You've got a great business and a super team working behind you. Together you're going to bring in a ton of new customers and grow the company to even greater heights. What more could you ask for? How about a fantastic tool that will make the job that much easier?
What Is a Customer Relationship Management System?
The answer is pretty much in the name. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a software tool that manages the relationships between a company or organization and its customers or potential customers.
Customers are the lifeblood of your business so if you want to succeed, you need to be customer-centric. A CRM is simply the foundation you lay for building positive relationships with customers so they stay satisfied and keep coming back for more. A good CRM nurtures customers throughout the lifecycle. This includes:
- Generating leads
- Purchasing products or services
- Customer retention
- Post-sales follow-up
In addition, a CRM can be integrated with a variety of tools, such as email, social media, and outbound telephone calls, with messages personalized to a customer or prospect's particular demographic, interests, and shopping habits.
So Are There Different Types of CRMs?
Good question! There are loads of companies that offer CRM systems, but they generally fall into two basic categories: On-premises CRMs and Cloud-based CRMs.
On-premises CRMs are software systems that are directly installed on your company's server. This type of system is usually less expensive than those that are cloud-based, but they also tend to place a greater demand on in-house IT departments.
Are you familiar with the expression, Get your head out of the clouds? It means you're out of touch or that you have impractical ideas. The idiom was obviously written long before cloud-based technology.
With cloud-based software, your CRM runs on your software vendor's infrastructure, which means you don't have to install any software on your system and you don't have to provide your own in-house maintenance or support. Your sales force and other personnel can access data from anywhere so long as they have an internet connection. As more and more business today is conducted outside brick and mortar office buildings, it's really not such an out of touch, impractical solution at all.
And, yes, now you know what we were thinking about when we picked that kooky visual!
What's Wrong With Just Sticking With Good Old Email for Customer Contacts?
Have you ever noticed when you use your rewards card at your local grocer that you seem to get coupons and special offers that relate uncannily to the types of purchases you've recently made? We hate to shock you, but it's really no coincidence.
That handy rewards card you swipe at checkout gathers all sorts of demographic details about your purchases, and it automatically generates personalized deals that you're more likely to be interested in -- all with the goal of getting you to buy more and keep on coming back to their grocery store instead of their competitor's.
Compare that speedy, efficient, and highly effective sales tool against employing a worker to sit in the office typing email after email to individual shoppers promoting the latest deals. Yes, grocery stores still rely on sales through coupons in their weekly circulars, but along with the rewards card, those coupons are also run through their CRM. In this way, they know precisely who uses them. And they know everything else shoppers put in their carts during the same visit.
An effective CRM doesn't just collect data on potential customers. It can segment and store data into any number of customized categories like name, age, gender, times of day shopping occurs, and purchasing preferences. It can analyze the data and forecast ahead what shoppers may be interested in based on past purchases. It can send out carefully crafted, personalized email or social media messages. In fact, it can track virtually every interaction a customer has with any person or department in your company. Best of all, it can make that data available to your entire team in real time so everyone is on the same page.
With that kind of efficiency, hand-typed emails just don't stand a chance.
Equally important, by taking over the repetitive tasks your team once handled, a CRM frees your employees up for other areas where they can be better utilized.
What's the Difference Between a CRM and Email Marketing?
The basic difference between the two is that Email Marketing is a tool that focuses on volume while CRM is a tool that focuses on relationships.
Email marketing takes segmented lists of customer email contacts and sends the same targeted message to everyone.
Most CRMs, on the other hand, limit the number of contacts that can receive the same message. They aren't designed for volume but rather for multiple people within a company to be on the same page while they track the activity going on with each individual customer. A CRM enables a lot more collaboration between team members and helps in overseeing and managing customer relations.
Both tools serve a useful purpose, and it's not unusual for an email marketing campaign to be synched with a CRM.
What Are Some Other Benefits of a CRM?
Another good question! Here's just a few such benefits:
- Customer Service Tracking: CRMs typically include a ticketing system to keep track of and follow up on customer questions or complaints. This helps reduce duplicating efforts.
- Searchable Customer Databases: Allows your team to access all the information on a customer for up-to-date information.
- Enhance Your Company's Reputation: A CRM improves your performance on multiple levels and sends a message to your customers that you're prompt, reliable, and professional.
- Product Development: Data from your customer purchases and other interactions can help guide new product development.
What About SPAM - Are There Legal Advantages to Using a CRM?
And still another good question!
It's perfectly normal and acceptable to send out cold emails to try to drum up business, but there's a big difference between cold calls and spam. Nobody likes to receive irrelevant or inappropriate messages, aka spam, in their inbox. And no good business should want to send them either. For one thing, it casts those businesses in an unflattering and unprofessional light. It's also illegal.
The CAN-SPAM Act, passed by Congress in 2003, clearly defines the requirements companies must follow when sending business to business (B2B) or business to customer (B2C) emails when the primary purpose is to advertise or promote a commercial product or service. In addition to requiring that email communications avoid deceptive headlines and be clear about who the company is that is making the contact and where it is located, the CAN-SPAM Act also requires that the emails provide a clear opportunity for those on the receiving end to opt out. And when recipients do opt out, that request needs to be honored as soon as possible.
CRMs tend to include features that comply with the CAN-SPAM Act typically with an opt out button or small form that asks for your email with that request. By automating that process, CRMs protect companies from unintentionally breaking federal law. This can save companies from what could amount to potentially hefty fines.
HubSpot, a top-rated, cloud-based CRM, takes it a step further. They require customers sign an agreement which includes, among other things, a promise not to use their service to send spam nor to send emails to purchased, rented, or borrowed lists.
I've Heard About HubSpot. Is It True Their CRM Is Free?
So many good questions! Is someone feeding you these?
Yes, HubSpot CRM is free, which is a pretty good price if you ask, well... just about anyone. And, hey, we like what they have to offer, too, so why not give them a plug? There's a number of good things about HubSpot (keep reading!), but one of the nicest features is that if you're unfamiliar with CRMs, they give you the opportunity to wade in and get familiar with an easy-to-use platform without having to mess with a contract or make a financial investment. You just sign up and get started.
With the free version you can track all of your sales data in a single location. That includes things like appointments made, contracts sent, and how well your sales staff is meeting their quotas. You can also set up all sorts of customized filters to better analyze specific customer data. And you can track interactions by syncing up with Gmail or Outlook.
Not every sale happens in a split second, and depending on your type of business, it may take multiple interactions before a sale is closed. HubSpot CRM allows you to track all the finite details of each and every customer interaction that gets you to that destination.
Of Course, HubSpot CRM also offers premium paid options with advanced features. It all depends on what you need and the budget you want to stay within.
Got Any More Good Questions?
We've got a lot of good answers that can help your company grow. Feel free to book your 30-minute free consultation using the chat icon. Let's start a conversation!
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