To build customer loyalty, you have to offer customers a truly customized experience. Both before and after the sale, customers must feel like they are being offered service that is tailored to their needs.
That's easy to do when you only have a handful of customers, but things get more complicated when business speeds up!
How do you offer customized service, but without burning yourself out? More and more SMBs are finding the solution in technology by obtaining a customer relationship management (CRM) application.
A CRM is a tool that centralizes your business's activities and the information that you know about your customers.
A CRM makes your communications easier for your customers and, therefore, more profitable for you.
With the proliferation of intuitive and affordable SaaS applications, the CRM market has never been more accessible for SMBs. The offer is diversified and the products are more and more sophisticated, while being easier to approach.
But with everything that we see and hear, it can become hard to make an informed decision. That is why we have prepared this guide to help you!
In addition to answers to these questions, this article contains some solid tips that will help you get the most from a CRM!
“I have a customer base made up of regular customers of varying sizes.”
A CRM is definitely for you. A good customer relationship management application lets you keep accurate records of your relationships with your customers so that you can maintain the quality of the service that you provide to each one. This prevents you from inadvertently neglecting your smallest customers.
“My business generates a large number of sales leads.”
Actively following up on business opportunities is the best way to make sure that you don’t miss any potential sales. A good CRM can help you keep track of your potential customers and even establish a customized marketing strategy for each customer.
“I have a sales team.”
This is where the features of a CRM really shine! Since it is a centralized tool, the CRM allows your entire team to keep an easily accessible log of all communications with each customer. This allows you to ensure that your sales representatives don’t call the same customer twice in one day.
“My business makes many small sales and I don’t necessarily plan to do repeat business with the same customer.”
In your case, a CRM may not be the ideal tool. You do not maintain long-term relationships with your customers and you may not even have their contact information.
The quality of the customer experience can make all the difference between the success or failure of a business. Beyond the service or good that you sell, the customer experience encompasses all contact that you have with your clientele.
Do you contact your customers too often? Not often enough? Do your customers have to repeat the same information several times to different employees? Do you have the means to know all of that?
With a CRM, you have rapid access to the information gathered on a customer and you have the means to take concrete steps based on this information. You centralize all information concerning your customers and you can therefore manage the customer's entire lifecycle transparently and efficiently.
By using a CRM to view data on a customer account in real time, you and your representatives can make better decisions concerning the proper steps to take. That way you can close more sales while shortening the sales cycles.
In the event of a change of representative, the new arrival will be able to quickly establish a relationship of trust with the customer, because the CRM will provide the representative with all the information entered by his predecessor.
A good CRM can also be used as a business intelligence tool to constantly monitor the business’s health. By providing you with operational and financial data in real time, the CRM helps you to make clear decisions to improve your operations and increase your income.
With CRM dashboards, your representatives will be able to get a better overview of their activities with their customers and sales through instant access to information and forecasts.
If your representatives scatter their data in Excel files, in an email inbox or on paper, what do you have left when they leave the company?
Using a central CRM means that you always have access to the data concerning your customers.
In short, using a CRM wisely is certainly the best approach for attracting and keeping the most qualified customers. This is an investment that can help your business to be more competitive by improving the performances of your sales teams, the coordination of your marketing campaigns and the quality of your customer service.
That said you still have to choose the right software for you. To help you to evaluate and choose the CRM that best meets the needs of your business
It can be difficult to choose the right CRM, given that the market is rather large. It contains numerous products that meet a wide variety of needs and which offer very different functions. To optimize the return on your investment, it is essential to take the time to choose the software that best meets your business needs.
The first thing to do is define your key strategies and think about what you are primarily seeking to accomplish with the software.
At this step in the process, it might be a good idea to sound out the people who will be called upon to use the CRM in their work (generally the sales and marketing teams). Being attentive to their expectations and priorities can better guide your choice.
Next, to make a final choice, you have to ask the right questions and establish clear selection criteria.
This question may seem mundane, but certain solutions that bear the name CRM do not really qualify as true CRMs (you can't judge a book by its cover!).
Certain basic functions are essential to any complete CRM solution. Make sure that, at a minimum, your CRM supports:
Task automation, such as recording calls, sending emails, sending alerts for requests that come from your web properties, etc.
To optimize your investment, choose a CRM that will evolve with your business and will be a good long-term partner. For example, even if the CRM meets your current needs, will it be able to follow your growth? Does it have sufficient expansion capacity?
Also, even if the initial costs of the solution meet your expectations, does the same apply to recurring fees and growth related costs?
Can the CRM be effortlessly implemented in your business? Will it easily integrate with the tools that you already use in your business? Integrating the CRM will go much smoother if you don’t disrupt your employees’ habits too much.
You should also consider the software's user-friendliness. Does it have an intuitive interface, complete documentation and good user support?
Next, find out how long it takes to implement a CRM, since some are longer and more expensive to integrate than others.
Does the software have sufficient security options? Ideally, it should offer permission functions for users and for the management team. Choose a CRM that can be used to assign data accessibility to individuals, teams, superiors, divisions, etc.
Does the solution offer sufficient storage space? Is there a maximum size for the files? Is the maximum number of documents that you can store sufficient?
Does the CRM allow you to easily customize your sales steps, add customized fields, filters and tags? Ideally, opt for a tool that adapts to your business, rather than one that requires your business to adapt to it.
There are several advantages to opting for a cloud CRM, especially for a business that wants to limit implementation and maintenance costs. By leaving a service supplier the burden of maintaining the software, servers and data security, you free yourself from significant IT expenses.
Since the CRM contains confidential data, it is very important to make sure that your supplier complies with strict standards in terms of physical security, human resources, operations management, etc. To learn how to choose a reliable supplier, we suggest that you take a look at the article that we published on this topic.
To get the most out of your CRM, it should be at the heart of your communication strategy. By taking the time to choose a CRM that completely meets your needs you will be able to use it to replace most of your old practices.
However, even the best CRM is wasted if your employees don't use it. Implementing a CRM in a business changes the way you work and every effort has to be made to make it easy for your employees to adopt it. You must maintain ongoing communication on your goals and manage change effectively.
When implementing a CRM, you may have to overcome a certain amount of resistance to change. Your employees already have their own work methods. Even though these methods are not infallible, your employees are used to them. Like anyone else, they are comfortable with the way things are. That's why many employees cling to their habits, despite the arrival of a new, better performing system. As a manager, your role is to show your employees (before, during and after the implementation process), that the CRM can be an excellent alternative to their old work methods. In other words, you have to sell your idea. This article provides advice that will help you achieve this goal.
The worst thing to do is surprise your team by suddenly imposing a new work tool. By being transparent from the start, your employees will better understand the reasons why you are implementing a CRM and will be able to anticipate the arrival of the new tool.
By being transparent, your employees will understand more quickly how the CRM will facilitate their work, help to improve their individual performances and contribute to the overall success of the business. Also, by maintaining an open dialogue with the members of your team, you will be able to better understand their expectations and choose a tool adapted to their needs.
Full adoption of the CRM depends on an extremely important step: training. With any new software, you have to provide for a period of adaptation and learning before being really comfortable with it. If this period ends up being too long or too difficult for your CRM, your employees will gradually abandon the software and return to their old work methods.
We have to say it: Merely leaving the user manual in the hands of your employees is not an effective training method. If you are unable to train your employees yourself, you should use the services of professional trainers. In addition to encouraging adoption of the tool, proper training will allow your employees to benefit from the advanced functions of the software, which will have a direct impact on their productivity.
Good managers lead by example. Do you want your team to fully adopt the new CRM? Use it as well. Your employees will be far more inclined to review their work methods if they see that you are also making an effort. Also, especially at the beginning, don't be afraid to get your hands dirty by helping your employees with data entry.
As a leader, it's also your role to demonstrate that each employee's work contributes to the success of the entire team. A good way to achieve this is to become familiar with the CRM reporting options, which generate dashboards and reports from data entered in the software. These options are useful for you, but they are also important tools for the members of your team.
Each person who works with the data should feel involved. Get your employees to understand that, the more accurate the data, the more useful the reports. Accurate data helps you to make better decisions as a leader and makes everyone's job easier.
You can't buy motivation, but let's be frank: everyone likes gifts. Therefore, organizing friendly competitions between your employees may be a good way to facilitate the implementation of the CRM by making it fun.
Your employees may be discouraged by the thought of having to enter data. To encourage them, you could organize a contest and reward the employee who, during the first few weeks:
After a certain period, incentives will no longer be necessary: the adaption period will be over, most of the data entry will be completed and the intrinsic benefits of the CRM will be obvious to everyone.
When you start talking CRM, some of your team members will be more enthusiastic than others. Find these people and turn them into ambassadors. Get them closely involved in the process, offer them the opportunity to participate in advanced training sessions, ask them to give presentations on the CRM to other employees, etc.
When implementing the CRM, your ambassadors will be the first ones to adopt the new tool and they will contribute to accelerate its adoption in the rest of the company. They will be the focal point for other users and, by expounding on the best practices they will have a positive influence on everyone's work habits.
Your ambassadors will also be able to provide you with other users' comments and concerns. In addition to allowing you to evaluate the results of the implementation, this feedback will help you determine if there are adjustments to make.
You probably noticed that data figures prominently in this article. That's no coincidence. The quality and integrity of your data are THE key factor to successfully implementing your CRM. If your employees cannot trust the information that they find in the CRM, they will simply not use it.
Before implementing the CRM and importing your current database into it, clean up your database and make sure that the content is as accurate as possible.
Make users of the CRM aware of the importance of having reliable data. Make sure you teach them the best data entry practices. If you subsequently notice sloppiness, you may want to make a few reminders. When the data is reliable, everyone wins.
When used properly, a CRM increases the efficiency of your sales and marketing processes, which can have an enormous impact on your company's income. However, for it to be successful, it’s crucial that your team embrace change and fully adopt this new tool.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes an average of 66 days to develop a new habit. In short, don't get discouraged if it takes a certain amount of time for your employees to adapt to their new reality. They will see the benefits of the CRM soon enough!
There are now more CRMs on the market than ever, which works in your favour. This also makes it more likely that there is a tool that perfectly meets your needs, technical knowledge and portfolio.
If you want a solid solution to optimize your management, sales and marketing practices, we invite you to discover e-CRM, our cloud solution designed in collaboration with specialists from CentrixOne.
The e-CRM project was inspired by an observation: Very affordable solutions are often too light in terms of functionalities and complete solutions are generally much too costly.
When marketing e-CRM, we kept in mind the goal of offering a complete AND affordable solution. We are very proud to offer a product capable of meeting the needs (and budgets) of SMBs.
The Acomba blog is brimming with articles on business, IT and business management.
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