CRM is for the Whole Organization

     Customer Relationship Management (CRM) began in the hands of salespeople as simple standalone contact management software packages.  Then CRM progressed to permit centralizing prospect and customer information in a database.  With further automation of the routine sales tasks, most businesses found they were able to keep their salespeople in front of their customers more and obtain even better visibility to management.

    CRM is about both software and strategy.  A CRM strategy defines the process of interacting with your customers or clients in efforts to maximize the relationship for profitability.  A CRM system consists of a centralized database as a means to capture valuable prospect and customer information that can be shared across an organization so as to  allow it to develop customer-based strategies and make agile decisions.  Relationships are based on interaction and activities.  Interactions can range from phone calls and appointments to emails and paper correspondence.  CRM systems allow you to track these interactions, permitting a more complete picture of your business relationship with the contact and organization. 

    CRM has expanded and now virtually every functional area in a customer-centric company can benefit from access and usage of a CRM system.  Here are some examples of how various functional areas can utilize CRM.

Marketing

    With the costs of marketing rising, most businesses scrutinize every dollar spent to generate business.  Gone are the days of mass mailing or faxing to large lists of contacts.  Targeted, specific marketing is essential to maximizing your Return On Investment (ROI).  Marketing should have the ability to import a highly specific purchased mailing list, or import an electronic lead file from a trade show and follow-up with a direct mail piece in a few simple clicks or commands.

Sales

    From simple tasks of easily writing letters, to sending emails, and delivering proposals, a good system maintains each customer contact and communication to provide a concise history, allowing fewer salespeople to service more prospects or customers.  Correspondence  generated by salespeople and others should be linked electronically to the contact or organization for retrieval upon request.

 Customer Service

    You’ve invested in marketing and earned customers or clients through your sales process – now the job is to keep them happy.  All customer inquiries should be logged and handled efficiently.  Key clients or customers should be flagged for preferential treatment and issues should be able to be escalated as appropriate.

 Finance and Operations

    Do you really want to send the nasty collection letter to a customer with a large sale pending and several long standing unresolved customer support issues?  CRM provides this knowledge. 

Management

    Sales drive the revenue stream so managing the sales process effectively is usually a critical success factor for a company.  Managers need to evaluate and calculate Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing and Close Ratios.  They need  visibility into your salespersons’ schedules and opportunities to be able to “coach” their salespeople.  They need to have awareness of the pipeline and the demands it may impose.  They need to ensure that sales people are using the prescribed sales process to optimize productivity.

    Very importantly, management often gets involved with problem accounts or prospects with large potential.  A well designed CRM system stores the big picture so that a manager can quickly get up-to-speed before making a decision and taking action.

                                                                     

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