What is a CRM?
CRM is short for “Customer Relationship Management” and is a system where every customer contact, no matter how small, can be recorded and analyzed. These systems are not static in who they are geared toward and can cover many different departmental grounds. For example, some are geared toward sales through Sales Automation and Lead Management, others can be geared toward marketing with Marketing Automation, and campaign management, while still others can be geared toward customer service and database management.
What about CRM Designs?
Which CRM design you opt to choose should reflect your goals and strategy. These could be:
- Making sure your company has a complete picture of your sales process
- Tracking of marketing campaigns for effectiveness
- Management of sales opportunities
- Better customer engagement and service
Tip – Keep it Simple: If you want a system that your sales and marketing teams can both utilize fully, opt for a more simple design. The more fields and data screens added to the design of your CRM equal more complications you invite with both teams utilizing the CRM System.
- Start with an easy, simple design that will not intimidate your staff.
- Be sensible in choosing your fields.
- When designing your reports, make sure that the fields you wish to capture are easily seen so if they are missed during the initial completion of the information, it is obvious.
Choosing the right CRM
Choosing the right CRM can seem like a monumental task. The explosion of different levels of CRM software covers options from inexpensive, to bright and colorful, all the way up to fully-loaded systems that are integrated into enterprise suites.
Simple Rolodex Style CRMs
These CRMs are basically “business card” oriented. In other words, they keep track of company names, addresses, contact names, phone numbers and other details with “note” areas to place reminders for call backs, birthdays, etc. These CRMs are the 21st century’s answer to the 19th century’s Rolodex and they can be incredibly helpful. Some examples of these CRM types would be ContactMe and Insightly.
Marketing Automation Style CRMs
These types of CRMs help marketing departments build mailing lists based on interactions with their organization, interests, and preferences. These lists can be used to send emails when the likelihood is high that a sale can be generated. Marketing departments can also utilize these CRMs to generate targeted email campaigns to keep their brand at the top of the potential client’s radar. Finally, a suite of analytic options helps the marketing department determine how successful, or unsuccessful, a particular campaign has been – enabling them to better streamline future endeavors. Two CRM options that keep popping up for these services were Salesforce and Bullhorn.
Sales Force Automation & Opportunity Management CRMs
Sales Force Automation or Opportunity Management CRMs are used to record sales leads and deals. Tasks, Activities, Notes, and Sales Possibilities are all tracked, and come with their own sets of reporting tools. These systems are considered more complicated in design and are geared toward specialty companies such as pharmaceutical sales. These particular CRMs seem to be more engineered toward optimizing value and cost. The most prominent CRMs in this category are presumably Salesforce, Infusionsoft, and Hatchbuck.
Enterprise Resource Planning CRMs
These are typically considered the “big guns” of the CRM world. By combining Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service all under one software system, these CRMs are enormously sophisticated and, as such, come with exorbitant set-up fees, monthly fees, and license costs. The sheer amount of analytics and information is enough to make one pause, however, for larger companies – or companies that are growing at a very quick rate – these CRMs can be a pricey initial investment that would, no doubt, pay off in the end with the tracking and analytic options that are available. One example of this type of CRM would be both Pardot, a division of Salesforce that works in tandem with the options offered under the Salesforce CRM.
Local vs. Cloud Storage
The days of loading all software onto a company’s servers and/or computers are quickly fading. The trend we see now is for these applications to be hosted on outside servers via Cloud integration.
Having the data on one remote location, be it a laptop or desktop, runs into sharing issues. While private – something most sales people covet – no one has access to the data if needed, other than the person who has possession of the computer where the data is saved.
Having the data managed on a server comes with its own set of issues, including management of the server, multiple sites of processing (between server and computers), and maintenance and synchronization between all the electronics that “talk” to the server. These are usually time consuming and costly to maintain.
Finally, there are cloud-based systems. Any device that has an internet browser can access the cloud based systems which are, essentially, servers that are owned and hosted by the supplier company.
They are fast, easy to use and install, do not pose remote access barriers, and need no internal IT support from the purchaser.
Initial setup can seem costly but when all outside costs associated with licensing and server build/maintenance are taken into consideration, the setup and monthly fee is actually very reasonable.
Two things to ask about and look out for if opting for a cloud-based CRM:
- Most supplier servers will manage all the data for all their customers in one, singular database. This database is legally owned by the supplier and not the customer. Check and see how easy it would be to retrieve your data should you decide to switch CRM suppliers.
- Find out where the data is stored – if outside of the country, what are the parameters that are put in place as far as the security of your data is concerned?
Make Sure Your Choice is the Correct Choice!
Do your research first! Installing a CRM is an investment in your company so choose wisely. Make sure the CRM you choose will be able to grow with your company and then have someone skilled with the CRM choice guide you through the final processes.
A skilled CRM guide will:
- Know which system will work best for your company
- Understand how to configure your system
- Be able to bring in your current data to the new system
- Offer training for at least one or two key employees
Unless you have a tech team with the knowledge and working skills to build your own customized CRM on a server that you will keep, manage, maintain, and update, you will never find a CRM design that will meet 100% of your needs.
Designate a CRM “guru” to keep abreast of changes and advances in services available and keep your initial design as simple and effective as possible. As with most quotes, go with a middle-of-the-road feel; usually a good fit lies with a compromise between cost, ease of use, and functionality.
CRMs can be an enormous help in keeping your customer data straight, streamlining your sales, automating your marketing attempts, and warehousing contact information regardless of employee turnover. Just be sure to do your due diligence when mapping out your organization’s plans.