There's more to competitive business than just getting and keeping customers. Marketing and sales professionals who merely track leads and campaigns are missing out on a meaningful ongoing relationship with their customers.
According to Gartner (an information technology research and advisory company in Stamford, CT), a basic campaign that does not fully engage customers is simply not enough anymore. For companies to survive stiff competition, Gartner forecasts that CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software will be the top priority for enterprise IT spending in 2013 and 2014, edging out ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) which previously held the top spot, and Office software, third.
CRM can reduce costs and increase profitability
CRM organizes and automates business processes that nurture customer satisfaction and loyalty in the marketing, sales, and customer-service fields. CRM's hands-on approach helps businesses meet and serve customers where they are, including social media or on the web. By 2014, Gartner predicts that many organizations in "mature IT environments" (like North America and Europe) will have plateaued or even lowered IT budgets than in previous years.
With this in mind, businesses are increasingly investing in CRM software now to be more focused on customer retention/satisfaction and attracting new customers, and for mobile and social technology requirements, with mobile devices forcing change even faster than social networks.
Not all CRM users are getting full benefits from their CRM because of bad purchasing decisions
Here are tips on what not to do and what to do to get the most effective CRM system:
- Do not try to do everything at once or you may end up with a costly, complex system yielding a low ROI. Invest in adequate training for all CRM users to get the most effective use your new software.
- Do not think of CRM as technology only or that a CRM will mysteriously “show you the way” after using it for a few months. Rather, know your marketing, sales, and customer-service processes well enough to configure the technology to your business.
- Do not let IT or Sales control or "own" the company's CRM. IT is too far removed from daily marketing-and-sales activities to effectively drive the CRM. And Sales usually lacks attention, being more concerned with sales goals. The best business unit to control the CRM is Marketing because it is responsible for leads and customer retention. All units, however, must be actively involved in the selection and use of a CRM system.
- Do not get a CRM based on just one or two particular customers or a favored sales-support need. Instead, base your CRM needs on all customers and prospects.
- Do not expect CRM to overcome a flawed customer-service process. Instead, improve your existing customer-service operation before investing in CRM.
Not all CRM users are getting full benefits from their CRM because of some thoughtless CRM providers
After thoroughly understanding your own needs to get the most benefits from your CRM, select a CRM provider with care. That's because some CRM providers may only install and run, with no after-sale support. Other CRM providers simply may not take the time to fully understand your needs. Yet another situation is when CRM providers do not offer ongoing enhancements to their basic CRM products; for example, mapping, email marketing, and call planning. Without these added features, customers miss out on the full and ongoing capabilities of their CRM.
For every dollar a company spends on CRM, it gets back $5.60
To get the best return on your CRM investment, select your CRM system with care and purchase from a caring provider.
Bob Sullivan is president of InfoGrow Corporation (Cuyahoga Falls, OH). Bringing 24 successful years of experience in CRM, mapping, lead management, business intelligence, and B2B market analytics, InfoGrow helps clients identify their best prospects, discover missed opportunities, focus reps on the most profitable accounts, and reduce marketing waste. Learn more about InfoGrow at www.InfoGrowCorp.com, or call Bob: 800-897-9807, x224.