A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a technology platform that accelerates your ability to align teams, simplify technology, eliminate complexity, and drive revenue. The central business problem a CRM solves is creating a single source of truth for all prospect and customer engagement, behavior, interests, interactions, and decisions that elevate the capacity of marketing, sales, and service teams to deliver delightful experiences and lead to long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
As your business expands, so does the number of prospects, leads, accounts, and customers you are actively managing, marketing to, and engaging in sales activities. Therefore, it becomes more challenging to measure and scale without the right technology. But a CRM can turn this impossible challenge into a competitive advantage that will help you win and succeed more.
When successfully implemented and adopted within an organization, your CRM becomes a pivotal asset to growing your business. You're able to increase and improve the overall effectiveness of marketing, sales, and service teams so you can engage more suspects, develop more leads, create more opportunities, and drive more sales.
What Is a CRM?
CRM technology is the largest and fastest-growing business application category and is expected to reach $96.5 Billion by 2028. In the past, a CRM has primarily been utilized by a sales team to manage leads, capture opportunities, and close business. But today, a CRM takes a much broader view of the customer lifecycle that spans marketing, sales, and service.
Your CRM software consolidates all prospect and customer data to help your team perform their most important tasks efficiently and effectively. Each team member can monitor prospect and customer behavior, engagement, and intent across the entire customer experience. It's an effective way to ensure there is no lost data throughout the entire relationship management process and provides a continuous feedback loop to support a culture of learning.
Why Do I Need a CRM?
CRMs assist your business in optimizing customer lifetime value, in turn increasing your revenue, profit, and growth. If you are serious about growth, then you need to know what activities are driving the leading and lagging indicators that will support your outcomes and key results.
As a result, you will be able to make informed, data-driven decisions. The demand for business software systems to make artificial intelligence possible and accessible to every business leader will continue to drive significant investment in CRM technology for the foreseeable future. In turn, these new insights will increase your marketing, sales, and service teams’ ability to nurture meaningful relationships that lead to decisions, commitments, and revenue.
What Does a CRM Do?
CRMs perform various tasks along the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle. For example, they:
- Help increase brand engagement
- Organize and utilize content
- Segment and target leads
- Capture prospect information
- Identify and nurture sales opportunities
- Manage buying decisions
- Provide customer support
- Measure the quality of customer relationships
A CRM creates a listening platform by organizing data across the buyer’s journey in a way that will help leaders make smarter decisions that lead to measurable growth. By utilizing this information, you can use real-time data to meet prospects and customers in the moment of their need.
A CRM also has automation features to help with daily tasks so that your team can focus on essential aspects of the business. You can automate tasks such as email responses and generate automatic leads when someone takes a specific action. This approach helps nudge prospects through the buyer's journey and to a point of decision while reducing friction for your teams and helping them scale.
Growth-minded leaders know a truly integrated CRM platform will help them optimize sales development. Since it simplifies the collection, organization, and architecture of data across revenue teams, creating and accessing comprehensive reports and dashboards become more relevant, timely, and specific to leadership teams.
Benefits of a CRM
Centralize Customer Information
CRM tools can collect information from interactions on social media, calls, emails, and other communication channels. Having a CRM ensures you achieve full-funnel accountability and enable sales, marketing, and service teams to share relevant data that equips them to collaborate and share insights.
Analytics help leaders convert CRM data into actionable insights. It also helps identify trends and patterns that can inform future marketing spend, product development, and customer retention initiatives.
Monitor the Customer Journey
CRM solutions enable you to plan your business’s course of action. The centralized data allows your team to focus on essential tasks such as closing deals instead of handling paperwork.
A CRM helps to identify and nurture valuable leads. It helps to monitor the customer journey by providing specific information to your whole team. Therefore, you are able to keep in touch with your customers regularly to improve your relationship with them.
When sales teams monitor prospect and customer interactions, they can quickly identify sales-qualified opportunities and shorten the distance between the discovery call and the final decision. When your focus is on customer retention and upgrade, you will experience organic business growth and minimize churn, which can be detrimental to profitability and growth initiatives.
Since all interactions are on record, your support team can reference past communications to resolve issues, inform success coaching, and evolve your playbook.
Improve Collaboration Between Teams or Departments
A CRM helps normalize processes, permission systems, and workflows by providing a common foundation to collaborate and build relevant experiences that support the ideal buyer’s journey. Thus, it becomes possible to coordinate sales, marketing, service to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
You can use the CRM solution to allocate tasks and monitor how these tasks help to achieve your business goals. The standard interface allows all team members to access and add information. It helps your team work together, share insights on leads, address any issues, and provide solutions.
The CRM can also assist in:
- Evaluating your team members’ performance
- Tracking their targets and goals, and
- Checking their progress on every opportunity
When your business processes, internal scorecards, and technology are aligned, your team becomes more efficient and productive.
A CRM solution helps to identify and develop sales opportunities through a structured playbook that is informed through data models that draw out common characteristics of your most valuable customers at every stage of the engagement and buying experience.
Sales and marketing teams can categorize customers based on different criteria. You can surface leads based on behavioral data, so you can align your approach with their demonstrated area of interest. By scheduling automated marketing campaigns, it allows you to achieve more (e.g. reactivate dormant customers) without the need to continue to add headcount. This becomes an avenue to generate new sales and profit.
Turn Customers Into Raving Fans and Evangelists
Researching your target customer’s questions, problems, and obstacles should ensure you execute a content strategy that is attuned to the needs of your prospects and customers rather than what you think they need to know, hear, or learn.
For any business, acquiring new customers is more expensive than retaining existing customers. Satisfied customers are likely to become your loyal brand ambassadors, bringing you new business.
A CRM helps you develop business strategies. Renewed focus on customer engagement makes it easy to manage and improve customer relationships. CRM systems monitor your business's performance and alert you when satisfaction levels drop. It always helps to strengthen your customer relationships through regular feedback loops that surface friction you might never have realized existed otherwise.
Develop Effective Marketing Strategies
A CRM solution helps to monitor how marketing campaigns perform, their level of engagement, and ROI. Marketing teams can utilize CRM tools to optimize performance, analyze trends, and adapt campaign strategies in real-time. Through content analysis, you can identify ideal material that drives engagement. Once established, you can focus on productive campaigns.
The data from CRMs makes it possible to collaborate with sales and service teams to refine your market engagement and lead generation tactics to ensure marketing consistently delivers sales qualified opportunities. This purposeful and meaningful approach will empower your teams to identify, create and close business deals more efficiently.
Increase Revenue Forecasting Accuracy
For your business to succeed, it's important to review past performance and current position. The outcome can help develop you refine your strategic growth plan. As a result, you’ll be able to adjust your goals and plans to account for current and future projections.
A CRM dashboard delivers data relevant to business metrics. This information helps you make informed, data-driven decisions that have a positive effect on sales and revenue. Different dashboards can be refined by roles and what each stakeholder needs to know to inform their next actions.
It's easy to identify trends, increase pipeline velocity, and reduce customer churn when you know, understand, and measure the inputs and outputs of your activities to ensure alignment exists between actual and potential outcomes. Even better, this information is available in real-time, which reduces the time between insights and decision-making.
Automate Sales and Marketing
CRM solutions make it possible to automate critical functions that fuel the buyer’s journey. For example, you can automate online marketing campaigns and inform prospective customers about your products or services. All these are achievable through various communication channels and based on predefined criteria that trigger a series of orchestrated actions that lead to engagement, connection, affinity, and trust.
A CRM can also automate redundant sales processes. For example, CRMs can automatically send personalized follow-up messages and ease the burden of lead nurturing until a prospect or customer is ready to engage in an active buying experience.
Elevate the Customer Experience
CRM automation also includes updating contact records and data entry following each interaction. Incomplete or inaccurate prospect and customer data have the potential to drive customers away from your business. It has a significant negative impact on your business as prospects and customers choose to turn their attention to your competitors.
Automation improves the timeliness and quality of your data, which leads to a better customer experience and increased retention rates. For instance, you can use automated chatbots to capture, inform, and assist customers in real-time. They can also offer guidance and escalate complex issues to your team.
Synchronize and Share Data
CRMs simplify complicated tasks such as manually syncing, updating, and sharing data. Regardless of the contact person on your team, CRMs automatically record and update the data in your system. Better data increases trust levels and confidence in strategic business systems and ensures every user is actively contributing to the value of the database on a regular basis.
As a result, all team members have access to this data, eliminating the need to transfer the data to another person. Therefore, there are minimal chances of data getting lost or compromised. This is key as customer relationships will likely persist beyond the tenure of each team member in your organization today.
Streamline Internal Communications
Besides enhancing interactions between you and your customers, a CRM solution simplifies communication between teams. Customer support teams can see how other team members communicate with customers to ensure that your brand's tone stays consistent.
Team members can also send each other notifications and alerts, add each other to sales opportunities and service tickets, and send emails or messages on a single platform. The more data captured, the more valuable insights can be utilized to inform resource planning and decision-making.
A Renewed Commitment to a More Profitable Future
By consolidating the view between marketing, sales, and service, you can help your teams work together to drive value in the market. For marketing teams, you can better target prospects and customers with relevant, timely, and specific messaging that leads to new sales opportunities. For sales teams, you can better manage pipeline velocity and close more business. And for service teams, you can more accurately measure customer experience as well as quickly resolve issues to drive retention and lifetime value.
CRM technology also affords you the opportunity to simplify your tech stack and ensure all business systems work together to deliver real-time insights using quality data that can be trusted to inform key decisions and next actions. This reduces friction and ensures the barriers to interdependent and interdisciplinary behavior are appropriately supported.
Even greater is the opportunity for a CRM to bring the benefits of artificial intelligence to everyone in your organization to ensure the best decisions are made at the right time each and every day. And when new data is available, new decisions can and will be made. Over time, you will create a culture that is attuned and responsive to the needs of your market and the behaviors, wants, and desires of your prospects and customers.
Maybe it’s time to rethink and reimagine how a CRM can help you go farther than you ever imagined and faster than you ever thought possible. Now that’s strategy delivered at the speed of change.
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.