your easiest customers to convert are your current customers. Acquiring new customers is expensive, and when you really know your customer (through constant communication) you are less likely to lose them.

4) Personalised customer interactions:

Most modern CRM’s come with lead tracking capabilities, so you know what pages of your website have been visited or emails opened. Using this information allows you to reach out with relevant information individually tailored to your customer or prospect.

5) Increased productivity:

Easily automate and track regular administrative tasks like follow up email, and ‘catch up’ meetings. 

6) Reporting and analytics:

Detailed analytics start to reveal star sales staff, client industries or geographies, and allow you to know where to focus your efforts.

The CRM market

With the nature of business today, the level of touch points required and the competitive nature of our modern world, CRM’s are some of the most widely adopted solutions in business IT. According to Technology Advice, current adoption rates of CRM software hover around 60 percent for all business sizes, with another 20 percent hoping to adopt the technology within the next 12 months. The good news is that this rate of adoption has fast-tracked the development of the software, so the current set of vendors providing CRM software is extensive and competitive. This is great news for companies adopting CRM now, as a wide array of options and price points are available to suit every organisation and pocket.

The move to a cloud-based system, has fast-tracked the deployment of product improvements, and the major CRM providers are rolling out updates and enhancements on a monthly basis. This will be discussed in more detail below. Lastly, this rapid development has also given rise to a plethora of features and license options, which has made CRM systems somewhat hard to evaluate. In the ‘key features’ section below we’ll cover this in more detail.

Cloud-based CRM systems

In the last 10 years, cloud-based CRM’s have changed the game. Gone are the days where you need an on-premise server to host your CRM, and an IT manager to manage the system updates. Cloud-based CRM means updates are automated for every user, and deploying the CRM to multiple desktop computers and mobile devices is far easier and affordable than it used to be. It keeps remote or traveling workforces connected with the right information always at their fingertips.

Key features of CRM

1) Lead management and contact management:

Most businesses are looking for a safe, easy-to-use & manage place to store contacts for the business, and CRM's deliver. The number of business still using spreadsheets to manage business contacts and leads is frightening. Your contacts are the lifeblood of the business.

2) Opportunity tracking and Sales pipeline:

Logging opportunities against stored contacts is key to closing more sales. Whether the opportunities are new customers that salespeople are working on or existing customers account managers are managing - if the opportunities can be logged and systematically moved through the stages in a sales pipeline - more deals will be closed and sales targets can be achieved.

3) Email and calendar integration:

Gmail, Outlook and Office 365 will integrate into any decent modern CRM. This is key because all communication via email and meetings logged in calendars are logged in the CRM. This removes the need to manually log these customer touch points manually. Manually logging of touch points was the bane of many a salesperson using the CRM’s of old.

4) Quoting:

Quotes are created inside the CRM and logged against the contacts and companies they are sent to. Some CRM’s offer very complex quoting functions and others are very simple but perfectly functional for most businesses. Depending on the CRM, creating a quote often automatically creates an opportunity for the sales teams to track and move through the pipeline to close.

5) Campaign management:

For most B2B companies marketing has gone digital. Leads are generated online and passed to the sales teams. CRM integration into the website, landing pages, email marketing, paid promotion on Google Ads and social media helps with ROI calculations and allocation of marketing budgets.

6) Email marketing:

At the base level of campaign management, it is critical to send out regular communications to your contact database. The customer-facing teams often can’t get to all of your contacts each month, so regular email marketing makes sure a business stays top-of-mind with all the contacts on your database.

7) Customer targeting:

By categorising the contacts in your CRM according to industry, position, and many more possible criteria - communications can be custom designed and targeted to be more relevant. This enables customer-facing staff to add more value with their outreach.

8) Customer service:

Managing an existing customer base requires knowing who customers are, managing support requests, and maintaining regular contact. If both problems and reports of good service can be tracked, this info. can be used to maintain and build better customer relationships.

9) Ticketing:

Ticketing allows clients to log support requests, and allows a business to manage the requests through to resolution. Issue turn around times can be tracked and customer experience can be better managed. Reporting will bring recurring issues to light, enabling efficient rectification and proactive, preventative measures to be employed for  better customer retention.

9) Reporting:

All the functions above are collated into dashboards that can be customised for particular functions eg. salesperson, sales manager, service manager, business unit manager and more. What is measured can be improved and customised reporting is one of the best means of improving the performance of a business.

10) Mobile CRM:

Most good CRM’s have a mobile app that allows on-the-move reporting and logging of communications, and tasks. A salesperson can be reminded of a call to a prospect, a sales manager can quickly see the status of a sales teams performance, and a business owner a birds-eye view of sales, service, and general business performance.

Enterprise CRM Platforms

Enterprise CRM platforms offer a vast array of features and can integrate seamlessly with their existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. They often come with extensive developer toolkits, with which custom functions can be built. Due to this flexibility, these systems cost more to run from both a licensing and support perspective but they are far superior when dealing with large data sets and deliver unmatched functionality around augmented reporting and analytics. Popular enterprise systems include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, and Oracle. These are suited to companies of 1000+ employees or companies with very specific CRM requirements.

SMB CRM Platforms

The market of enterprise vendors can be intimidating to small and medium businesses that have limited budgets and are looking to improve their contact management and processes from a low base (eg. the worst case scenario of contact management is by spreadsheet!). The good news is that this space is exploding and there are many vendors to choose from. Every day they are nipping at the heels of the functionality offered by the larger enterprise systems. Popular SMB CRM’s include, HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, Pipedrive and Insightly. Generally, these are suited to businesses up to 1000 employees.

Managing your CRM (Support)

The move to cloud-based systems has definitely decreased the amount of admin. required to deploy and maintain a CRM. That being said, enterprise-level systems definitely need an IT department to manage the system. Depending on the level of integration into other company systems the level of maintenance required will vary. Most SMB systems will not require too much management, however, they do need a champion in the business to manage rollout and continued usage. In terms of onboarding, enterprise systems require an outside implementer, whether the vendor themselves or a vendor partner to implement correctly. They have the experience and process knowledge that make a  CRM succeed from day one. An SMB can do it alone if the business is very small, but it is highly recommended to engage with a vendor partner for onboarding. Setting a CRM project off in the right direction is key to its long-term success. Generally, these vendor partners will offer a 60 or 90 day onboarding program to up-skill the business and its staff to use the CRM effectively.

Let us help you

We've helped countless SMB businesses implement CRM tools and marketing systems to drive business growth. We continue to work with many enterprise clients to improve their CRM processes as they relate to business development, marketing and lead generation. 

Give us a call we'd love to hear from you. 

If you're not ready to chat, you might find this eBook useful. 

Sales Enablement through CRM eBook