Customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. It’s not enough to simply have a great product, you have to work hard to build a thriving customer base. That means cultivating leads, converting them into sales, and following through with the kind of service and attention to detail that will win over new customers and keep your existing customers loyal to your brand.
If that sounds like a tall order, it is. Fortunately, there are tools available that can help smart business owners simplify the process. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the key, and incorporating it into your small business can help make your enterprise more agile, responsive, and profitable in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
What is CRM?
CRM software covers a broad range of applications, and has been designed to make it easier for businesses to more accurately and effectively manage:
- customer data
- customer interaction
- new customer leads
- ongoing marketing campaigns
- customer support
Large corporations have been using CRM software for years to streamline their operations and boost their bottom line. Luckily, as is so often the case with business applications, what was once reserved for big companies with deep pockets is now available to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
So, let’s look at some of the benefits of CRM software and how they can be applied to your business enterprise.
Increasing Your Sales Potential
The bottom line for any business owner is increasing sales and boosting revenue. Research has shown that by adopting a CRM system businesses can increase their overall revenues by up to 41%. That’s a staggering advance, and the secret to that advance lies in better lead management.
One of the major benefits of a CRM system is that it helps small businesses capture more leads. It also allows you to follow those leads throughout the entire sales process, tracking and analyzing their behavior as they move to the final point of sale.
The information collected by your CRM makes it easier to nurture prospective buyers as they make their way through the sales pipeline, targeting them with the most effective marketing campaigns until they are finally ready to close the deal. This same information can be used to prioritize leads so your sales team doesn’t waste valuable time on people who have no intention of completing a sale.
A CRM system also delivers valuable insights into which lead sources are generating the most sales. This will allow you to make more informed decisions concerning your existing marketing plans, adjusting them as needed to maximize returns on your investment.
Understanding Your Customers
One of the keys to increased sales is understanding the needs and expectations of your customers. This is particularly true for companies selling complex products and businesses which may have longer than average sales cycles. A CRM system can be an invaluable tool when it comes to understanding, and anticipating, what customers expect from your business.
CRM software is constantly collecting data on your customers’ behavior. By analyzing this data, you can get a better picture of what motivates certain customers to complete a sale, and what causes others to abandon a transaction. You can see what initiatives are turning new leads into conversions and which sales approaches may be costing your business a valued customer.
The data collected by your CRM system allows you to better understand your customers, and that understanding is worth its weight in gold. It can be used to reshape your marketing strategies, email campaigns, website design and overall sales approach to better reflect your customers’ needs and expectations.
Improving Your Sales Team’s Work-flow
For the majority of small businesses, the daily work flow consists of poring over spreadsheets, chasing down emails, and hunting for elusive sticky-notes that are covered in valuable lead contacts. It works (just) and it’s what most of us have grown accustomed to. Unfortunately, it’s a process that is prone to error and tends to hamper productivity.
CRM software can be used to streamline your sales team’s work flow, thereby boosting staff efficiency and increasing productivity. A well-integrated CRM system allows you to automate many of the team’s daily tasks, including:
- email confirmations
- managing marketing campaigns
- generating leads
- processing and prioritizing leads
- new customer onboarding
This allows your staff to concentrate more fully on service and support. Research has shown that providing a quality customer experience for clients is key to customer retention, and by freeing up your sales team to work more closely with new and existing customers you lay the groundwork for long term success.
Improving Customer Support and Service
CRM software does much more than simply collect data, but the data it stores can be an invaluable tool when it comes to upping your support and service game. Your sales and support staff will have direct access to each individual customer’s history with the company, from initial lead to latest purchase. They’ll be able track past interactions with the customer, assess purchase patterns, and anticipate new demands. That provides greater agility for your support teams and helps them to deliver the kind of customer service that builds a healthy customer base.
This improved level of customer service is also a key component in elevating your company’s customer retention rates, and that has a direct impact on your bottom line. A 5% increase in customer retention can increase your business’ overall profitability by as much as 75%. That’s a significant return on your investment, and proof positive of just how valuable a CRM system can be to your business.
The Bottom Line
Customer Relationship Management software can be a serious boon for small businesses looking to pull ahead of their competition. Successfully integrated into your business a CRM system can help you attract and exploit new and more profitable leads, expand your existing customer base, and improve your customer retention rates.
The combined data collection and automation features will allow you and your sales team to devote more time to cultivating new clients while giving you the tools you need to provide the kind of customer service and support that will mark your brand out as a business to be reckoned with.
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