Introduction

We live in a world run by mobiles and laptops, shifting your business to a digital model is the need of the hour. Customers become keener and are always on the search for tailored assistance for their problems related to the product/service. To help create repeatable, consistent customer engagement strategies, organizations are turning to CRM systems.

CRM products and strategies play a vital role in the success of an organization today. They fulfill the rising demands for marketing automation, sales automation, and customer care. Whether you need to recognize potential customers, automate business & sales processes, or analyze social media data CRM systems act as a catalyst in the total customer lifecycle.

The CRM industry continues to grow at an astounding rate, and each year new statistics are reported based on CRM trends.  CRM Software is no longer optional – it has become intrinsic for businesses to stay in the competitive arena. CRM brings a high-quality customer experience, sustaining existing clients, and gaining the trust of newcomers. A recent study by Salesforce showed that the use of a CRM can increase sales by up to 29%, sales forecast accuracy by 42%, and productivity by 34%.

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What is CRM?

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system aids manage customer relationships and customer data. CRM is a one-stop solution to your customer’s journey like- sales management, delivers actionable insights, integrates with social media, and facilitates team communication. Cloud-based CRM systems offer complete mobility and access to a network of all information in one place. A CRM system also enhances the performance and coherence of teams in an organization. It offers a central place to store customer and prospect contact information, and share it with colleagues.

Types of CRM:

Different CRM software varies in terms of features and functions which can be divided into three main categories:

1. Operational CRM

Operational CRMs restructures marketing, sales, and customer service divisions with the opportunity to cater to the needs of your existing and potential customers.  The main aim of this type of CRM is to generate leads, convert them into contacts, record all required particulars and deliver continuous service during the customer lifecycle.

It can be used for different business processes like:

  • Marketing automation
  • Sales automation
  • Service automation

This way, different departments can work collectively on gathering, nurturing, and closing deals for a company.

  • Sales Automation:

Sales automation helps an organization to automate the sales processes. The main purpose of sales automation is to acquire new customer leads, distribute leads to sales representatives, and deal with the existing customers.  It also manages the laborious task of creating records for each new contract, freeing up resources for sales, and making work more efficient and effective. An operational CRM has a content directory for storing and reusing commonly used documents that can be accessed by all.

  • Marketing Automation:

The prime purpose of marketing automation is to automate campaigns, generate new leads, nurture current leads and keep current customers satisfied. By automating campaigns, marketing automation saves a lot of time and increases the efficiency and productivity of the marketing team. It enables businesses to choose from a wide range of effective channels like emails, calls, face-to-face meetings, social media ads to connect to potential customers.

  • Service Automation:

One of the main ways to retain customers is by providing them with the best quality service and building a strong relationship. This is where service automation comes into play. It helps to automate various customer service options like setting up online autopay, chatbots, help centers, or scheduling an appointment.

2. Analytical CRM

An analytical CRM collects, categorizes, and evaluates customer data and sales data to provide better business decisions. This data comprises the average deal cycle, customer retention rates, monthly recurring revenue, and other information related to deals. The Information is gathered from many diverse channels and then analyzed in an organized manner.

Some of the important features of analytical CRM are: 

  •  Collect customer’s information from different networks and analyze data in an organized way
  • Assist companies setting business methodology in different departments like sales, marketing, and support to improve customer relationships and loyalty.
  • Improve the CRM system efficiency and analyze KPIs, set by the business

3. Collaborative CRM

Collaborative CRM shares customer information across departments like sales, marketing, technical, support, etc. A collaborative CRM focuses on customer service, customer satisfaction, and customer retention. Feedback from existing clients can be used by the marketing team to attract potential clients. The overall goal is to enhance the customer experience, improve loyalty, and boost sales. The companies with collaborative CRMs are able to have customer data easily accessed by all teams.

You should consider a collaborative CRM if…

  • You need to improve communication between departments
  • You want to focus on customer retention and loyalty
  • Your customers often have specific preferences and needs
  • You need to share customer information with vendors
  • You want to organize and align customer-focused efforts across your business

How Does CRM Work?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) works in liaison with the consumer life-cycle and encompasses marketing & sales processes and customer support. CRM solutions comprise functions that allow user tracking tools and employee interactions through a wide range of channels like contact emails, phone calls, social media.

CRM software offers a set of tools to manage the entire sale process from lead generation, forecasting to deal closure. It enables marketing and customer support teams to automate services by following pre-defined processes for customer care excellence. Whatever is done with CRM is recorded, giving the opportunity to analyze the process and enhance the actions for better customer service and sales. Some CRMs also consist of analytics tools, allowing marketers to track the efficiency of various marketing campaigns in terms of lead generation and conversion. 

Why CRM is Important for Organizations?

We live in a world run by mobiles and laptops, shifting businesses to a digital model is the need of the hour. Customers become keener and are always on the search for tailored assistance for their problems related to the product/service. Thus, today businesses need to switch to a smarter solution too.

If the focus of an organization is on building on long-term relationships with clients, an integrated solution that can seamlessly give a common platform to support every customer’s need is imperative. CRM software provides the support to attain all the goals by increasing profits, employee competence, and the loyalty of your clients. A CRM system can benefit businesses by helping in centralizing, optimizing, measuring, and streamlining everyday business workflow.

1. Better knowledge of customers

 CRM system gives sales, marketing, and customer service teams a competitive advantage by recording all the details of leads like a contact’s full name, email address, contact number, postal address, website, and social media accounts, and also such critical business information of the company such as an employee’s position in the company, his/her relations to other contacts in your database, the language they speak, and their birthdays. With all this information, it is easy to tailor communication according to one’s needs. Moreover with the help of CRM one can keep a record of all activities, projects, sales, live chat messages, email exchanges, invoices, orders, contracts, or customer service requests that an employee has ever been involved in. 

2. Automate data entry.

With CRM, team members will never have to waste time logging emails, calls, meetings, and interactions. All of this information will be automatically collected and stored within the system.  Moreover, CRM allows members to update all deals according to the stage they’re in after which the system will automatically update the rest.

3. Better segmentation

CRM classifies data according to categories and criteria, making it easy to create focused lists. Used in sales and marketing, these segmented lists help in running specific customer marketing campaigns and analysing sales processes and lead pools. If the customer segment is known, it is convenient to address, customize offers, tactics, and even curate sales pitches. Overall, CRM helps in effectively understanding and attracting potential customers.

4. Offer improved customer support

A CRM system helps you provide the high-quality service that customers today, are looking for. Your customer support team can easily retrieve what products customers have ordered, track, review, and give suggestions along with having a record of every interaction.

5. Proper Reporting

 Most of the managers in a business spend hours gathering data and making reports on company and employee results in spreadsheets which requires time and are not always accurate. CRM tool produces live reports with up-to-date information, thus saving time and paperwork while increasing the overall productivity of the company.

6. Automate sales performance forecasting

With the CRM, monthly recurring reports and yearly reports can be pulled anytime by teams to identify trends and develop performance-related forecasts. Moreover, CRMs also offer to check which activities and sources are the most profitable lead generators for reps. This data gathered benefits sales and marketing leaders to create sales projections for upcoming months and adjust pipeline estimates as necessary.

How to select, compare and evaluate CRM vendors

Using CRM is not difficult but choosing which CRM software is best for your business is the real deal. All CRMs share more or less the same basic functionality, but they can vary vividly in terms of features available, user experience, scalability, price, and intricacy. Some CRMs are built for niche industries and market segments, while others can be used in all kinds of businesses. CRM implementation is a costly affair and takes a great deal of time. When it comes to zeroing out a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for your business, it is difficult to find the right way to start hunting. The most important point is to evaluate your business’s needs.

Here’s a checklist for you to evaluate which CRM is a perfect match for your business.

1. Focus on your goals

All CRMs provide you with solutions like finding qualified leads, increasing conversion rate, automating an everyday task, improving inter-team collaboration, etc. Some CRMs work efficiently for some solutions and therefore, it is imperative for you to understand what is the core problem of your business and what you want to solve with the CRM.

2. Determine your user experience

Good user experience is essential to having a business tool your employees will use to the fullest. But some CRMs prioritize a few features and functionalities which are good for large organizations while others are more suitable for small to medium-sized organizations. You need to decide which CRM is best for your company depending on the user experience.

So, when you are inspecting a demo or testing out a CRM system, try to evaluate the user interface and its usability.  Make sure it’s having all the required social and mobile competencies needed for your business.

3. Clock your budget

With the wide variety of CRMs on the market available, it is definite to find your business the perfect fit. means there’s bound to be one that fits your budget. Even before you decide which CRM to buy based on user experience, determine how much you are willing to spend on a CRM system. CRMs are expensive and need a good amount of investment, so it is imperative that it makes your business more effective, and more profitable. Make sure you decide your budget accordingly.

4. Do your research

The CRM software industry is dominated by many big and small players. Not all CRMs offer all the services. Some CRMs are good for superior lead generation, some highlight their customer service while others are all social networking and listening. If your business has any particular needs, you need to put forth those while surfing. Another way to find out the perfect CRM software is to read reviews on third-party review sites. This feedbacks give an overall idea of the strengths and weaknesses of CRM systems and highlight the ones that prove to be a good fit for their business needs.

5. Discover which CRMs are compatible with your existing software

Integrations are one of the most important reasons why CRM has become so popular. Many sales managers don’t give a hid on integrations before buying a CRM which then becomes a pain for work. Integrations ensure that all your business tools are connected to one another which results in efficient work and delivers better data. It also saves your resource’s time by automating day-to-day work. CRM providers generally publish a list of tools they integrate with on their websites. Make sure to check the list and tally with your needs before deciding on your CRM software.

6. Sign up for a demo or free trial

Most CRM providers offer a free trial or a freemium version of their CRM systems. Maybe some features are excluded only for a full-time membership, but you will get a brief idea about all the elements of the software.  It is always recommended to take a test drive before you buy CRM software.

How to plan for CRM Implementation

1. Create a CRM implementation team

It is imperative to build a project team that consists of the top with board level along with the teams on the ground. Make sure the team is an amalgamation of all departments too. For example, the sales, marketing, finance, support, and services department will be the forerunner in using the CRM on a daily basis, and therefore should be included in all stages. They will help shape your strategy, define its goals, and ensure ongoing cooperation and acceptance.

• Sales team

• Sales managers

• Marketing team

• Marketing managers

• Project managers

• Customer service representatives

Forecast a CRM implementation budget

Apart from the software cost, there is also the CRM implementation cost. Often managers forget to account for this cost, which can later be a burden for the organization. So to avoid that, draw up a budget and have:

1. Account for everything

Keep a track of all the costs, both obvious and the forecasted ones like reduced productivity during the go-live period. Always try to keep your numbers above the baseline to avoid any unavoidable surprises. Include these costs in your  

• Training 

• Vendor operation 

• Staff overtime

• Travel 

• Phone costs

• Reduced productivity

• Data backup and storage

2.  Review the costs

There should be a proper review analysis of all the costs incurred. This makes things easier to quantify the overall cost of the new software. Also, at the end of the year, you will be able to analyze your ROI of the CRM.

3.  Conduct a risk assessment

There are different types of risks involved when bringing new software into your business system. One company may have a technical risk of not being able to integrate already existing apps with the CRM system. Whereas, another company might suffer from extra costs on resource training. Analyzing the risk will help you to develop the budget realistically.

Determine What Data Needs to Be Migrated

When migrating to a new CRM platform you should analyze which data you want to keep untouched, reorder, update, or delete. Most CRM systems are customizable which gives the freedom to organize your data and contact information according to your requirement.

Your existing vital customer information will empower and shape your new CRM software. The following valuable information should be migrated during the migration process:

• Important data of customers like contact information, customer preferences, customer interaction data, purchase history, etc.

• Data of the sales process such as purchase/order history, upsell rate, sales cycle, customer acquisition cost, etc.

• Data of the marketing process like campaign response, brand engagement, social media outreach, customer lifetime value, etc.

• Service data of customers such as SLAs, case management data, customers’ feedback, etc.

Integrate Third-party Apps

Integrating your CRM with third-party applications like Facebook, Microsoft Outlook, Mailchimp, and Slack enhances your organization’s productivity. This stage in the CRM implementation process allows your team to gather data and information from other apps without leaving the CRM system. 

Some of the popular integrations include:

• Email apps

• Lead generation tools

• Project management tools

• Messaging and communication platforms

• Social media management tools

• Live chat programs

• Help desk apps

• Marketing and email automation programs

• Support and ticketing apps

• Analytics tools

Evaluate the success of your CRM implementation

After the implementation is complete, you need to analyze all the key metrics to measure the success and decide what success looks like.  Below are some of key the metrics which are often used:

System activity: reviews the number of times users have completed an action on the system. This is beneficial as a high-level check to ensure that users are logging in and actually using the system. 

Record updates: CRM has the ability to record all the actions taken with the system. This recorded data is important to see if users are engaging with the CRM. 

Quality of inputs: If inputs are there, then the next step is to audit the quality of the inputs. Always filter and work with the inputs which have the largest possible variable in quality. 

Business metrics: It is advisable to analyze the broader business metrics. It is hard to pinpoint the success of the new system, try to tie the performance metrics to that of CRMs to analyze the success of the CRM. 

Integrating Applications with your CRM

What is CRM Integration?

CRM systems are valuable assets for businesses across various industries. As the definition says “a CRM integration is the seamless connectivity between your CRM software and third-party applications. These integrations result in automated actions that expand the functionality of your software, eradicating the need to juggle between systems.” CRM integration enables organizations to comprehend their customer base and superior products and services to them. 

Importance of integration

• CRM process integration makes business run easier and efficiently. 

• CRM process integration keeps CRM data up to date, making your business stay planned & systematized.

• It gives customer service teams the leverage to manage all interactions efficiently under one umbrella.

• Integrated CRMs deliver reports showing the number of leads, deals, and opportunities each salesperson has received, helping managers to track growth and allocate resources efficiently. 

• It helps in automating repetitive and reducing operational and overhead costs, keeping data secure and conversant, and improving the revenue and goals.

Key CRM integrations

Email Integration:

Sales teams regularly depend on email as their primary form of communications for cold pitches, allocating data with your internal team, or replying to prospect questions. By integrating your mailbox and CRM, you will be able to record all mails, access various tools and contact information without leaving your inbox.

Calendar integrations

The sales team frequently needs to make calls, send invites, schedule meetings, and arrange interactions with potential customers. If your Google or Outlook calendar and CRM are integrated, you can easily record a meeting, create a meeting schedule and send invites to meeting guests. 

Social Media integrations

Social media has become an essential sales tool for nearly every business. By integrating your business’s social media accounts with CRM, you gain valuable insight from the social audience data which helps you to understand what content works and increase share and engagement.  Social media integrations also help in automating social posting.  Connect your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to your CRM and schedule your posts according to your comfort.

Customer Success integrations

Integrating your customer service tools into your CRM can provide valuable information for future sales. With access to customer help record data, and sync activity to contact information in your CRM to stay updated with the service needs of your potential customers. 

Website integrations

Website integrations with your CRM help to directly gather information from your website about site visits, user contact information, and the most viewed pages and sections of the website. This integration also helps in sending tailored emails, newsletters, and other information to these visitors depending on their individual qualities and preferences.

Ensuring a Successful CRM Adoption

Ensure top Executive buy-in

It’s been seen that a CRM system will work flawlessly without any disruption when the topmost management is in sync with the idea of this transition. Since top management drives the views and culture in the organization, it is important for their primary involvement in the CRM project. This will send a positive effect across the entire organization. 

Align All Departmental Strategies 

Each department of your organization be it, customer service, marketing or sales, has its own requirements and goals. CRM will help in integrating all the insights and information from these departments into one place. If all the strategies remain homogenous among these departments, it is easier to communicate a consistent message and brand experience across all customer touchpoints. 

Roll out internal usage guidelines

CRM software is easy to use once understood. So, it should be kept at high priority to roll out a user guide for the new software. The guidelines should be easily accessible and clearly say all the basic instructions to do work in the CRM system.

Offer knowledge transfer and training

Make sure your CRM business partner is providing an easy to communicate training schedule for your resources to adapt to the change efficiently. You can choose a classroom training or a virtual one. Ensure to keep a working copy of the educational content for your new employees. In this way, your new will also be equipped to use CRM from the start.

Roll-out in phases

Don’t go all-in with your CRM software. Focus your roll-out in small phases. This will help in yielding more momentum and higher end-user adoption. Follow the step-by-step process to make this transition hassle-free.  

Measure your success

After the CRM system goes live, the next step is to measure, monitor, and track the system’s efficacy and analyze where it can be improved. An optimistic ROI from CRM comes from tracking, analyzing, and improving according to trends and creating positive action. 

Measuring the Success of CRM

Once the CRM system is live, it is important to measure its success. you need to assign key performance indicators (KPIs) to each of your goals to analyze whether it’s been achieved or not.

Some of the important metrics to check out are:

Sales Metrics:

  1. Close rate

Close rate is the number of deals closed in comparison to the number of leads in the pipeline. It suggests how efficiently the sales team are being able to perform.

  1. Upsell rate

This strategy is used to encourage customers to buy an expensive version of a product and spend more than what they originally planned to buy.

  1. Length of each sales pipeline stage

This determines the average time a lead stays in each stage of your pipeline. Tracking these stages helps you find any obstruction in your sales process.

  1. Length of the sales cycle

This measures how long the average deal takes to close. The time period is used to assess the sales cycle in connection to revenue earned.

Marketing metrics:

  1. Customer lifetime value (CLTV)

CLTV is the total worth to a business of a customer over the whole period of their relationship. This helps to increase the average customer lifespan by improving retention and satisfaction and targeting more high-value leads through marketing.

  1. Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

It measures how much an organization is shelling out to acquire new customers. It is an important business metric that analyses the total cost of sales and marketing efforts, and of property or equipment, needed to attract a customer to buy a product or service.

  1. Email list growth rate

Email list growth rate helps in tracking the rate at which your email list is growing. This helps to analyze and find new ways to continually grow your list, engage subscribers, and find new loyal subscribers.

Customer service metrics:

  1. Net promoter score

Net Promoter Score measures the customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement that are taken from asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to others on a scale of 0-10.

  1. Churn rate

This metric measures the frequency of customers leaving. The churn rate can also be calculated by measuring the number of subscribers who cancel or don’t renew a subscription. A higher churn rate means more customers are leaving.

  1. Average time to resolution

Time to resolution is defined as the average of the amount of time it takes a customer service organization to resolve a customer service issue once it’s been registered. More time to resolution means less satisfactory customer service.

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