Before you go to senior management with a plan to add CRM software, make sure you've got your ducks in a row.
Credit: ShutterstockIn today's business world of big data, real-time messaging and tough competition, CRM software may make more sense than ever. CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, software gives companies a hub to efficiently connect their marketing automation efforts with detailed reporting, down to the per-customer level. It's a smart way for companies to strategically track and scale their leads and sales pipeline.
But how do you justify the investment in CRM and make a case to prioritize it to your broader organization? You don't have to typically convince a marketing professional of the big benefits of CRM (they're usually the ones knocking on the door to make it happen) IT professionals may find themselves challenged by justifying the costs with senior leadership.
"A CRM system is considered a baseline system investment to be able to even compete with other similar companies within the cloud technology or SaaS industry," said Vanessa Razo, director of marketing for Concur, a travel spending management software company located in Seattle. "Driving growth quickly, at scale, is critical to be successful. Not having a CRM system would be like investing in a sales team but disabling their email and phone system."
Razo isn't alone in her practical approach. Glen Davis, chief operating officer for Crown Investments, a Phoenix-based private investment firm, has a background that spans IT operations, project management and consulting. From his perspective, there are four main benefits to communicate if you're looking to adopt CRM software. These four areas not only justify the monetary investment, but can help educate your team on how CRM will broadly impact the way you run your business by streamlining processes and improving workflows.
CRM Drives Accountability
A single CRM system provides instant insight into how customers are being managed, potential issues and to who is doing what — something that companies with limited tools or multiple tools, tend to lack.
"CRM systems provide company-wide visibility and reporting, ensuring more attention will be placed on pending tasks. Supervisors are also able to see potential issues early on," Davis said.
CRM systems can act as a project management tool to continue chiseling away at broad strategies by completing the minute tasks along the way. Many of them have calendar integration functionality, keeping important tasks and deadlines top of mind. And, it's a fast way to check in on how the sales team is progressing with leads: it's easy to check conversion, contacts with leads, and the time it takes to do it all.
CRM Improves Collaboration
CRM gives companies the master tool to stay organized. While a lot of small businesses pride themselves on managing hundreds of clients sans a CRM system, the reality is that a CRM system can save time, streamline processes and give you peace of mind that no one will drop the ball. It's one system, with a 360-degree view of a customer — who is interacting with them, where they are in the sales cycle, the last contact — and it benefits everyone involved.
"CRM creates the ability to have multiple players team on any task or set of tasks associated with any customer accessible within the system."
CRM Delivers Centralized, Accurate Data
Get on the same page with your entire organization — and be confident about it. CRM software allows you to do just that. Say goodbye to multiple reports, multiple systems and conflicting ideas about what the real story is — simply consult your CRM.
"In IT, we like to refer to this as 'one version of the truth'. With a CRM system, there is never the situation where one employee can say 'this' about the data and another says 'that'. There is centralized data and therefore no question about its veracity," Davis said.
CRM Puts Customers First
CRM systems are a solid reminder of why businesses exist in the first place: to serve the customer. It's hard to argue against a software platform that gives companies the tools to provide right-time messaging, track every interaction and deliver relevant communications.
"CRM is all about the customer. It ensures both a standardized and customized treatment of each customer and greatly reduces the potential for any customer to 'fall through the cracks,'" Davis said.
The Bottom Line
CRM is not only becoming a must-have component of modern business, it's now gone mobile, with increased social integration, predictive analysis and more. When so much of business relies on data accuracy and the ability to move fast — how can you not make the move to CRM?
As Davis puts it: "It simply comes down to this: Your competition has the ability to ensure your customer is properly managed. How can you afford to not have the same?"