The guide to CRM

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CRM stands for customer relationship management. The name itself should tell you why you should prioritise it.

In most traditional B2B companies, CRM refers to a costly database system that has never achieved what it was supposed to achieve, even after years of use.

But in an ideal world, CRM software provides a structured way for you to track and manage your company's relationships with its customers.




What is CRM?

For all companies, the most valuable asset is the customers. But despite this, information about customers—who they are, how they've interacted with the company, and when—is spread across the company in many different places: in the heads of your colleagues, in email inboxes, and in the finance department's stack of invoices. 

Gathering this information in one central place is necessary in a modern B2B company, but very few companies have this sorted out.

You and your company team will be too slow without quick answers to important questions. You must know:

  • Who are your customers? 
  • What are their main needs and challenges?
  • How do I get in touch with them?
  • How do they interact with your content? 
  • What does your business pipeline look like?

Your potential and existing customers will feel discomfort when your team isn't on the same page. Your customers want a relationship with the company, not just individual salespeople and particular departments. On the other hand, your company's employees need and want context about every potential and existing customer's current status and their problems and desires so they can pick up the conversation where it left off.

A CRM system is the solution to these challenges. It's not just a tool, but a game-changer for your business. As we explain in our article 'What is customer relationship management?',, A CRM system is a central hub that organises all the data and details of your potential and existing customers. With this in place, your team can gain valuable insights into your business's state and every customer's status, improving efficiency and customer satisfaction.

As a company, your success hinges on your ability to build and maintain effective relationships with your customers. This is where a CRM system comes in, providing the tools and structure needed to manage these relationships efficiently and effectively.

What companies should use CRM?

A modern CRM system will benefit any company that wants to maintain or evolve its relationships with potential and existing customers. 

Take a look at the following questions to find out whether or not a CRM system can help you and your company solve what you aim to solve:

  • Do you maintain a list of data about your leads and customers? 
  • Does this data live in several different places?
  • Do your customers regularly interact with multiple individuals in your company? 
  • How do all relevant colleagues track where a conversation with potential or existing customers started or left off?
  • Do you need a way to understand your commercial team's productivity better?
  • Does your sales team have an intuitive and structured process they follow?
  • Do you want to track potential and existing customers across long sales cycles and through upgrade paths? 
  • Do others see the value in using a CRM system?

If you answered yes to at least one of the questions above, your company would benefit from a modern CRM system.

When is the time to adopt a CRM?

If you and your company have decided that a CRM system is necessary for your company, the next decision is when to implement it.

Many companies, even larger ones, store their leads in an email tool and their customer lists in a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets may work fine for a while, but eventually, things break. As your customer data grows, it becomes hard to manage the spreadsheet. Jumping between data in different places becomes cumbersome. It slows you and your company down. Different employees may have different copies of the spreadsheet with conflicting data. And what happens if the person managing the sheet gets a new job? In my view, an employee leaving should never result in data loss.

The answer to this common problem is simple, as you can find out in this article, The benefits of customer relationship management. Evolve your way of working with customer relationship management and adopt CRM software to cover all touchpoints and interactions.

It's crucial to understand that the CRM software itself is not the ultimate solution. Its effectiveness depends on how it's used. This is why it's essential to provide support to CRM software users and ensure they grasp the significant value a well-maintained CRM system can bring to them and the company.

How much does a CRM cost? 

CRM systems range in price, and there's no catch-all answer. But you can keep these things in mind when selecting a system:

  • Many CRMs charge per user; you pay more if you have 100 users than 10.
  • Other CRMs charge by the amount of data; you may be able to log 10,000 customers for a specific price, but you need to pay if you need to add more. 
  • Some charge by functionality; you may be able to subscribe to a base package, but if you want more advanced tools to work with your customer data, you need to pay for them.

While CRM pricing models can be complicated, the positive news is that the barriers to adopting CRM are lower than ever.

For example, HubSpot made their primary CRM 100% free so customers wouldn't have to sign a long-term agreement with pre-license fees to determine if they need a CRM system.

When you pilot or test a new CRM system, keep your whole team using the existing CRM solution they're used to, and use a couple of dedicated and curious colleagues as your test pilots. Then, you'll better understand what software and package are right for you.

The evolution of CRM

What will define the future of CRM? Logically, companies will naturally gravitate towards whatever CRM system drives business results and makes them more relevant to their potential and existing customers.

Today, many companies share two main challenges related to their CRM systems:

  • The system is too complicated, and using it correctly requires too much old-school manual work.
  • Key employees (e.g., salespeople) see the CRM system as a time-consuming and complex database that doesn't provide any insights into potential and existing customers. 

CRM systems are becoming increasingly vital since businesses have a growing range of tools that allow them to reach and engage with potential and existing customers, from new social media touchpoints to the rise of video. At the same time, these added touch points muddy the waters regarding effectively tracking and monitoring your company's interactions with potential and existing customers.

CRM-related problems don't occur because marketing isn't doing its job or because salespeople aren't closing but because the sheer amount of relevant customer information overwhelms these already hard-pressed teams.

With this in mind, future developments in CRM solutions will likely increase user-friendliness and provide deeper data insights on how customers and prospects interact with the company.

How to clean CRM data

Maintaining your CRM system is a vital and ongoing task. Many companies that work with CRM struggle to get any value from it simply because their CRM system is poorly maintained and full of inactive, irrelevant or duplicated contacts. The solution to this problem is regular CRM data cleaning, where you remove contacts that have become inactive or irrelevant based on your company's criteria. 

These criteria and the frequency with which you clean your CRM data depend on the nature of your company and the length of your buying cycle, but here are a few standard criteria you can use when deciding which contacts to remove:

  • Inactivity: Does the contact regularly visit your website, open your emails, or engage with your content in any way?
  • Email aliases: Do you have contacts' email addresses, or are they aliases? For example, info@company.xx or sales@company.xx.
  • Deliverability: Do your marketing emails to specific contacts have a high bounce rate?
  • Duplicates: Do contacts appear more than once in your database?

Thinking about factors like these and how they relate to the current state of your CRM and contacts' behaviour can help you develop a set of consistent rules to follow when it's time to clean the database.

For more information on this subject, look at this article, which explains CRM data cleaning in more detail: CRM cleanup: Criteria for cleaning up your database.

Alternatively, starting with CRM, you'd be wise to develop a CRM data strategy before filling your system with contacts. This article, 'Creating a CRM data strategy for B2B', explains how to do that.

Why you should adopt a CRM system

Without a CRM system, your colleagues will spend more and more time searching through emails to get the most recent, accurate information on potential and existing customers' statuses. This usually leads to missed or double-booked appointments or failure to follow through on vital tasks.

On the other hand, with a CRM system, your colleagues can all follow the same streamlined sales process. This ensures consistent communication with potential and existing customers, enhancing their experience with your company. No more repeating the same questions or information each time they connect with your company, which can be quite annoying. Potential customers may engage with your company through social media, but they will still receive a consistent and professional response.

Consider the scenario where you are not fully aligned and coordinated through a central, shared CRM system. In this case, your colleagues might become out of sync with the potential or existing customers' demands, expectations, and needs. This lack of coordination can lead to missed opportunities and a disjointed customer experience, which is something we all want to avoid.

Your CRM system must effectively organise customer data, information about sales opportunities, and all interactions through all possible communication channels, from phone calls to social media. As complexity increases, it's more critical than ever for your company to function as a cohesive unit. Your CRM system is how your company can scale and get coordinated to achieve its desired objectives.

Most importantly, a modern CRM system or solution supports complex workflows—iit should keep you and your company on task and in sync and make it easy to be efficient without consuming too much time for manual tasks. At Zooma, we use HubSpot's CRM, which does everything mentioned above. You can find a more detailed review of the tool in this article, HubSpot CRM: Pros and cons.

If you want to change your existing CRM system or adopt one for the first time, download our guide to CRM systems below. In the presentation, we explain the facts and benefits of working with CRM, list the best CRM systems today, and provide information about their unique features and pricing.

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