CRM, or Customer Relationship Management systems have grown from simply storing contact information, to running businesses.
What is CRM, or Customer Relationship Management? Traditionally, CRM has been used as a tool to store contacts or company information used when dealing with other businesses. Nowadays, it is used for much more. The more powerful CRM product that you use, the more CRM can drive your whole business.
CRM starts with managing contacts and accounts, but it also entails the ability to synchronize emails, phone calls, tasks, and appointments with the contacts in your system. This is where the “relationship” piece comes into play. CRM involves management of all relationship types within the complex world of business, which includes “Business-to-Business” (B2B) environments and “Business-to-Consumer” (B2C) environments.
Beyond that, we then look at factors like your sales pipeline. Perhaps you are the only one in your business that manages a sales pipeline, but still; you need to have control of your deals, leads, and opportunities in order to progress them through each stage of your sales cycle. You should be able to report on your sales pipeline—including revenue and profitability—at any stage in time. This will help you understand how strong your pipeline will be in the future, and whether there are any weaknesses that need to be identified.
Perhaps you want to break down your pipeline into different product types, depending on the different accounts and industries that you might be working with. However, tools like Excel, Access, or other smaller systems can only take you so far. In order to do this properly, you will need a well-established database, which is the fundamental purpose of CRM. CRM will provide a firm, structured database to manage things within your business.
Moving beyond the sales pipeline, you can also use CRM for sales order processing, which includes producing quotes, orders, and invoices. This is the biggest CRM that you use, and one that is worth investing in for the future of your business.
Project management is also a key part of CRM. As you grow your business, you may have additional technical and sales people within the business. Then, you need to start thinking about things like customer service. How are you going to manage the service relationship with your customers? You may have more people providing phone calls, support, and incident management to your customers. If you have people doing installations on the road or maintenance requirements, how are you going to manage those field service activities? Perhaps you use some kind of task or project management tool to manage the coordination of tasks across several people within your business to deliver your product or service. That should be in your CRM.
In summary, CRM should be used to essentially run your entire business. It should be the complete underpinning of your business system, driving all the functions within your business for all the people working in your business. The more you can put through it, the better. And the more of that in a single, cloud-based database, better still.