It’s commonly known that CRM is a neat little acronym standing for Customer Relationship Management. But what does this really mean? And do the capabilities of a CRM solution move beyond the confines of this term? Dissection of it provides us with a starting point for consideration of what a CRM is, can be, and can do for you.
Let’s consider an example. Our hardworking sales rep, John Smith, has been working on a deal with an important client that is progressing well and likely to close. However, John has a vacation coming up at a critical stage of the deal. Typically, John would be inclined to postpone his vacation or risk getting sand in his laptop as he’s sat on the beach, so as not to jeopardize the deal. Yet thanks to his company’s effective use of a CRM solution, within a few minutes of glancing at the system another member of his team can know exactly what is going on and pick up exactly where John left off.
This is because a CRM, when used effectively, can provide a 360° view of the relationship with customers. That means anyone with access to the same records in the system can quickly and easily review the status of a deal, contact information of all parties involved, and all correspondence that has been sent between them. By checking a handful of connected records in the CRM one of John’s colleagues will be able to see copies of all emails between key parties and notes of phone calls. Additionally, they will have at their fingerprints key information detailing important aspects of stakeholders and accounts, and John can be left to enjoy his well-earned break.
But what about other relationships that your organization has? Customer relationships may be a mere fraction of the number of relationships that require management, nurturing and tracking. You may work with lawyers that help close a deal, or brokers that bring two parties together, or perhaps subcontractors, or suppliers or wholesalers. A well implemented CRM solution is able to manage the whole gamut of business relationships, so a 360° view of everything that is going on with each key individual is available at your fingertips. And when it comes to what CRMs can do, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Rather than simply managing relationships a CRM can facilitate a whole host of activities across all facets of an organization: from managing the sales process to marketing automation, service desk style support, and providing reports and insights to allow decision makers to make informed calls on all aspects of the business. The CRM is, therefore, an incredibly far-reaching, all-encompassing and flexible piece of software that can perform a starring role as the central hub of a company.
Being such a large iceberg though does have its own pitfalls. Finding the right CRM can be hard for companies, and then it’s implementation can be even harder. Some feel compelled to harness all of the bells and whistles that their system contains, which results in an overcomplicated and daunting piece of software that causes far more problems than it solves. Others may simply not tailor the system to their needs in the most beneficial way and, just as an ill-fitting pair of running shoes will do you know benefits in a race, an ill-fitting implementation will only slow your business down.
CRMs move far beyond customer relationship management; they are tools that can manage an impressive range of activities for organizations spanning across different verticals and industries. Because of these capabilities, it is essential that a CRM is not seen as a one-size-fits-all solution and rather a fine garment that requires adjusting so that it fits perfectly to its new client. To get the most out of any CRM solution it is critical that we have an understanding of exactly what questions, problems or pain points that our CRM is going to be the answer to.