By Nathan Abadi
Think fast! When you think of all those companies you’ve purchased products from over the years, which one do you think of first? Who do you recommend when friends and family ask your opinion about what products or services to buy? If you’re like most consumers, the answers have a similar theme – you buy from the companies that know who you are, take the time to understand what you need and help you get it at a fair price. It’s all about YOU.
Now, let’s look at it from the company perspective – it’s still about YOU, the consumer. As a business owner, it’s imperative that you continuously evaluate data related to your buyers, their interests and where they spend their money. While it can sometimes be challenging to wear both hats, that of the owner and the consumer, you’ll need to find the time to incorporate both mindsets into your business strategy.
Today’s successful business owners and sales managers recognize that in order to get and keep customers, they must capture and hold their attention. To do that, they must find a way to stand out in all the trillions of gigabytes of data being streamed, emailed and transmitted. The best way to do that is through Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
CRM Defined. Customer Relationship Management is a method of compiling, analyzing and managing customer interaction data to improve business relationships, customer retention and sales growth. CRM systems utilize all points of communication with customers including telephone, direct mail, email, marketing resources, the company’s website, live chat and social media. With access to customers’ personal details, buying preferences, purchase history and other pertinent data, sales reps can build stronger relationships and tailor their campaigns more efficiently.
Maximizing Leads. CRM software provides a streamlined and integrated system covering all aspects of customer communication. Growing your business becomes infinitely easier when all relevant information is collected and managed in one location. Organization is key to avoiding misplaced leads and allows for prompt follow-up. Instant access to the process-driven analytics frees up time for your sales associates to focus on selling and you to accurately forecast and manage, ultimately leading to accelerated sales.
Enhanced Email Marketing. Real-time analysis of each email marketing campaign is possible with the use of a CRM solution. Not only will your communications with customers and prospects stay relevant and timely, so will your campaign lists. “They” say that timing is everything, and with your newfound ability to deliver your messages accurately and promptly, you’ll be able to adjust and improve promotions to maximize your return on investment.
Mobile Solutions. The use of smartphones in business has expanded exponentially over the last several years and mobile CRM is allowing both sales and customer service teams to access real-time information from any location. It also means that vital data such as lead lists, purchase details and service reports can all be entered and accessed from any device and team member quickly. With no lag time involved with returning to the office or entering data through traditional methods, team members can record faster response times and better communication, which leads to happier customers, improved retention rates and sales growth.
Capitalizing on Social Media. Customer Relationship Management systems are well-suited to capture the enormous potential for customer and prospect engagement through social media. Through passive and active interaction, businesses have an opportunity to gather valuable customer insights, prepare targeted marketing campaigns and build stronger customer relationships.
Choosing a CRM Platform. On-Premise and On-Demand/Subscription CRM software systems are both available, and businesses should weigh the pros and cons of each type carefully. On-Premise solutions require the purchase of a dedicated server, installation of the CRM software and usually an IT professional to oversee its operation. With the equipment owned and operated on-site, this method allows for greater security and data control. While it may be sufficient for small business needs, initial setup and upgrades can be cost-prohibitive, IT staff must maintain it and outages may reduce the program’s effectiveness. Cloud-Based systems are accessible 24/7 from any device and location, require a minimum financial investment, require no equipment maintenance, upgrades are automatic and can easily grow with the business. However, this platform requires a monthly or annual fee and service can be disrupted if internet access is disabled.
There are two key challenges to businesses today: Establishing a customer relationship and maintaining it. CRM technology can do both. It’s an affordable solution that increases sales leads, maximizes staff productivity, improves communication, builds better customer relationships and helps a business reach its full potential for growth. Remember, YOU are in control. Adding CRM software to your tool kit will give your business the edge it needs to succeed.
Nathan Abadi is CEO & Co-Founder and managing partner of Excel Capital Management (www.excelcapmanagement.com), a provider of working capital that delivers the best alternative to traditional bank loans for small businesses. With nearly 13 years of experience in financial sector and entrepreneurial experience, Nathan and his innovative team helps small businesses to easily access typically hard-to-obtain funding. Follow him @nathanielabadi.