Today’s business dealings are all about customer relationship management (CRM) and creating the most customer-centric focus possible. While focusing on your business as a whole is beneficial when you’re first getting started, once you have a few customers, you must shift your focus to meeting their needs. Your business will only grow steadily if you keep your current customers while adding new ones.
Some estimates say that as many as 90 percent of businesses with more than 10 workers have CRM software. The majority of entrepreneurs understand the importance of paying attention to buyers’ habits and adjusting to meet market needs.
Figuring out your overall CRM strategy isn’t an easy process, and there are multiple steps required to create a successful one. Figuring out the best CRM software to meet the particular needs of your company takes a bit of research. Here are some elements you must consider in figuring out what works best for you and your customers:
1. Look for Cloud-Based Services
The best CRMs allow your salespeople to access information from anywhere, even while on the road. A cloud-based platform puts information in the hands of your technicians in the field or your representatives wherever they might go, such as a trade show or a meeting with a potential client.
Around 87 percent of the CRM software you’ll come across is already built in the cloud, but make sure of this before committing to any subscriptions. Another great thing about cloud-based CRMs is that updates in real-time keep marketing, sales, and leadership all in the know and on the same page.
2. Consider Your Current Systems
Think about the current systems you already have in place and how a new CRM integrates with those practices. Your workers already have to implement a new process, so the more seamless you make the new methods the better. You’ve also likely invested quite a bit of money in your software, so you want a system that’s compatible, or you may have to shell out even more money to buy new software add-ons.
For example, you may already use a particular payment gateway or HR software, and you want the system to sync up with what you already own and use. Find out if you can import and export information easily, as this can help you sync up your systems.
3. Ask How Lead Management Works
It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where customers fell into our laps and we didn’t have to go after new ones. However, that pretend place doesn’t exist, meaning it’s important to find software that helps you manage potential leads and seek out new ones using methods such as social media.
If possible, find software that offers a free trial or an in-depth demo so you can try out all of the features and see how the lead management portion of the system works.
4. Figure Out Why You Want a CRM
What is the problem your business faces that you’d like to solve by implementing a new CRM system? Once you know the problem, it’s much easier to figure out which software takes care of your issue. Having a hard time keeping up with new contacts you meet at networking events? Then you need the ability to scan a business card on-the-fly and add the information to your leads database.
Every business faces unique challenges while meeting the needs of customers and growing their following. Take time to understand what the main issues are and the software you choose will better enhance your efforts.
5. Stick to Your Budget
There are several CRM software companies out there. While some of the big players work wonderfully, they also cost a lot of money. Going with a lesser-known brand gives you some of the features you need without putting you in the red. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on your CRM strategy and how much of that budget goes toward software solutions. Then, find the software that meets your budget instead of making your budget match the software.
6. Look at Training Options
The most amazing software in the world won’t do you much good if no one in your company can figure out how to use it. Look for a software company that offers training as part of their process.
You may send a lead to learn the ins and outs of the system and then teach them to everyone else. Or, you might want a company that offers in-house training sessions for all your employees at once. Find out if they offer specific advice for different departments to match the needs of each team or if the information is more general in nature.
7. Consider Mobility
One of the biggest growth areas in CRMs is mobile connectivity. When salespeople use mobile devices to connect with CRM software, there is about a 14.6 percent increase in productivity. When choosing software for your brand, look to see how it integrates with the needs of those out in the field. Is there an app available that’s easy to use?
You should also consider how customers connect to the system and the capabilities for them to look up their own past orders or easily place an order on-the-go.
Plan a Complete Strategy
Even though CRM software goes a long way toward helping you manage the customer relationship, there are other steps you must take in order to build your client base. Figure out the problems your target audience faces and implement best practices to solve those issues. If you can be a positive presence in the lives of your customers, your relationship with them will naturally grow toward something fruitful and long-lasting.
Lexie is a freelance web designer and UX strategist. She loves all things design and spending time with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.